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The Literary Struggle

Updated on September 11, 2014
See your name on a beautiful book spine.
See your name on a beautiful book spine. | Source

Great! You have finished your first novel and are ready to reap the rewards of publication. You have poked and prodded your manuscript to a sickening degree and are positive that the world is ready for your literary masterpiece. But beware, the hardest part has just began. Finding an agent and meeting their many standards does not happen over night. A novel's entry into the world normally only happens after several rejections, possibly a few shed tears, and a sudden urge to give up hope. Fear not my follow writers, here is some helpful advice for all you up and coming authors.

Don't Count Rejections

When your dream is to become a published author it can be more than disconcerting when you finally hear back from an agent only to find that they are rejecting your work. I am still on the prowl for a literary representative, and I have to tell you, the rejections still get to me. However, the pin prick of a polite but ardent no stings a bit less now. This is simply because I have stopped counting the rejections. It is more than likely that your book will get turned down multiple times before someone is actually willing to even look at your full manuscript. The road to publication is often a long, hard one, but in the end it will be well worth the wait.

Also, it is important to remember that a rejection does not automatically mean your work is no good. The competitive world of writing is constantly changing. Therefore, the needs of an agent varies as well. Many agents may think your manuscript is very intriguing, but the demands of their existing cliental may take premise over your novel due to their lack of passion to take on another author. For all you know your masterpiece could be the next New York Times Bestseller. So don't give up even if you receive a hundred rejections!

Look Up Examples

One thing that I am sure you have heard or read time and time again is to research, research, research. This cannot be stressed enough, especially if you are a newbie to the publishing journey. I did tons upon tons of research and have found that I still have much to learn. Knowing exactly what you are getting yourself into keeps you one step ahead of the game and will show in the work that you submit to agencies as well as publishing houses. Literary agents sift through a plethora of manuscripts and query letters, and nothing can be more frustrating for these individuals than wasting their time on submissions that do not adhere to their specific guidelines.

A truly helpful idea for those of you who are as stumped as I was on writing a good query letter is to look up examples of successful queries. This gives you a sort of template to follow, but for the love of Shakespeare's plays do not plagiarize. That kind of blasphemy will only stunt your career and creativity. Just Google the subject and note the differences/similarities between your letter and the accepted one. I found that Writer's Digest has some outstanding examples which include the letter and the agent's reasons for accepting the query. Both are needed to grasp what a well written letter should look like.

Don't Advertise Your a Newb

This is a little advice I got from a literary agent. She advised all of her potential clients not to be so gung ho to tell an agent that the book they were trying to submit was their first. Newbies to the profession often make careless mistakes--believe me, I know--so queries that advertise their freshness to the field are sometimes pushed to the way side. Literary agents are very busy and, although they want to help you, they have a mountain of things to do on their plates already. Manuscripts that make their lives easier will definitely get chosen over a potential investment into disaster. No, it's not fair, but that's just the way things are. So keep your head held high, ignore the doubt floating around in your head, and keep sending in the work of art you are dying to share with the world.


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    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 3 years ago from United States

      Back when I was first submitting to agents I included a line about this being my first book. At the time I was following direction from some other website about laying everything out for the agent, but now I'm starting to think that your method is better. Spelling out one's inexperience, right out of the gate, is just one of many nit-picky reasons an agent might reject you.

      I always assumed that I was getting rejected because my story wasn't interesting enough, but the harsh reality is that it probably has nothing to do with your story. The one personalized response I got just said that the book was too long. Nothing about the characters, plot, or setting. But, on the flip-side, one could write the perfect query letter, with an entirely marketable book, and still get rejected.

      I try not to be bitter about all my rejections (52 - I did keep track of it) but it's hard to swallow the business side of the industry. Considering how closely we hold these books to our heart, it's hard to treat it like a frivolous business transaction. I don't think I'll ever get used to that.