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Thread: Coping Mechanisms?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Coping Mechanisms?

    I'm about to embark on the journey of compiling a list of agents, writing a query and submitting. How do you cope with rejection? My thought is the more I send out and the more rejections that pile up I'll have to grow a thicker skin... Maybe A square of dark chocolate per rejection? Or when I rack up 50 rejections I treat myself to a massage?

  2. #2
    Always Be Writing abrowne's Avatar
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    I think it's whatever works for you! I find it works better to reward myself for numbers (like the massage), because it feels like even rejections become a little bit of a "win," whereas food just makes me feel like I'm comforting myself for a sad thing... honestly though, I just try to think of a form rejection (or no reply) as the baseline, and anything I get above that (even just a slightly personalized rejection) is a win.

    Also, take comfort in other writers who feel your pain....

  3. #3
    Old Hand in the Biz Barbara R.'s Avatar
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    Chocolate is a great comfort food, but given the amount of rejection in a writer's life plus the sedentary nature of the profession, it's liable to lead to obesity. Anyway, I personally prefer to peg chocolate to success than to rejection.

    How many bad words do you know? Quite a few, I imagine, as you're a writer. Try directing every one of them at the offending agent. Be as florid as you like. Insult their taste, intelligence, and literacy level. Feel free to share with family and friends. It's all wonderfully liberating.

    But not one word to the agent---shtum! It's a small industry and not a great idea to offend players gratuitously. I don't care how dumb or anodyne their response; either you say "Thanks for your consideration" or, better yet, you say nothing at all and just move on to the next agent on your list.

    You can also take comfort in the fact that every writer in the universe has suffered rejection. For every acceptance, there's usually a trail of rejections. Writers have to learn to endure them or they won't be writers for long.

    Finally--I believe that rejection actually plays a positive part in the writing process, an argument laid out in this piece.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbara R. View Post
    Chocolate is a great comfort food, but given the amount of rejection in a writer's life plus the sedentary nature of the profession, it's liable to lead to obesity. Anyway, I personally prefer to peg chocolate to success than to rejection.
    I tend to eat chocolate if it is present - regardless of my mood!

  5. #5
    Always Be Writing abrowne's Avatar
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    Barbara-- Read and loved your linked post, particularly the bit calling editors and agents "superpredators thinning the herd," complete with a picture of a tiger. Maybe that's also a helpful perspective, gmwhitley? The idea that it's SUPPOSED to be tough, because publishing (once you make it through that gate) is tough, and you'll need all the armor you can get.

    I'm in grad school for a Masters of Social Work, and that's legitimately a tactic they use. The schooling is supposed to be (kind of pointlessly) brutal, because the work itself is brutal. So maybe it would help to think about it like, "with every rejection, I'm becoming more of a battle-hardened badass"? :P

    ...or just go the chocolate route. Why stop with a square for every rejection, though? I say for every, mmmm... 20 rejections? Chocolate cake. And you get to eat it for breakfast, too.

  6. #6
    Old Hand in the Biz Barbara R.'s Avatar
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    Thanks, glad you liked it!

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    For me, what helps is working on other, new, writing projects. That way, the rejections don't hurt or bother me as much.

  8. #8
    Polydactyl Landshrimp underpope's Avatar
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    For each rejection I get, I take a half hour off from writing and watch an extra episode of The Twilight Zone. It works for me.
    -----
    Richard S. Crawford: Code monkey by day, word monkey by night
    Website/Blog: www.underpope.com
    For your reading pleasure, a wee horror novella: The Winds of Patwin County

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW Evelyn_Alexie's Avatar
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    Step 1: I repeat my mantra, "How dare they not swoon at the mere privilege of being exposed to a work of such incredible genius?"
    Step 2: I climb on my elliptical and turn on my Rejection playlist (I'm Still Standing, Stop Your Sobbing, etc.) and work out.
    Step 3: I visualize a future where I'm a successful writer who supports herself by her brilliant writing which EVERYONE loves.
    The above text is a natural product.
    Slight variations in grammar & spelling enhance its original character and are not to be seen as defects. Especially since Autocorrect has a mind of its own.

  10. #10
    Not my first rodeo. Liz_V's Avatar
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    A friend of a friend, when she finally sold her novel, had a launch party and hung every single rejection she'd ever gotten on strings to make party streamers.

    I've always thought that was brilliant, so now when I query, I don't think of it as risking rejection; I think of it as collecting parts for my party streamers. The more Rs I get, the better my decorations will be!

  11. #11
    Add Salt to Taste HistoryLvr's Avatar
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    One thing that I did, which worked in the beginning but might not work forever, is start out sending out a few at a time, and then keep working on your query and MS. Maybe 2-4 a week, depending on how well you feel your work is progressing. That way, when you get rejected, you think to yourself, yeah, but that was an earlier draft. This is much better. And then there's still the handful of queries that were sent out between the one that was rejected and when you received the rejection. It helps to think that any of those could be the one that gets picked.

    I would advise against working tirelessly on your query and then sending it out to fifty agents in one day. Take some time to wait for their comments and improve what you have. It also helped me to send out the first query knowing it was unlikely to get chosen, but that I had officially lost my query "flower" and that from then on it would be easier. If you have a few agents in mind that you'd really really like to work with, maybe save them for your second or third round or queries, or later. I didn't have anyone in mind so I just started alphabetically. The J's got much better queries than the C's, but not as good as the W's. But I'm sure that won't work for everyone.

    Good luck and don't give up!
    The Voice of the Inka
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  12. #12
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I will admit to sulking a little about rejections in the privacy of my own home. As long as you have a good sulk and then move on, and don't go public with any of it, I don't think it does any harm.
    Emily Veinglory

  13. #13
    figuring it all out Felix's Avatar
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    I started by making a spreadsheet of 20 or so agents and sending to eight. When one decline came in, I sent to the next on the list. I sent four different versions of my query to 13 agents. I received eight form rejections and one personalized rejection that I turned into an R&R by asking if he'd be willing to look at a resubmit if I addressed his concerns. He likes my premise.

    I stopped querying for a while and I'm doing some serious overhauling. Rejections don't bother me. Especially not form rejections. But healthy or not, whiskey is my go-to. I won't drink and write (or edit) so I don't drink *that* much but if I feel particularly crappy, I'll make myself a killer cocktail.
    When I'm too tired for words, I Instagram. Yes, girls can like whiskey and wrenches.

  14. #14
    Add Salt to Taste HistoryLvr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felix View Post
    I stopped querying for a while and I'm doing some serious overhauling. Rejections don't bother me. Especially not form rejections. But healthy or not, whiskey is my go-to. I won't drink and write (or edit) so I don't drink *that* much but if I feel particularly crappy, I'll make myself a killer cocktail.
    A nice strong drink can do wonders for rejection. Might I suggest weed, if it's legal where you are and anything else I should say so I don't get in trouble for pushing drugs. Nothing relaxes my fears as fast as a strong drink and a long hit. Do what works for you to help with things, but I'd recommend sticking to things that won't harm you in the long run, like lots of chocolate or excessive drinking, just in case.
    The Voice of the Inka
    YA Historical Fiction w/Time Travel
    Done @ 74k words
    Still needs some work but coming along

  15. #15
    permanently suctioned to Buz's leg Putputt's Avatar
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    The #1 cure for rejection blues for myself is...New Shiny. As soon as one project is ready to be submitted (whether to agents when I was querying, or to editors now), I move on to the next project straightaway. Otherwise, when the rejections roll in--and you know they will, because so few people get a Yes on the first try (and if you do, I hate you)--they'll quickly whittle down your enthusiasm. Seek comfort in your New Shiny, which is so much shinier and excitinger than the previous MS.

    #2 cure: Whine to writing friends. Spend more time here and make friends with other writers. We're the ones who will truly empathize with the sting of rejection. Family and friends may be well-intentioned, but so many times, their reaction is: "Awww, sorry to hear your book got rejected. Hey, have you ever heard of self-publishing? I hear it's super easy!" So now I stick with whining to my writing buddies, who I know won't ever say "Just self-pub! It's so easy!!"
    Kallithrix: "you're like pot noodle - you know it's dirty, unwholesome, trashy drunk food, but.... you just want it in your mouf"

    Wee hippo has a message for everyone: DIIIIIE.

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW
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    I think the best way to stay grounded with rejections is to remember that an agent or publication is not the end of the road. Once you have an agent, you have to overhaul the manuscript, then go on submissions, and then your agent will get rejected. Once an editor picks up your book, you'll edit the MS again, and unless you're very lucky, your book will get at least a few negative reviews, i.e. rejection by readers. There will always be something just out of your reach-- bestseller-dom, positive reviews in the New Yorker, or that award you covet.

    Rejections need to be embraced as part of the process, imo. If you submit, you will get rejected. And the fact that you're accepted doesn't magically turn you into a successful published author. Turning a successful published author isn't always a gateway to happiness either, something is always out of your reach--so what I'm saying is we have to be in it for the long haul.

    Take joys where we can-- when I receive a rejection on anything, I open up all the good remarks on my writing I've ever received, (we all get those, don't we, we just tend to focus on the negatives more)--and read those to myself. That usually helps.

    In my case, I sent out a bunch of queries very quickly, and also networked a ton through workshops and conferences during the time I was in London. I signed up with an agent quite soon--within a month of when I started querying, re-worked my novel, got a few bites but no offers, wrote another, and am waiting for an offer on that one. I'm sure my agent is piling up the rejections as we speak. It does get miserable on some days, this waiting game, but what matters to me is getting up and writing again, telling myself that rejections are part of the process, and moving on with the writing. It never gets easy, and the writing life (as far as I know) is never one of uninterrupted joy. I'm digging into my third novel right now.

    So, I guess, taking a long view of things takes the sting out of rejection. (For me, at least.)

    All the best with your querying, and I hope you get your agent soon!
    Last edited by AcaciaNeem; 09-14-2017 at 07:43 AM.

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I started another book--one whose concept I was very excited about--as soon as I sent out the first round of queries. I'm so wrapped up in the fun of writing it that I straight-up forget I have something out on query until the rejection emails come on. And then I just toss them aside. Got that first draft to finish, gotta get my 2000 (or 4000) words in! No time to get discouraged.

  18. #18
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    I think it helps to think of marketing (putting yourself on the market by submitting queries) like hitting the switch in a room - you flip the switch and the light goes on, the other way and it goes off. So do everything related to that once (maybe twice or 3ce) a week. You send *and read* all correspondences in a time marked out just for that. If you do this you can isolate the bruising to the one interval of time, and you'll be able to ignore it outside that time. Also to keep writing on all the days that you usually write. That's my 2 cents.
    すべての武器を楽器に
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  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW
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    I have coped with the very long, endless, unbroken stream of rejections by not submitting anything for the last two years.

    caw
    Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

    -- Terry Pratchett

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW Jamills08's Avatar
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    I went through this about 4 years ago and I don't even remember what I did after every rejection! I ended up scrapping the book. But I think I just expected the rejection so I filed it and went on. This time might be different since I've put so much time into it. Maybe I'll just have a beer after every rejection! Research and personalize a new query for every rejection to replace them. Message my cp's and tell them how much the agent is missing out. Lol

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by HistoryLvr View Post
    A nice strong drink can do wonders for rejection.
    Ah . . . where's that Talisker when I need it?

    caw
    Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

    -- Terry Pratchett

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    I just buy another lottery ticket. If I win, I can retire and write full time. If I lose, I can buy another ticket.

  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW Jamills08's Avatar
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    If you win the lottery you can buy your own publishing company to publish your books

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