Thursdays with Amanda: Rejections Don’t Determine Your Worth as a Writer
March 7, 2013 | Written by Amanda Luedeke
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her book on author marketing, The Extroverted Writer, releases March 15.
I usually post marketing and platform-building stuff, but today I’m gonna get all warm and fuzzy on you. Because, well…I think it’s high time for a pep talk.
As an agent, I see lots and lots and LOTS of rejection on behalf of my authors. There are days when the rejections just seem to roll in, and the very relationships that I’d been counting on coming through for me don’t. So then I have to go to the author, explain the rejection, and try to help them through it.
And here’s what I’ve noticed…too many times, authors look to editors and big publishing houses to validate their ability as writers.
So when the rejections come in, it’s so common for authors to begin doubting and questioning and “oh, if I can just fix that one thing…tweak that one chapter…” I’ve seen this happen over and over, and you know what? I’M SICK OF IT.
When you’re on my side of the desk, the picture is much bigger. Yes, there are lots of rejections…sometimes for good reason. But there are also AMAZING books that never get picked up. Blame it on timing, budget constraints, weird personal preferences, or a bad day at the office, but it’s true. There are great novels and book ideas that don’t receive offers. They don’t see that one “yes” that makes all of the rejections fizzle into nothingness. So for me to say that a string of rejections from editors means that there’s something wrong with my author or their writing or their ability would be to say there’s something “wrong” with all of the athletes out there who never make it to the Olympics, or there’s something “off” with the church and local musicians who never get picked up by record companies.
There’s nothing wrong with rejection. While sometimes it can help pinpoint trouble spots in a manuscript, most of the time it’s just one person’s opinion based on editorial needs, preferences, and the kind of meeting they just got out of.
I wrote a novel (hooray!), and it’s currently being shopped to a few houses. I almost expected myself to be nervous and fidgety and paranoid. You know, refreshing my inbox every two seconds even though I know the process takes much longer than a few weeks.
But surprisingly, I’m not like that. I’m cool. I’m relaxed. And I can ONLY attribute that to the fact that after seeing waves of rejections…after seeing GREAT and talented authors get told “no,” I know that my worth is not found in an editor’s opinion of my book. Sure, I’ll be thrilled if they have good things to say about it, and any critiques they have I’ll be sure to take in stride, but I worked damn hard on that thing. It went through five drafts, had a dozen test readers, and even faced a complete rewrite of the first half.
And not everyone is going to love it. They may not even like it. That’s okay, because I did my best with it and at the end of the day I know I’m a good writer.
So it’s just a matter of whether it’s my time for the spotlight.
How do you face rejection? How do you filter through feedback? I want to know!