So, you've written yourself a pretty good book. Even a great book, you dare say. It has a unique (but trendy) premise. You've spent months -- no, years -- developing and listening to your characters, filled in every novel-writing worksheet you could find, and used the latest, best-reviewed organizational program to make sure you haven't missed a thing. You've work-shopped the chapters multiple times with your trusty writers group. You've hired pro editors and revised the manuscript so many times, you can recite entire paragraphs by heart. You are so sure that YOU ARE READY that it's a little scary.
You then spend several weeks compiling a list of agents and publishers. You rank the list. You color-code the list. You scour writers forums one last time to make sure you haven't overlooked any possible market, no matter how obscure. Then you sharpen the hell out of that query letter until everyone who reads it tells you it's a winner. It's perfect.
Fast-forward six months. You've received fifty+ rejections. One of them seems personal, but it could also just be a form letter meant to trick you. But among all that negativity, you have also received one request for the full manuscript. You try to play it cool, but you can't ignore the feelings of relief. Your hopes lift. The clouds part. Your heart feels a little lighter as you make a futile attempt to tamp down romantic images of bidding wars and big contracts.
More time passes. The rejections keep rolling in, but they're drying up. One dark day, the interested agent sends you a rejection. It's a form letter.
You don't even update your spreadsheet anymore. You reluctantly start Googling "self-publishing". You lose your appetite. You think about buying a ukulele.
(Okay, at this point, even I'm a little unsure if I can turn this around and make you feel better, but let's give it a try...)
Hey: YOU. WROTE. A. BOOK.
Yes, the world is full of people who've written books. Every November, tens of thousands of writers join those ranks. Big deal.
But your book is good. Really good. Maybe you did write the first draft in a month. But, dammit, you didn't shelve it like so many others. You rescued the diamond of a story buried beneath a billion cringe-worthy descriptions and endless, pointless dialogue. You gave the story CPR and sat by its bedside, nursing it to its fullest potential. You spent years -- yes, YEARS -- writing this f#%*ing book, and you know in your heart that it's better than 90% of the garbage that's out there.
You put in the work. You've sacrificed. You persisted when most others have quit.
Give yourself a break. It's hard. Really hard. And you did it.
You know what else you did? You queried the shit out of that book. Though the idea of putting your ego and your work out there in front of the firing line made you want to cry, you did it.
Those rejection letters (or, in most cases these days, e-mails), are battle scars. Each one is a testament to your bravery and hard work.
So, let's review:
You wrote a book (few people do)
You spent years making it as great as possible (even fewer people do)
You had the guts to put it out there for rejection -- and not nice rejection, either. We're talking form letters and, unfortunately, a lot of de facto rejections where agents and editors didn't even acknowledge you. That's harsh.