Something you should know about writing a book: it takes a lot of time, and it takes a lot of work.
You do the writing, the line editing, you send it out to friends to read. You wait. They take forever getting back to you. You want feedback and you want it now, but it's a novel right? It takes time for people to read. They finally get back to you, except for a few stragglers, then you have to implement (or reject entirely) all the suggested changes. Then while you do that, you find a ton of stuff you missed on your initial edit that needs fixed, then you add some things that you intended to put in there originally, but didn't, and then you realize that those changes, now seen as crucial to the integrity of the book, change stuff that happened before, so you have to go through the entire manuscript and fix all that stuff for continuity. This part takes forever, because during all this, you also probably have
a job, you have to take the kids to soccer practice, go to the grocery
store, maybe smooch the wife from time to time to make sure that she
knows that you are still alive, you have to hang out with the family, you watch a
little TV, maybe play some video games. You gotta live too, right?
Plus, the new idea that you have been putting off writing while you work on the first book needs addressed. It's mostly mapped out in your head because that's how you commute to your job: turn off the radio, it's never good news anyway, so be productive a little, spend the otherwise wasted time outlining stories. You know how long the writing part takes, so you'd better get started writing the new novel now, like today.
So after all that, you have your manuscript, it's edited and polished to a shine and ready to go.
So you want to publish it traditionally rather than self- or e-publishing because part of the whole dream is to be able to walk into a bookstore when you are out and about and find your book. So you need an agent. OK. You get online you type into Google, "literary agents." You find a handful that seem like they might want your book, your beautiful baby. You write a query, look at the submission guidelines and fire it off. Then you wait. Most agent's websites say plus or minus six weeks or so. That's fine, you will fill that time writing the new book. Your manuscript is awesome; surely you will not have to do this too many times.
You put your head down. You write. New book is getting bigger, you'll knock this one out in no time.
Get rejected. Oh shit, that sucks, like bad, but that's OK, it's only one. You take out the garbage, you watch your kids' Christmas pageant, you go on a bike ride, you write some more. Time passes. You get rejected again. And again. It should be getting easier, right? But it seems to be getting worse, each rejection seeming to be a profound statement that you might be overstating the quality of your writing, that maybe you can't cut it as a writer, maybe instead of outlining your stories at work, you should be bucking for promotion, because you're going to be there for a long, long time. But even still, the evidence is mounting that nobody wants your book, your precious little baby, maybe you should go back to school, maybe you should be using your time doing other things like mowing the grass, or maybe you should take up intramural basketball, get in shape, maybe more wisely use all this time that you have clearly WASTED POURING YOUR GODDAMN HEART AND SOUL INTO A BOOK THAT NOBODY WILL EVER READ BECAUSE IT IS A GIANT PIECE OF SHIT.
Whew. Take a deep breath, take a step back. Read your book again, make sure it's not a giant piece of shit. It's as good as you remember, no, better than that, the distance you have had from it makes it seem great. Clearly those agents that rejected you didn't give it enough careful consideration. Get back online, re-work your query, find other, better, more suitable agents, people that will give this beautiful, precious manuscript the love and care that it deserves. No doubt, this time it's a lock.
Not for me.
Dear WRITER, thank you for your submission, but unfortunately, we feel that...
Seriously now, why the hell are you even writing a new book when nobody wants the one you have already? What the hell are you even doing with your life? The times you wrote instead of doing something you wanted to do? All a waste. Your new manuscript is getting bigger and more intricate, way more ambitious than the first, more moving parts, which seemed like a good idea back when you started it, because back then you weren't such a failure, you had a good book that everyone would want to read, but now you realize that no one cares about you and your book, no one gives a shit about what you have accomplished, what you have sacrificed, how hard you worked, no one even notices that you are there.
You have to increase your visibility. Start a blog, get on social media, interact with other writers. read some nausea-inducing articles on self-branding and self-promoting. And OK, yeah, maybe it makes a kind of sense, but you're a goddamn artist, you're not a prostitute, are you? Read about some incredible writers and their own struggles with rejection. Read about perseverance, and determination.
And through all this, you have to keep believing in yourself, keep believing in your talent and your value, in your drive and skillset. You have to just fucking hang in there, hang on, hold on to hope.
You have to keep believing in your work, in your words.
It's hard, and it takes forever, but what else is there? What else do you have to offer? And if you stopped, if you could stop, what then? All the stories just pile up inside your head, all the words go unwritten, unsaid? Could you stop even if you wanted to? For better, and often for worse, it is what you are. And it's hard and heartless and discouraging and fraught with rejection and failure, but you can't change what you are.
You are a writer.
And your words will be read.