I started querying my middle-grade book, The Dream Keeper, back in late February –early March. A few weeks into it I received my first rejection and thought, “no problem there are plenty more agents to send to.” As the weeks past I began to get more. I then started querying agents a few weeks ago for my picture book, Bean’s Dragons. I’ve gotten two rejections so far. At first I wasn’t sure if I was up to doing this all over again. It is so hard to put so much time and effort into a book and then have someone tell you that it’s just not for them. I have come to realize some important things in dealing with rejections.
You cannot take rejections personal! Seriously! They are not rejecting you as a person; they are rejecting the opportunity to take on a project they’re not familiar with. I try to think of my book as a flavor of ice cream that no one has ever tried. Most people are hesitant to try a new flavor. They are familiar with what they know. It takes a lot for someone to try something different. Perhaps your book is one of those flavors unknown to others. Just because they don’t know what it tastes like and they don’t want to sample it, doesn’t mean you have failed as a writer.
Never give up! Believe me I have been there too. After I finished the last illustration for Bean’s Dragons I went back to my list of agents I’d queried. Most of them took on picture books too and so I wanted to review them. As I went down the page I began to count. Once I past 50, I began to feel like a loser. When I stopped counting at 73 I felt even worse. All but three agents I queried have rejected me. The remaining three I have yet to hear back from. I wanted to give up. I didn’t even want to try querying my new book, because I didn’t want to go through the roller coaster of dread anymore. But I knew that if I wanted my dreams of becoming a fulltime author/illustrator to happen, I had to make the effort.
I have a quote that is tapped to the bottom of my computer screen, “Never, ever, sacrifice what you want the most, for what you want the most at the moment.”-James Owen. I wanted at the moment to throw in the rag and call my work nothing more than a worthless hobby and focus on liking my regular job rather than hating it. But If I called it quits I’d be sacrificing my dream for the rewards of failure. So I reasserted myself and queried a few agents. I’ve received two rejections so far for my picture book, and I’m okay. I hurt inside, but I’m okay—my flavor wasn’t right for them.
I guess what I wanted to say in this post was that it’s tough. It’s downright hard as hell to succeed in your dreams, but it’s the climb that makes you strong. With every rejection I am better able to handle the self-doubt; I am better able to try harder. So please, never, ever give up. Keep trying and I know that one day we’ll all look back on our succeeded dreams and be more grateful for the journey we had obtaining them. Now I’m going to go and send more queries. And that’s my key on dealing with 75 rejections in 7 months.