It isn’t easy when an agent rejects your manuscript. Being able to accept the rejection gracefully and move forward with your process may take time. As I mentioned in the last post, a plethora of resources exist with suggestions of how to cope with rejection. There’s no one way. But once you’ve chosen your method and gotten through the toughest parts of the first few days, you’ll have to pick yourself up and keep moving forward.
To move forward, there are a few things you’ll need to consider doing: examining your rejection email again, revising your manuscript after consulting with people you trust, and continuing to query. Of these, the last is the most essential. The others will depend on the rejection. Let’s get started.
Reexamining Your Rejection
When you’re ready to face them again, pull up any of your rejections that included advice from agents on how to improve your manuscript. Not all of them will. Some will be simple form rejections. However, if any agents have mentioned why they decided to pass on your manuscript or asked you to revise and resubmit, sort through those emails and compile a list of suggestions.
As we said last week, these suggestions can be taken with a grain of salt—since every agent and reader will have a different opinion and view on your manuscript—but this can be very valuable advice if you choose to take it.
In particular, any agents who have asked you to resubmit after you revise should have their emails given particular attention. Remember, if you are resubmitting to an agent you have previously queried, take the time to actually revise the manuscript. This isn’t about speed. In fact, if you resubmit in only a few days, the agent will suspect that you haven’t truly taken the time to improve the manuscript and will be less likely to reread it for improvements.
Of all of the rejections you have received, organize the agents’ feedback and suggestions and consider it all carefully as you decide which advice to take and which to ignore.
Once you’ve sorted through the agents’ feedback, you can begin to implement the suggestions you find valuable. Here, the implementation is all up to you. If you have a writer’s group or trusted reader, this might be a good time to consult with them. In general, they can help you through the rejection process, but they can also help when you aren’t sure which of the agents’ suggested revisions to make.
As you examine the list you’ve compiled of agents’ feedback, assess it with an open mind. You’ll be tempted to defend every little thing that has been criticized, especially considering the fact that the agents aren’t your favorite people at that particular moment. However, judging their opinions without prejudice will help you sift for ones that will be genuinely helpful to your manuscript. If there are changes you can make that will improve the manuscript for future readers, those will be the changes you decide on.
Don’t get overwhelmed with the list you have in front of you. Although agents will suggest a number of changes, your own thoughts are what determine which of those changes will find their way into the manuscript.
Finally, and most importantly, once your chosen changes are implemented, keep querying. If you need to polish your query letter, do so, but then keep querying. There is nothing more important than continuing to contact agents and send out your manuscript. If you keep doing that, you will find the right agent to represent you and your work.
As always, thank you for reading! Come back next week for what else you can do while you’re querying—building your platform to publicize your manuscript for when you do find an agent and eventually a publisher.