After reading a couple of posts on a couple of different agent's blogs talking about rejection and how it's not personal, I started to think long and hard about it and what I've come to realize is that rejection on an agent's end is NOT personal. As Nathan Bransford said in his recent post, how can it be personal when the people rejecting you don't even know you? And he's absolutely right. And I think it is absolutely insane when people get angry at an agent because they decided, for whatever their reason, to pass on your work. However, being the rejected and being the rejectee are two different things. Just as being the dumped, and being the dumpee in a relationship are two very different things. It may not be personal on the agents end, but it is most definitely personal on the receiving end. My work is a direct reflection of ME. It is my heart and soul and inspiration and ideas poured onto pages that have been revised, revised, revised and then edited, edited, edited, and then BETA read by a good number of people in the biz and then revised and edited again and again and again. And then I spend countless hours, days, or weeks on developing the perfect query letter and I go through Query Letter Hell where my peers tear the shit out of my query letter and break it down and around and smack it and flip it upside down until I am utterly confused and left in tears cause I don't even know where to begin or who to listen to because EVERYONE has an opinion and they are often quite contradictory. But eventually I plow through the query letter writing process and finally...FINALLY write a version that has a few people saying, "If I were an agent I'd request to see more." And then...AND THEN...I spend the next couple of days, weeks or months perfecting my synopsis. THE DREADED SYNOPSIS. And not just one synopsis. No, I have to cover all my bases cause some agents request a 3-5 page synop, some want a 2 pager, and others want a 1 page synopsis. Not wanting to limit my options of whom I can query, I prepare all three!
Then there's another good month of researching the agents I want to query for this particular novel, which is a whole other topic in itself, but it's a very important part of the process. To not do the necessary research on the agents I plan on querying is to waste all the time I've spent on everything prior to this point. It's a waste of my time and of the agent's.
So, (a year to two years later) I have a rock solid query letter, my 1, 2, and 3-5 page synopsis, a novel that has been BETA read to death and that I have been told is a very well written story with a unique concept/plot, my list of agents that I believe are a good match for my work, and then I get a glass of wine and start hitting the send button.
At this point, I've done EVERYTHING right. I've done everything I was told I'm supposed to do if I'm serious about being a published writer and so I wait. And I check my inbox 4,738 times a day. And then one day I see that number 1 in my inbox and my heart jumps into my throat and I feel like I might hurl all over my keyboard, And there's this tiny little bit of hope that when I open the email, it's going to be an agent requesting a partial, or a full, but in reality, I've mentally convinced myself that it will be an R because I think it will make the blow softer. I finally muster up the courage to open it and...and...AND...I receive my first R. It stings pretty bad that first R, but I tell myself, that's okay, I have more agents out there who have received my letter. It's just a matter of time. It's just a matter of finding that perfect agent. It's just a matter of...Hmm...another R. And another. And another.
Rejection is absolutely personal. Maybe not 1 rejection letter, and maybe not even 2 or 3 or 10, but when the numbers keep climbing up and up and all that is coming in are R's, I MUST take it personally. If rejection wasn't personal, I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't believe there is room for improvement. I wouldn't stop and think, hey, maybe I need to re-think my query letter. Or, consider the idea that maybe I need to re-think my my first chapter, or if there was a request for a partial and it was rejected, maybe I need to re-think the beginning of my story. Or maybe this story is just NOT THE ONE. Something is not working. I didn't do SOMETHING right. That is personal. It doesn't get much more personal than that. Individual agents sending a (form) rejection might not being personal, but when you are receiving multiple rejection letters, it is one huge conglomeration of personal. My work is a reflection of me and so to reject my work is to reject me and I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. I mean, if an agent LOVES your novel and requests a partial and then a full and then calls you to offer representation, you take that personal, don't you? So why can't it be so for the opposite? Rejection is not personal? I beg to differ. I think it is and I think it can be important to take it as so.
What are your thoughts?