Nil Desperandum


On Monday 10th March 2014, I sent off my first pitch to a literary agent with a view to getting my children’s picture books published.

On Monday 12th May 2014, the agent sent me my first rejection. Exactly nine weeks later, but given that Easter came in between, that is a reasonable timeframe. Most agents quote 6-8 weeks expected turnaround.

I always knew it would take a miracle to get accepted first time out. Whilst I hoped and dreamed with my heart, my head told me “no way.” So I determined to take the rejection philosophically and see it as the first step on the road to an eventual acceptance somewhere down the line. (Following a recipe of huge amounts of dogged determination mixed with a little bit of luck).

After all, how many times was JK Rowling rejected before Harry Potter was taken up? Over 80 if I remember right. Something like 13 years to become an overnight success!

And The Beatles. How many record labels turned them away? Now Sir Paul is one of the richest men in the nation.

So, a ‘no thanks’ puts me in good company.

Nil Desperandum – I’m on my way!

Of course, it helps that the rejection was in fact quite a positive one, considering it gave me negative news. If that makes any sense.

The email said:

“Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for sending me your manuscript.  There is an awful lot I like about it.  However I am afraid in the current tough market I do have to be completely bowled over by something to take it on and I’m afraid I didn’t feel quite this strongly about your work.

I know you will continue to approach agents and publishers and I’m sorry that it’s been a near miss for me.  Good luck with your further submissions.”

I could get disheartened and think ‘I’m okay, but I’m not good enough. Why bother?”

I choose to view the comments as encouraging.

It could have said, “You are totally delusional, don’t give up the day job.”

Instead, it calls the pitch ‘a near miss’.

So, I’m not a million miles off target.

Next steps:

Look over the material again, as objectively as I can. Look for any tweaks that would make it stronger, and if I can spot them, make them.

Pick two or three agents, and pitch again.

Cross fingers.


Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Don’t give up!




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