The Query Blues: Turn Rejection into Growth
You’ve put your heart into writing your first novel: years of your life, uncounted long nights, and even more uncounted tears. Finally, you’re ready. You put together a brilliant, personalized query letter and send it to an agent. Days pass, then weeks. Nothing. Not even a form response.
What a cold, cold thing to do to a writer. You’ve written a masterpiece, and some schmuck in New York won’t even return your email. I know that feeling. My first novel, The Wings of Dragons, was rejected by not one, not ten, but over fifty agents. Most never replied at all. A few wrote me that they really liked my book, but they weren’t confident they could sell it to an editor “in this market.”
Every one of those rejections hit me hard. They made me feel like all the work I’d put in - over two years - was wasted.
Somewhere in the middle of all those rejections, though, I had my epiphany. I could see the rejections as an annoyance, as some suit in some distant agency not giving my book its due, or I could recognize them for what they were: opportunities to improve. These agents, whose job it is to sell books, were telling me something valuable. “Do you want to sell books? Then go back and spruce up this manuscript.”
So that’s what I did. I studied what those agents were looking for: fast-paced plots, a beginning few chapters that screamed “Keep reading me!”, and above all, sympathetic, multi-layered characters. Agents look for these traits, because they’re what make a book stand out. With that knowledge in hand, I knew where to focus my revisions.
In the end, no agent picked me up. I had no credentials, and my only publishing credits were a couple scientific journal articles, hardly gripping reads. No one would take a chance on me, so I took a chance on me and indie published. It’s paid off; my book became a #1 best-seller in its category on Amazon. Even so, I don’t laugh at the agents who rejected my work. I thank them. They were right to reject it. It wasn’t finished yet. If it had been published, or if I’d indie published without trying the traditional route first, I would have been unsatisfied with the result. I would have known I could have written a better book. A big part of why my book succeeded as an indie is because I tried the traditional approach first, and then I used what I learned to make my novel the best I could write at that point in my life.
It’s easy to let rejection convince you that your work is garbage, or worse, that your work is awesome and agents are too stupid to see it. Instead, see rejection as someone in the industry who knows a lot about what sells giving you free advice on how to make your book even better. Kick your ego to the curb and use that advice to grow as an author.
From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.
Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom's only known Left, that's meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It's harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia's charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It's a suicide mission, and Iren's chances aren't helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon's spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.
Adding to his problems, someone on Iren's team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who - and how - to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.
"A fast-paced adventure...led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going." - ForeWord Reviews
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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