Even a “NO” has value to a writer

Even a NO has valueIn the normal world, when you get a NO to a reasonable request, chances are, you simply didn’t ask the right question in the right way. Usually, you can just repeat the question in a different way to a different person and your chances of a yes become a maybe again. Not so easy for a writer!

Our “reasonable request” comes with baggage. We’re not just asking agents and publishers to put our work out there. We’re asking them to invest in us as human beings and artists. The work we send them has cost us time, money, family, friends, sunshine, and walks in the park. So when you get a NO, it runs deep. It has to. We care too much for it not to. And when that NO comes with zip-zero-nadda explanation, we, perhaps, feel justifiably mortified.

However… Take a step back. Think about the people you sent your novel to.

These are professionals. They don’t just say NO because they’re not in the mood to say YES. Every day, a professional agent and publisher is actively looking for the next bestseller. Every package they open, they have a silent wish that begs for this to be the one that makes their day or their year. They’re looking for magic. They’re looking for something that wakes up and slaps them in the face and demands to be read.

Think of the time and money they invest in untested authors. They might love the story, but will the market? They won’t know until they put it out there. It might fly, it might not. You might have invested your time, money, family, friends, sunshine, and walks in the park, but they’re investing their reputations and a lot more besides. So when they say NO, don’t take it personally.

Treat your book like a ball. My husband said that to me when I got my first rejection slip and practically fell into a coma.

Your book has to be something that can be kicked about. If you put it out there and it (or you) breaks after the first kick, then it won’t survive the game – nor will you.

Stand back, be objective. Pretend you’re the one investing in your book. Imagine it’s your reputation as an agent putting that book in front of publishers. Then ask yourself the hard questions and listen to the voice inside that knows the truth no matter how well you dress it up.

If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll remember the twinge in your gut that you ignored when you printed the “final version”. The twinge got a little dimmer when you ignored it and packaged up your three chapters, synopsis and cover letter along with a stamped and addressed envelope that you’re sure won’t come back. The twinge tried to make itself heard at the post office but by that time you really weren’t interested and posted it anyway. Deep inside, you knew there was something missing or wrong with the plot/character/ending/beginning/synopsis.

“Maybe they won’t notice,” you whisper to yourself.


These people are professionals! They read hundreds of first chapters every year. They know half-drafted nonsense when they see it, so take every NO as an opportunity to tune into your little voice and LISTEN!
What are you listening for?

“Oh bliss. Oh heaven. Perfect! Now… Send it in… Send it now…”

Absolutely. Now, maybe you’re ready.

Have a perfect writing day.