Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Please respond only if interested"

I'm slooowly working my way through a backlog of queries and requested manuscripts.  I came across this in one of the queries today: Please respond only if interested.

I understand the query sender's motivation: it's hard to get those rejections.

But here's why you do not EVER want to put that in a query:  if you can't stand rejection at this stage of the game, you're in the wrong game.

Here's just a sampling of the kind of rejections you have yet to see:

1. editors not buying the book
2. chain stores not stocking the book
3. libraries not buying the book
4. 1-star posts on Amazon cause a reader thinks the ebook price is too high

5. publisher not picking up your next book
6. publisher not picking up your third book
7. publisher not picking up your fourth book

This industry is nothing but rejection. You either figure out how to deal with it, or you need to get out now.   I'm not saying you have to love it. I'm certainly not saying you have to turn it into some sort of sadistic motivational tool.  You figure out how you best deal with it, and start practicing.

Every writer gets rejected.  You may as well get used to it now. Cause even if I am interested in your project, if you send off signals of "I'm a delicate flower" you're going to get..yup.. rejected.


Oliver Alvarez said...

As a person who had been rejected a gazillion times I now feel unaffected by it so people you will get used to it eventually.

Michael Seese said...

That's really strange. I want to know if I've been rejected. (Bear in mind, I don't want TO BE rejected.) But if an agent or publisher is not interested, I really appreciate the letter / email, even if it's a form letter.

That way, I don't have to wonder whether their spam filter ate it.

Jonathan Dalar said...

Oh holy crap yes! Thank you, Janet! I've received so many frickin' rejection letters (even from you...) that I've come to actually expect a rejection. It's not that I really don't mind them anymore, it's just that I'm so used it, it's no big deal.

I much prefer a rejection letter to nothing at all, because it tells me more. Even if it's a form rejection or a simple "no thanks", I at least have the agent's turn around time. I at least know for certain they looked at the thing, and it didn't end up in the circular file or the spam folder.

Writers need to expect rejection far more than many do, I'm afraid. It's part of the process, like you say.

Tiffany Inman said...

I'm just smiling right now. Wishing that all rejections could be done off the plank of a pirate ship. Very fitting to how artists view rejection. Thank you Janet! Funny and informative. Great combo.

Jane Lebak said...

My first thought was that the author knows agents are busy and wanted to save your time.

Erin said...

I'm new to all this and I've only just started querying, so I'm still thickening my skin. :) But I do have to say that every time I get a rejection, I think "They're just not interested in the book I'm selling now. It's nothing to do with me personally." Thank you Janet for this post. It was what I needed to hear.

Amy said...

And yet every so often a really sweet "it's not you, it's me!" rejection letter comes your way that makes you actually feel GOOD about being rejected.

Cecilia Dominic said...

I prefer a rejection to no response and hesitate to query agents who don't let you know concretely that they're not interested. Or maybe the person read your blog post with the Rolling Stone rejection letter. ;-)


Diana Peterfreund said...

Don't forget:

* fellow authors passing on blurbing your book
* foreign markets not buying your book
* trade reviewers not reviewing your book
* Hollywood not optioning your book
* people scoffing and sailing past you at booksignings

However, I'm inclined to agree with a previous poster -- so many agents say something like "will only respond if interested" -- it is possible the author was pre-empting that.

Patty Blount said...

I DEFINITELY want the rejection, even if it's a form. I queried you twice and never heard back. Now you've got me wondering if you ever saw SEND. (I gave up and tried Stephanie, who rejected.)

Michele Shaw said...

I can't imagine putting this in a query because I always wanted to hear back, good or bad. You are so right. Querying is only one step in a long road filled with rejection. But, they make the acceptances that much sweeter.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I'm with Jane and thought maybe the author was trying to do you a favor and save you time, but like most of the other commenters here, I would rather have a rejection rather than fear a very delayed positive response after signing with someone else. ESPECIALLY if I would have preferred the first agent! I like having things tied up neatly when possible.

Amy Ashley said...

I remember while querying overhearing an agent on twitter saying she thought an author shouldn't consider give up querying a book until oh, 150 rejections or so. I was miles from that, so I kept going. About 30 rejections later, I landed my agent. Around 78 rejections. I built a tough skin in the process, but I learned so much from agents who had a great deal to say in their rejections, when reading partials, and on their, erm, blogs. If you can't deal with a rejection, how will you cope with a thorough edit? Writers know how to talk. Publishing is about knowing how to listen.

Michael Seese said...

@Amy --

Thanks for the "metric," if you will. I recognize that there are no hard and fast numbers. But it's nice to hear someone in the business say that 150 rejections is within reason. It makes me feel better, seeing as how my latest project has "only" been rejected 10 times so far.

Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

If I stop getting rejections, I'll never finish wallpapering my writing office with them! *gasp*

Michael J. Kannengieser said...

I never open my email or mailbox and anticipate a positive response. Before I check my correspondence, i say to myself "Let's see how many rejections I got today."

Anonymous said...

And how about:
*Editors not taking your agent's phone calls/ignoring emails/not showing up for happy hour

Lauren F. Boyd said...

It seems that the more time one spends interacting with the publishing industry, the thicker his/her skin becomes. So we all just need to keep going.

Great post!

Deanna Lynn Sletten said...

I'd rather get a rejection letter than no letter at all - at least then I know I can move on to the next. I do, however, look forward to an acceptance. :)