The Masochistic Literary Game

Today I got another rejection letter from a potential agent. I can hook them, but I can’t sink ‘em. I sent out ten queries as a first round pitch, and received three request for partials, and two requests for wholes. Then, one by one the rejections trickled in. I got the last one in yesterday. Honestly, after nine other rejections, I knew this one was coming anyway.

But from everything I’ve read, that’s a fairly good success rate. Partials requests are rare, and full manuscript requests even rarer. So, I have to keep on trying. Publishing lore is full of authors with rejection letters numbering three and four digits, that are now household names. And so we truck on, holding these names in our hearts, believing that perhaps we are just one of them.  We must console ourselves because we know that we really can’t do much else in life. We were created to write, and if we can’t do that, then what? Well, maybe I could learn to teach Scuba diving? But I don’t even swim.

Publishing is a game for masochists. Those that have some sort of deep insecurity and feelings of self-doubt that they need validated by a community of ruthless professionals. “Yes, you do in fact, suck at the artistic endeavor that you have poured your entire being into. That one talent that you thought made you special, unique, and set you apart from the masses of faceless individuals, well, you’re decent, but…I’ve had better.” And through sniffles, we say, “I knew it.” This is why writers become drunks. Publishing sucks.

In their defense, all the agents I’ve spoken to have been kindly sorts, that issue gentle but encouraging rejections. At least I’ve got that going for me.  They all agree the concept is great…but after that come the long list of “buts.” And so it goes. At least I’m in the game, right? And that makes me a masochist.


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