Pitfalls

This post is really for me more than anyone else. I promised myself I would market my completed manuscripts (yes, plural) this year rather than start writing something new. I mean, I have three completed novels. Do I really need more content? Yes, always, but I also need to start moving inventory and by that I mean, I need a new agent.

The difficult with even beginning this task is hunting for agents is full of rejection and writing is full of fun. I know some people hate writing (“though I love having written”) but I am not one of those. I used to be back in the beginning when it was hard. And it’s not easy now, it’s just more pleasurable to solve the problems than it was when I had no idea what to do about them.

I’m also very thin skinned. I hate rejection and I do very much take every pass personally. And eventually I just stop submitting and return to the part I like. Writing.

That’s why I had to make a pinky swear with myself to market my work this year. I’ve come to an agreement with myself on that promise: I can write after I’ve submitted to one agent.

And, of course, the passes started flowing in almost immediately. My mood began to darken. I came close to giving up hope.

But then I reminded myself what I’m like in a bookstore. I pass down the Science Fiction or Horror aisle pulling out books, rejecting or accepting them based on their cover, then read the back jacket and toss some back based on that, and then I carefully open to the first chapter and read a bit before I even begin to decide if I’m going to buy that book.

Why? Because I’m a person. I don’t have particularly high standards, but only a very narrow slice of the pie actually interests me enough to read a whole book (carrying my bad eyes, dislexia, and reading comprehension problems on my back like a bag of rocks).

Imagine if I sent a rejection letter to every author of every book I rejected on my quick pass down the aisle. What would I say? Meaningful feedback on why I passed? No. Because I don’t really know. In the rush to consider a hundred books in the time I have to spend at the bookstore, I have to make snap judgments based on intuition.

Now imagine being an agent who receives a thousand emails a week. They’re not saying you’re bad when they pass — unless they specifically do say that, which would be terrible. They’re saying, “In the few seconds I spent with your query letter nothing clicked with my intuitive response so I moved on without reading your sample.”

It sucks, but it’s a numbers game. If you quit after the 100th rejection you won’t get to the 200th acceptance.

“Have. Thicker. Skin,” I say to the mirror and then punch myself in the face as hard as I can.

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