Agency Lessons: A boost of confidence

A few weeks ago, I wrote about owning the title of "author". +David Watson brought up a great point about keeping up confidence, even in the face of rejection. It's hard to keep calling yourself an author when everyone keeps saying no.
This is something that I'm sure a lot of authors deal with, so I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips on maintaining a chin up during the lows of the query trenches. 

You're in good company
Take a piece of paper and pencil to your bookshelf. Make a list of every author with a book on your shelf. Feel free to stop when you run out of space on your paper. Now, get a red pen. Find a big, thick felt one that you imagine every editor buys by the truck load. Draw a sharp, authoritative line through each authors name and write "Reject" next to it. 

Every single author on your paper has, without fail, been rejected. Either from an agent, an editor, or a reader. Each one of them has felt like the whole world drew a red line through their name and called them a reject. 

If all those writers can face a mountain of rejection and come out the other side as authors, so can you.

Listen to your fans
If you've gotten to the querying stage, I'm going to assume you've had other people read your work. Hopefully, lots of other people. I'm also going to assume, that within that group of people there have been folks who like and love what you wrote. These are your first fans.

Go back through their notes. Ignore the constructive criticism. You've fixed all that by now. Focus like a laser on the words of praise. The comments that give you warm fuzzies are little jolts of author boost juice. Write them down on note cards and tape them up. Put them on your computer, the mirror, the fridge, inside your notebook. Type them into the document where you keep track of rejections. Decorate your world with words that fill you back up. Not everyone is going to love your work, but these people did.

Look at your journey
Most of us have been writing for a long time, even if it wasn't toward a goal of a novel. If you're like me, you have random notebooks or scraps of manuscripts long forgotten stashed in your drawers. They are embarrassing,  laughable attempts at prose. They are what we once thought was nothing short of sheer brilliance.

Of course, now you know better. You can look at that short story from college and groan at all the adverbs and 7 syllable words you thought made you look smart. Even if you don't have a history of writing samples, you do have the first draft of your manuscript. Go back and look at your original first chapter. Can you imagine sending that off to agents or publishers? Yikes.

Being an author is a journey. You're much better than you were even a year ago and next year, you'll be even better. Even if this project doesn't make it into print, you can and will get better so maybe the next one will.

What tips or tricks do you have for keeping the faith in the face of rejection?