July 25, 2011

dealing with a steady stream of no

Rejection is hard to handle. Whether it comes from a person you ask out on a date or a literary agent you hope will represent you to the literary world, hearing "no" or "not interested" can do a number on your self esteem.

When a potential significant other turns you down, you get over it by spending time with your friends, over-indulging with a pint of ice cream or with retail therapy. It's probably the not the healthiest or most constructive way to deal, but it's what I do.

In my quest to find a literary agent, I find myself wanting to use those same coping mechanisms every time I receive a rejection notice. But I've decided that instead of letting myself slip into self pity, I should be more proactive with my response.

So I took to the web to find out some of the best ways to deal with rejection, and here's the top five points I took away from the research:

1. DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Easier said than done, I know, but remember that a "no" doesn't mean your project sucks. It might just be that the agent in question is more comfortable with a different genre or is overwhelmed with his or her work load.

2. REMEMBER, EVERYONE GETS REJECTED. When you listen to successful authors, such as Nora Roberts or J.K. Rowling, you hear the same story: The author contacted dozens of agents and was constantly rejected before finding the one that said "yes."

3. BE POSITIVE AND CONFIDENT. You have to believe in yourself and your project before you have anyone else do it, too.

4. PAY ATTENTION TO WHY YOU WERE REJECTED. The most common reason I have heard was that someone wasn't interested in my project. This means that I need to carefully look through each agent and see if he or she represents people who write books similar to mine. It wouldn't make sense for me to send women's lit to a person who specializes in memoirs.

5. DO NOT GIVE UP. You know the saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again?" Well it exists for a reason. If one person says "no," remember that there are still others out there.

Keep those in mind and remember that when you find the right agent, it will be right. You want to have someone on your side who believes in you and your projects as much as you do.

What advice do you have on getting over rejection? Post your comment here or respond to me on Twitter @lmchap.

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