I recently started a discussion about the frustration I feel when I request material–either via a query or a conference–and the author never submits it. I never request anything I don’t want to see. Okay, that’s a lie. I am pretty good about saying no at conferences, but every once in a while I get that author I personally like and can’t say no to, or the one who is so insistent that I finally say yes to get her to leave. It happens.
For the most part though, I will only request material that sounds intriguing. I know other agents and editors are different. Many will confess to me that they simply request everything because they struggle with saying no. I get that, authors should know that, no one should care.
Listen, when you pitch a book to an agent or editor your goal is get her to say yes. Well, your goal should really be to spend some time getting to know her so you can see if you’d be a good fit, but I know that no matter how often I preach that the only thing anyone really cares about is that yes.
So who cares why she requested it? If you are telling yourself you didn’t send the book because she requests everything, or you’re not sending the book because her website says she’s not looking for that genre, or you didn’t send the book because you need to do two years more of revisions you are letting your fear get in the way of your future. These are all excuses and nothing but excuses. You can tell me a million reasons why you believe otherwise, but I’m not going to hear it. I’m also not going to listen to any of you say you won’t pitch to me because I might say no.
No is just a word and before you get to the point where you have true success you will hear no millions of times. Look, I didn’t get here because every editor I ever sent to said yes or because every book I ever submitted sold. Nope, I have heard no far more than I’ve ever heard yes. How do you think my clients would feel if I told them that I wouldn’t submit to entire houses because the editors might say no? I’m pretty sure they’d fire me. That no would be worse.
Next time you decide you’re not going to do something sit down and put pen to paper and list every reason why you’re not doing it. If it all comes down to the same thing, you’re afraid of no, you need to pull up your big girl panties and hit send.