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  • Writer's pictureKat Taylor

5 reasons I don't let rejections from literary agents stop me

Updated: 3 days ago

A pile of open books with the words don't give up written over them

I recently bit the bullet and sent two of my children's books (with illustrations) out to agents. Four weeks after crossing all of my fingers and hitting submit, I received my first rejection email. It was just a standard email, albeit very kind and gentle.

Imagine: you've spent two years writing, illustrating, shaping, tweaking, and BETA testing a book before believing that it's good enough to share with agents – the people who know best – to have someone say, 'thanks, but not for us'. How do you take it? Do you shred all of your manuscripts and set fire to your laptop? Or do you brush yourself off and say, 'Ok, onwards and upwards, I'll keep trying'?

In my case, it's the latter. Yes, it does sting a little to receive rejections from literary agents and read that your work just isn't what they're looking for, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Here's why I don't let rejections from literary agents get me down:

1) If your work isn't for them, maybe they aren't for you either.

If you're going to work with an agent, you want to work with an agent who absolutely believes in what you do and loves your story. I only submit to agents who I think would be a good match for me on a personal level - I carefully read all of their bios and client testimonials before submitting, and only send to the ones I think I would enjoy working with and who would best represent my work. So before you sent your manuscript, you may well have made some rejections of your own.

2) Agents receive in excess of 300 submissions PER WEEK!

Can you imagine reading through 300 manuscripts/synopses in a week? Agents can't possibly take on all of those authors, even if they were all great, so standing out in that massive pile isn't easy. Your manuscript may have been one of ten with a similar storyline, or the agent may have just taken on another author with a similar story just last week. OK, yours didn't stand out this time, to this agent, but try again - maybe it will to the next one!

3) They read your book!

Some agents have a no reply policy where no reply means no thank you, so, for me, getting any response, even a 'no', tells me that someone has read my work. They have taken the time to read what I've written, and, more than that, they've taken the time to write to me and thank me for giving them the opportunity to read my work. This particular book may not have been what they were looking for, but that doesn't mean my writing was bad or my story was boring. Do you like every single book you read? No, of course you don't. So why should they?

4) Rejection isn't personal.

Literary agents make their decisions based on what they believe will sell to their specific market, at a specific time, not on what they think of you as a person, your talent or your creative ideas.

5) It only takes one 'yes'.

So this wasn't the one, but that doesn't matter, because the next one might be... or the next one after that... or the one after that. If you truly believe in yourself and your work, KEEP GOING! Keep sending those submissions, keep believing in yourself.

Follow these simple tips to get your work ready for submission.

  • Let your book sit for a while then re-read it yourself and make any necessary edits. You might spot some glaring holes in your story at this point.

  • Ask other people to read your book and give their opinions. Friends and family are usually happy to do this, but I find that strangers will be much more honest with you.

  • Hire a professional proofreader to spot any remaining errors and make sure that your work is the very best it can be.

  • Do your research and make sure you are sending your work to the right agents. The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook is really helpful at this stage.

  • Read agents' submission guidelines very carefully and make sure that you follow them.

  • If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. And again. And again.

How do you deal with rejection?

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