Some consider rejection a rite of passage for authors. It’s a rare individual who gets a contract from a literary agent and a Top 5 publisher on the first book they’ve written and submitted. There are plenty of lists numbering off the times famous authors like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King were rejected prior to their seemingly overnight success. Despite this, the reality of rejection doesn’t remove its sting.
Rejections on query letter are – in my opinion – the easiest. It’s a rejection of an idea or a platform. These rejections are generally form letters and can be dismissed if your stubborn enough. Brushed off as not fitting the genre to the agent enough, a too full client list, or a poor job selling your idea / self. This far in – they only sting for me if I adore the person or agency.
Rejections on partial manuscripts can be harder. I’d stick anything beyond the first ten pages. It becomes a commentary not only on your self-selling or your idea but on your execution. The powerful other examines your writing and finds it lackluster. Most of the time, you’ll still only get a form letter. Sometimes, you’ll get a unique sentence, or what might only appear to be a unique section. The worst I’ve heard would be a dislike for a main character – just not liking the protagonist’s personality. They could also comment about how your idea was good but the execution – not so much.
I’ve found requested partials (after query letters) makes it feel personal. It’s my writing that’s not good enough. It’s the character who sprung from my head who isn’t worthy. These are harder to shake off. The most vague phrase leaves me questioning my skills and abilities; however, those questions remain tied to that particular manuscript. I’ve heard other authors say partials are the hardest because interest doesn’t carry a full but rejection reflects out further. While I don’t find that the case emotionally, I think it makes sense rationally.
For me, emotionally, the full are the worst. A full request always sends me into a hopeful anxious loop of what-if. While I’ve found a form letter to be rare for a full, the majority of rejections are less than three sentences of actual feedback. No amount of reassurance that they repeated read the manuscript helps me. Realistically, full requests, or fulls, are more about the book itself than anything else. It’s not on the idea. It’s not on the writing – the rejection falls on the book as a whole. Yet – for me – the hope is the highest, so I’ve got the furthest to fall.
I don’t have solutions about how to face rejection. The only thing I can do is tell you that if you want to be a traditionally published author, rejection is going to happen. Find a healthy way to deal with it. Understand your limits, and do your best to avoid setting yourself into a downward spiral. If you begin to doubt yourself, stop querying for a bit if you need to in order to keep yourself afloat – but don’t stop writing. You’re worth more than that. Your writing is worth more than that.
Above all – as always – Good Luck.