After months (perhaps years) of devoting yourself to writing your book, you’ve sent it off to an agent or publisher — only to have your manuscript rejected. It’s an awful, humiliating feeling. No doubt you’re questioning, “Was all of that work I did, the hours I sacrificed, the money I poured into writing classes or workshops pointless?”
Many published, notable authors have been in the exact same place that you are now. The key to picking yourself up and moving closer toward your goal of publication is in the next steps you take right now.
3 Steps to Rejection Recovery:
1. Dissect the rejection letter.
It’s important for first-time authors to know that every rejection letter is different. The good news is that agents or publishers don’t simply say something along the lines of “Sorry! You’re rejected.” Often, they address some of your manuscript’s issues — issues that you can work to improve.
Did you know that there are six types of rejection letters? All can teach you something valuable about what to do next, whether it’s hiring a professional editor who can help you develop your story, or revising your query letter. The key to getting the most from this step is in being honest with yourself. As much as you would love for your book to be perfect and ready to go, try to see what you can do to improve it.
2. Look at the big picture before revising.
So often, writers are overly eager to dig into their manuscript and tinker with little things: grammar, punctuation, some descriptions here and there. But, remember to also survey the overall framework of your story. This usually means you should distance yourself from the manuscript, so when you come back to it you can see what holes the story or character journeys may have.
Ask yourself: Is my conflict big enough to last an entire manuscript, or to take readers on a deep enough journey? Are the themes I’m exploring dramatic enough for readers to take something meaningful away? Are the stakes high enough?
3. Turn to the most valuable help you can get.
Who has read your manuscript? If your group of first readers only consists of family and friends, this is definitely the time to enlist professional help.
Professional, experienced editors can bring so much to the table: they can view your work with an unbiased perspective; they can offer specific suggestions for revision with an eye toward what’s marketable; they can help you approach the revision process in the smoothest way possible.
Bonus Tip: Don’t give up!
Rejection letters are tough to digest. But, think of them as necessary for truly uncovering what your manuscript needs to succeed in the market.