Rejection is a subject I keep getting back to now and then, probably because it's such a constant part of an author's life. Because if you plan to stay in this game for any length of time, you are going to get rejected. Repeatedly. Well, maybe unless your name is Dan Brown.
It doesn't matter how talented you are. Reality check: you are a single grain of sand on a wide sprawling seashore. People walk all over you, and nobody's paying you any attention. Prepare for this to last for a good long while (we're talking years, not weeks).
A few days ago, I ran across the following Tweet by literary agent Rena Rossner:
"I got down to 100 unread queries in my inbox today, then discovered 90 more unread queries in my spam folder...#agentlife "
This, people, is typical for pretty much every agent worth their salt. One word: competition. While many literary agents state that they are looking for new voices and building their client list, they will only accept a manuscript that "they can fall in love with" or that "feels just right". Translation: it's commercial enough to be likely to get picked up by a major publisher, it's extremely well-written, it fits that particular agent's fancy, and the agent got up in an especially good mood that morning.
Everybody wants to get published, and you'd better take your place in the line and get out the snacks and the crossword, because you're going to be standing here for a good long time. This is true not only with literary agents, but with publishers who accept work from unagented authors, with literary magazines, writing contests, and even in indie publishing, where success is measured in sales and popularity. Chances are, you gotta fail 99 times to succeed once.
But will it pay off in the end? If you are determined, and persevere, and never give up, will you succeed eventually... or will you end up frittering away your life chasing an impossible dream?
It's a tricky question, but I choose to believe in the dream; I have to believe it for you, because I believe it for me. But it's not all sunshine and roses and unicorns riding down the rainbow of inspiration. It's hard work with a steep learning curve, and many talented authors spent decades before they produced anything really publish-worthy, let alone anything that gets any degree of acknowledgment. So yeah. It's a long haul, but I'm in. Are you?