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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Here we go again!!

The rollercoaster ride of publishing is exhilerating and terrifying. Describing it in words doesn't do it justice, but a very creative blogger, Nathan Bransford, has gone one step further and created a multimedia experience that truly conveys the myriad emotions writers go through from the genesis of an idea through the culmination of the dream with a published book. Then we jump in line for another ride on the rollercoaster!

Here's his post:
The author, hard at work
The Publishing Process in GIF Form

I'm back on the ride and having a terribly superstitious moment right now. Part of me wants to jump up and down and scream "Wheeeee!" The other part is afraid I'll jinx myself if I do, or if I share the news that an agency has asked for an exclusive to review my manuscript (partial) and asked for additional info from me.

HURRAY! HURRAY! YIPPEEE!! I was on the verge of, well, not exactly giving up, but definitely sulking...and then Hanna cheered me up and I persevered, sent out more queries, and HURRAY! HURRAY! Got a request!

So, once again, I'm in a holding pattern, waiting to hear back from them NLT September 24. I'm afraid to get my hopes up only to have them dashed again, but I can't help it!

When it rains, it pours, you know. No surprise that I'd get a second request while I've given exclusive review to another agency! I'll have to keep my fingers crossed that a) agency #1 loves it and signs me, and b) if not, that agency #2 likes it enough to still want to look at it about a month from now.

Whether you're a writer, along on a similar ride, or just a curious reader, take a look at Nathan Bransford's very creative and funny explanation of it all. You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On: Queries, Rejections, and Patience

I'm in the long, tedious, and ego-smashing process of querying for my second novel, Chupacabra. For those of you not familiar with the process of getting published, once you've written your novel, edited it five-ways-to-Sunday, and think it's ready to go forth into the world--your masterpiece--you then have to convince someone else of that.

This is called querying...a nice word for baring your soul and getting your heart ripped to shreds by total strangers. More specifically, by literary agents. You have one, brief shot to make a good impression and that one shot is called a query letter.

A query letter is a brief (3-4 paragraphs, no longer than 1-page) business letter letting the agent know:
  • Why you selected him/her to query
  • The genre of your book
  • The word count of your manuscript
  • What the story is about
  • Why you're the best person to write it
  • Your publishing history
  • That you can write...(demonstrated by your ability to do all of these things in less than one page and make it fascinating enough that they want to read more).
Once you've researched agencies and agents to find out who might be interested and compatible with you (this will be a long-term relationship, one hopes), you start sending off query letters. This entails reviewing the agency's submission requirements and revising and tailoring said query letter to their unique requirements.

Then you send the letter (and perhaps a 1-2 page synopsis and/or some sample pages or chapters, depending on their submission guidelines), and wait.

After a few weeks (or, in some cases minutes, hours, or days), the rejections start flowing in. At this point, that "I'm-on-top-of-the-world" glow you've worn since writing "The End" (for the sixth or seventh time, after each round of edits) is replaced by a morose, dull look of dejection. No one loves me. They don't even like me. They hate me. <Sigh.>

The London Olympics provided me with a new slogan and path forward when I get to the heavy-sigh stage:

Yes, that's all there is for it. Rejections will come, rejections will go, and until you've amassed a significant number of them, you probably haven't put yourself out there sufficiently as a writer.

This week, when I started to sink below the heavy-sigh stage into the I-suck stage, I received a phone call from a dear friend who also happens to be a brilliant writer--and one who makes a living at it! I'd sent her my ms to see what she thought. I'd been considering some drastic changes after only a relatively few rejections. Hanna said "Don't change a thing! It's exactly right just the way it is." She loved it! She really loved it! Her enthusiasm and positive feedback were just what I needed to keep me calm and carry on querying.

It's hard (impossible?) for a writer to judge his or her own work. In the past, others have judged my writing worthy of publication. When I go back and look over my publication list (something I had to compile as per one agency's submission requirements), I'm prepared to cringe. Will I be embarassed when they go and look at these? I will be judged based on the words I've written. Are there things I'd change? Certainly. But, rewriting forever more, in search of perfection, won't get us published.

At some point, we have to take a deep breath, keep calm, and carry on. That means querying and rejection. These days, while waiting for the rejections to roll in, I practice my casual, flip of the hand and merry response for future interviews: "Rejections? I have hundreds of them. They come with the territory. A writer just has to expect them, have patience, keep calm, and carry on."