Making a daisy chain

In a bid to diminish the negativity of the dreaded literary agency rejection letter, my writing group thought we’d give them a new name,  something with more positive connotations. We decided to call them daisies.

It really does help; a daisy is sunny and innocent, building a daisy chain is a relaxing way to pass the time and just saying the word lifts my lips into a smile. But there’s no escaping it, a rejection is still a rejection, whatever you call it. Especially when it’s a standard letter with no hint as to whether the manuscript has any potential at all. The first daisy I received made me smile – I felt like a real writer. By the second and third, I wasn’t smiling and I could see how it could go on and on if I didn’t take a step back and reflect.

One of the reasons for my caution is that my shortlist of target agents for my historical fiction manuscript is just that, short. I’m hoping that my targeted approach should improve my chances of success, but of course it also limits my options. Every daisy is the loss of a precious lifeline for my novel. So I need to make my submissions sparingly and be sure that my manuscript is the best it can be. There seems little to be gained by pinging a few more emails out and hoping for the best.

Many of my target agencies recommend that aspiring authors obtain a professional critique of the manuscript before they submit. This route does  provide the writer with feedback they can’t get from a standard agency email and while it is expensive, hopefully it will pay off.

What those three daisies have also done is send me back to my manuscript. Sent me off to do some more genre research and to work on strengthening the themes and conflict.

So I think daisies, rejections, whatever we call them, can be both disheartening and positive all at once. A rejection letter is a sign that a writer needs to up their game, perhaps seek feedback both professional and from beta readers, but above all a rejection letter is just another essential part of the writing process, and a vital sign that we need to keep going.

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2 thoughts on “Making a daisy chain

  1. Well done for getting this far Alison – you have completed a novel – wow! So remember to pat yourself on the back for that as it is a huge achievement. You can only pick daisies if you are out there enjoying the garden, and you can only get rejection letters if you are out there being an author!

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  2. Alison, you should feel great pride in completing a novel that is agent-ready. I know it will find a home if you persevere. I had to string about 62 daisies on my daisy chain before I found my agent. So I guess I’m a believer in spreading your net wide and never giving up. By the time I found my agent he wanted me to do some edits, so I’m glad I kept trying to find an agent before I went back to revise the mss. The ending of this story however is not what I wanted it to be: the agent could not place the novel although he believed strongly in it. He advised me to approach small literary presses directly…and I didn’t. So there you go—I gave up. I am however, a few years later, newly invigorated to try again. So keep it up!

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