If you’re thinking about trying to get a book published, you need to get ready to hear the word no. A lot.
I won’t bore you with the staggering statistics, but believe me when I tell you that no matter how great your manuscript is, you’re going to get a lot of rejections. Every book does. Harry Potter did, and I bet the publishers who passed on that little project still wake up screaming every night about it.
You’ll get rejected by agents. And if you persevere through the horrible odds and actually find one, you’ll move on to getting rejected by major publishers. If you give up on the agent and submit to independent publishers instead, you’ll get even more rejections.
No. Noes. Lots of them.
If you’re not careful, you’ll get buried under an avalanche of noes.
So how will keep going through the months and years when all you’ll get is form replies that say, “Thank you for submitting; after careful consideration we’ve decided this project is not a good fit for us…” and all its variations? How will you cope with the astounding number of agents who won’t even give you that, leaving you to wonder if they even got your amazing submission at all?
The answer is the little yesses.
You’re waiting on the big yes. The yes from the agent. The yes from the publisher. But along the way you can rack up some little ones. Each little yes is a tiny boost for your flagging soul, a little kick that will keep you going through the tough times of no.
Some are tiny victories. Likes for your blog posts. Appreciative comments from blog readers. Retweets on your pithy 140 word commentaries. Likes for the Facebook author page you set up in a fit of optimism that’s long gone now in the dreary “no” slog.
Short stories are a great source of little yesses. Write them. Submit them to anthologies and magazines. They’ll help you perfect your writing craft, and if you get the yes, they’ll give you something to put in the bio section on your next round of agent queries. They’ll also elevate you from writer to author as soon as one is published, and that’s a huge yes.
Participate in Twitter pitch parties. If an agent or publisher favorites your tweet, that’s an invitation to submit to them, and it’s also a little yes.
Get a partial request? Yes!
Get a full request? Yes!
Even if they turn into noes eventually, these are the little yesses that will propel you forward.
If you quit too soon, you’ll never get the big yes. Use the little ones to feed your soul’s engine, and keep rolling down the highway past the forests of no, over the potholes of no, through the traffic jams of no and onto the clear, smooth road that finally leads to…well, you know where.