Worms! Rejection & the Writer

I completed my fifth Cornish Detective novel at the end of 2018. Overall, I’m happy with the progress of my series, and though I queried 88 agents in February, I think it’s more likely that I’ll return to self-publishing for the launch of the first story this summer.

I had my 32nd rejection email this morning. What rather unsettles me about these, is that they often come with a signature of someone I didn’t submit to. I spend ages researching who is the best agent at an agency to query, as we’re advised to do by publishing industry experts—apparently, 85% of queries are immediately rejected as they are sent to the wrong agent. To do that, and then hear back from someone whose name doesn’t even appear on their website, makes me think that some work-experience flunky has been ordered to chuck out the last 1,000 submissions with a form letter.

It doesn’t put me off—just makes me feel even more jaundiced about the so-called expertise of literary agents. It’s hard not to get cynical when I look at the marketing side of selling books. Thanks to the huge success of three novels with the word ‘girl’ in the title—Gone Girl, Girl On A Train and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo—there’s been a whole slew of crime novels that have ‘girl’ on the cover. Perhaps I should alter one of mine to ‘Girly Girl Has Girl On Girl Action at the Gorilla Grill’, (I’m going for the animal lover and foodie fans too!)

Image result for gorilla gif

Never mind. I keep reminding myself of novelist and screenwriter William Goldman‘s observation, that: 

Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

I’ll just keep on plugging away while treating rejections from agents like the worms of the nursery rhyme.

Nobody Likes Me (Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms)

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
Guess I’ll go eat worms.
Long, thin, slimy ones; Short, fat, juicy ones,
Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy wuzzy worms.

Down goes the first one, down goes the second one,
Oh, how they wiggle and squirm.
Up comes the first one, up comes the second one,
Oh, how they wiggle and squirm.

I’ll cut their heads off
suck their guts out
and throw their skins away
Surprising how us girls can eat
worms three times a day
That’s how we get our wiggles.

Talking of verse, it’s even harder to place poetry with a publisher. It’s worth remembering Don Marquis‘ advice, whatever genre you’re querying:

“If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when they’re reading to themselves.”

Marquis made a number of pertinent observations about the process of writing and publishing, including this pithy favourite—which though it’s about poetry applies very well to what happens when you query literary agents with your prose!
Image result for maquis Publishing a volume of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.

How do you cope with rejection?

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