Hello, hello! Last Thursday, I sent out a few of the queries I was talking about in my last post. Friday morning, I woke up to a form rejection from one of the companies that declare a no from one agent is a no from all of them. They didn’t even take the time to personalize it with my name or the title of my “material,” and the signature wasn’t from the agent I addressed my query to, but instead from an associate agent. It had been sent at 8:04 in the morning. I thought my first agent rejection would be devastating, that it would be so much harder to take than all of the other writerly rejections I’ve received. I was wrong. A form rejection that basic was pretty much the best first agent rejection I could have asked for.
First, I suppose I should explain what a form rejection is for people who might not be sure. It’s basically a vague letter turning you down. Most of the ones I’ve gotten have an “it’s not you, it’s us” vibe. They start with a firm no, usually followed up by explaining that your story doesn’t mesh with what they’re looking for, and ending with something along the lines of “feel free to submit to us in the future.” Most of them are polite enough to include your name and the title of your story, at least in the realm of magazine/ezine rejections (not sure about agent rejections yet).
What do form rejections mean to me? Honestly, they tend to be an indication that my story didn’t even make it out of the slush pile, that it probably didn’t even make it to human eyes (and I might be entirely wrong, but it’s what I like to think). The places I submit to get hundreds of submissions a week. There’s no way they can read each piece and give them the attention they deserve. Slush readers weed through the ever-expanding piles and do their best to pick pieces the editors will enjoy or grab names that will bring in more readers. I’m guessing a similar process occurs in the agencies. I might not appreciate the whole process, but I understand it. As writers, rejection is a part of the game and we can’t question each one we get.
So, yeah. A barebones form rejection from an associate agent was exactly the kind of rejection I needed. It doesn’t mean that Garnets and Guardians is unwanted trash. It doesn’t reflect on my writing in any way. It simply means the agency wasn’t hooked by my query, if they even read it at all. And that’s okay. I’m more worried about when the rejections get personal, because then I’ll know it’s my fault. I might start getting really discouraged at that point. Until then, I’ll just keep writing and submitting and collecting my rejections. That’s all I can do.
How do you feel about form rejections? If they get you down, do you have any kind of ritual to help improve your mood again? Feel free to share any thoughts, stories, questions, or whatever here or on my social media pages!