How to Write Full Time & Stay Sane: Keep a “Worth Saving” E-mail Folder

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

With all the heartwrenching horrendous kick-you-in-the-gut stressful days you will undoubtedly experience as a writer, you’re in need of a little pick-me-up from time to time. So . . . when alcohol crying chocolate beagle snuggling exercise doesn’t quite get those endorphins a-flowin’, I have another solution for ya: a “Worth Saving” e-mail folder.

I’ve been keeping one for a while—it’s just an extra e-mail folder where I store e-mails that give me the warm fuzzies.  I’m not talking forwards here—unless that’s your thing—but anything that makes you feel . . . well, good.

Mine isn’t all writing related—many are just convos with friends that make me laugh or smile. It cheers me up to look in there every now and then!  🙂

Even as I’m typing this, I’m like, “Ricki, that is the corniest thing I’ve ever heard—and what’s even worse?  You’re announcing it on the Internet.”  But, when you’re writing full time, you need corny, people.  Deal with it.

So I hold my head up high.  And I keep my inbox (relatively) clear, since my pack rat tendencies of the e-mail variety are stowed away for when I really need them. 🙂

5 Tips on Dealing with Rejection

Since I am in Atlanta visiting friends, a bit swamped with work, and getting ready to start querying, I thought I’d post this oldie but goodie from my “How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane” series.  Enjoy!

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

Staying sane is something I’ll admit I haven’t been doing very well the past week or so.  Although I’ve had some exciting successes in that time (sold my first piece to a magazine, landed another gig teaching a summer workshop), I’ve also received my first few query rejections for my manuscript.  Because of this, I have assembled some tips as well as links from industry professionals to help you deal with this agonizing process.

Now, no one is more self-deprecating than I—nor will you find more of a realist (although, some might use the term “pessimist”)—so I’ve mentally prepared for this time of literary limbo.  In fact, more than one writer and loved one has scolded me for referring to the query process as “the rejection process” before I’d even received one.  But I can’t help it: I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised than sorely disappointed.

Which are you?

But even with that in mind, and even if you get the nicest, most personalized rejection (and I’ve gotten two of those so far), rejection still sucks.

You know getting rejections is normal; you know how subjective this is; you know how pertinent finding the right agent is; you know you must locate someone who falls head over heels for your work; you recognize how tedious of a task that’s going to be . . .

. . . but you also know you’ve put tens of thousands of hours into the writing and editing of this thing, and you’re doing the most vulnerable thing you’ve ever done by sending it out into the world—and then someone doesn’t want it for whatever reason.

So, yeah, rejection sucks no matter how ready you are for it.

HOW TO DEAL

Tip #1: File It & Forget It

In a recent Write-Brained Network LIVE CHAT, a friend of mine—whose manuscript has been rejected 28 times—said that every time he gets a rejection, he files it and moves on to something else.

That’s great advice.  And if you can do that, more power to ya.  I think the more seasoned you become in this business and the more irons you have on the fire, your skin can definitely thicken—but we’re not all there yet.

As well, I am lucky enough to be able to do this full time, and believe me: news of my first story getting accepted to a Virginia magazine alleviated some of my “I’m-going-to-die-hopeless-and-penniless-and-20-lbs.-over-weight” (Thank you, Stuart Smalley) attitude. However, I fully realize that many of you reading this have day jobs.  The only thing you’ve got cooking is your manuscript, and you don’t have time to distract yourself with other writing endeavors.

So, although filing and forgetting might sound good on paper (or on screen, as it were), I realize it’s easier said than done.  Which brings me to . . .

I’m good enough, I’m smart enough – and doggone it, people like me.

Tip #2: Send to a Friend

During the writing and editing process, we are discouraged from showing our work to loved ones because so many amateurs make the mistake of thinking that if their mother or spouse loves the book, it’s bound to be a New York Times bestseller.

Along that same vein, I am not suggesting you appeal to family and friends for a critique of your manuscript, but now is the time to revel in their bias toward loving it.  Print out a few copies and send them to your biggest fans.

While it’s gut-wrenching (no matter whose eyes scan your pages), if you include a close circle—those who’ve been rooting for you all along (your buddy from work, who always asks about your progress; your parents, who are eager to see what you’ve been doing all this time, etc.)—you are sure to get rave reviews.

As long as you take their glowing assessments for what they are and don’t let them cloud your realistic attitude toward the query process and the publishing industry, this praise can be just the ticket to convince you not to jump.

After all, regardless of whether or not your book will ever get any agent to want it, regardless if the book is even publishable, remember: completing a manuscript is a huge accomplishment. You deserve to have someone stroke your ego a bit.

Your manuscript is GRRRRRRREAT!

CONFUSION

When my first rejection rolled in, I scoured every resource I knew to figure out how to respond.

First of all, don’t get me wrong: I know you aren’t supposed to respond.

But the rejection was not just a personalized version of a form rejection letter.  As well, a YA author friend of mine had given me a referral to this agent because she represented said YA author friend, and the agent had mentioned our mutual acquaintance in the e-mail, so it wasn’t as though this was a cold query.

While I knew not responding at all would have been perfectly acceptable, and while I wasn’t going to lash out at the woman, I went back and forth about sending a “thank you.”

Agents are flooded with e-mail daily, and many are quite vocal on their blogs and on Twitter about not wasting their time, but in doing a little research, I found several well-known agents with conflicting information.  (Wait, agents don’t all agree on everything??)

HOW TO DEAL (AGAIN)

Tip #3: Seek Professional Help

When in doubt, turn to the rejecters themselves—agents and editors.  Many have blogs and other Web sites dedicated to everything from their personal preferences to typical response times.

Here, former Curtis Brown Ltd. agent Nathan Bransford lists acceptable etiquette for rejection follow-up.

For a different perspective, see this post by former agent, Penguin Group’s Colleen Lindsay on what not to do after a rejection.

Over on her blog, FinePrint Literary’s Janet ReidMadame Query Shark herself!—describes how to cut down on your anguish over unanswered queries by making sure you haven’t sent something that isn’t a query.

Tip #4: Gain Some Perspective

Once you’ve gotten a few rejections and you’re feeling like a hack, it’s important to put it in perspective and remind yourself that it’s normal.

Rabbit or duck?

On her blog at QueryTracker, YA author Mary Lindsey discusses how to handle rejection at arm’s length.  Her article is good on its own, but Lindsey references Hal Spacejock series author Simon Haynes’s post, “Rejection of the Literary Kind,” which is also worth a read.

As well, on his Web site, sci-fi writer, photographer and Web designer Jeremiah Tolbert offers an editor’s perspective on rejection.

To round out this area, over at Streetdirectory.com, award-winning romance and nonfiction author Dana Girard categorizes rejection into seven levels and suggests ways you can decode what each kind of rejection means in terms of your manuscript.

Tip #5: Commiserate

For those days when you feel like you’re the only person who sucks this bad, check out the following sites for a little misery-loves-company.

Want some company?

At Absolute Write Water Cooler, you can find several conversation threads where people share their rejections stories, but here’s a link to one where some poor schlubs compete for who got rejected the fastest. Can you beat 30 seconds?

If you’re looking for a gold mine in terms of rejection, bitterness and hilarity, check out Literary Rejections on Display.  The person running the blog—Writer, Rejected—actually says in the About Me profile, “I am a published, award-winning author of fiction and creative nonfiction—but whatever. In the eyes of many, I am still a literary reject.” Writer, Rejected posts his/her own rejection letters (as well as rejection letters sent in by others) and analyzes them—in a sane and fair way (usually).  There are several good posts, so definitely make time to poke around in the blog, but here is an example of a rejection analysis.

And here’s a cranky little rant by freelancer Chris Rodell titled “Reject Me, Please” over at his Media Bistro blog.  If you’re especially pissed off and cynical, this is the post for you.

PEP TALK

This last post (from Nathan Bransford’s blog by guest blogger Jon Gibbs) isn’t directly about getting rejection letters, but it discusses how we reject ourselves at times—how we make excuses for why we can’t do this and that.

Use this when you’re in need of a little pep talk, and it’s sure to snap you back to a state of sanity.

If you’re seeing the old lady, you definitely need a pep talk.

How to Write Full Time & Stay Sane: Make Writer Friends

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

I have been feeling very *this* lately:

And I *know* I’ve put that video clip in a post or two before, but it’s so appropriate for the life of a writer (when frustrated) that I can’t promise I won’t link to it again.  (It’s pretty much genius—so get over it.)

Basically, it all stemmed from a very complicated situation I was facing that was driving me insane.  Writing wise.  That’s all I’m going to say about it—sorry to be so vague, but I’ve been thinking and talking about it so much over the last few weeks, I want to put it all behind me.

This poster still hangs in my bedroom at my parents' house. Hahaha.

But, I had been trying to figure out how to move forward for a while, and just when I thought I had a decent plan in place, I realized it wasn’t going to work. *oh noes!*

And then I got sick at the start of last week was unable to do . . . well, anything that required more effort than watching back episodes of Tosh.0 or Melissa and Joey or Desperate Housewives or . . . you get the picture.

With all the plans I’ve made and ideas I have, being unable to work or figure out how to proceed made me feel not only guilty/stressed/freaked . . . but also down. 

Like Alice in Chains “Down in a Hole” down. And if you don’t know how depressing that is, here:

So I talked to my husband—and he just happens to be awesome and actually know what I’m talking about when I talk about writing and the industry and blah blah blah.  Talking about it (ad nauseum) with him did help, but I still didn’t have the answer I needed.

I just wished someone would say, “This is the answer,” but I knew my problem didn’t really *have* a definitive answer and that was why I was going so nuts.

So I talked to my writing BFF earlier today. She listened, sympathized, empathized, and—guess what?  She gave me *the answer*! (I know I just said my problem didn’t *have* a definitive answer, but her solution was just the kind of thing I needed.)

Aww--kitty friends. 🙂

This, my friends, is why I can’t stress enough the importance of having writer friends. Even though you might have fantawesome family members who will listen and offer advice, they aren’t always going to be able to figure out what to do.

It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s just: They aren’t as nuts as you are.

So, there you have it.  Make writer friends. Seriously.  Like right now.

Comment here and leave a link to your blog or Web site so *we* can be writer friends—and do it at other blogs you read.  Start conversations with other writers on Twitter and LinkedIn.  Go to conferences and workshops.  Take writing classes.  Check out writers’ groups that meet regularly.  Join online communities like mine, The Write-Brained Network, that are dedicated to the intermingling of writerly peeps.

Yes, it takes work to cultivate and maintain these relationships; no, not every person you meet is going to mesh with you as well as your be-fri—but get out there.  Somehow.  It’s from these friendships that come so many wonderful things—like stretches of sanity, even for writers.

And if nothing else, you'll have found another drinking buddy. 😉

How to Write Full Time & Stay Sane: Create “Kinds” of Days & Change Things Up

I’m posting some oldie-but-goodie posts, folks newer to the blog may have missed.  Enjoy!

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

frustration

As promised, this installment will continue the discussion on scheduling.

First, determine how many days a week you will be working.  I tend to be a little biased in this area and want to say that, as a writer, you’re always working—even at that Saturday tailgate, you’re observing what drunk people do or sound like (or what it feels like to be drunk—ha!).

If being as anal as I am about scheduling isn’t up your alley, another thing I like to do that might seem less insane daunting than scheduling every minute of your day is to designate certain days for certain things.  (If you are especially Type A, however, you can actually do this in conjunction with the scheduling outlined in the previous post.  I find it works best for me to do it that way.)

As you get more assignments, develop more ideas and take on more projects, you will need to come up with a strategy for your labors, which goes beyond the hour-by-hour schedule.  That said, even if you aren’t freelancing and, therefore, only have one manuscript on the fire, there are a few different kinds of things you can be doing in order to keep from wanting to set your manuscript ablaze.

How many types of days are there?

calendarAs I said, this kind of depends on you.  If you’ve got several projects in the works, you might have more “types of days” than someone who is only working on one novel manuscript; however, here are the basics.

The most obvious (and essential) is the writing day, and you’ll most likely want to schedule the most time for that.  I like to schedule three consecutive writing days so that I can ride a creativity wave if I’m on a roll.

But, Ricki, I’ve heard that you’re not really a writer if you’re not writing every single day.

Ugh!  I could argue for and against this.  The freelancer probably needs to write every single day—just varying the type of writing or type of project.  However, the lone novel writer might go a little mad if he doesn’t break away from his manuscript at least one or two days a week.  Wherever you fall, just make sure to give yourself breaks from the actual writing so you don’t get into a funk.

Where was I?  Ah, yes.  In addition to the actual writing, it is also important that you brainstorm, read books in your genre, make time to research and do writing exercises.  For example, you might schedule Wednesdays and Fridays as reading days, where you go to the library or set up camp at your local Barnes & Noble and thumb through the latest John Green or Lauren Myracle novel (guilty!).  If you’re a serious writer, you will also want to work on enhancing your platform by doing things like blogging, etc.

Not only are all these activities essential to being a good writer, but making time to do these things will help break up your work week and keep your mind fresh for those days that—oh yeah—you hammer out 1500 words.

Crap—I’m forgetting something.

Every week?  Curses!
Every week? Curses!

Some of you may be saying, this all works out fine and dandy if you don’t have kids or if you are well enough off that you have hired a cleaning lady, but I don’t have either of those luxuries!

Duh.  I don’t either.

While a four-year-old beagle isn’t the same as a four-year-old child, I am not without responsibilities throughout my day.  And yeah, no cleaning staff.  Even though writing is my passion and the cogs are pretty much cranking 24/7, I have to schedule in things like grocery shopping, laundry, walking/feeding the dog, working out and eating—otherwise, none of those very important things would ever get done.  On those housework days, take care of the laundry/dishes/groceries/cleaning/pay bills/etc., and don’t worry that you aren’t working on that book proposal.  You’re sticking to your schedule and making progress.  Check and check.

For my workaholics who feel guilty if not dedicating all their waking hours to writing, take some solace in this: It turns out, a lot of these non-writing-related activities are great times to brainstorm, work out those plot details or figure out characterization.  As well, there’s always the chance you’ll finish your chores early and discover you now have extra time to run to your keyboard. Score!

All that being said, remember to be flexible.

Just make sure you don't snap!
Just make sure you don’t snap!

Ha—that sounds like an oxymoron after discussing how important it is to structure your time (and after looking at the ways I’ve suggested one can do this!), but even I give myself options because what if I don’t feel like writing that day? It happens.

Flexibility is important because something will always come up; that’s just how life works.  You might get a mega-important e-mail you have to answer right now or an editor wants you to overhaul a chapter, and you’re forced to write on—gasp—housework day!

My “regular” schedule looks like this:

Sunday

Housework – OR – Research/Reading Day

————————————————————-

Monday

Housework (if not Sun) – Blog – In to Write

Walk Molly

Work out

————————————————————-

Tuesday

Out to Write

Work out

————————————————————-

Wednesday

Out to Write – Blog

Walk Molly

Work out

————————————————————-

Thursday

In to Write – OR – Research/Reading Day

Work out

————————————————————-

Friday

Blog – Research/Reading Day

Walk Molly

————————————————————-

Saturday

Research/Reading Day

The beauty of all this is, it’s up to you.  The more you have on your plate, the more likely you’ll need to combine kinds of days and create a more stringent schedule that sets time limits for each of your endeavors.  Just get something down on paper and try some things.  Find out what works and what doesn’t, and then tailor your schedule to fit your life.

How to Write Full Time & Stay Sane: Trick Yourself into Productivity

I’m posting some oldie-but-goodie posts, folks newer to the blog may have missed.  Enjoy!

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

frazzled_girl

Since I tossed in the teaching towel in lieu of a full-time writing career, folks have asked me, “How do you not stay in your pajamas all day?”  Well, sometimes I do, but that doesn’t help me get my work done.

Working from home isn’t easy, but here are some things I’ve learned that help me be both productive and stay sane(ish).

Shower/Dress.

You must have self-discipline in order to work from home.  Just because you don’t have a dress code in your apartment doesn’t give you an excuse to look like a bum.  What you’re doing is still a job–still building a career–so dress the part, even if your beagle is your only “coworker.”  When all you want to do is crawl back under the marshmallowy goodness of your down comforter, a shower will wake you up.

Wash off the stink of a bad writing session.  Scrub away the grime of writer’s block—of a bad review or a rejection letter.  Lather up that loofah, and start anew.  You will be cleansed, feel refreshed, and be ready to go about your day.

As far as getting dressed, I’m not saying you should wear a suit in your house, but at least change out of your pjs.  While it might feel good once in a while, if you fall prey to that bad habit, you will begin to wallow in self-pity.  “Why am I so laaaazy?  Why can’t I get anything done?”  Because you’re in your frickin’ pajamas all day.

Wearing actual clothes will put you in the mood to be productive.  You’ve already made the effort to clean up and get dressed; now, what? The more you act like you are going off to work, the more ready you will feel to actually do work.  You will be less comfortable (translation: sleepy) in regular clothes than in flannel pants and an oversized tee-shirt.  I promise.

Molly judges you if you stay in your jammies all day.

Structure your time.

This tip sort of depends on how nuts you are; and as you will learn, I happen to be very nuts.

It’s probably better if you’re a bit anal retentive here, because you will better be able to structure your time and stick a schedule if you are.  For my ADD peeps out there, you’ll have to work doubly hard to discipline yourselves in this way, but if you can develop at least some Type-A personality traits, you’ll be good to go.

When I make a schedule, I not only like to write out bulleted lists of things I need to do, but I also specify times to accomplish these things.  The more items on your to-do list, even if they seem arbitrary, the busier you will feel.  You can cross things off your list like mad, and that will help foster a feeling of productiveness.

For example (yes, I am really this OCD when it comes to scheduling):

8:00-8:15—Awaken/Take out Molly/Feed Molly

8:15-8:30—Start coffee/Make Kyle’s lunch/Eat breakfast

8:30-8:45–Shower

8:45-9:30–Dress

9:30-11:00—Agent interview stuff

11:00-11:30—Break/Take out Molly/Call Mom/E-mail/FB/Eat

12:00-3:00—Edit manuscript

3:00-3:15—Break (if needed)/Walk Molly to mailbox

3:15-5:00—Edit manuscript or read/research for article

Geez, Ricki, it sounds like all you’re doing is fooling yourself into believing you’re getting things done.

True.  Sort of.  But bear with me.

If a little BS trickery puts you in a good mood and makes you feel productive, you’re going to be more apt to get into “the zone” when it’s time for the more substantial work on your to-do list.

Though it might seem a little crazy to designate specific times to catch up on e-mails or to check Facebook, if you can stick to the schedule, it will actually cut down on your distractions.  Also, keep in mind that, if you are fairly accurate when allotting time to do things and if you only round to quarters of hours, you will most likely have some time in between tasks when you can do quick e-mail checks here and there . . .

. . . and when that happens, it will make you feel more productive as well.  “Gee, I sent off the agent interview ahead of schedule.  Now, I have ten minutes to do X, Y, or Z.  I’m so productive.” *Pat on the back*

It’s all a mind game—yes, a mind game with yourself—but if you play it, you will stay positive and stay active.

Setting time limits for your tasks will help keep you focused as well.

Knowing Your Process is Half the Battle

I’ve been answering some neglected e-mails today, and in one, I described my current mood by using the following video.  It’s from Forgetting Sarah Marshall; YES, I used it in my last 15 Beats post; and, YES, he swears twice (get over it):

But I think we all feel like this at one point or another—especially writers (<— probably more often than normal people)—where everything you’re doing feels like it’s pointless or for naught or just plain horrible and what were you thinking,  subjecting yourself to this??

So, what do you do when you’re feeling like that?  How do you get out of it?

Part of what helps me is that I’ve come to a point where I know it’s part of my process. And I know it’s something everyone feels at one time or another.

Maybe you’re going, “I never feel that way.  I always know I’m awesome.”  (If you are saying that, I have two words for you—and I’m not going to post them here.)

True, knowing there are going to be hours/days/weeks I’m going to feel like a hack doesn’t make me feel better instantly when I’m in that state, but I think it’s important to get to the point where you can acknowledge that it’s just a phase.  Then, you can being to look yourself objectively and get over it faster.

For instance, I notice I tend to feel this way when I’m close to something: an epiphany—a creative burst—a panic attack?  (<—Naw, I’ve only had one of those.)

My point?  I dunno—go back to the aforementioned video!

But I’d be willing to bet this happens to others when they at the precipice of awesomeness (<—hopefully) as well.  The late, great Blake Snyder might call this the “Dark Night of the Soul” beat, were your writing life a screenplay.

The question is, what makes you “Break into Three”(Act III)?

Since the rest of this post was probably very rambling and depressing, I’ll leave you with a ray of sucky sunshine from YA author Maureen Johnson:

How to Write Full Time & Stay Sane: 5 Tips on Dealing with Rejection

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

Staying sane is something I’ll admit I haven’t been doing very well the past week or so.  Although I’ve had some exciting successes in that time (sold my first piece to a magazine, landed another gig teaching a summer workshop), I’ve also received my first few query rejections for my manuscript.  Because of this, I have assembled some tips as well as links from industry professionals to help you deal with this agonizing process.

Now, no one is more self-deprecating than I—nor will you find more of a realist (although, some might use the term “pessimist”)—so I’ve mentally prepared for this time of literary limbo.  In fact, more than one writer and loved one has scolded me for referring to the query process as “the rejection process” before I’d even received one.  But I can’t help it: I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised than sorely disappointed.

Which are you?

But even with that in mind, and even if you get the nicest, most personalized rejection (and I’ve gotten two of those so far), rejection still sucks.

You know getting rejections is normal; you know how subjective this is; you know how pertinent finding the right agent is; you know you must locate someone who falls head over heels for your work; you recognize how tedious of a task that’s going to be . . .

. . . but you also know you’ve put tens of thousands of hours into the writing and editing of this thing, and you’re doing the most vulnerable thing you’ve ever done by sending it out into the world—and then someone doesn’t want it for whatever reason.

So, yeah, rejection sucks no matter how ready you are for it.

HOW TO DEAL

Tip #1: File It & Forget It

In a recent Shenandoah Writers Online LIVE CHAT (let me know if you want in, BTW), a friend of mine—whose manuscript has been rejected 28 times—said that every time he gets a rejection, he files it and moves on to something else.

That’s great advice.  And if you can do that, more power to ya.  I think the more seasoned you become in this business and the more irons you have on the fire, your skin can definitely thicken—but we’re not all there yet.

As well, I am lucky enough to be able to do this full time, and believe me: news of my first story getting accepted to a Virginia magazine alleviated some of my I’m-going-to-die-hopeless-and-penniless-and-20-lbs.-over-weight” (Thank you, Stuart Smalley) attitude. However, I fully realize that many of you reading this have day jobs.  The only thing you’ve got cooking is your manuscript, and you don’t have time to distract yourself with other writing endeavors.

So, although filing and forgetting might sound good on paper (or on screen, as it were), I realize it’s easier said than done.  Which brings me to . . .

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough - and doggone it, people like me.

Tip #2: Send to a Friend

During the writing and editing process, we are discouraged from showing our work to loved ones because so many amateurs make the mistake of thinking that if their mother or spouse loves the book, it’s bound to be a New York Times bestseller.

Along that same vein, I am not suggesting you appeal to family and friends for a critique of your manuscript, but now is the time to revel in their bias toward loving it.  Print out a few copies and send them to your biggest fans.

While it’s gut-wrenching (no matter whose eyes scan your pages), if you include a close circle—those who’ve been rooting for you all along (your buddy from work, who always asks about your progress; your parents, who are eager to see what you’ve been doing all this time, etc.)—you are sure to get rave reviews.

As long as you take their glowing assessments for what they are and don’t let them cloud your realistic attitude toward the query process and the publishing industry, this praise can be just the ticket to convince you not to jump.

After all, regardless of whether or not your book will ever get any agent to want it, regardless if the book is even publishable, remember: completing a manuscript is a huge accomplishment. You deserve to have someone stroke your ego a bit.

 

Your manuscript is GRRRRRRREAT!

CONFUSION

When my first rejection rolled in, I scoured every resource I knew to figure out how to respond.

First of all, don’t get me wrong: I know you aren’t supposed to respond.

But the rejection was not just a personalized version of a form rejection letter.  As well, a YA author friend of mine had given me a referral to this agent because she represented said YA author friend, and the agent had mentioned our mutual acquaintance in the e-mail, so it wasn’t as though this was a cold query.

While I knew not responding at all would have been perfectly acceptable, and while I wasn’t going to lash out at the woman, I went back and forth about sending a “thank you.”

Agents are flooded with e-mail daily, and many are quite vocal on their blogs and on Twitter about not wasting their time, but in doing a little research, I found several well-known agents with conflicting information.  (Wait, agents don’t all agree on everything??)

HOW TO DEAL (AGAIN)

Tip #3: Seek Professional Help

When in doubt, turn to the rejecters themselves—agents and editors.  Many have blogs and other Web sites dedicated to everything from their personal preferences to typical response times.

Here, Curtis Brown Ltd. agent Nathan Bransford lists acceptable etiquette for rejection follow-up.

For a different perspective, see this post by FinePrint Literary‘s Colleen Lindsay on what not to do after a rejection.

Over on her blog, Lindsay’s FinePrint colleague Janet Reid describes how to cut down on your anguish over unanswered queries by making sure you haven’t sent something that isn’t a query.

Tip #4: Gain Some Perspective

Once you’ve gotten a few rejections and you’re feeling like a hack, it’s important to put it in perspective and remind yourself that it’s normal.

Rabbit or duck?

On her blog at QueryTracker, YA author Mary Lindsey discusses how to handle rejection at arm’s length.  Her article is good on its own, but Lindsey references Hal Spacejock series author Simon Haynes‘s post, “Rejection of the Literary Kind,” which is also worth a read.

As well, on his Web site, sci-fi writer, photographer and Web designer Jeremiah Tolbert offers an editor’s perspective on rejection.

To round out this area, over at Streetdirectory.com, award-winning romance and nonfiction author Dana Girard categorizes rejection into seven levels and suggests ways you can decode what each kind of rejection means in terms of your manuscript.

Tip #5: Commiserate

For those days when you feel like you’re the only person who sucks this bad, check out the following sites for a little misery-loves-company.

Want some company?

At Absolute Write Water Cooler, you can find several conversation threads where people share their rejections stories, but here’s a link to one where some poor schlubs compete for who got rejected the fastest. Can you beat 30 seconds?

If you’re looking for a gold mine in terms of rejection, bitterness and hilarity, check out Literary Rejections on Display.  The person running the blog—Writer, Rejected—actually says in the About Me profile, “I am a published, award-winning author of fiction and creative nonfiction—but whatever. In the eyes of many, I am still a literary reject.” Writer, Rejected posts his/her own rejection letters (as well as rejection letters sent in by others) and analyzes them—in a sane and fair way (usually).  There are several good posts, so definitely make time to poke around in the blog, but here is an example of a rejection analysis.

And here’s a cranky little rant by freelancer Chris Rodell titled “Reject Me, Please” over at his Media Bistro blog.  If you’re especially pissed off and cynical, this is the post for you.

PEP TALK

This last post (from Nathan Bransford’s blog by guest blogger Jon Gibbs) isn’t directly about getting rejection letters, but it discusses how we reject ourselves at times—how we make excuses for why we can’t do this and that.

Use this when you’re in need of a little pep talk, and it’s sure to snap you back to a state of sanity.

If you're seeing the old lady, you definitely need a pep talk.