First World Problems
The literary agent rejection.
REJECTIONS : Rejections are the most common emotional wound we can self-inflict in life. From tiny snubs to the bigger more personal things of sending our hard fought for words out for submission to a literary agent. We place our emotional self on the cliff edge and hand the power of the big red chair to people we may never meet. We assume they are highly academically qualified in all things literary and commercially minded and have every top publisher on speed dial.
Here is the most upbeat positive rejection ever from 2013 from Clare Conville of Conville and Walsh via Alexander Cochran. The most important part of the text for me at the time was:
"Clare and I have both had the chance to look at this and thought the premise was great. The theme of obsession which ran through the novel was well explored in an exciting and convincing way. the dead sister's influence on the story also provided a further layer to the story which both of us felt was effective."
It was rejected! Back in August 2013.
Today, thanks to email and social media platforms, each of us are connected to thousands of people, therefore rejection is easier. The ability to "shake it off" is perhaps easier, and Twitter has turned rejection into an industry...
However, it’s been discovered that the same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. That’s why even small rejections hurt more than we think they should, because they elicit literal (albeit, emotional) pain. And only through a combination of good friends, maturity and honing our invisible security blanket can we smother ourselves in reasons for not feeling the pain. But however much we do, rejection hurts ! The MS this email refers to went on to sell well when it was published in 2018, so it's a positive ending but it got me thinking.
Sending out your MS is like walking into a pitch black room and a voice saying “Go on then, begin.” Having performed to an unwritten script and aiming at a goal that we can’t see, we leave in the darkness. It can’t be much better for the agents who ask for submissions. They are asking people to make them feel something. Anything at all. Just not uninspired.
In every other type of rejection we have the knowledge of what was expected from us so is there a solution to this brutal problem? I don’t know.
Maybe literary agent's could ask for a voluntary charitable donation when accepting or requesting a submission from authors? And match the amount given. It is tax deductible. Just a thought.
After all, if I can be asked by my bank to make a charity donation when making a cash withdrawal, why can’t an agent raise money for one of the many causes requiring hard cash?
Thousands of MS are submitted per week per agent, isn’t that 1000’s of £’s that could be raised?
It would focus our minds and make a difference.
And the published accounts of agents would show us which agents really are the most are sought after.