As an aspiring novelist, I’ve heard nightmare stories about coldhearted manuscript rejections. I’ve prepared myself for them. I’ve watched or read interviews and talked with other authors who’ve been rejected dozens of times before getting published. I figured it would happen to me and maybe I would even frame my first one.
Well, it’s kind of like trying to tell someone what it’s really like to need an internal organ removed. There is no way to accurately describe the acute abdominal pain preempting, say, a gallbladder removal or an appendectomy. You can tell them it’s near childbirth-like pain, but that doesn’t actually prepare them. Not exactly.
So Agent Amazing got my manuscript in January and read it right away. This apparently doesn’t happen for most authors. This has been my pattern all along, to have things go differently than most authors, so I was both terrified and thrilled when her reply arrived in my inbox just a few days later.
I braced myself for an emotionless rejection. It would be an easy break up. I could be mad at her, frame it, move on.
She basically said, “Not exactly.”
She gave me three major reasons she didn’t want to work with the manuscript the way it was currently written. I found myself agreeing with her, in fact, having an epiphany. At the same time, she told me I had “captured a voice for YA audience” and being able to write like that is “something that can’t be taught”. It was a wonderful compliment wrapped in a not exactly kind of a rejection.
So I had a choice. 1. Get mad and find another agent–even though this one dropped out of the sky at the perfect moment and I trust her honest expertise thus far. 2. Thank her for her honest critique and set a firm deadline to attempt another revision. 3. Scrap the whole damn thing and start a new book.
I chose 2. So far, I am happy with my choice. It has been more cathartic revising than it was writing it. I have managed to go through almost my entire checklist of revisions, and I am on track to meet my self-imposed deadline.
So, to all those lovely friends who keep asking me when I might be published, I don’t know exactly. Thank you, I appreciate your interest. But please stop asking if I’m getting published soon because it’s like being asked if you’ve given birth yet when you’re past your due date. I love you for supporting me, but please believe me, this kind of news isn’t something you keep to yourself. When the baby is born (or the book deal happens) you want to tell everyone you survived the experience so they can celebrate it with you.
I would love your words of encouragement not to give up on my dream and to keep focused. Thank you for cheering me on. Thank you for understanding my near-hermit existence in lucky Halloween socks.
I promise, you’ll be the first to know when my answer changes from “not exactly” to “a specific date that is perfect timing for my life’s journey”.