You did the hard work. You dreamed, plotted, wrote, and edited the story within you that needed to be told. Then you did more hard work – writing that query letter. Some think it’s more of a challenge than writing the book itself! I’m inclined to agree. Query letters and blurbs will be the death of me, but that’s a topic for another blog. So, the carefully-researched queries go out. Then what?
These can be the most disheartening and frustrating responses of all – no response. Whatever happened to the phrase, “No news is good news?” Everyone is busy, but in this electronic age, a computer-generated response would at least be notification that provides an answer and gives closure. At any rate, you’ve probably created a tracking mechanism so you know that if a specific date or reasonable amount of time has passed without any word from the agent/publisher, they’re probably not interested in your manuscript. Document it and move on.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a rejection (did I just type that?) that contains more than the standard, “Your work does not fit our needs at this time” or something like that. If the rejection comes with any personal feedback or suggestions, be grateful and contemplate carefully what was said. Perhaps the plot was meandering, the characters not quite believable or relatable, or the reader didn’t think the story actually started until page five. Take this valuable feedback to heart and see how it applies to improving your story.
When your story has been published (YAY!), you’ll be looking for reviews. There’s been some buzz on social media, asking if authors read reviews of their books. I hope they are! Sure, we’re all looking for those glowing, five-star reviews, but what about the reviews with lower stars, or no stars with comments? Yes, read those, too! They may not be as pleasant or ego-boosting, but they may be signaling a potential plot issue, especially if there are several reviews with the same, common thread. Bottom line, read the good and the bad. If you’re not inclined to pull that book back and make revisions, it will be good advice to keep in mind as you work on the next one.
Bottom line…feedback is free, but you don’t have to take any or all of the advice that comes with either a rejection or a review. But a smart, savvy writer takes it all in and considers it part of the writing journey.