Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rejection Can't Stop This

I don't remember where this image came from so I apologize for the lack of credit.

























In the last two years, I’ve written two books attended, two conferences, and I’m on my way to Big Sur for one amazing writing workshop to round out the year. More than a handful of agents have rejected my YA Paranormal Mythology, but that hasn’t stopped me. It’ll take a team of gryphons to slow my chariot. Because this year, I made incredible connections with instructors, agents, and writers who have opened their hearts, and their minds, to me on many occasions, and I won’t let them down. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much. There were times when I felt I’d burst from trying to keep so much in my head. 

Some of the agents, who rejected my work, were people I met at conferences. One was a lucky star I reached for after securing a spot on The Secret Agent Contest on Miss Snark’s Website. And the others were researched and hand chosen for their likes, dislikes, and online presence—carefully, methodically, and in a comprehensive spreadsheet. Moving their row of cells from the Sent spreadsheet to Rejected spreadsheet made me feel like Dead Women Walking. Every time. Without exception, and this is why—

Rejection sucks. It is that simple.

I’ve cried many an afternoon at my desk. Man alive, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night crying my way out of a deep sleep. But let me tell you something else—a few of those agents actually took the time to give me feedback. Real feedback. The “you don’t suck as a writer, but need to work these problems out in your story,” feedback that we all so desperately want.

One awesome lady came right out and told me “editors don’t want this type of story right now.” Basically, she didn’t think she could sell it. Well, Hallelujah! Thank you for telling me that. That is huge. That is something that happens to published authors as well, because this is a business. Something writers, whether published or aspiring, must wrap their head around. I never doubted the business side for a minute. Having my butt handed to me for two decades in corporate America may have helped make the whole business side of publishing a palpable reality for me, and I’m thankful for the experience, as well as the reality check.

But here’s the thing; I am not so disillusioned that I believe all or even most agents have the time to write individualized feedback. I can’t even imagine how busy they must be, day in and day out, looking at query after query, manuscript after manuscript. But to those agents who did send feedback to me, personally, that has made all the difference in the world to my writing, and my perseverance.

Without going into full disclosure, I’d like to thank Laurie, Elena, and Victoria for reminding me, an aspiring author, that you care, you have compassion, and you believe in us. 

The publishing industry is changing quickly. I think about Indie Publishing every day. I think about e-publishing every day. And then I think about those agents, the ones who reached out. The ones who believe there’s still a market for aspiring authors in traditional publishing in tandem with the new paradigm—

And I just keep writing. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

HOW I GOT MY AGENT

Fine. I didn't really get an agent, but I did get this awesome letter of representation from my nine-year-old daughter Ava. 




At dinner one night, she asked in all seriousness, “Why can’t I just look up some publishing houses on the Internet and tell them I’m your agent?”

—Um, she’s NINE.

Can any one of you imagine this powerhouse when she’s twenty? I can. And so can Agent Laurie McLean who got a kick out this letter when I emailed it to her. She said to have Ava call her when she’s ready to come to work for her, and you know what...Ava asked me if there were any good colleges in San Francisco, so she could work for Laurie and go to school. She’s the very definition of go-getter.

The kid’s got moxie.

She even painted herself a sign for her office, which tells me she’s an agent who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. 


Hell, she may be my best shot.

Let’s take a look at the PRO’s.

1. She’s actually read the entire manuscript. That’s a start.
2. She asked if she could dress up as the main character for Halloween. She’s truly invested in the main character.
3. She young, tenacious and hungry for the win. I mean, if she shows this much enthusiasm at a Green Day concert, can you imagine what she’d do with negotiating royalties? No fear.



4. She isn’t afraid to put herself in front of the camera at publicity events.



5. She truly loves books. Ava won the award for the most pages read in her entire elementary school for the Read-A-Thon and received this sweet, monogrammed bag as her prize, which she’ll bring to future Book Expo’s.


6. Her letter was professional, courteous, and individualized. See the transcription below.


Dear Mrs. Brodsky,

I loved it. It’s the book for me. I wish to represent you.
I hope you say yes, even though I am very inexperienced.

Sincerely, 

Ava’s Agency.

Here's the CON’s:

1. She is inexperienced.

Well la-dee-dah. Aren’t we all. I can live with that. This is a changing industry in a volatile market. All I can say is shine up your query letters, folks, because this little go-getter is ready to take on some hot clients. I, for one,  think we should get in at the ground level, don’t you?