Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Journey to Publication! Part 1: First Rejection

I've been warned, repeatedly, endless times, over and over again, that the process of trying to get your book published, namely finding an agent, sucks. Like, really sucks. Everything sucks. It sucks writing a query letter, it sucks even more writing a synopsis, it sucks querying agents, it sucks being rejected. Over and over again. So many rejections. Never-ending rejections. "GROW THICK SKIN" they say, "OR ELSE YOUR SOUL WILL BE TORN ASUNDER, YOUR BODY LEFT AN EMPTY SHELL, AND YOU WILL NEVER BE HAPPY AGAIN, YOUR ENTIRE EXISTENCE LIKE A BLACK HOLE OF ENNUI, EVERY PARTICLE OF LIGHT SUCKED IN AND DECIMATED." Etcetera.

And I thought, in response: HA you guys are a bunch of pussies, who can't take a rejection letter? It's not that bad. There are so many reasons, mostly subjective, why an agent would reject my book. I totally understand. I mean, not everyone can love my book, or even want to read it, or even want to represent it. It's cool. I completely get it, and I am ready to dive head-first into that world! I'm ready. Let's do this.

Cue me sending out one query letter. One. Just one.

Cue the next day. I receive a form rejection via email.

I sit there. I go, "Oh, okay. This isn't surprising. Good. I've got my first rejection out of the way!" I continue to watch The Vampire Diaries.

Only, I felt vaguely as though somebody had torn my soul from my body, punched it in the stomach, and put it back inside me.

"I'M NOT A PUSSY" I said to myself, pouring an entire thing of Reese's Pieces into my mouth and chewing, slowly. "IT'S COOL. I DON'T EVEN CARE."

As the minutes and hours wore on, I realized, detachedly, that I couldn't get up from the couch. It's comfy here, I thought, stuffing my face with leftover Christmas candy. I DON'T EVEN WANNA GET UP.

Cue Greg later asking what I wanted for dinner, in a clipped tone, and me jumping to the totally reasonable conclusion that he hated me and wanted me to die. "WHY DO YOU HATE MEEE" I said, feeling completely justified. "I CAN TELL YOU WANT ME TO DIE I CAN HEAR IT IN YOUR TONE."

"I just want to eat dinner?" said Greg, confused. "Are you okay? Seriously what's wrong."


"But seriously what's wrong."



"I'm embarrassed, okay? I'm embarrassed I'm so embarrassed I didn't want to tell you."

Cue me explaining that I'd sent out one query letter, unsolicited, without telling anyone. And, just as quickly and quietly, I'd been rejected.

"Oh," said Greg. "So what do you want for dinner?"

It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. I just wanted to curl up into a fetal position and fade away into nothingness. Clearly there was no reason to live anymore. Nobody wanted my novel. Everyone hated it. Nobody would ever publish the senseless piece of drivel I had dared to call a novel. What was I THINKING? This publishing industry business isn't the magical, cozy, "let's all be friends" sort of Care Bears scenario I'd been imagining. It's a business, just like any other. I mean shit, I probably wouldn't take on my novel if I wanted to make a buck. I'd look for some YA urban paranormal fantasy romance starring a blonde 17-year-old hottie. I'd be like, "Clockpunk? What the everloving shit?" and copy, paste, and send that form rejection. Bam. The end.

"It's just the same as when you start applying for jobs in a new city," said Greg, this afternoon. "Your first few rejections are really hard, but then you suck it up, and it's not as bad."

But he doesn't realize that this is different. It's fundamentally different in that, when I don't get a job, I think "UGH THIS SUCKS I'M STILL BROKE" and cry a little. But after my query being rejected just once, I feel as though my entire existence has been invalidated. Okay maybe not quite that badly... but this book is something I've worked hard on, I've cried over it, I've sweat over it, I may have bled over it at some point. It's my baby. And to send your baby, even in the form of a one-page query letter, to somebody and for that somebody to be like "Meh, not really interested, not even interested enough to tell you that in person or to say something nice about your baby. It's just like all the other babies. Can't be bothered. Here's the same letter I send to all the moms whose babies are so nondescript and/or shit that I forget about them moments after hitting send" is REALLY HARD. It's really hard okay. It's like "but why do you hate my beautiful child, I love my child, whyyyyyyy" and it sucks.

So yeah I HAVE HAD ONE REJECTION and it was from a super popular agency and it was one of those "I'm doing this for shits and giggles" sort of things but it was still a rejection, and I'm still moping about it.

And I also realized that I'm not really feeling the whole ~publishing industry bullshit~ thing right now, and I'm taking a break. I'm not going to push myself to do anything right now. I deserve a bloody break, y'know? I deserve to watch Stefan and Damon brood together in leather jackets for hours and hours every day if I want to. And hey, maybe tomorrow I'll be super pumped up about it again, and positive, and excited! But I figure, if I'm not pumped up and excited... then what's the point? So here I am, treating myself well (aka sitting on the couch watching Star Trek and eating pizza with Greg) and not forcing myself to do things simply because I think I should. Which, admittedly, I do. A lot.

I am waiting to hear back from an agent who Matt put me in touch with, but she doesn't really rep fantasy, so I'm not expecting anything big. I only hope she has some advice or agent-y wisdom to bestow upon me in my time of need. I mean, that's what this Matt connection is for, right? To make people feel obligated to help me out in some way?

Ah, Meg. Why did you ever decide to become a writer. BECAUSE I LIKE PAIN. That's why. I like pain.


Nicole Testa said...

Writing is hard and personal and every time someone doesn't want my poems (ALL THE TIME) I'm like THIS IS IT, I'M ENDING IT ALL. I love you, and I know that whatever your goals are, you'll make them happen.

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