Rejection in publishing may be commonplace but it is also one of the hardest things to get used to and move past when you start querying. You’ll often see writers celebrating their first query rejection online and sporting it as a badge of honor. Which it totally is! It means that you’re putting yourself and your project out there. But this is no easy feat to come to terms with when you’re quite literally asking professionals within the industry to cast their opinion on your project. A project that you might have spent years perfecting. That might cover personal traumas. That is personal any way you put it. Sometimes, moving past rejection is easier said than done and it can definitely take a whole lot of time to master.
The reality is, though, most likely if you are pursuing traditional publishing you will be inundated with rejection during every stage of the process. Not just while you’re querying. But once you go on submission, once you request blurbs, once you start receiving trade reviews. Learning the ability to move past rejection is as valuable as learning proper pacing.
And it’s not impossible.
Moving past rejection for you might involve celebrating passes. Perhaps every time you get a pass, you indulge in a chocolate or small treat. Or it might involve learning to completely forget about passes, quickly deleting them from your inbox as if they never existed and letting them fleet away. It might involve venting to a writer friend or someone in your family and having their kind words of encouragement comfort you. It might also involve realizing that when publishing professionals say that the industry is subjective, it’s because it is. Not all projects resonate with every agent or editor, nor should they. Could you imagine if every agent or editor wanted every project? It’d be chaos! And it is also a saturated market. Recent conversations abound with how overworked agents and editors are at the moment because they’re receiving pitches for more books than ever before. Querying isn’t easy right now, nor is being on submission. This is one of the reasons #LatinxPitch was created—in order to help Latinx writers during this difficult time, yet vital one when it comes to adding more diverse voices to publishing.
Moving past rejection might take time. Or it might come naturally for you. It might hurt or make you feel like an imposter.
Whatever your feelings are, it’s important to distinguish passes from failure. Every time you get a pass, it’s a stepping stone. For every stone you throw down, you’re forging your path toward reaching your publishing goals. Not being able to sign with an agent or making a sale from your first manuscript on submission isn’t failure. It means you’re trying. It means that you care enough for it to bother you, which means that you’re in the right place, trying to make your publishing dreams happen one way or another and not letting possible rejection stop you.
Which is to say, pa’lante.