I meet ’em at conferences or communicate with them by email. Authors timidly holding out their treasure to me, not so much submitting for publication as they are looking for affirmation of their self-worth. I recognize it, I’ve been there. Who am I kidding, I’m still there.
I still need affirmation that what I am doing has value, affirmation that means more to me than publishing or making money. We write in a vacuum, and we need feedback to tell us what we are doing is WORTH doing. Personally I have associations with people who give me that affirmation when I need it.
I try to pass it on. When I interface with writers I try to give them that encouragement even if what they offer is something that is not right for me and the odds say that most of them won’t be a good fit for me. That says nothing about the project or the writing, but I get hundreds of good projects sent to me and I surely can’t take them all. That means I am looking for ones that are better than good, ones that are exceptional.
All agents and publishers are the same way, we all know the numbers and the unfortunate part of our job is having to pass on projects simply because something else works better for us. That’s where the heart on the sleeve comes in. Too many writers take it personal. It not only fails to be the affirmation they are seeking but it is rejection.
That’s just not the way to look at it. There’s nothing personal about it, unless they get back to you and say something tacky in which case you should consider the source. It’s just business. We are all picking the best offering we can find for a limited number of slots and even some good projects just aren’t going to fit. It takes time to match up just the right project at just the right place in front of just the right person at exactly the right time. At any given time a project may only fit at one place in the whole publishing industry and it can be hard to make that connection. Later it may only fit at one place but now that place is different. It takes patience and perseverance.
And that affirmation we need? We have to learn where we can get that . . . and should not be surprised if we don’t get it from people who are just busy conducting business.