“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two imposters just the same.”
The words belonged to a Rudyard Kipling poem. I seem to recall England’s football manager, Graham Taylor, who was the subject of the first blog post in this series, saying them.
But then again, it might have been Mike Bassett.
Anyhow, the twin imposters line was never more apt for me than during the time I was sending Child Taken out to agents.
In all, over about a year, I sent it to about twenty-five. Not a huge number but big enough, and while I’m not going to detail them all in this blog, a few moments stood out and helped me with the thick skin I was growing in the background.
The last post I did was about when to send and concluded that the book is almost never ready and in some ways, that’s because it’s going to get rejected no matter what. The odds are tinier than tiny.
When I had what I felt was a good enough (in my opinion, not anyone else’s) draft to submit, I did everything the books and internet searches told me to do. I found specific agents that operated in the genre, I researched ones that I really liked the sound of and we’re looking for new clients and I painstakingly prepared letters, a synopsis and three polished chapters. Then I sent it out to about a dozen; in two waves a week apart.
I braced myself given the facts that 92% of such enquires get no more than a standard ‘thanks but no thanks’.
Within twelve hours I’d had a response. Not a no thanks but a ‘can you send the whole thing?’ and then another a few hours after that. From big time agents or agencies too.
This was easier than I thought. Little did I know.
The trend continued. I was getting lots of positive feedback and I metaphorically punched the air every time (or actually punched the air if no one was looking). One agent sent me a very personal reply saying that he wasn’t taking anyone on at the moment but he’d really given it careful consideration. A near miss. But hey-ho, at this rate it was only a matter of time.
And I found out how time works the hard way.
Days turned into weeks and then months without hearing anything then a reply or two came back. ‘We really liked your book but it isn’t quite right for us and we wish you every success with it’ or words to that effect. I got glum, moped around for a while and eventually got over it.
All the time, I was improving the book; taking on any feedback I was getting and using it. A year later I sent another wave of submissions to about a dozen different agents, plus the near miss from the first time.
I got more positive responses and requests for the whole manuscript. No air punching this time – metaphorical or otherwise – just a shrug as I did what they asked. And when I got the rejection a few weeks or months later saying it ‘wasn’t quite right for them’ I didn’t mope around but met it with the same shrug.
If nothing else, I’d learned to treat the twin imposters in exactly the same way.
Next time Week Eight: It’s Not You, It’s Me. No, Actually It Is You – Part 2