I've done a bunch of posts about being rejected by agents in the last few years, but I thought it was time for another one.
When you get rejected by an agent, it's not because you're a bad person. You're probably a lovely person. Many times, it's not because your writing is that bad either--Jodi and I really try to point out to people where their writing is good and the rest of the novel needs work. A lot of the time, especially in this economy, your novel is rejected because it's not the right book for the current market.
But I think what a lot of people lose sight of is that even if your novel is rejected, that doesn't mean you should stop writing. It doesn't mean the agent who rejected you is a bad person. It doesn't mean that you won't connect with that agent another time. It's just because your writing was not the right book that they were looking for at that time.
To use an example from my life:
Many of you know that in my limited spare time, I write too. Mostly short stories, although there is that mythical novel which may get finished before I die.
And while I'm good at submitting my client's work, I am notoriously bad at sending out my own stuff. My hard drive sees all the good stuff. =) It's a very well read hard drive.
Part of this is the same fear of failure and rejection that many of you experience when you send your novels to agents. Part of this is because I *always* assume that my work will be rejected; I am a student of years of careful pessimism about that.
But on occasion, I do make myself get off my butt and submit work.
In the last week, I got rejections from Clarkesworld Magazine and Fantasy Magazine on the same short story (they are damn quick). It's now at Strange Horizons, where it will most likely be rejected, as I do not have great luck at Strange Horizons. I have a second short story at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, which they've been sitting on for 60 some days.
I'm expecting rejections on both stories.
But that doesn't mean I think it's because the editors hate me and are rejecting me personally.
I know Neil Clarke who runs Clarkesworld, and I enjoy talking to him at conferences; he's a good guy and lives in NJ too. I'm friends with Cat Rambo and Sean Wallace, who edit Fantasy Magazine. I know some of the editors at Strange Horizons. And I'm also friends with Edmund Schubert, who edits IGMS.
When any of those magazines reject me, I don't assume that Neil, Cat, Sean, Edmund, or the Strange Horizons folks hate me. They just don't like the story that I've sent them. Sometimes they send encouraging rejections; sometimes I get form rejections, like everyone else in the world. It doesn't mean that I'm not going to talk to them the next day, even if occasionally I want to kick at something for a few minutes after getting the rejection.
I have become fairly decent at dividing the professional out of personal in terms of rejection. That doesn't mean that I like getting rejected; that's quite the contrary.
But I've learned that it's not me. And that I have to get back up and send that story out again, or my computer is the only one who's going to read it.
Do the same with your novels. Send them out. Brace yourself for the rejections. And while you're doing that, write another novel. =)