You have decided you want to pursue publishing. You registered for a writers’ conference, researched the editors and agents who will be attending, and signed up for interviews with ones who represent your kind of work. You have all the appropriate materials ready and have polished your manuscript until you need sunglasses to read it.
Then you get to your interview and are told:
“You don’t have a platform? All writers must have a platform.”
“The market is very soft right now for … (YA Christian fiction, historical fiction, vampire romances, YA historical vampire romances, etc.)
“You’re writing isn’t quiet … there yet.”
You get home from the conference, crushed. What now?
First, you need to decide if you still want to get published. If publishing would suck all the joy at of writing for you, keep it as a hobby, something you pursue to satisfy yourself and those you wish to share it with. That’s how I regard the poetry I post: it’s fun writing I can share to connect with readers.
If you decided you need to be published, take a deep breath. Rejection at your first conference is not the end of the journey. To paraphrase Steve Laube of the Steve Laube Agency, pinning all your hopes and dreams on one or two interviews is too much pressure for you and the editor or agent.
When you get home, take a break from your writing, get back into your old routine, and after a few days, or even a week, revisit the advice given to you in the interviews. Above all keep this key advice in mine:
Take the advice professionally, not personally
The agents and editors know nothing about you. They give their advice based on their expertise in the business and your writing. Rejection of your writing is not a rejection of you as hard as this is for a writer to understand since we put so much of ourselves in our writing.
Process the advice like you would if you received it from a plumber who is trying to fix a problem with your pipes and offers several solutions.
Do you need a platform? Investigate what you can accomplish in that area. Is your writing not “there” yet? Read writing manuals or take online courses.
Or don’t take the advice if you don’t think it’s feasible or doesn’t really apply to you. I had an agent tell me to try writing romantic suspense because YA Christian fiction is a hard sell now. I have never read romantic suspense. By the time I became familiar with the rules of the genre and wrote a whole novel, its popularity might have waned. Besides, I have no interest in romantic suspense. So this advice doesn’t work for me.
If you have attended a writers’ conference, what advice would you give for handling rejection?