It’s been a while since I’ve written an inspirational blog post and I’m feeling like the timing is right. Today I want to write about projects that I’ve passed on that have gone on to get book deals. People, I am here to tell you that there have been MANY of these, and any other agent can tell you the same thing. Often, when I pass on something, I feel pretty sure it will get a book deal, but I know I’m not the right person to get it there. But sometimes I’m surprised to see something that I didn’t think had much potential get a book deal, or perform very well in the market. Yes, you heard me correctly: I WUZ WRONG. It happens all the time. Agents are fallible too.
What is the moral of this? It’s the fact that I, or any other agent passes on your project, is no reason to a. get discouraged or b. stop trying. Now, if you get 30 agent passes or no requests at all to see your material, that means you should probably stop and assess your project, maybe get some more reads, and try to figure out what the problem is. I’m not saying to completely discount the fact that you are getting rejected. But I am saying that a pass doesn’t mean that your project isn’t worthy or doesn’t indeed have a good chance of getting published. There are many other possible interpretations:
1. It’s not the agent’s personal taste
2. The agent doesn’t know the right editors to send it to
3. The agent thinks it needs work but doesn’t really have a clear vision for how to fix it
4. The agent is taking on very few new clients
5. The agent is having a bad day or is in a bad mood
See what I mean? So here comes the inspirational part: KEEP TRYING. Remember the different possible interpretations of rejection. Don’t take it personally. Absorb feedback, consider it, and revise if necessary, but don’t give up because I, or any other agent out there, didn’t immediately see the potential in your work.
Have faith in yourself and the power of what you write. I’m pulling for you!
P.S. One last thing. It kind of bugs me when I hear writers say, "oh that agent rejected me," or "so-and-so agent rejected me three times." Agents don't reject YOU, they reject your project. I think it's an important distinction to make. I know that for at least a few of my clients, I rejected previous novels they sent me once or even twice before signing them up when they approached me with a new book. I never rejected them, I just rejected work they sent that maybe wasn't quite ready to be sent out in the world.