The dark side of this process and a little advice for those thinking of trying…

If it isn’t obvious by previous posts, I have been in the process of looking for an agent for my novel. A couple rejections and some possible interest has been received until today. I understand rejection, I understand the competitiveness of the industry. I understand it all. What I will never understand is the snobbishness and the blatant rudeness that seems to plague the world in every industry.

Today I received the most rude and snobbish rejection I think I have received in any industry I have ever been in. I will not divulge names or agencies as I believe it is in bad practice, a belief I almost destroyed today after reading this email. The basis of the email was a rejection, which is not much to be bothered by, but the condescending tone and word usage nearly sent me over the edge. I am a respect driven individual. I will always show respect to those who deserve and show me the same respect. This agent though obviously does not subscribe to the same practice.

I was told by this agent that my query letter was extemporaneous and I needed to spend time looking at sample queries. For those of you who do not know the word extemporaneous, it means that it was done with little preparation or forethought. First, let’s start at just the word use. I have a very large vocabulary. This is from spending hours looking in thesauruses for different words to use in my novels other than the basics, it is also from the intense studying I did three years ago when I took the GRE to enter graduate school. A consequence of this is I am often told that I sometimes come off as condescending or snobbish as I will use large words that many do not know the meaning of. It is unintentional on my part, it is just the language I am used to using in my everyday life and academic writings. I found myself in my friends shoes today when I read this email. I know what extemporaneous means, but the tone of the email was what made the word sound more like a cruel and humiliating laugh rather than a simple, “this letter needed some more work for me.”

Does this person think I did not spend hours upon hours looking over sample letters, reading blogs and websites and each submission page of agents to make sure that the information contained in the letter was not exactly what was asked for? I followed guidelines, I put the information that the agency asked for and I receive a response saying that I threw together a letter with no thought or preparation. I spend hours on my query letters. Maybe it is a personal thing with me, but I saw this as a huge disrespect to me. Would someone really think I would be so careless with something so important to me that I would send out a letter without thought? That I would slap together some sentences and not care?

The disrespect and condescending tone of this email nearly pushed me over the edge. For an hour after receiving it the small, ill tempered and irrational part of me screamed to write a scathing response email. I wanted to rip this agent apart, I wanted to educate her on how to treat someone who wanted for nothing but to chase their own passion. Luckily, I am not the ill tempered and irrational girl I used to be. Five years ago I would have sent a response email with no problem. Now though, I stopped and told myself that I would regret it.

Why would I regret letting out the frustration and anger and disrespect I immediately felt upon reading this email? This questions brings me to the second part of this post. Some advice on what I have learned so far in this process.

1. Don’t write a generic “Dear Agent” query letter and assume you can send it out to every agent. I read blogs and looked at samples and still find myself having to rewrite every time I want to send to a new agent. If it is generic, they will know! They are agents and they read for a living! They know when you are being generic and when you have actually taken the time to write a specific letter to them. Does this mean you have to spend hours each time you want to send a letter? Probably not. It means you need to read the submission guidelines for each agent and make sure that your letter meets their requirements.

2. Don’t send a letter that you are not 100% ready to send. If it doesn’t feel right yet, don’t send it! There isn’t a deadline on this. Don’t send it just to get it out there, if you do this then you knock that agent off the list of people you can submit to later after you are 100% happy with your letter.

3. Read sample query letters. Most agencies will have links to sample query letters they like. These letters will literally tell you what to write in yours. They wouldn’t link you to them, if they didn’t like them or they weren’t successful queries to their own agency.

4. Don’t be ill-tempered and irrational. The world is full of those snobbish, rude and disrespectful people. No matter what industry you are in or deal with, there will be those people. The problem is, you have no idea who that person knows. If I had sent a response today like my temper had wanted me to, I could have ruined any chance I have at finding an agent. Sending that one email to one agent could mean much more than just ripping apart one person verbally, it could have been viewed has me thinking I do not care about the opinions of people in the industry I wish to be part of, or that I think I am better than they are in some way.

Even though I have had this one bad email, all others have been respectful, nice and encouraging. Which I guess is my last piece of advice, don’t be discouraged. If it doesn’t work out, you can self publish and still get your story out there. Keep writing and keep trying.

 

~SKG~

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write, write, write…. wait, what I am writing for???

No, seriously, what am I writing for? Sometimes this process is just exhausting. I get told my project is strong and that it could go far, but that it’s not for them. What does that mean??????? I take it to mean, I don’t like it, so leave me alone….

So, rejection sucks, I know this and it hasn’t got me down completely, but come on, how does this work really? I have a book, that I literally conceived when I was just 5 years old. It’s my passion, it has kind of kept me sane in times of insanity in my life and I finally finished it. 80,000 words of pure imagination. I guess I can’t be mad, I knew that the odds of finding an agent and being published were pretty slim. It wasn’t like I wasn’t prepared to be told no. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

I probably didn’t write for a whole four days after the first rejection. I swear it felt like I got hit with a ton of bricks, part of me was like, “Okay, that was fun, time to focus on real life again.” But then the majority of me was like ‘SCREW THIS SHIT! I WORKED FAR TOO HARD TO JUST GIVE UP!” The voice that said screw you won out and I push on with my dream of being a published author. To the point where I started the second book in the series. I have 20,000 more words of pure imagination that have flowed from my mind. It is such an amazing release of energy and creativity for me. I can stay up until 3am just writing and rewriting and rewriting until I think it is perfect.

So, the other day when I got another rejection I thought about this further. What am I writing for? Then it hit me, I’m not writing this for an agent, I’m not writing this for a publisher, I’m not writing for the millions of people who I wish could read this story. I am writing for me. I didn’t write this story twenty years ago for anyone else, I wrote it for me. I wrote it because in my head was this crazy story about a girl who found out her life was some kind of twisted fairy tale. She is powerful, yet weak, loving but guarded. She is pushed further and further and further until she breaks and has to decide between the easy and the difficult paths in life. I guess she is what I feel every girl should be. She is looked at as this super womanesque person because she has the power to free those who are imprisoned, she can save those who are about to perish and she is the one everybody looks to to solve every problem in her kingdom. She fails quite often, but she succeeds occasionally also, she makes wrong decisions most of the time, but she usually gets it right in the end. Overall, Ariana is the perfect girl, not in the sense that she does everything right and does it while looking perfect and always succeeds. But in the sense that when she falls, she gets back up and keeps going, that when she makes a wrong decision she apologizes and makes it right, that when it comes down to the end she would rather save those who have attacked her instead of destroying them. That makes Ariana the perfect girl in my head and that is why I have written her story even if no one will really get to read it.

I’ve decided to give you all a taste of this story. This is the opening of the story and just the beginning of Ariana’s journey. I am always open to comments when they are constructive, don’t be mean, don’t be rude but be constructive and up lifting.

 

The Other Side:

I have had the same dream since I was a child. There is barely a night I can remember that I didn’t dream of being carried through the woods by a strange woman. It was an odd dream, I was clearly a baby or small child, cradled in the arms of a woman with kind, dull gray eyes. The woman ran swiftly through the thick trees, though I could not recall a time when I had been in a forest this thick. I stared up at the woman as she ducked behind a tree and hid us in-between two prickly bushes. I could feel her arms shaking with terror as she held me tight to her chest. Her head snapped to the left as the sound of numerous other foot steps echoed off the trees.

After three others ran past where the woman was hidden with me in her arms, she took off at a sprint again, but this time ran perpendicular to our original path, before turning sharply into a thick line of trees that almost completely hid a large clearing from view. The woman paused again, and watched the clearing, counting softly to herself, on the count of one hundred, she took off straight across the clearing to a rock wall. Once at the wall, she felt her way through the vines that covered the rocks until her arm slipped through a small opening.

She held me closer to her and side stepped into the opening, it was cold and she paused only long enough to pull the blankets I was nestled in tighter around me. Soon the small cave opened up and directly in front of us was a jagged opening filled with a bright light. She stood for a moment just staring at the wall before holding me up in front of her. Her smiled made small wrinkles form in the corners of her eyes and the gray eyes glossed over as tears began to form.

“I am sorry I must do this, but I hope you will understand one day that I did not have a choice. You will be safe on the other side.”

The woman planted a gentle kiss on my forehead before stepping forward into the bright light.

I jolted awake from the familiar dream. I was breathing heavily as always and shivering, even though my room was always a little too hot for comfort. The alarm clock next to my bed was buzzing loudly, I rolled over and slammed my hand down on the snooze button and rolled over to my back. I stared at the ceiling, willing my heart beat to slow, until my alarm went off again. I turned it off and crawled off from under the blanket. I hadn’t been sleeping well lately, and my body was growing stiff from the lack of rest. I was only seventeen, but I felt like I was eighty some mornings.

Completion

It’s a weird thing when you complete something you have worked on for years. That moment when you type the final word of a story you imagined for the first time when you were barely six years old. It is bittersweet though. What do I work on now? For twenty years I have imagined a world beyond what I lived in and just over the past few years have I taken to really spending time writing it down. Tonight I typed the final word and it was amazing. To finally get the first part of the story down and complete was great. The next steps ahead are what terrifies me though. What if I just spent years writing out nearly 77,000 words just to find out I suck as a writer and that no one will ever read my story? What if I spent all this time just to be rejected by agents and publishers and be stuck with a manuscript that will never see the light of day. 

I guess that is why this is so bitter sweet for me. I love my story, I love the world I created and the plot and the characters, but I imagined them, so of course I love them. How do I make other people fall in love with them also? Especially since some agents do not even want a sample, they just want a summary. How do you make someone understand the progression and growth and depth of your characters and your story when all they want is a 1000 word summary and then if they want to read more they will ask for it. Pouring your heart and soul into something and then having to sell it like some sleezy used car salesman just so you can get the full manuscript read is counterintutitve to my nature. I hate forcing things on others, but I feel if I do not force it that it may not happen. The agents that ask for a sample I feel more comfortable with. I like knowing that they will at least get to read part of the story before they reject it or ask for more. It seems a more natural, though I would say ten pages is a little on the low side to really get a feel for the book. I typically say twenty five pages is when I decide if I like or dislike what I am currently reading. Twenty five may be too much or agents to read every time they receive a submission

They other part of the submission process I find annoying is that some agents say they will not even respond if they do not wish to read the manuscript in its entirity. I understand that not every submission is good enough yet, or is a good idea, but to not even take the time to write a simple email and say that you are not interested seems rude in a way. Someone has put time and effort into their submission, could you not spend a few moments to write a stock response that tells the submitter that though you appreciate them submitting you are not interested at this time? Otherwise they could sit there for 6-8 weeks just wanting a response. I would rather receive a letter saying an agent was uninterested than never hear back at all. 

The sweet side to all of this is that after twenty years the first story I ever wrote is at its full potential. Not only is it at its full potential, it has a sequel that needs to be written. Though the first book has been completed, there is a second and possibly more if I leave enough open ends. I even left room for a prequel if I feel like moving backward in time within my world. I have so many options that I am excited for where to move next. I have the second book in my head, and there will most likely be a third. I can’t see myself drawing the story out much further. I was never one to enjoy series’ that continued long after they should have ended. 

I have a road ahead of me when it comes to the publishing process, but I also have a road ahead of me to work on other aspects of my story. Both roads are equally exciting, and luckily I can travel both at the same time.