I sent out a mess of queries late fall last year, and so by now I’ve racked up a few rejections. I actually don’t mind rejections. So far they’ve been far kinder than the scathing, flaming reviews I used to receive on my fanfics. When I get a rejection from an agent, I know I’m dealing with a professional. Their rejection isn’t personal. I get that publishing is a subjective business and that my book might not be right for them. Or whatever. So far all the rejections have been very polite, and I’ve appreciated every single one of them. I’m not going to pretend I’m not disappointed, but I like getting even a form letter rather than no response at all.
The personalized rejection letters, though…those are gold. I’ve received good, personalized notes from the agents I pitched at various conferences last year. I keep them. I sometimes take them out and pet them. But most importantly, I learn from them. After a few, I noticed that there seemed to be a similarity. And one of my critique partners echoed the sentiment.
Nobody was getting grabbed off the bat. Nobody was connecting with my character in the first few pages.
As a reader, this is an interesting thing for me. After all, many authors seem like they take a long tie to get rolling. And as a reader, I don’t much care. There’s usually something that’s interesting enough to me to keep reading, even if I don’t feel like the pages are glued to my fingers and I will never put the book down, ever. This may be because I’m the kind of person who has a really hard time not finishing things. I’m talking a stomach-gnawing, internal fire sort of need to finish things I start. So if a book starts off slow, as a reader, I’m okay with that. It’s like easing into a tub if the water is too hot or too cold to see if I’ll adjust to the temperature.
As a writer, it’s something that hadn’t occurred to me until I realized that I was done writing fanfics and it was time to try to get published, since what I really want is for other people to read my original stuff. After seminars and conferences and books and newsletters and blog posts, I get it – hook the reader on the first page. Hook the agent on the first page. Understood, writing universe.
Whether I agree or not…well, I understand it. And that’s enough. Authors much, much more esteemed and farther along in their careers, like George R.R. Martin and Robin Hobb, can get away with things that I, an aspiring debut author, can’t. So it was time to suck it up and try to make my main character connect with the reader.
I’ve rewritten the first chapter now, and it’s with my critique partners. (It successfully passed the spouse test.) Luckily I had only queried about 20 or agents, so I still have plenty left to query with the (hopefully) improved materials. I’m hopeful. And even if it doesn’t work out, I have backup plans.
I’m not going to let the feedback pass me by. I’m going to continue to improve my writing. I’m going to continue my writing journey.