Discouragement or Motivation?

Smiling Horse

I finished the final draft of Delilah last month. Normally, in anticipation of its completion, I would scour my Writer’s Market in search of publishers and/or agents that might be in the market for a western novel with a tough, spunky female protagonist and make a list of places to send it out to. But, I pitched Delilah to a publisher I felt would be a perfect fit for this manuscript last summer at the Write the Rockies Conference in Gunnison, and got an invitation to send the manuscript when it was completed. That in itself was amazing, because you usually don’t pitch a manuscript that isn’t complete, but I was doing the pitch for practice, and I actually felt like I’d bungled it pretty badly. My perception of my performance must have been wrong, because the invitation to query was forthcoming.

At any rate, I didn’t make the usual list of submissions for Delilah, because I knew where she was going, and I just knew this publisher was going to make an offer. Instead, I spent my time preparing for submission. I wrote a synopsis and query letter, and prepared a brief excerpt to include. So, as soon as the final revisions were completed, I sent off my query.

I also sent a query to an agent I thought might be good to represent me, using Delilah to entice them. I sent it off on April 21, and on April 29 I received the rejection. Man that was fast. I found it disheartening. I know I have to expect rejections, probably a lot of them, and I’ve had many on other works which I’ve been shopping. In my graduate classes at Western State, they warned us to expect them, and taught us to use them as motivation to get it back out to the next perspective publisher or agent. And, you know, that’s exactly what I’ve done regarding all the other works I’ve sent out. So, why is this rejection any different?

I think it was the speed with which I received this rejection, barely a week, which took me aback. You wait for responses from publishers and agents for weeks, sometimes even months. That’s why you send out simultaneous submissions whenever possible. Get your work read by as many possible avenues of publication as possible. It’s common practice, although some calls for submissions specify that they do not accept simultaneous submissions. (If you think about it, it’s pretty selfish of a publisher to do this, expecting to allow them to consider your work exclusively, when it takes so long for them to respond.) This rejection came from an agent, not a publisher, but I wasn’t expecting a reply so quickly. I didn’t feel like they’d even had time to read what I’d submitted.

I’ve worked on Delilah on and off for four years. I could have finished her sooner, but with school and my freelancing, and holding down a full time job, I wasn’t able to work on her, like I did on my thesis, which I wrote in full within six months, (but that’s another story, for another day). Actually, I had a completed draft of Delilah in that amount of time, but the revisions turned it into a whole other story. It’s true. The final manuscript of Delilah tells a different story than the one I set out to tell originally. I have enough cut scenes from the first draft to almost make up another whole book, which I might do, if Delilah finds a home and does well.

So the question remains, why have I not sent Delilah out to more than one publisher? Why do I have this certainty within me that she will find a home with this one publishing house that I submitted to first? I know this isn’t a realistic expectation and I’m probably setting myself up for disappointment. I do. So, why don’t I treat this novel like my other works? And why did the first rejection from an agent hit me so hard? Maybe because I have put so much of my heart into Delilah, but I think you have to put your heart into any work of creativity in order for it to be truly good. I don’t know what’s so special about this novel, but I know Delilah is special. I feel it. If I find a publisher for her, you can read it and then, you’ll know it, too.

6 Comments on “Discouragement or Motivation?”

  1. artrosch says:

    KL, being a writer is like working with an old fashioned crank operated meat grinder on your desk. With every rejection you put your hand in the grinder and you turn three times. It hurts!
    It is, however, a magic meat grinder because every digit you turn into hamburger regenerates and after the pain subsides, you find that you are still whole, still alive, still full of talent. That meat grinder gets a lot of work! I’m…uh..gettin old. My time is finite. I know how you feel about Delilah. It’s taken me forty years to finish “Confessions Of An Honest Man”. Lot of meat grinding. And that’s not my only book. I have a small catalog of books that have taken thirty, forty years to complete. I was signed to a major agency in the 80s. They were interested in Confessions. I was flown to NYC and had the classic editorial lunches. But I failed to sell and my contract expired. I just wasn’t ready. The books weren’t’ ready. If my meat grinder wasn’t magical I would be just a torso, a head, heart and lungs. The rest…ground away. I think of Vincent Van Gogh. Imagine! Being so magnificent and no one but a devoted brother for support! You do it because you have to do it. Nothing else fills the need to share the beauties of your perception, the unique quality of your mind. Keep writing. Grind when you must. the digits will re-grow.

    I don’t have an e-reading device. A ridiculous 3G phone. I’ll find a way to read Last Call. You’ve been so kind. I must also be kind to you. You’ve worked very hard and so long! Persist!


    • Thanks for the words of encouragement, Art. You’ve shared in my journey for several years now. You are actrually out of my original writing support group on Writer’s World. That seems like eons ago. Also, you can download a free e-reader to your laptop or PC on Amazon. They will offer it when you make your first e-purchase. Thank you for all of your support. 🙂


  2. […] the publisher I was so sure would take Delilah, didn’t, I did what I was taught in my M.F.A. classes and turned around and sent out another query to […]


  3. […] in May, I wrote a post about dealing with the rejection by a publisher of Delilah. My response to the rejection was to submit my novel elsewhere and keep […]


  4. […] genre. Three years and several rewrites later, Delilah is a story I’m rather proud of. The rejections do sting a bit, but I’m confident that if I endeavor to persevere and keep submitting it, […]


  5. […] – Which Do You Prefer?; A Writer’s Life is No Bowel of Cherries; Write What You Know; Discouragement or Motivation?; What Ever Happened to Heather Hummingbird?; How You Can Help Build a Writer’s Platform; and […]


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