Category: Process in the Publishing Industry


I just received another rejection letter. But it was a fairly detailed one and gives me something specific to work on with my book. Here it is:

***

Dear Kelly,

Thank you so much for sending me the additional material of this project for further consideration. I am sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this one. I appreciate the patience.

After having a chance to look over this project, I am afraid I am going to pass on this project. I will say, it is refreshing to see someone trying something new with this genre. With that said, I just didn’t feel the story had the depth of character development in the early pages to really draw me into the story. In many ways, I felt on the outside looking in.

I do want to wish you all the best with your writing and thank you again for giving me the chance to read this.

***

Not too shabby, as far as rejections go.

So, grudgingly, I’m diving back into my manuscript for even more revisions. Go me!

But I just learned something about one of my favorite authors that I will somehow work into a mantra for motivation: Meg Cabot (author of The Princess Diaries and many, many more) spent three years sending out queries before she got an agent and another year before that agent found a publisher. Meg was thirty at the time. Now she has dozens of books published.

This is good because a) I’m not quite thirty – just a handful of months to go, though, and b) I’ve only been querying for about a year.

So even though I totally want to cry (or die) of frustration, I’m going to press on. Wish me luck!

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Well, the agent that had requested my full manuscript got back to me – too quickly, really.  Kinda puts a damper on my confidence. But at least she was nice:

***

Dear Kelly,
Thank you for sharing your work with me. This is a wonderful concept, and you write well—but I’m afraid that I didn’t connect with this in the way that I’d hoped.

Still, I hope you will continue writing and sending out your work. If you haven’t done so already, you may wish to look at The Jeff Herman Guide to Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents – there, you should be able to find someone who’s a better fit for your work.

Best of luck with this and future projects.

***
It’s nice, but a little form in the rejection; I will probably e-mail her and ask WHAT EXACTLY didn’t grab her. Plus, she plugged a book in my letter.

Sucky!

Well…

I got a nibble, today. On my manuscript, I mean. After about ten rejections (without one helpful criticism, I might add) I woke up today to a letter from an agent who says she wants to see the FULL manuscript. She said it sounds like a great concept.

Now, if you are a writer, you know. You know what a dream it is for an agent to notice you enough to ask for even a partial, but a full is a dream come true (well, second to being published, of course.)

So all day today, I took just one more “look” at my manuscript, making quadruple sure that it was polished and professional. So…wish me luck. I’ll keep you updated.

I was watching American Idol last night and it was hilarious. I really didn’t miss Simon’s witty bitterness one little bit. I loved the fact that Jennifer Lopez couldn’t tell even the wretched ones “no” and I loved that Steven Tyler brought his rock star style and favored the singers that seemed to have a similar quality.

But partway through the show, laughing at one of the many rejects, I stopped to wonder, “Holy crap…is that me?”

You know those people who think they are good at singing/dancing/jamming on a fiddle/writing but really, truly are not? But they keep at it because they think that they really have something and seem to be missing a part of the brain that hints that they might not be. That in all actuality they SUCK.

I wondered, “Am I that way, with my writing?” Am I forcing down this horribly written crap to all the people I know and love?

Am I this guy?

clueless (click to watch video)

But you know, I really don’t know HOW MUCH I want that question answered. Maybe by a panel of literary Jennifer Lopezes(ones that have trouble saying “you stink”), but definitely not by a bunch of Simons. Or that could be just what I need.

Okay, so I’ve told everybody that I’ve finished my book and that I’ve scouted out five agents, carefully selecting among the masses to find that particular somebody to represent my very “unique” manuscript.

I sent out query letters – very professional ones – and attached a chapter or so (depending on their submission guidelines).

It’s been just a few days and I’ve already received two responses. But they aren’t good. They are both form letters. For those of you who don’t know what those are, I feel they are the worst kind of rejection. You have agents that just won’t get back to you which I don’t mind, I tend to just move along after about six weeks and then there are these agents (or agent assistants) that send out these horribly generic letters. They can go to anyone, under any genre, and pretty much tell you that they are COMPLETELY not interested.

These are the ones I got:

From agent “C”:

I greatly appreciate having been given the opportunity to review your work. Regrettably, I feel we are unable to offer you representation. 

Sometimes we must pass on books, even very good books, which are either out of our range or require an amount of attention we feel unable to provide.  In addition, we cannot afford to take on projects which we’re not absolutely confident we will be able to sell.  But we do very much hope that you will find an agent with the right enthusiasm for your work.

 Because our staff is small, and the volume of submissions we receive so high, we cannot issue a personal response to every query or submission.  But please know that each is reviewed with great attention and care.

And then a similar one from agent “E”:

Many thanks for your submission – I do appreciate you thinking of me and the Greenhouse.

 I’m sorry to say that in this instance I am going to pass on your work. The children’s and YA market is very competitive, as you may well know, and I’m afraid I don’t feel your story is quite standout enough for me to be confident of placing it for you at this time.

 Another agent may well, of course, feel differently – this remains a very subjective business.

 Wishing you all the very best and thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to consider your work.

These form letters are the WORST in my opinion because you see them in your inbox and you get all excited and then you take the time to open and read it and you begin to feel like you just got dumped.

Super sucky! Well, I now have two spots to fill. Here goes the continuation of the agent search…

Okay…I did it this time…I swear!

My book is finished and I will not look at it again. I will send it out to agents and see what happens. I stayed up all night last night putting the finishing touches on it and I can’t look at it anymore. This is simply the best that I have!

So… I went ahead and queried five agents. Let’s label them A, B, C, D and E. Most asked for a query letter and either five or ten sample pages. I’ll keep updates on this website to let you know what they say.

Thanks for everyone’s support!

I’m nearly finished with my fourth draft of my book. I’m so sick of the thing that I could throw up on it. (But I’ve read other authors who feel the very same way and said that it in no way implies that my book isn’t good or worthy of publishing.)

I’ve changed my point of view from 1st person “I” to 3rd person limited “she” and played with changing the title. But after a vote I kept the original. After nearly three years of working on the book, I’ve decided to change the end so that there will not be a sequel and in turn made it a much stronger ending. But now I’m rethinking the first couple of chapters.

They are just so…cliché.

The premise of my book is such an original one – there is NOTHING out there like it. (Which makes me nervous for a different reason.) But I seem to be gumming it up with cliché after cliché. An outcast girl’s first day of school. Her best friend moves away. A new – albeit very cute – boy moves into town. She makes new friends.

Cliché. Cliché. Cliché.

So, my question of the day is…when does a writer know when to quit? No, I don’t mean give up. I don’t mean that it’s too hard and I want to stop working on it. I’m sure if I don’t get it published soon I will work on it for the rest of my life. But when does a writer know to cut her losses and move on to a new project?

Is my idea just TOO out there? And am I totally botching it up?

Well – for at least today – I will work on it, cutting it up. Wish me luck!

Today, after spending hours on the millionth draft of my novel, I realized that I can’t stand my main character’s name…again. I’m unsure about how many times I’ve changed the poor girl’s name, but all the ones that I’ve chosen just don’t seem to sit well with me.

I started out with Adele (Della). But using it, I was told that it had too much of a ring of Bella from Twilight. I definitely didn’t want to be thought of as unoriginal, so I changed it to Danielle (Dani). I knew I wanted to have a name that could be shortened. It’s a minor but important part of the story, but for some reason didn’t like that one, either.

I tried Leela (Leigh) and am now trying out Olivia (Liv). I don’t know what it is about sticking to a name that bothers me. If anyone has a better idea of a name and a nickname that goes with it…let me know!

So far, my progress in the publishing industry has been characteristically slow and hard. I’ve spent almost three years working on the same book.

After the first draft, I thought I was a writing superhero and began to query agents left and right without too much thought as to whether or not they would be a good fit for me. Or me for them. Surprisingly, I hooked several of the agents with my query letter and they asked for samples of my writing. One even asked for the full manuscript to be sent over.

Almost immediately after sending them a sample, I was turned down – rejected. Most of them claimed the writing just wasn’t “convincing” enough.

I now believe that meant the writing just wasn’t good enough.

So I’m at it again. Rewriting, changing my POV (point of view) from first to third person, switching out my main character’s name and revamping the descriptions. I’m almost done with the rewrite and I’m fighting every cell in my body to query at least one agent. This time I just KNOW the book is good enough. But that is what I thought two years ago and got rejected by nearly every YA agent out there.

I must, somehow, teach myself how to be patient.