Query letters for books need a lot of TLC (tender love & care) to create. Getting the mailing list of the best literary agents and publishers to send your carefully crafted query letter takes longer. Waiting for the publishers and the book agents takes forever.
So no matter how determined you are in wanting to get your novel or non-fiction book published, rejections can be very disappointing.
How you deal with rejections and move on is an important part of the learning curve. Here are a few things you can do to help you put things in perspective and improve your book proposal or query letters.
Types of query letter and book proposal rejections
There are essentially 3 types of rejections.
Standard template rejections
The bulk of rejection letters writers get would fall in this category. This means that someone in the publishing house or the literary agency has had a chance to review what you sent them and they don’t think you’d be their next best-selling author.
What you can do about standard template rejections
There’s no reading between the lines you can really do in the rejection letter itself. But you can still take a step back and review your approach. Go back to the publishers’ websites and see if you are making some fundamental mistakes. Have you in your enthusiasm ignored some essential points from their submission guidelines?
Customized rejection letters
Though a rejection is bad in any form, customized rejections for your proposals are many times better than the other two categories listed in this post. It means someone important in the publishing house not only read your email and possibly your plot summary, but also thought it was worth their time to selectively give you feedback about why they weren’t completely convinced with your idea.
What you can do about customized rejection emails
Read the response very carefully. It might have some constructive feedback on what you could do with your manuscript so that they’d have some interest in taking a re-look at your book. You don’t have to jump into making those changes just for that one publisher (unless they figure right up there in your dream list). Keep in mind that these are only suggestions and fixing what they’ve recommended does not guarantee anything. But you’ve got some leads to start thinking about.
I’d say it would be a little unprofessional for the publishers or literary agents not to respond to book proposals and query letters, specially in case their websites have not specifically mentioned that they are NOT accepting proposals from new writers and authors. A standard template response doesn’t require much from their side, and it gives the writer a clear signal not to keep waiting for a response and to move on. But well, it happens more frequently than you’d think. So have a plan to deal with it.
What you can do about no responses
The trouble with this category is that the ball is in the writer’s court to pull the plug or keep waiting. So if the submission guidelines on the publishers website does not mention an expected wait time, as the author you decide how long you are willing to wait. 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year?
Always keep in mind that the book publisher or agent might’ve rejected your work for a 100 other reasons. Don’t translate them all to one universal reason (‘Your writing sucks’). In many cases, it’s got more to do with the way you’ve structured and written your query letter rather than the quality of your book.
Create the letter, shoot it out, wait, review results, tweak process, shoot it out again. When you’ve cracked the query letter code for your book, you will eventually get that request to send across a partial or full manuscript for review.