Inbox Dodging and the Ineffable Whatsit

It’s no secret that rejection is a big part of any author’s path to publication. Nathaniel Hawthorne reportedly burned the occasional manuscript after getting rejected. Jack London used his rejections to paper his walls. Stephen King impaled his on a railroad spike.

In the digital age, they’re not as tangible anymore. They arrive electronically for the most part these days, and unless you’re some metaphysical doohickey who can Neo your way through the Matrix, you probably can’t touch them.

So far, I’ve dealt with them pretty well. No tears (well, maybe two), no tantrums, no giant red poofs imprinted on the wall where my head exploded from grief.

But from six o’clock on Sunday (Happy Birthday, Emmie….) until eleven last night, I got six.


I hadn’t planned to check my inbox at all on Sunday. But my phone betrayed me, and there it was. I went to bed with a screeching (non-rejection-related) migraine, and woke up in the morning with another in the inbox. Then when I got off work I had two more. A couple hours later I had another and was sputtering DMs and IMs to a couple of Query Trenches Comrades, and then right before bed, I got the final one. It felt like a kick to the bollocks.

And here’s the thing — I still haven’t gotten as many rejections as say, J.K. Rowling did on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. So it’s likely to just keep on happening for a while. However, what I do know is that agents who have read the full manuscript have been extremely positive about it.

Which leads me to believe this deluge is a sign that my query letter needs some work, because for the last two days my inbox has looked like this:


Which has caused me to look like this:


So if something about my query letter is making agents do this:


Then I have a drawing board to get back to. But not this week.

Rejection sucks. It sucked when it was Josh W. in seventh grade, it sucked when it was physical education and everyone knew I was total crap at everything, it sucks now when I know my novel isn’t total crap. However, it’s led me to the knowledge that A: something’s not working, and B: I can probably fix it.

It’s up to me to write a query letter that makes agents want to do this (I’m Jim):

I shall get back to that. But for this week of Thanksgiving, I’m going to cool it a bit. And I’m going to do what I do best, which is write.

Oddly, after a couple days of taking a serious ego-lashing, I feel hopeful.

Does rejection ever have that effect on you? I feel like something better has to be coming. Has to be.


About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on November 20, 2012, in Terror Tuesday, writing business and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. It will make you stronger. Sending you heart hugs!

  2. I know I should feel okay about rejection letters, but I don’t. They make me feel terrible. I’ve more or less given up on sending stuff out. Funny thing is — I’m a professional writer. That side of me has a very thick skin. But when it comes to fiction … ouch. Off I go to the couch to sulk and brood.

  3. Rejections are no fun. And on your birthday for heaven’s sake? Not nice! Do they really indicate you are doing something wrong? Not necessarily. Nevertheless, fix what you want to fix and keep firing your query out there. Do what your heart desires but don’t forget that you could self-pub and still continue querying. Once the agents see how well your work is selling, they will come knocking. It’s a new world out there!

  4. Emmie, keep at it! Rejections yank out your soul and you have to keep smiling and say “But I expected that!” despite the desire to crush the laptop that delivered the email beneath a huge hammer…
    This might be a useful gem…(if you have a Kindle)
    It’s a useful, short read, and I adored her book on How to Write a Synopsis (and not hate it!). I feel much happier about my query writing, when I get to it now!

%d bloggers like this: