Writing is a process, and everyone’s process is different. Just like writing, the road to traditional publishing is a process as well. Today I passed another milestone on my journey to being traditionally published- a full manuscript rejection. I started the querying process a little over two years ago for a different book, than the one that was rejected today. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the querying process is grueling and you truly are putting your work and a piece of yourself out there for the world. I remember when I started querying I wondered to myself if I would get a “bite,” on my first letter… LOL! I wondered this not in a vain way, but in the way that sometimes people get lucky. Oh, how naive sweet Jackie.
That first query letter was a train-wreck. The book I was querying was far from ready, even though I thought it was. It took time to perfect query letter and grow as a writer. And again if you haven’t queries before let me just say that the query letter is so much harder than actually writing a novel. I learned a lot when I started, and I remember the first rejection that came in. That hurt. I knew there was a good chance that my work wasn’t ready, and it clearly wasn’t. At the same time, I was blessed enough to be surrounded by cheerleaders telling me to go for my dream, try to get an agent. While that first rejection stung, it did not deter me. In fact it had the opposite reaction, it propelled me. I dug into researching query letters, agents, the querying process all while, writing, rewriting and editing.
Fast forward two years and lots of rejection letters later. I have to tell you that rejection, time and time again builds some pretty thick skin, and certainly puts one’s ego in check. With each rejection, I said to myself, this means you have more work to do, keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. I have followed my own advice and I’ve continued to keep writing.
This past January 6th as I sat and watched the insurrection unfold in real-time on my television, I got an email that I thought would change my life. It was a full manuscript request. I thought there was a good chance this was it, my chance to advance on my dream. I shot up from my chair screaming and jumping up and down. My poor husband didn’t know what to do. I sent my manuscript off to an agent who I’d always admired and crossed my fingers.
I had spent most of December getting another book ready to self-publish but everything paused while my manuscript was being read. I stopped querying but kept writing. Each day, I’d check the agent’s portal in Query Manager for an update. Eventually, I just had to stop checking, knowing that if the agent wanted it, they’d be sure to let me know. I also tempered my enthusiasm as best as I could as I saw other authors in Twitter’s writing community get full manuscript rejections. I knew I could very well be one of them in time.
Today my answer came as I was doing laundry. My Apple Watch buzzed on my wrist and I saw the agent’s name pop up. I gave a shout to my husband (who works from home) that I had an answer in my inbox. We ran to my office where I opened the email and we both read…. the word, “unfortunately.” Ugh, I am really beginning to hate that word. The agent said that they had failed to connect with the story but encouraged me to keep writing. I simultaneously had the desire to puke and cry at the same time. Yet, the biggest feeling was a sense that an answer, albeit the one I didn’t want, was what I needed to move forward. The rejection meant that I now knew what direction to head in- you guessed it, more querying, more writing, more editing! I was thankful that the limbo was over.
So with all of that being said, onward I go. I know this journey to being traditionally published is difficult, and a long process. I know that I have to work for it, and that there are no shortcuts. Yet my personal motto continues to rattle around in my head, be relentless. I’m made of tough stuff and so although it stings, I mean stings intensely, it just means keep going. I now have passed another milestone in my journey to becoming a published author-the, full manuscript reject. Yep, that one stings, but onward I go!