We all get them, even those of us who have a track record in publishing. In fact there are some who have a sort of superstitious belief that you have to have a certain number of rejections before you are accepted – and then actually relish each one as it arrives as “… down … to go.”
I used to be of the school that sent out three submissions to agents and three to publishers then sat back and waited, replacing each rejection with a new submission. There is a vital flaw in this: if an agent does accept you, you may have limited some of the work they can do. The agent may now have fewer publishers to approach.
Now, I’m taking a slower tack. I’m actually submitting to just one agent at a time and when I’ve exhausted the agents, I’ll start on the publishers who accept unsolicited scripts. Exceptionally, though, I’ll send out to some opportunity that seems to fit my script like a glove. I have had one or two successes that way.
We do grow as writers and the chances are that by the time an agent or a publisher has sat on a work for three months or so, you will see the text with new eyes. A writing friend of mine used to call rejections “rewrites”. What a healthy attitude! We learn all the time. Even if we get no feedback at all from the publisher we should be capable of being our own best editors and taking a closer, fresher look at out text. If there are any pointers from the agent or publisher – great.
I find by only having each manuscript in one place at a time, I can give each rejection my whole attention and give the script some good honest scrutiny. A word of warning, here, though: don’t look at just the three chapters and synopsis. Revise the whole novel. I do believe I’ve spotted several that start off really well and then deteriorate at about Chapter Four.
Yes, our writing has to be the very best it can be all of the time. Eventually then, the rejection will turn into acceptance.