In light of some comments and thoughts expressed during #PitMad on Twitter yesterday, I wanted to share some lessons I’ve learned through the writing and querying process.
I’ve seen a lot of people, not just during this recent pitching session, but in general, speaking of how discouraged they feel about their writing when they see others finish a book or a series when they’re still stuck on the first draft or first book. Or when others sign with an agent or get published when they’re still editing in hopes of querying. Or seeing others get lots of agent likes on their Twitter pitches when they got none.
Now don’t get me wrong, I totally get it. I know personally how discouraging it can be when you see others zooming past and you still feel like you’re in the beginning stages. I’ve been jealous of other people for being featured, winning awards, signing with an agent or published with a big press, or even wishing I received at least one agent like during the last pitching session. During those times I’ve often felt as though my writing didn’t matter, if maybe I was wasting my time and shouldn’t go into publishing, or whether I should just pour more of myself into music rather than writing.
Your writing’s value is and should not be determined by other peoples’ opinions. Of course, if it’s quality that’s lacking, that only comes by practicing and editing. But as far as value, that should not be determined by other people.
If an agent doesn’t like your Twitter pitch, or if you get a rejection from an agent or press, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. One thing I had to understand early on in the querying process was that publishing houses and literary agents view your works as a business—how much is your book going to make? This makes sense, since they get a large cut in the royalties. But this often is the most crucial aspect. Even if they connect with your story, if they don’t think it’s going to make enough, they won’t accept you. Simple, yes. Discouraging and heart-breaking at times, also yes.
But while bad rejections do exist and they can be very discouraging, good rejections also exist. There’s been many times that, while it was a rejection, I still received a nice comment or encouraging feedback that made me feel good about my story, even if I didn’t get a full request or a offer of representation. And the same goes for pitches. I’ve participated in more pitch sessions than I can count. I’ve only ever received three agent likes. But I’ve received wonderful support and feedback from people who saw my pitches.
Your writing’s value is not determined by other peoples’ opinions. You’ve worked hard on it. You should be proud of it. Just because other people don’t connect doesn’t necessarily mean your story is, well, trash. There’s been published books, classics, that absolutely captured my heart, that other people didn’t like. Everyone has different tastes and not everyone is going to like the same thing.
In short, don’t be discouraged by your progress. Even slow progress is better than no progress. Just because someone is ahead of you doesn’t mean they haven’t had to face the same obstacles you are facing. Don’t get discouraged. Your time will come too!
Just hang in there, and never stop writing. The world is in need of more good stories.