Why Are We Doing This?
My writer-friend Richard wrote poignantly last week about the pain of repeated rejections, and how it sometimes makes it hard to stick with this gig. Why do we keep writing? Why do we stay in this business?
If you’ve started submitting your work to agents and/or editors, then you’ve probably joined the ranks of the rejected-and-sometimes-dejected. I just want to tell you one thing from the perspective of an agent and former editor: You’re not alone. All of us have to deal with rejection.
As I commented on Richard’s blog, agents submit your work to publishers and get lots of rejections. I’m still new at this agenting thing and it surprises me how much it hurts to get pass letters on my clients’ work. I only agree to represent projects I truly believe in. Once I take them on, I put my heart into them and my full resources behind them. When I send them out there and get “sorry but this isn’t for us” within a matter of hours… I gotta tell you, I take it kind of hard.
But those editors in the publishing houses? They get rejection, too. If an editor likes a project, they usually have to take it to their editorial meeting, and that’s their first opportunity to get rejected by the other editors. If their project makes it through editorial and goes to Pub Committee, it has a pretty good chance of getting rejected there. Individual editors might or might not take it personally depending on a number of factors, but you can bet they’re keenly aware of their record of hits vs. misses. Rejection stings on a professional level, and often the personal one as well.
Publishers experience “rejection” when a highly anticipated book doesn’t sell. Consumers are the final link in this rejection chain.
I guess we are all “in sales” to a certain degree. We have a product we need to sell. But when our product is also our art, and our words feel like they’re coming straight from our soul, it just feels awful when nobody’s buying!
So we ask ourselves, why am I doing this again? And we usually come up with answers like: I do it because I can’t not do it. This is what I love. I’ve been addicted to books since I can remember. I do it because this is how God has gifted me. This is what I do.
And as long as those motivations hold true, we’ll keep doing it. Writers will keep writing, editors will keep editing, agents will keep agenting, readers will keep reading, and publishers will keep publishing. And we’ll all keep getting rejected.
Is it worth the pain?