The road to publication is paved with rejection slips.
And you do need to read past, “We regret to inform you…”
Because potentially, there’s some revision information in there.
Don’t get super-invested in each rejection, but if your manuscript doesn’t go anywhere after several rounds, it’s time for some analysis.
First, you have to categorize your rejections: form or personal. Sometimes, it’s not that easy to differentiate. “You’re obviously a very talented writer,” is probably a form letter. “The plot is full of twists and turns,” sounds more like a personal rejection. A form rejection with a personal sentence added counts as a personal.
Now count ’em up.
Are the majority of your rejections simply form letters? It takes a bit of extra time for an agent/editor to formulate the reason she’s passing, and to write it in a coherent sentence or two. If you’re getting form letters, your manuscript isn’t standing out enough from the crowd.
Personalized rejections can be blunt or cryptic. In truth, you will learn to love the blunt ones. “I didn’t fall in love with the main character,” can mean you haven’t done a good job with characterization or you’ve done a VERY good job and the agent/editor doesn’t like the character. Or your story just isn’t to her taste.
Look at the comments, see if they resonate. Some will, some won’t. BUT! If you think your plot is the bee’s knees, yet you collect twelve personal rejection letters with comments like, “This story is slight”, “Nothing really happens”, “This is more of a mood novel”, “Your plot stinks”….perhaps you should…rethink the plot.
Don’t give up on a manuscript just because it didn’t sell in the first couple of rounds. Review, revise, and send it out again!