Ok. I’ve been an actor for MANY years, which means I’ve been rejected from jobs ZILLIONS of times. If you don’t want to read an actor’s thoughts on rejection, skip this post! But if you’re querying or on submission and feeling a little blue, perhaps you might find this helpful.
Unlike querying, when you are auditioning for a play, you get to watch people’s faces as they decide to reject you. For example, you are singing a song in an audition, literally in the middle of a note, and the director decides the lunch menu on his desk is more interesting than you. So you keep singing while he ponders whether or not to order a turkey sandwich [this is a true story].
Another true story: I audition for a world premiere of a new play at an awesome theatre. The play is clever and funny and the role is PERFECT for me. My audition goes well. I get a callback! I spend all day at a callback, while the casting team winnows people down. I get kept all day. I’ve also been joking around with the casting team. They like me! They think I’m funny in the role and as a human. This magic is going to happen! Except, it doesn’t. And I’m crushed. I get no explanation. I get the theatre equivalent of a cold query form rejection.
A few months later, I’ve booked another job and am having a fantastic time (playing Amy in Company for the musical theatre savvy). One of my castmates has a friend in the world premiere play, so we road trip to the theatre on a day off. We see the play, and the girl they cast in my part is wonderful. She’s also 5’2” and blond. I am a 5’7″ brunette. As I watch the show, I have this incredibly healing moment. Because I had thought my form rejection from this show (and to be honest, a lot of shows in the past) meant that this creative team had found my talent lacking in some way. I was walking around for months believing they must have thought I wasn’t good enough to cast. But as I watched the tiny blond girl, I realized their decision wasn’t about my talent at all.
For my part, I am trying to revive this mentality for querying. There are so many external factors going into an agent’s decision. Is the book similar to something a client is working on? Is the market saturated with that kind of story? Did they read your query on an empty stomach? Does a character in your book remind the agent of their ex? [Seriously, this also happened to me as an actor. I couldn’t figure out why a director HATED me. In a drunken confession from him years later, he told me I reminded him of an ex-girlfriend.]
So focus on what you can control (your book!) and develop a hide like a rhino. Also, if you want to hear more hilarious rejection stories, message me. I HAVE TONS.