Monday, April 23, 2007

Put that Shoe On!

Most of us struggling writers have at some point gotten a rejection and thought something along the lines of, What the hell do THEY know. I could get where I wanted to be if it wasn't for all these blind Literary agents.

That is not a healthy or productive way to see the process. It is easy for us to only see our side of the issue. We, meaning unpublished writers, hear things like, You have one paragraph, or at the most one page to catch an agents notice. That sounds harsh but what do you do when perusing the local brick and mortar. So you pick up a novel by some author unknown to you and you start reading. If that first paragraph that first page doesn't grab your attention you put it back down and reach for something else. At least I do. So why should agents read be any different?

But THEY are the only think standing in the way of my dream? That is the same mentality as My son Timmy would be a straight A student if it wasn't for that teacher that doesn't like him, or Our team would have won state if it wasn't for those sorry refs, or I didn't get promoted like so-and-so because I'm not a brownnoser like they are. To that I say grow up, take responsibility for your own failures, or of failure is too harsh of word your own setbacks. Life is full of them. Find a way to deal with it.

Agents don't want to reject you. yeah I know this is hard to believe sometimes, but rejections do nothing but cost them time and money. Yes, printing out those thousands of rejection forms does add up. Agents take queries because they are looking to find things to represent. Things that they can sell, Things that will stick around for years and become the next To Kill a Mockingbird and earn them money for years to come. Heck, most of them are even willing to represent a lot of the genre fiction which has very little potential to earn off the backlist. They want to find things to sell That is the bottom line. sure there may be a few sadistic individuals out there who get off on crushing others dreams, but Karma is a nasty thing and I don't think an agent with that mentality has a very long future in the business. At least i hope not.

I remember my very first personalized rejection. I can still quote it word for word. After months of the dreaded form letter I opened the return SASE and right away I noticed a handwritten note penned in blue ink, Your meandering storytelling and excessive verbiage do not appeal to me now or never.

Sure his words hurt but you know what he was right. It took my the better part of a year to realize that looking back I realize I had no business even querying at the time. I wasn't ready.

As of late I've been fortunate for several agents to take notice. Write bits of encouragement and offer suggestions how to improve. I've even had a few say this novel isn't quit right for me but I'd love to look at your next project. Yes even a rejection can feel pretty good when an agent makes it clear that you aren't simply wasting your time and theirs.

And yes they miss the boat. Nearly every agent I've ever met who has been in the business for a while has admitted to passing on a manuscript that went onto best seller status or to win a prestigious award or make somebody a good bit of money. But they didn't say no because they wanted to hold that author down, they did it because they realized they were not the person to rep that title.

So remember, unless you've slept with some agents wife, or ran over her poodle, or been stupid enough to get on your blog and run her or one of his or her clients down, it is highly doubtful that the person on the other end of that rejection letter had a vendetta to destroy your future, and if you have done any of the aforementioned things, you might start thinking about a good pseudonym.

2 comments:

cicily said...

First, why are you up blogging at 5am... Second, like the reference to running over a poodle.

Nice work. I am glad you point this out as this is the god to honest truth about rejection. It has to be, as we have both learned, probably you more than me, but especially from speaking to agents in person.

Thanks for yet another great, informative blog.

cicily said...

BTW.. I could only hope to get a personal rejection one day. Form letters only get old and do you no good.

And I didn't mean anything by the you more than me line. I just meant that you have written more than I have.

;)