Last weekend, after taking part in the Sun vs. Snow agent round, I sent out my first batch of queries on my second novel #MoMoLives. As responses came in, I noticed a difference in my reaction to rejection this time versus how I reacted when querying my first novel. Rejection is never fun, but this time around it doesn’t seem to sting as badly. I’m an analyst at heart, so I started looking for the reasons behind the difference.
The most obvious answer is that my experience in querying my first book gave me thicker skin to handle rejection for this book. While that may be true to a certain extent, I think the reasons go much deeper than that.
I had a lot of emotional investment in that first book. It took seven years from the time I came up with the first seed of the idea for it until I reached the point where I was ready to query. The first draft took eighteen months to write, with another fourteen months in editing and revisions before sending out those initial submissions. After my first round of queries, I undertook another eight months of revisions and re-writes before querying again. From the fall of 2014 through the end of 2015, I also invested a lot of time and energy entering numerous contests and Twitter pitch events trying to get my work in front of agents. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it successful – I had all my hopes and dreams tied up in that book, so much so that every rejection seemed like a stab in the heart of those dreams. I wasn’t getting anywhere and took things far too personally, so I pulled the plug on querying while I still had some names left on my agent list for a possible re-write. I needed to work on something else.
One good aspect of all the time I spent working on that first book was that I developed several unrelated book ideas. When I decided to suspend querying book #1, I had multiple ideas to choose from for book #2. I decided to write a Middle Grade story based on a series of events in my hometown.
The first draft of #MoMoLives took only two months to write. Because of the lessons I learned writing the first book, the rough draft came out in much better shape than the rough draft of book #1, as a result, editing took three months. From the time I started writing, I had a goal of completing revisions in time to enter the Sun Versus Snow contest on February 1. I met that goal, and was thrilled at being selected for the agent round.
As results keep trickling in from my queries, I’ll do my best to remember the lessons I learned querying book #1, and try not to put so much pressure on myself this time around. That and a little additional emotional distance from this project should help me keep things in perspective. In any case, I’ll also be choosing a concept to work on for book #3. Dreams only die if you stop dreaming them, I’m too stubborn to let mine die.