To date, more than 20 literary agents rejected my manuscript titled, ‘S.O.S. (Save Our Sasquatch).’ Experienced writers advise amateurs to get used to rejection because it’s part of the process. But I won’t get used to it because, to me, it doesn’t help the process.
I’m young, this is my first novel, and I know there will be more novels to come. Still, after so many rejections I said to myself, “Maybe your story isn’t that good. Maybe you’re not that good of a writer. Why else would these agents keep saying no?”
Then I see that even J.K. Rowling was rejected by literary agents, albeit under an unrecognizable pen name, Robert E. Galbraith. While it comforts me to know that even an elite writer goes through similar trials, it doesn’t help the fact that overall I’m questioning my dream of becoming a published author.
There are various statistics floating out there on the percentage of manuscripts that get published, or end up on the big screen. I’ve seen a stat that says 2% of manuscripts get published into a book – I’ve also seen a stat that says less than 1%. And if you take into account screenplays that end up on the big screen, I’ve heard it’s one in 2.8 million.
The goal for my manuscript was two-fold: Published book, then onto the big screen.
Whatever the statistics, I know the odds are low. And, regardless of my skill or lack thereof, knowing that the odds ARE NOT in my favor should alleviate the self-loathing I feel after all these rejections. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself… but I am. And I can’t help it. I feel a bit of emotion with every literary agent that replies, “no thanks,” or “this isn’t for us.”
It’s not an intense emotion, but it’s definitely there. Yet, I’ve come to learn that this emotion is a good thing. It means I care.
I don’t want to become numb to the process. I don’t want to be emotionless. If I were to submit myself to expecting failure due to the lottery-like ratios of published manuscripts, then it would take my drive and passion away. It would turn me into a zombie. I would become like that telemarketer who knows the potential customer on the phone is going to hang up early.
I don’t want to be that guy.
I want to keep the excitement– that positive emotion–that I feel every time I pitch my manuscript to a new literary agent. And the only way that works is if I appreciate and FEEL the bitterness of rejection.
So this is where I am today: I’m up, I’m down, I feel depressed, then I pick myself up and feel great. And the cycle repeats every week. In a nutshell, that’s life. And if you’re a fellow writer, or feel the same way on a weekly basis, just keep grinding. Keep writing. Keep pitching. Keep feeling the burn. Take that energy and apply it positively to the next pitch, and the next manuscript. Honestly, you and I have no other choice because giving up is not an option.
Don’t get used to rejection. Let it hurt and let the process make you stronger, not numb.