Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Facing Rejections and Learning from Mistakes
Christmas song of the day: Little Drummer Boy
Most of you know I started querying in September, but what only two of you (hey, lovely betas!) know is that I got nothing but form rejections. It was frustrating and extremely disheartening. I had a good query, thanks to Matt Rush and his readers. And I thought I had some pretty decent sample pages. I'd gone through extensive revisions already and vamped up my first chapter to address issues my beta had. I even won a critique from Shannon Whitney Messenger and applied the changes she suggested. I was sure I had a perfectly polished novel.
But alas, my query and pages didn't pique anyone's interest. About a month and a half in, I happened to win another first chapter critique, this time from Elana Johnson. I'll be honest here, I hoped (and kinda expected) to receive praise. After all, I'd already gone through revisions and had a polished chapter to give to her. I was querying this for crying out loud! Unfortunately, Elana pointed out issues Shannon had pointed out and my beta had pointed out before her. I thought I'd already addressed and fixed those issues! Apparently not.
I completely rewrote the first three chapters of my novel. I sent the first chapter to my beta and she basically said it didn't work in any way. Sigh. So I rewrote the first chapter again. Better, she said. Phew!
Then I acquired a few more critique partners and I decided to really look at ELEMENTAL again. I mean REALLY look at it. It was darker than I remembered it being. After not reading most of it for a couple months, I was able to see it through the eyes of a fresh reader. So I took a look at my query and saw a glaring problem. The query was good, but it wasn't for my book. It was far too peppy and didn't match the tone of my first pages (original or new) at all.
No wonder I got nothing but form rejections.
I rewrote my query in the tone of the book and sent it to one of my betas for approval. After some suggestions on her part, I think I finally have a query that works for my book. Plus, I'm pretty pleased with my new chapters. No, I'm not querying anyone this month because I really need a break. After rewriting so much of ELEMENTAL (not to mention all the other edits I did throughout), plus writing and editing MORCAH all throughout November, I'm a tad tired. And of course, getting rejections in your inbox can be a little draining.
Facing rejections can be tough, but I'm glad I had a chance to learn from what I did wrong. As some of you are preparing to start querying or finishing up edits in your novels, I hope you take the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I'm sad I wasted months in ignorance. Don't rush into it like I did (and believe me, at the time, I didn't think I was rushing into it). And if the rejections DO start piling up, remember that they're not always a bad thing. Sometimes they can be the best lesson you can receive.
Happy querying, everyone!