“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”
~ Sylvia PlathSo, as I've mentioned, I have been querying literary agents with my first completed YA novel. Today I got my first personalized rejection. For those of you who are not foolish enough to try to be a writer, mostly agents (who receive a gajillion queries a day) send back a form letter that looks something like this:
Dear wanna be-writer,
Thanks for sending your mediocre/pile of crap/nothing new here manuscript to me. Unfortunately, I make my money selling art, and this isn't gonna cut it. Better luck next time,
Just kidding, they are usually much nicer than that, but it's clear that they are just plugging your name in and send it. This makes sense, of course, they have lots to tend to. Sometimes they say encouraging things about how so much of writing is personal preference so it's just not for them, but maybe for somebody - and that's always nice (even though it's a little like it's not you it's me, let's just be friends). I did get one a few weeks ago that had some helpful links at the bottom about making your query more appealing, which was kinda cool.
Anyway, today I got one that was personalized to me, to the specific letter I wrote and what the agent thought my manuscript was lacking. Very cool. Of course, even though it gives me something to ponder, any rejection always makes you feel a little butthurt.
Apparently Isaac Asimov felt butthurt about rejections too - here's a much more dismal quote about rejections from him (just to contrast the one from Ms. Plath above)
“Rejections slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.”
So there ya go, and if it's possible, I feel both ways about them. In order to be less butthurt - please enjoy some fun facts about famous authors' rejections:
- Dr. Suess' first book And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times before an old pal of his said they'd publish it - it was thought to be too different from the juvenile books being published at the time
- Slobbering Sled-dogs! Jack London wracked up nearly 600 rejections in his day, and you can see them all at his estate, creepily named "The House of Happy Walls"
- Nicholas Spark's The Notebook was rejected 24 times, then Ryan Gosling made it happen with his magical pecs. Okay, I made that last part up.
- Gone with the Wind was rejected by 38 publishers before it was printed.
or for one that actually has some harsh rejection letters included, go here.
Also, YA author Barry Lyga (who despite awkwardly flirting with at TBF a few times is not my boyfriend) posts lists of his rejection letter on his blog, here.