Why Submitting Your Work Helps Your Writing Career—Even If You Get Turned Down

Every few months I go through a round of querying agents. Currently, I’m submitting queries for my third completed novel. So far, no one’s biting.

How is this helping my writing career?

Well, in three BIG ways…

Business Writing Skills

Writing a query letter, and a synopsis, and an author bio, and a summary of why you’re qualified to write this or that book, most definitely falls into the category of practical, self-promotional content. As a writer who deals in fiction, this is challenging for me. I’m not used to laying out the nuts and bolts of my projects and my writing past.

Submitting our work pushes us to create material outside of our comfort zones.

Even after you get your book published you’ll need to write this sort of stuff about yourself and your books. Published authors today see their writing as a business. And successful writers know it’s never too soon to get started on your promotional material.

Preparation

When I first started querying a couple of years ago I had no idea what I was doing. Every new thing I discovered that I needed to submit to agents seemed difficult and intimidating. As a result, I procrastinated. A lot. But now I know through experience that I can write a solid synopsis in one afternoon.

When we feel prepared to do the work in front of us, we are less likely to fall prey to fear and procrastination.

Because I’ve written so many different query letters, I have an entire file to work with when I query. Having the materials I need at my fingertips makes submitting my work to agents much more efficient, and makes the experience much more pleasant overall.

Growing that “Thick Skin”

Writers hear it all the time. It takes a “thick skin” to survive in this business. But how do you get that essential armor if you’re not naturally born with it? The answer is experience. Doing the same thing over and over again desensitizes a human being to any process.

Once your brain can’t process something as “new” anymore, it just doesn’t have the same effect on you.

My first rejection hurt. My second stung a bit. Now I’ve gotten so many that I’ve lost count, but each one is hardly a blip on my radar. I make a note of it and move onto the next.

When you begin to submit your work—whether you’re querying agents or sending short stories to magazines and journals—it’s scary. But it gets easier. It really does.

And once you’re over that first big hurdle of starting the process, you never have to go back to it again. Because the world will show up with new challenges for you, and your writing.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Sharon Rawlette 25 November, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I totally agree with you about rejections’ becoming easier over time. You do get used to it. But it does help when there are a few encouraging responses in there, too. It lets you know that none of the rejections are personal and that the same work submitted elsewhere could get a resounding YES.

  • Reply Margit Sage 25 November, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Great post! I think we all need to hear something like this every now and then. 🙂

  • Reply Phillip McCollum 25 November, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Great advice, Lauren. Just received a rejection the other day, felt bad about it for an hour so, and then carried on. It’s best to learn any lessons you can from it (assuming there are some to learn) and just move forward!

  • Reply Karen Dowdall 26 November, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Great post Lauren. Thank you so much. I am going to print it out and paste it above my writing desk. I have not had the courage to send even one query to an agent, but now I will muster up the courage to promote my novel to an agent.

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 26 November, 2013 at 6:27 am

      Yes! Go Karen! This totally made my day 🙂

  • Reply Anne Milstead 26 November, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I’m procrastinating sending a query to the first agent, but after reading your article, I’m going to try. Thanks once again for saying exactly what I need to hear!

  • Reply Dorothy Sander 26 November, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Thank you for putting this daunting task into a black and white perspective. We creatives have over active imaginations and lose sight of the obvious!

  • Reply hilarycustancegreen 26 November, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I’m at exactly that same stage: third novel, agents rejections etc. The one time I was really thrown was when an agent wanted the whole MS, read it in two days, and said how fabulous it was but wanted a little rewriting. I was more confused by this than by any rejection. This didn’t work out in the end, so there is another desensitisation lesson on the next rung up the ladder.

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