I am not JK Rowling.

I don’t like to complain on this blog too much – I save that for Twitter! – but something lately has been sticking in my craw and I have to rant about it.

I’ve been querying agents for about a month. It’s going about as well as a first-time query can be expected. Long ago I accepted that being a writer means you will face a lot of rejection, and most of the time I’m okay with that. Other times the rejection gets to me and I throw myself a pity party and revel in my suckiness for awhile. I’ve granted myself that right. Then I move on.

What bothers me is when people try to cheer me up by saying “JK Rowling got rejected a ton of times!”

First off, I am not JK Rowling. I will never be JK Rowling. I don’t want to be JK Rowling. I want to be Nanci Schwartz, science fiction writer. (I wouldn’t mind having her money, though.)

Second, I would wager that every single writer who’s ever queried an agent or publisher or magazine has been rejected at some point or another. Probably many times. Even established writers face rejection. It’s what happens in this business.

But being rejected by a bunch of agents doesn’t mean you’re going to be the next JK Rowling or Stephen King. If you’re lucky you might get an agent, sell a bunch of books, and make enough money to quit your day job, but probably not.

I realize when people say these things they’re just being good friends and trying to keep my spirits high, and remind me that being rejected doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. I know it doesn’t. But I’m human and sometimes I can’t help feeling depressed. When that happens, hearing about JK Rowling makes me feel even worse, because having that level of success is not my goal as a writer. It’s completely unrealistic. I see agents announcing new clients on Twitter – now that is the goal I’m aiming for right now. 

/rant off

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5 thoughts on “I am not JK Rowling.

  1. Actually, I recently met a writer who got an agent on his first query and has been with her since. It was truly bizarre to hear, because it’s so weird! Like winning the agent lottery.

    But I agree with this. I don’t want to be compared to JK Rowling or Stephen King when I start querying. I just want to be me, a writer. I am not shooting to be the Next Big Thing. Just a Guy Who Writes Books.

    1. Wow. I got a request for pages on my first query, and thought that was insane. Getting an agent on the first query is nuts. I hope they played the actual lottery after that!

  2. I would suppose that a lot of those comments are probably coming from people who don’t understand the publishing industry very well. People who know the biz tend to be more aware of what your goals are are just because they have a better understanding of the breadth of the process. I suspect that it’s difficult to console when your major behind-the-scenes experience is with super-successful authors. All we can do is continue to explain to our loved ones: No, I just really want an agent.

    1. Yeah, my mom is one of those people who brings up JK Rowling a lot. She thinks that writing a book is the hard part. Yes, it IS hard, but that’s just Step One. I have to explain to her that it’s really really really really really hard to get a book published.

      All that said, of course, it is nice to have people believe in you. I just wish their expectations were more aligned with mine!

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