Writers learn a lot on their journeys. Sure, they learn interesting snippets of fact, a few how-to things, certainly how to communicate – They might even pick up some practical skills, but what I’m talking about today goes much deeper than all of that.
The really important learning writers do is often something that might be completely overlooked. That’s what happened to me. During all my years of writing, I’ve done a lot of researching, a lot of reading and a lot of hands-on stuff so I could understand areas I did not already understand, and write about them. But I didn’t see what I was also doing. My focus was always outside myself and on what I next needed to grasp.
I continued to focus on everything else for a great many years. The first version of my first book was completed and rejected several times. More polishing and finally rewrites were also rejected. A major rewrite was undertaken, changing some fundamentals, which also got knocked back more than once.
Every writer gets reject slips. When I finally started to look into what agents look at and what was going on in the industry itself, I came to realize there are serious problems there. This is not an excuse, you can look into it yourself. When a manuscript is rejected based on the FIRST LINE of the COVER LETTER because agents are too busy to take any more than a cursory glance at anything that crosses their desk, it’s not hard to see there’s a problem. Their solution seems to be the exact opposite of what is needed – they speed up where they should slow down. Writers are not advertising agents, that’s supposed to be the agents’ job, and rejecting a manuscript because the writer doesn’t grab the agent’s interest with the very first sentence of their introduction letter is shoddy to say the least.
It’s frightening to think of the gems that these people are missing and the sheer talent going to waste for it.
Introducing yourself over the phone isn’t any better, by the way. I had an editor tell me once that a caller has five seconds to make an impact, and that’s all. What the heck are you supposed to do with that?