There was a time when I thought that, as an aspiring author, nothing was more painful than the rejection emails flooding into my inbox. I was wrong.
A few months ago I started my querying journey. I didn’t send out large batches, partially because I was planning on attending the Pikes Peak Writers Conference to meet with some agents at the end of April. So I only sent out a handful of queries. Most of them were rejected. But I did get one request for a full manuscript. My excitement level went through the roof. The request came in in the morning, and I emailed her the requested material that afternoon. Her website states that it can take 12 weeks to hear back on a manuscript, but that didn’t stop me from watching my email like a hawk within hours of hitting the send button.
I shared my excitement with a select few people for a couple of reasons. On one hand, I wanted to soak it in on my own. But, at the same time, I didn’t want to have to share it if my manuscript was subsequently rejected. Getting a rejection on a query letter is one thing. There are so many reasons the agent may not have been interested. They could be too busy. They may not like the idea. Who know? But once you get past that initial hurdle, if they reject it, it’s because of the manuscript itself. Does that mean it’s flawed? Not necessarily. But it certainly feels more personal.
A couple of weeks after I sent the manuscript, I left for the conference. It was an amazing experience. Everyone I talked to was so friendly and supportive. I expected to spend the entire time as a loner, but I made several friends while I was there. During breakfast one day, I went to sit at an empty table because I didn’t recognize anyone. As I set my stuff down, someone at a nearby table said, “No, you’re not going to sit over there alone.” Like I said, the whole experience was just amazing. Anyway, after sitting through a few sessions (which were chock full of great information) I realized that the manuscript I’d sent out was not really ready. The story was good. The characters too. But it needed some work.
So I was faced with a serious dilemma. I could do the revisions and just hope the agent that already had my manuscript liked it the way it was, which seemed unlikely. Or I could send her an email and pull my manuscript from her consideration. After discussing the situation with an agent who was speaking at the conference, I knew what I had to do. It was with a heavy heart that I emailed the only agent who had my manuscript and admitted it wasn’t ready.
It was a hard decision to make, and an even harder email to send, but it was the right decision. It needed to be done. Luckily, the agent was understanding and thanked me for letting her know. Also, I had two more agents from the conference request to see at least part of the manuscript when my revisions are done.
So for now it’s back to the grindstone to finish these revisions. The best part is, I know I’m only making it better.