Thank you for your “no.”
Many years ago, I wrote a novel. Since then, once a year or so, I’d dust it off and send a query note to a literary agent or two. Then I’d get busy with life and forget about it for another year when I’d repeat the same process. Late last year, I had a wake-up moment. One of those, “What are you doing with your life?” moments. And among other decisions, I decided that every single day of the week except Sunday I would find a literary agent to query. And I’d keep doing that until I ran out of agents. Then I’d find another way to pursue the publication of my first story.
At the same time I decided to regularly pursue agents, I read something from someone (I apologize about the lack of details but I don’t remember where I read it, or who wrote it) that indicated they purposely spent a year trying to fail. They applied for jobs they’d never get. They took risks they knew would not pay off. And you know what happened? Many things did fail as expected, but the person was actually successful something like 40% of the time. They got jobs they didn’t have the right skills for. I thought that was such a fun concept, to do things where you know you will fail a certain number of times. That behavior certainly makes a person go beyond their comfort zone.
So I married those two ideas, my desire to find an agent for my book and my being willing to fail. Which doesn’t mean I’m going to fail. I will eventually publish my book, one way or another. But the point is that some of the people I am submitting a few chapters to are people I think will say “no.” People who are agents for very famous and well read authors. Some of the agents are those whose websites only indicate a slight interest in the type of book I’ve written. So they’ll probably say no. But you never know!!!
And sometimes you DO never know. What I have found is that literary agents are apparently the only profession that does not have to get back to people. If someone calls me in my real estate business, I’m on it! I call, text, email, whatever. If I call a doctor’s office, I get a call back. Same with any other type of professional I know of. But literary agents? They specifically say, “if you don’t hear from us in a few months, we’re not interested.” But one wonders, did they even get my query? Did they see my chapters? And in addition to stating they just won’t respond if they don’t like the work, they also say, “Don’t follow up. Don’t call. Don’t tweet us. Don’t write.”
Since I’ve been sending information to a different agent every day for the last month or two, I am finally getting some responses. So far they are all “no’s.” But I have been thanking every single agent who takes the time to respond to me, with a personal thank you in return. Thank you for your response. I truly do appreciate that they actually read my email, thought about what I wrote, and took the time to respond. I don’t even mind if they send me a form email. At least they cared enough to do that.
I am thanking them because I am grateful I now know for sure that specific agent is not the right one for me, so I can continue to look for the right one. Today, though, was the agent that will forever have the blue prize in my literary agent quest. That is because, even though she said “no”, she actually responded the very same day I requested her review. And her response was a personalized note about what I had written. Wow. I love that agent.
So thank you to anyone who has ever told me “no” about something. Because that gave me the direction to try a different path to get to the “yes” I know is waiting.
Take risks, get rejected, take more risks. That is the path I am following. Join me.