Erin Cleary

CHILDREN'S BOOK WRITER
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Happily Ever After

It came! My first rejection letter in what I assume will be a long line of rejections. Two days ago, I submitted my first manuscript. I only sent it to one agent. Psychologically, that’s how I needed to start the process. Send to one, hear back, and then—in the case of a rejection— regroup, turn up the volume, and blast that manuscript until the walls shake. I’m lucky I found an agent who responded in less than 24 hours. It would have been rough to wait months for that rejection, and in some cases, an agent never responds at all.

The email itself was pleasant but generic. It made me think of those days of online dating, when finding a life partner came down to hours of typing at the computer, working to create a good and honest image of myself so someone—the right one—would be interested. Rejections came then as well (and I sent a few of my own). They were often worded similarly, pleasant and kind, with little to offer in the way of helpful feedback. Thank you for your interest…Not a good fit…Best of luck…

Surprisingly, the rejection barely stung. Rejections are an expected part of this process. My Harry Potter-obsessed kid reminded me that J.K. Rowling was rejected 200 times before landing a home for her world-changing series. It did however, leave me with questions. Did the agent even read it? Did the agent’s assistant even read it? Was the title enough to turn them away? Did whoever read it giggle at any of the funny parts? Was the query letter a good representation of myself and the story? Why didn’t the rejection hurt as much as I thought it would?

After reflecting for a day, the answer to that last question is clear. It didn’t hurt because I know my manuscript is good, it’s polished, it’s ready. But it’s not for every agent, and it won’t be for every publisher. Back to online dating…I was the same person who was turned down by the guys who were not meant for me as I was when I finally met my husband. I know if I persevere, one of these days, my manuscript will also find it’s perfect match and live happily ever after.


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