It’s all typed up. You’ve gone through this a least a hundred times before. The query letter, the pitch, similar books, your bio. By now you’ve got them all saved on a word document, so it’s just a quick copy and paste with a few edits here and there to personalize it for every agent. You look it all over to make sure it’s correct. No typos, no grammar issues, or spelling errors. You triple check you have the right agent’s name. Quadruple check that they’re actually someone you want to query too and now all you gotta do is hit submit. You hover your mouse over the button. One easy click and it’s on its way, but then you wonder what’s the point?
You’ve lost count of how many “no’s” you’ve gotten. Of how many agents that didn’t even bother to respond. There’s a log in your journal of every query and every rejection, every alpha and beta reader, and a crossed out list of those who’ve…stopped reading or didn’t even start. Maybe you’re doing it all wrong, you wonder. Maybe there’s something that’s just not clicking? Is the hook not strong enough? Is Chapter 1 too lame? Is the word count too intimidating? Are you even selecting the right agents to query too? Is the story not as good as you thought? A heavy sigh escapes your lungs and you move your hand away from your mouse. All you have to do is click submit, but the anxiety is constricting your lungs and your heart is breaking. What’s the point of hitting send, when you’ll just receive another no?
You close your eyes and envision your characters, every single one of them, and you think of all the blood, sweat, and tears all of you have gone through to make this story happen. A handful of them gave their lives and another gave everything but his life (though you know he would, if you let him). Your main character walks over to you and looks over your shoulder at the computer screen.
“I’ll do my best to sound appealing. They seem like a good choice.”
“You always do your best,” you tell him. You try to smile to lift his spirits, but it’s clear he’s as discouraged as you are. All you do is hit submit. He’s the one who has to catch an agent’s interest. “It’ll be alright.” He gives you a look of doubt and you know what he’s thinking. Alright doesn’t sell your book.
“You should let me go!”
You turn around to see one of your other characters striding right up. Her hands are on her hips and her chin’s up in the air. A fire sparks in her eyes when you look at her. “I’ll get those agents in our corner!”
An unstoppable laugh breaks from your lips. “You?! If I send your sassy pants out there, we’ll never get published.” You look back at the computer screen and read over your query letter once again. “Likely, you’ll say something that’ll insult every single one of them.”
“Well, it’s not my fault they’re–”
“Don’t even finish that sentence.” You cut her off with a stern glare. “It’s up to him to hook the agents.”
When you motion to your main character, Miss. Sassy Pants rolls her eyes. “Right, because he’s so freaking special.” Before you have a chance to reply, she storms off.
“She’ll get over it.” Your main character watches her go, but when he looks back at you, he shrugs. “Eventually.”
“I know.” A defeated sigh slips from your lips and you stare once again at your computer screen. “She’s just frustrated. We all are. We’ve put so much into this and we haven’t even gotten a nibble.”
“Maybe this time will be different?”
You know he means well with the question, but you both share the same doubt. The effort to give an encouraging smile is too much of a strain. You lean back in your chair and find that you can’t even look at him. “It probably won’t be.”
“Then we’ll just try again!”
The loudness of the voice causes you to start. You and your main character turn around to find one of your oldest characters walking up. He plants his hands on his hips and gives a smile that might as well have its own light. It warms your heart when you see him, but you know exactly what’s coming.
“Try again?” Your main character attempts to argue for you. “We keep trying. We’ve been trying! Eventually, we’re going to run out of agents to query too!”
The smile on your older character’s face only widens. “Then we’ll query all the agents again!”
You shrug and refuse to look at either of your characters. “We’ve started doing that. It’s not working either.”
Your older character gives you an amused look and you begin to wonder why you made him so freaking optimistic. “What are those people on that blue bird…” He motions to your computer, not knowing what it is. “…thing…always telling you? Stay positive. Stay productive. Share your wins even if they’re small. If something isn’t working, revise, like you did with that letter there.” He points to your query letter, which you’ve improved thanks to those people on that blue bird thing. “We’ve still got a shot.”
“I’m going to stop you right there.” He cuts both you and your main character off and that twinkle in his eyes you love so much melts your heart. “You’ve wanted this for as long as I’ve known you and I, frankly, would like something to come out of everything you put me through! I don’t care how high the hurdles are. You know nothing is impossible. You know our novel is in good hands. You just need to be patient in hope.” He glances at your main character and nods to himself. “I’ve seen with my own eyes how patience can persuade kings and how the outcome of the waiting is often grander than we ever hope for. We’ll get there eventually, we just can’t give up.”
You know he’s right. You know you’re bound to get a yes one of these years, but you can’t shake the feeling that it’ll never come. “I just don’t know how many more rejections I can take.”
“Take them all.”
Those three words out of your older character’s mouth actually surprise you. “Excuse me?”
“Take. Them. All.” Now his face is beaming. “The more you have, the more proof you have of growth and overcoming. With every rejection, the sweeter the joy of an acceptance will be. As long as you keep improving and growing after every rejection, you’re still making progress.” He points at your computer screen, right at the submit button. “Just keep trying.”
“He’s got a point.” Your main character takes a deep breath and the look on his face tells you he was mildly kicking himself. “I mean, what we going to do? If we stop trying, we’ll just be stuck on your dusty bookshelf forever and not everyone’s dusty bookshelves forever.”
“Alright.” You manage a smile as you finally cave in and once again you’re grateful for every single one of your characters–even Miss. Sassy Pants. You put your hand back on your mouse and find the submit button once again. When anxiety presses against your chest, you take a deep breath to fight it back. Hesitation lingers in your fingers as the whispers of rejection weave through your ears once again. Yet, your characters lay their hands on yours and their encouraging smiles chase the whispers away. You nod to them and steel yourself. “No matter the outcome, we’ll keep trying.”