After weeks of anxious anticipation, the email has finally arrived. In a matter of seconds you will find out whether your manuscript has been accepted by an agent or a publisher…or not. On first glance, your heart skips a beat. The email is longer than a one-liner (“not for us, but thanks anyway”) which is a good start.
You immediately scroll down to the end, knowing this is where your destiny lies – the result of months or even years of hard work. The email ends kindly, but for you, devastatingly. Your manuscript is good, but just not good enough. Now what?
Nobody likes being rejected. Why? Because regardless of the circumstances, it always feels personal. When a manuscript is rejected, it is really hard, particularly when your heart and soul has gone into it. But being rejected doesn’t necessarily mean the end, as the following steps show:
Step 1. Take a Break
A common knee-jerk reaction is to immediately disregard the rejection and email another agent/publisher without making any changes to your manuscript, sort of along the lines of, “That agent doesn’t know what he/she is talking about!”
Don’t let your pride get in the way. Have a little cry (let those emotions out!) and give yourself some time to accept the rejection. Trite though it may sound, time is a healer and giving yourself some recovery time will help you gain a new perspective and different ways to move the project forward.
Step 2. Assess the Feedback
Once you have recovered from the setback, take another look at the feedback. Clearly, your manuscript has potential, but it needs more work to make it marketable. What do you think could be done to improve your manuscript? Could you revise it in a way that might appeal to another agent or publisher?
Step 3. Get a fresh pair of eyes on it
Before you even attempt to start tinkering with your manuscript, it’s always worth getting another industry professional to review it first. It’s amazing how a writing expert can inspire new thoughts and ideas. Professional writers or development editors are the best types of experts to review your manuscript and suggest useful ways to improve it.
The bottom line is that rejection doesn’t have to be the end. When you get promising feedback from an expert, consider it thoughtfully. You just might need that extra bit of help to get your manuscript where it needs to be.
Emma Murray is a best-selling author and ghostwriter, specialising in business, psychology and higher education. She also ghosts books, blogs, articles, case studies, and book proposals.