“Unfortunately the voice didn’t resonate with me.”
My heart sank as I stared at the screen. This was the third agent rejection my precious book had received, and I’ll admit this one really stung. I could live with “love triangles don’t sell” or “the market for movie star heroes is already over-saturated.” But this was my voice she was talking about. Me she was rejecting. If it was just the concept that wasn’t working, I could change it, or I could set this story aside and write something new, but how could I fix me?
“The voice didn’t resonate with me” is the literary equivalent of dating’s “It’s not you, it’s me.” It feels like a rejection, it is a rejection, and yet somehow we’re not supposed to take it personally. But of course we do. Because the end result is that we’re still single, still having to endure the dating pool [the slush pile], still hoping to find The One [The Publisher of our dreams], and with each rejection a little more of our hope chips away.
The hard truth is that if you are submitting your manuscript to editors and agents, the chances of receiving a rejection like the one I received are pretty darn high. And if you do,
I want you to look at this rejection another way.
We’re writers, so we’re good at using our imaginations. I want you to imagine that the person on the other end of that rejection wasn’t honest enough to say “it’s not you, it’s me”, and instead strung you along for months and months, through the best years of your life, never making a commitment, then one day dumped you to marry someone they just met. Which outcome do you think would hurt more?
I’m going to guess the latter. Especially when the realization hits that while you were wasting time being strung along by someone who didn’t love you as passionately as you deserved to be loved, you might have missed out on meeting The One.
When I re-framed my rejection this way, it stung a lot less. In fact, I was kind of relieved. At least that agent had the honesty to admit up front that they didn’t love my voice. They didn’t say I was unlovable, just that they weren’t feeling any chemistry. And that honesty freed me up so I could keep putting myself out there until I found The One.
So if you receive a rejection that says “the voice didn’t resonate with me”, stand tall. Own your voice. Don’t settle, but instead keep sending out those submissions, because there’s an agent or editor out there who is The One for you, and they’re waiting in eager anticipation for your manuscript to arrive in their inbox. They want to find you as much as you want to find them.
In publishing, there is, in fact, something far worse than the “it’s not you, it’s me” line, and that’s “this voice is not yet well-developed enough for publication”.
Translation: “I don’t want a second date because it feels as if you’re not yet ready for a relationship.”
Okay, no decent agent or editor is going to actually write that. They’ll simply send a form rejection, which is the literary equivalent of ghosting.
The good news is that this kind of rejection, even if it feels like a dead-end, is actually fixable. Unlike “the voice doesn’t resonate with me”, this rejection doesn’t mean they’re not feeling any chemistry, but that you still have some work to do. And at least you have some control over that. Maybe you still have baggage from a past relationship and aren’t yet ready to open yourself up to a new relationship. But once you’re ready to move forward, once you let down your barriers and let them see the real you, there’s the possibility they might fall passionately in love with you.
Carrying on the dating metaphor, this is something you can, with time, work out on your own. Or, if you want to fast track the process, you could see a therapist to work through your issues and overcome what’s holding you back. The course I’ll be teaching through Savvy Authors is the literary equivalent of seeing a therapist (but much more fun). It’s the fast track way to discovering who you really are, working through your insecurities, developing your voice, and getting yourself ready to dive into the dating pool [slush pile] so you can get out there and find The One who loves your voice the way it deserves to be loved.
Love this? Check out Romy’s class starting :
My Best Friend’s Royal Wedding by Romy Sommer
Cocktail waitress Khara Thomas never expected to trade the dazzling lights of Vegas for European aristocracy but as maid of honour in the royal wedding of the decade she’s forced into an unexpected spotlight when her best friend marries a prince.
Luckily for Khara, gorgeous but infuriating best man Adam Hatton is happy to show her the ropes. Khara knows Adam’s entitled rich guy type but as their connection grows she realises there’s more to this playboy than meets the eye. And when she learns his royal secret? She might just find that fairytales do come true…