08 October 2020

It Takes Courage to Avoid Being Discouraged

'No Response Means No' sucks. It's how the industry works, and a fact all writers will have to deal with. But it can be a huge blow to one's anxiety.

It’s only been a week, so perhaps I’m being impatient. Lord knows this industry moves slow. But from what I can tell via Twitter, three of the four mentors I subbed to for Pitch Wars have sent their requests, and my email is disappointingly empty.

Fingers crossed that potential mentor number four is excited to work with me, but realistically, they all passed on my manuscript.

And that’s one-hundred percent OK. Firstly, there was extra competition this year, with over 4000 submissions. Secondly, the fantasy genre is super subjective; what works for some people super doesn’t for others. And lastly, this is a hurdle that every writer who wants to break into the industry must grapple with.

Why wasn’t I selected? Did they hate what they read, or it just wasn’t for them? Did I fuck up something incredibly basic in the first few lines, or the query, or the synopsis?

It blows, not knowing what specifically got you passed on. But a lot of agents won’t tell you, most of them won’t even send you a form rejection.

Managing to push through the doubt, and the worry, and the disappointment, and even more doubt, takes willpower. A few things I’ve thought about over the last little bit, just to keep my head high:

  • You have completed a manuscript. Even if it never gets turned into a book, the number of writers who have a complete manuscript to show for their efforts is low.
  • Everything you’ve learned from this manuscript goes on to help make your next one better. I’ve already started my next WIP, and it’s been an enjoyable distraction; but I like to think it’s also better because of everything I’ve gone through with the Orphan Queen.
  • The probability that your manuscript is completely trash and/or unpublishable is 0%. It may take years of work, or it may be ready now. No response means jack-fucking-shit. Get as many sets of eyes on your work as you can, but your pride and joy will capture someone’s imagination.

Today I’m feeling particularly disappointed, so I’m treating myself with this blog post getting all the frustration out, and then I’m going to go eat some candy I should be saving for Halloween. After that, it’s time to edit my query letter and start looking at my agent spreadsheet to plan my attack. I wish all the Pitch Wars mentee’s luck, and for everyone in the same (fingers crossed, potential) boat as me; remember, there’s more than one path to getting published. Go get ‘em!