Hokay… well here’s the rub- if we submit then we have to deal with two things:
- the amount of time it takes for someone to respond when we send them something
So we’ve sent off our little babies and we are waiting eagerly for that wonderful letter saying that the agent/ editor wants to buy it. How long should we wait? What is the average turnaround time? For competitions it’s easy. There’s a deadline. That lovely cut off date tells us everything we need to know and, more importantly, tells us when to move on and stop hoping.
But what about other publishers/ magazines/ editors etc.? Think inland revenue and don’t get upset if you don’t hear anything for months. All of them have a slush pile. Honestly I’m talking piles of manuscripts leaning against all the walls of their office. OK if we’re being pedantic and you submitted via email then files backed up on their computer. I think I read somewhere that Mills and Boon receive 12,000 manuscripts a month and commission sixteen or something like that. How many editors do you think they have? Not that many I’m afraid so I have heard of cases where people have waited six months to a year for a response. Obviously they are very busy but don’t expect to hear about any submission for at least six weeks. You need to let your fledglings fly the nest and then seriously… forget about them. Send the next ones off and write a couple more.
Now we have to talk about rejection. I’ve been there, many times. The worst rejection I’ve ever had simply read ‘Sorry, doesn’t make the grade’. Recently an acquaintance was told by an agent that her submission made them ‘Give up the will to read’. It’s very hard to pick yourself up after every rejection, dust yourself off and go at it again- but this is the difference between a published writer and a non published one and I look back now and feel sick with myself when I look at the huge gaps in my production after every rejection. Sometimes I didn’t write for years.
I had my first rejection when I was about 12 years old and I sent a short story written in Greek which was my second language and the rejection letter accused my mum of writing the story. My mum bless her is English and can’t write in Greek. Anyway I didn’t see the hidden compliment in this because I couldn’t see past the rejection bit. It has taken me thirty years to learn a basic fact.
They are not rejecting me, they are rejecting my writing. We are two different things.
And yes, it hurts even so. I paddy, I carry on, I rant, I cry and my family run for the hills. Honestly they know better than to stay and comfort me. Then I decide I never want to write again and then I start wondering why it wasn’t wanted, then I improve it and then I write again. Each time this cycle happens I improve in terms of my writing and in terms of dealing with rejection. So as I heard recently at the RNA conference, (I think it was Elizabeth Chadwick)
Rejection is a stepping stone, not a stumbling block.
Ultimately you have to take the bad with the good.You must be prepared for rejection. The best way to handle it is to have another piece of writing ready and send them off regularly. If you have one treasure which you send out and then wait and then after it’s rejected (if it is) send again you’ll find it hard. The secret is to always have the next thing to look forward to and to write and send out enough that you don’t care as much about your individual pieces/ stories. (Much easier if you are writing shorts rather than novels).
And you can reduce the possibility of being rejected by presenting your manuscript professionally and by matching it carefully to the market.
Happy writing :))