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Why publishing is just like dating (ugh)
Right person, right place, right time.
I remember a time when I was querying literary agents with zero success. It sucked.
I also remember a time when I was languishing on dating apps and going on terrible dates. It really sucked.
And, of course, there was a time when I was in the query trenches and the Bumble trenches. It really, really sucked.
But now that neither of those two things applies to me (thank you, wonderful agent and wonderful boyfriend), I’ve realized just how similar the publishing industry is to the dating world.
1) Right person, right place, right time
In order to be with your future romantic partner, you have to actually meet them when you’re both single and ready for a committed relationship—whether that’s on a dating app or in real life. Your paths need to cross, which in itself is a miracle given how many people there are in the world. And, of course, you need to be at a stage in your life where you’re both compatible. If I met my now-partner when I was in high school, I doubt we’d have gotten together. And if I met my high school crush now, I would run in the opposite direction.
And for you to sign with your future literary agent or editor at a publishing house, you have to send them the right book (your strongest work) at the right time (when they’re eager for authors) in the right place (when there’s a market for your book). My now-agent rejected my not-so-great YA manuscript over 3 years ago. And my last book with my ex-agent didn’t get a book deal while on submission.
A lot of variables have to fall into place for you to find the One—whether that’s your romantic partner or your business partner. Frustrating, I know!
2) Rejection isn’t about you
I probably went on hundreds of first dates before my current relationship. Most of them never turned into second dates—either because the guy didn’t like me or I didn’t like him, or both. Did that mean those men were trash and deserved a lifetime of loneliness? No. Did it mean I was unlovable and undeserving of a healthy relationship? No way in hell! It just meant we weren’t each other’s person.
If an agent form-rejects your current manuscript, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It doesn’t mean they’re an evil agent. It just means that book isn’t meant to be represented by them. You might end up signing with that very agent on your next book—or you might find that your lifelong agent isn’t actually in the publishing industry right now. They’ll join an agency next year, and when you query them, they’ll love your next book even more than you love it.
Rejection comes down to right person, right place, right time. Nothing else.
3) It only takes one yes (from the right person)
You might go on the first date of your life and marry that person five years later. Or you might meet your future partner after ten bad relationships. But when you find the one you’ll share your life with, you’ll put in the work to make the relationship a good one. You’ll grow as a person and help each other grow. And most importantly, that person will love all the things about you that your exes didn’t.
It’s the same with querying and going on submission. You might sign with your agent after your first full request on your first queried book (happened to a friend of mine). You could get a book deal within a week of going on submission. Or maybe it’ll be 5 years, 300+ rejections, and one ex-agent until you find the right agent for you who loves every single thing you write, even if it’s a rough draft (happened to me 💛).
It only takes one yes from your Person. And until you find them, you keep going. Because when you do find them, every hurtful rejection, every tear shed, every shelved manuscript will feel worth it. It led you to your partner, after all. And it’ll make for one hell of a story.
This is my sixth newsletter, by the way! Whether you’ve been here since day one, or you literally just stepped into my world, thank you. If I’m in your inbox right now, hit ‘reply’ and tell me the story of how your publishing life is going. Where are you at right now? How can I support you on your journey?