So you’re querying. Or doing something equally exciting and terrifying. It’s infiltrating your thoughts, your dreams. You’re checking your email 100 times a day and your new mantra of “one day at a time” has lost it’s luster.
Well, first, check out way more novels from the library than you can read.
Then, when you have to return some books without having had time to read them, it might be easier to appreciate why some agents have to pass. Despite each book on your nightstand being an amazing and wonderful creation as well as the works of someone’s heart, sweat, and tears, you are merely human (I assume. Forgive me if I am mistaken). There is only so much time! You prioritized based on mood, energy level, and preference. When an agent or editor passes, it’s because they are human beings with preferences and time constraints, too. And if an agent or editor takes on a book, they are signing up to read not just once or twice but MULTIPLE times (hello revisions, you old friend). When people say it’s subjective, this is what they mean. It feels personal because you poured your heart into this story. It can be heartbreaking because it feels like a rejection of your hard work, your heart, your dreams. But it truly is subjective. It truly is NOT personal. And the proof is in the 12 books you simply didn’t have time for.
Take a deep breath and eat some chocolate or go for a run or stare at your ceiling. Whatever you need to do to digest this truth. And then come back because you, and your story, are worth fighting for.
Listen to music:
Find your jams. If one doesn’t jump to mind, may I recommend Lizzo? If you are not familiar with Lizzo, first of all, may the gods bless you and keep you, you poor lost soul, and second of all, make sure you don’t have influential children and/or pearl clutching adults with you when you listen. I’m convinced that there is a Lizzo song for every part of the querying process. A form pass? Listen to “Good as Hell.” A pass on a partial or a full, sing “You’re Special” directly to your manuscript. Really belt it. A CP get a full request? “Birthday Girl” it is. Maybe Lizzo isn’t your musical style. That’s okay, these things are subjective (see Step 1). Arcade Fire’s “Lookout Kid” is a great listen when you’re feeling vulnerable about the process. And Bjork’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” is good for checking your inbox (who knows when love/a reply will strike). I would LOVE to add more query-perfect songs to this list so please share if you have a good fit!
Critiquing is a fun way to help other writers and grow as a writer yourself. Highlight and emphasize the things you love. Think about what works and doesn’t and why. Give line level feedback (if the writer wants that) as well as overall feedback about pacing, character development, plot, and beats. It never ceases to amaze me how helping others in their writing process helps me. Critiquing is a gift that keeps on giving.
Write the acknowledgement section for your manuscript:
Reflect on the people who support you. Thank your friends and cousins and critique partners and that neighbor who baked you blueberry pie when your dog got sick. Remind yourself how many people are rooting for you and, more importantly, how many people love you and are amazed by everything you have already accomplished. Even if this story doesn’t make it into more hands via mass produced paperback, it has impacted the readers who gave you feedback, and that friend watching you pursue your passion, and your child who sees you making your dreams a priority, and the cat who sneaks in extra snuggles while you’re typing. They love you just as you are. You are a success in so many ways already, right now. Full stop.
You created something out of nothing.
When you think about it, there’s already so much to celebrate.