Last week I had a bad day. It probably wasn’t much different from any other day, but for some reason it felt worse. Two editors, both whom I respect and trust, rejected two different projects, both of which I love.
Just as rejection is part of every author’s life, it is part of every agent’s day, and as part of my job I need to get up, brush myself off, and start fresh. Most important, though, I need to find a way to boost the confidence of my authors and remind them why I took them on in the first place—I love their work, love their writing, love their voices, and, most important, have confidence that they have what it takes.
So what does an agent feel when getting rejected? I imagine most of you know very well what it feels like for an author, but how do agents take it? Obviously I can’t speak for anyone but myself. However, I imagine that all agents have had a similar experience. When I answered my email and picked up the voice mail, both came in at once, which should really be outlawed: my stomach knotted up and my heart felt heavy. It actually, physically hurt. I knew I had to make those phone calls and disappoint my clients, and you know what? It just plain sucks (excuse my language). I’m disappointed and angry. Why can’t these editors see what I see? I’m frustrated. We’re so close. In one case the book had been read by most of the editorial staff, and while the editor I submitted to really liked it and had nothing but extremely positive things to say about the author’s writing and voice, ultimately she couldn’t get the support she needed.
I’m also kicking myself. I feel that in some way I have let down my authors. By being excited about their work, by telling them how much I love it (which I truly do), did I set them up for a fall? After all, it’s my job to sell these books and I have yet to do so. I have, thus far, failed at my job. I know in the end both of these authors will see success. They are much too talented not to. But for today I wallow in my own feelings on the rejections, and tomorrow I will get up, brush myself off, and start fresh. I will send out more submissions, brainstorm new and better ideas, and dang it, I will sell these two authors . . . and many, many others.