This morning, I read a wonderful compilation of stories from agents and publishers on agent and author Betsy Lerner’s blogsite called "The One that Got Away"
It’s a must-read for any new (or established…) author who’s been rejected by an agent or publisher. We all know the drill. We’ve painstakingly honed our novel or non-fiction proposal to a bright, shiny appearance, and approached the "gatekeepers" with trepidation and awe, our hands shaking as we hold out our "jewel".
They respond in a couple of weeks or months with a pleasantly efficient form letter saying "[insert brush off here]".
It’s nice to keep in mind that the bastions of power where the keys to the kingdom are guarded, are staffed by human beings, after all. They make mistakes. They have regrets, too.
I especially enjoyed the publisher in the blog who admitted to having responded to a pitch for Cold Mountain by telling the author’s agent, "I was raised on a Civil War Battlefield! If I don’t believe it, no on elese will either!"
Authors, it seems are not the only ones that suffer from occasional hubris.
But, as authors with a "product" to pitch, we need to remember the job description we labor under. Author: a hard, unfulfilling, obessive occupation with impossibly long hours and very poor pay. But that’s why we do it!
Do your homework. Edit. Get help. Edit. Find a developmental editor who can suggest mechanics to improve the way your plot works. Edit. Edit.
If you must… pItch to agents and publishers who you know ahead of time have worked successfully with genres and styles such as yours. Polish your submission and personalize it just for them, and when you receive their pleasant, but dismissive letter, realize they just might have made a mistake!