Dear Author, kindly go suck an egg.

I just received my very first positive response from a literary agent; Bridget Smith at Dunham Literary wants me to send her my manuscript. I received this e-mail less than five minutes after scheduling an August book release party for what I assumed would be a self-published novel. No one ever said the path to literary success would be pretty. I’m sending her my manuscript because ignoring an open door in today’s publishing world is just plain crazy, crazier even than writing and attempting to publish a novel in the first place. And I want my future novels to have a home, a place where they’ll be welcomed and given the attention and respect I hope they deserve.

Having said that, I’m bracing myself for another rejection letter. Not because I don’t believe in my novel; in fact, I love it more with each reading and round of editing. But because it’s not the paranormal teen romance currently littering the shelves of the Young Adult section at Barnes & Noble. I have nothing against paranormal teen romance. I just didn’t happen to write that kind of story.

It might sound pathologically negative to linger over the subject of rejection after receiving my first word of encouragement from the industry. But my intention is to erase the stigma and fear of the “Dear Author, thank you but no thank you” letter. I’m trying to remind myself that this letter is the worst thing that can happen if a publisher or agent doesn’t want my book. And the letters aren’t actually that bad. In fact, given that agents and publishers are quite literally buried in queries and manuscripts, many of which are probably quite terrible, I’d argue the rejections I’ve received have been quite civil. We’re all doing the best we can in this brave new world in which print no longer reigns supreme.

So, because I believe in balance–light and dark, hope and despair, cats and dogs, sugar and pizza–I’m balancing the weight of the good news in my first paragraph with a copy of a rejection letter I received several months ago. It hurt, because I really wanted to work with that particular agent. But she softened the blow with the overall tone:

Dear Ashley,

Thank you for querying me about your manuscript, THE SCOURGE OF THE RIGHTEOUS HADDOCK. I’ve read your sample pages and I’m sorry to say that the project just isn’t a perfect fit with my current needs. This has less to do with your strengths as a writer and more to do with my goals as an agent and the trends of the current literary marketplace.

I wish you the best of luck in your search for the right agent and publisher. Keep writing!

Kindest Regards,

Danielle Chiotti

Upstart Crow Literary

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