So you banged out your masterpiece.
It was a hard road filled with plot holes, distractions on the internets and shopping on Etsy that left you with half a manuscript for far too long. But you persevered through all that shit and finished! Plus, you got awesome new knickknacks from Etsy. Score! You totally needed that clay sculpture of a rainbow unicorn. ‘Cause it’s awesome.
And bless your literary heart, you made it through edits, beta readers, more edits. Seriously endless edits. Then you sent that finished manuscript out. You’re officially a querying writer. Cue freakout.
You will check your email compulsively. Endlessly. Irrationally. There is no way they’re getting back to you same day, but you’ll check anyway. Get a cup of coffee. Take a snack. Get comfy. You’re going to be there a while.
And then you see it. There, in your inbox! You know that senders address! It shines like a beacon from the black hole that is your over-checked, newly cleaned out and organized, email inbox.
But odds are, it’s a rejection. EVERYONE gets rejected. The greats, the amateurs, everyone. And usually a lot so bond with that. It stings, of course, but you don’t take it personally. You keep writing and querying but deep down at the mere mention of that agents/publishers name you recoil from the pain memory.
Then, after many more rejections, you see something new in your inbox. This rejection reads differently. It’s got words like, “pleased to,” and “impressed,” in it. What sorcery is this, you wonder.
You calmly read it twelve more times. You save it. You print a copy. You call your mother just so she can read it and verify that you haven’t finally lost your mind and are really seeing what you think you’re seeing. This one is not a rejection. Cue freakout!
It was all totally worth it. You’re high on literary dreams. You drop names like Hemingway,Thoreau, and Woolf around your friends for a week because you can’t help it. You say things like, “Oh, I highly recommend that you read them,” with an asshole air in your voice. You might even point out similarities between their great works and your space opera about leper alien vampires with an unfortunate proximity to the sun. This affect should only be temporary. Because you’re a writer, not a douchebag, so you’ll get back to normal. You’ll read a few books. You’ll sell a few books. And then you get back to writing. Because writers write.
So, step one: you bang out your masterpiece.