Those of you who read my ‘foot in the door’ piece will be pleased to hear that my client, a first-time author who flew 6000 miles to knock at the door of the agent who hadn’t answered his submission email, has found himself a publisher. I was so delighted that his rubber-ball persistence paid off. Some things I learned from his experience:
– The author’s persistence wasn’t bred of blind self-belief. He had asked people to read his manuscript and, once friends whose opinions he rates had done their bit, he came to me to give an unbiased critique. (If your manuscript takes 8 hours to read, it can be a lot to ask of a partner or friend so if you can afford it, a book doctor is a sound course to take)
– Before he came to me he had been turned down by a couple of agents. His response to this had not been: ‘Help! Rejection! Defence-wall-up!’ but ‘Okay, I’ll take what comments I’ve gleaned so far and do what I can to rework my draft.’ It is hard not to take rejection to heart but you need to remind yourself that every work can be improved if you open yourself, and your ears, to listen to feedback.
I have seen manuscripts full of stylistic and structural flaws turned around, and it has always moved me to witness the transformation. Such transformation has only come about through humility and hard work: not taking rejection personally – ‘the Oh help my teacher/parent doesn’t love me’ knee-jerk response – but being grown up about it. Life is full of knocks and we all know that to pick ourselves up, reevaluate our course, and soldier on is part of the experience. Not to soldier on doing things in exactly the same way (after all, as the saying goes: one definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results) but realising that there are other opinions, other roads to take, and that the one we choose isn’t necessarily the only one, or even the right one. We are all learning, all of the time.