These tweets happen to be the most compellingly worded variations.
A few weeks ago I announced my intention to roll out this weekly review of revealing tweets from editors and agents, and received a tremendous amount of feedback. Based on your responses to the topics presented, I decided to begin our AT journey with the topic: “Hard Yet Encouraging Truths” for writers. I’m glad, because I think all of us not-yet-published writers could really use some encouragement right now – even if it stings a bit in the application.
So let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Here is the first installment of at least two “Hard Yet Encouraging Truths” episodes for the would-be published author.
Why this is hard: There’s probably nothing more frustrating than knowing you “almost” had an agent hooked (which is probably one of the reasons behind form rejection letters).
Why this is encouraging: Both tweets indicate the book ideas were good, even excellent – just not compelling. But the very indecision of the second agent, and the fact that the first agent felt curious enough to read through to the end of an “okay” manuscript – such responses hint at manuscripts that, with a little hard work and meticulous revising, could go from “pretty good” to the “super excited” quality work they’re looking for.
Bottom line: How to improve the manuscript itself is fodder for a thousand other posts, on this blog and elsewhere on the web. But the query? The secret to overcoming that obstacle lies in the second tweet – the urge to make your query the best it can possibly be. For more hints on how to manage that, you can visit Query Shark, Query Tracker, or this thread in which twenty potential queries were critiqued openly by an agent. (NOTE: This link will take you to the first entry; use the side menu to access the others.)
Hard Yet Encouraging Truth #2: There is life after failure.
I’m rejecting a lot of really great manuscripts this week. Just because it isn’t The One for me doesn’t mean it won’t find that perfect home
Why this is hard: Two failed books? 200th rejection? What? ….ouch. Just….OUCH.
Why this is encouraging: No one likes to be told up front that you might have to submit multiple bad books before unearthing your winner. Even more unsavory is the idea of getting 200 rejections without a single offer. Yet none of these agents (four different ones, by the way) say to give up after multiple flops, or 200 rejections. The fourth tweet, specifically, indicates that rejections are sometimes a matter of preference or situation – that they really are great manuscripts, but just haven’t yet found the right home.
Bottom Line: The third tweet, I think, is the key. Therein lies buried four important steps for pushing past failure (real or perceived) and on to success:
(1) Don’t lose your vision, and don’t get discouraged. This is easier said than done, but those who persevere are the ones who eventually see their work in print.
(2) Remember that many factors may have played into your rejection. A rejection does not necessarily mean your work is inherently bad. It may be that it is an “out of season” text (more on that for a later Agent Tweets report). Perhaps that agent just signed someone else with a similar idea. There are other reasons, I’m sure. (NOTE: For more insights into the agent mindset, I would recommend following @agentgame on Twitter – they are an agent’s assistant, but they often tweet valuable insights on the book agent industry.)
(3) Rejection is an opportunity to grow, not to sulk. If I posted all the tweets about ill-mannered writers who responded to rejection emails with profanity-laced fury, you’d be reading from now to Easter. Dabblers throw temper tantrums. Writers recalibrate and act accordingly. And then they get published.
(4) Sometimes you may still be accepted by the same agent – if you bide your time and do what is wise. Please note that agents generally will state specifically if they’d like you to revise your work and then resubmit. Make sure that you check submission guidelines for any agent you query.