"No" is a one-word sentence. The time-management and relationship gurus of the world often lean on this sentence to convey the power you have in the choices you make. But as writers, we are often on the receiving end of that sentence.
"No, we are not interested in publishing you."
"No, we are not interested in representing you."
"No, we are not interested in working with you."
One of the biggest differences between amateurs and pros is their relationship with the word NO. A pro knows that a NO isn’t the end of the road - it’s a simple detour in another direction. For the amateur, they let those NOs hold them back from their publishing dreams.
Writers fear that two-letter word. And with good reason: Rejection plays a big part in publishing. It’s fear of rejection that often keeps us from writing the books we dream of. It’s never submitting our work because we don’t want to receive that NO.
But what if the problem isn’t the answer, but our relationship with it?
That’s what this blog post is about: It’s important to know what NO really means.
Often, as literary agents, we say NO, but we add something:
Or, "No, but you need to go work on the proposal."
As gatekeepers, it’s the role of the literary agent to help point you toward success. When we see something holding you back, we want to help you fix this. That’s why at Author Coaching we created courses to help you. Whether you’re new to publishing, Start Here: A Beginner’s Guide to Publishing Your Book, wondering if you have a good book idea, “How Do I Know If I Have a Good Book Idea?” or you want to build your book proposal, The Essential Book Proposal, we’ve got courses ready to help you.
Remember: Our success is your success.
So when a literary agent says, NO, listen to what they say next.
If an agent says, NO, this is not for me, make sure you’re submitting to agents who are looking for what you are doing. As much as we might enjoy a crime thriller or a horror story, if that’s not the genre or category an agent works in, you’re wasting your time.
“Don’t say NO for them.”
A BIG part of being a writer is harvesting rejections. In order to be a successful writer, this is part of the job description, no matter how long the bruises last. Being on the receiving end of a NO will help shape your path forward. When you’re sitting on a pile of rejections and your confidence is waning, remember this: It only takes one YES to shape the future.
You’re hunting for that YES - whether it’s from an agent, a literary magazine, or a publisher. It might take a lot of NOs to get there, but that one YES will be worth it. And the only way to get there is by submitting your work and harvesting those rejections.
If you only take one thing away from today’s post, we hope it’s this: Don’t say NO for them. We do that all the time, right?
"They won’t like it."
"They’d never work with me."
"My writing isn’t good enough."
Whether it’s submitting to a dream journal or querying an agent, don’t say NO for them. Submit and query, harvest those rejections, and keep looking for that YES (because it only takes one).
Take Action: Your Book Will NOT Write Itself.
Your book is a way to reach exponentially more people than any speaking gig, sermon, article, or social media post. Your book is also a way to share your idea, story, and conviction in long form--using illustration, extrapolation, metaphor, testimony, and research. And your book is going to last years into the future, impacting steadily over time even after you are gone.
That’s why we created How to Write a Book: Five Building Blocks for Your Author Career. Our team has over 125 collective years of experience working in the publishing industry. We have five agents on our team and work with top publishers around the world, both in New York and in the faith-based space.
If you read How to Write a Book, you’ll receive ...