One literary agent recently tweeted about how some authors she rejected for representation have emailed her about how successful they are despite her having rejected them.
Can you say unprofessional?
Rejection is hard. Very, very, very hard. Take it from someone who has gotten A LOT of rejection letters from agents. Back when I wrote my first manuscript, I even harbored a secret desire to do what those unprofessional writers did and to email those agents who rejected me.
But I didn’t.
Even when an agent rejects Halfling in my quest for representation, I don’t hold a grudge against them or tweet about how that specific agent rejected me as I’ve seen other aspiring writers do. It’s not just about not being rude. It’s about being professional.
So whether you’re on your own quest for representation, or already have representation, or have just happened to stumble upon this blog post, here are my rejection DOs and DON’Ts:
DON’T be surprised if you’ve queried a particular agent/agency for one project and they said no, that they’ll say no again to a different project you query.
DON’T email, call, direct message the specific agent/agency that rejected you. As the saying goes, no means no.
DON’T tweet, Facebook, use any other social media tool where you call-out the specific agent/agency for rejecting you. I’m coming to realize from my growing Twitter-obsession that there are many, many reasons why they might reject you, some of which are completely out of your control.
DON’T think that just because your book becomes popular, that the agents/agencies that rejected you are regretting their decision not to represent your work. Some might, but they all have their own authors they’re looking out for and you’re not one of them.
DO keep track of your rejections for your own records. If you’re really trying to get an agent, then chances are that you’ve sent out a lot of queries; knowing who you sent queries out to and who said no will help for the next time you may seek representation (see the first DON’T). It will also help you from being paranoid that they’ve all said no when you might be still be waiting to hear back from quite a few.
DO your research and learn from those who rejected you. Follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their blogs, just stay connected because they are valuable resources regarding getting published and getting an agent. You’ll also better understand where they’re coming from, and how they read queries and book proposals.
DO know your options. All queried out and no one was interested? Don’t let that get you down. The publishing industry is quickly changing to allow writers greater opportunity to self-publish their work. Amazon Kindle, NOOK ePub, and CreateSpace all allow writers to publish their work electronically. You can have your book available for purchase in minutes.
DO be professional! In other words, don’t act like the little kid no one picked for their team. Publishing is an industry, and by wanting to get published you’re trying to get into the industry. Don’t sabotage your chances by acting petty.