Wow, it's been a week since I received a rejection notice from an agent. I must be slowing down.
A friend on Facebook introduced me to the site http://www.examiner.com/book-in-national/30-famous-authors-whose-works-were-rejected-repeatedly-and-sometimes-rudely-by-publishers over the weekend. I know that I should stand on my own work's merits, confident in its quality, certain that each rejection merely serves as another stone on the pathway to the eventual success that I'll achieve. Doesn't work that way, though. It's really quite easy, I'm finding, to grow bored or depressed--or both--with the process.
It's good, then, to be able to read over the rejections that others have received, and the site I was shown provides that goodness in spades. Somebody actually told William Faulkner, "Good God, I can’t publish this!"
Grisham and Irving Stone were both, according to the site, rejected by agents 16 times. Dune, by Frank Herbert, was rejected 20 times. One of my favorite childhood stories, A Wrinkle in Time, by 26. Gone With The Wind, 38. The Princess Diaries, 17. The Help, 60.
The author of Lady Chatterley's Lover was told, "for your own sake do not publish this book."
Ms. Rowling took 5 years to find a publisher for our friend, Harry Potter.
What the grand tales of rejection don't talk about is how the efforts changed over time. Take The Help, for instance. Were all 60 rejections based off the same query letter, or did Ms. Stockett send out the first few query letters, get smacked in the face with a bunch of no's, and then revise it as I have mine? Probably the latter; I don't know of a single successful author who doesn't revise his or her own work, but it may in truth be a case where the first query letter was as good as she could make it and thus it was what she kept sending out. I don't know; that's never part of the success story.
Speaking of success stories--I need to go revise my letter. Need more rejections if I'm ever going to get a yes.