I scurd

<——First off, I added a subscribe by email link on my left sidebar for those who want to keep up to date on my ramblings. 🙂

Now for the real post. My mama warned me about getting into the wrong crowds. The pastor preached about the media I put into my head. They were right.

It all started with Zoe Who? and her crazy ideas of selling books in the Walmart parking lot. I mean really. That Zoe girl has a lot of nerve filling my head with ideas and such. Who does she think she is?

I was perfectly unhappy to wallow in my pile of rejections. After all, I only revised my query letter about 36 times. Maybe I’ll revise twice today just to outdo Brad.

Seriously though. I’d stopped writing for a long period of time. A couple of months I’ll say. The whole traditional publishing thing is such a downer. You know it took me a two and half months to write the first draft of Shadow Cat? I was so excited and motivated. I’d beaten the odds and finished a book. How many people could say they’d done that? Yet I’ve still to finish another book.

Then I got into the critique groups, which are invaluable for developing prose as long as I don’t let them take over my work. There’s always more to learn, but I’m getting there.

I’ll be honest though. Eventually I did stop participating in critique groups. The negativity really dragged me down. There was always someone who didn’t like something about my characters or the way I laid out a scene. No matter how many changes I made, someone was always unhappy. Just too many hands in the pot. I guess that’s why agents tell their clients not to read book reviews. Then again, that goes back to not letting critters take over my work.

Okay, I’m rambling. So, I’ve tried to be strong. I’ve played the game. I’ve gotten my fair share of rejections. And you know what? All it’s done is sap my will to write. The whole process of doing the traditional publishing route is just so exhausting. Not just that, but depressing. I have a few works in process now and dread the idea of going through another query round when I finish. I’m confident in these works in progress.

I’m excited about these pieces, like when I finished Shadow Cat. I don’t want to feel about them the way I feel about Shadow Cat. Just the idea of opening the file makes me apprehensive. The phrase “not good enough” comes to me again and again.

Funny thing. In my mind, I still think Shadow Cat is a great storyline. Deep down, I still love it. I know many writers look back on their old work and think it’s crap. But I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I’m still wondering why agents don’t want it. One agent was kind enough to give me insight after reading my query: “I’m a little oversaturated with shapeshifter UR and PR and this one doesn’t stand out as anything fresh or different.”

As a PR junkie myself, I can understand that. It takes a bit to get me revved about PR these days also. Yet, I’ve not read any stories like mine. Of course that means nothing since I haven’t read EVERY PR out there. 🙂 Still, my research shows it’s yet to be done. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just wishful.

I know, I know. Get on with it. You’re probably thinking, if you’re book rambles like this, it’s no wonder you’re not published. 🙂 So what I’m getting at here is, why can’t I self-publish. I’ve had readers in critique groups excited to read more after the first 3-5 chapters. I get apprehensive about posting more than the first few. It’s just a bit too public for me to feel comfortable offering more. But perhaps they’d enjoy the rest of the novel too.

Lately I’ve gotten a boost of motivation at the idea of not having to go through the traditional route. But like I said, I scurd. I don’t want to embarrass myself by publishing crap. The appeal of traditional publishing is having many, many eyes on my draft before going to print. I also don’t want to bore readers with scenes that drag. But as someone so close to my work, how do I know what’s what?

Then there’s editing. Who will I get to edit my work? So many people advertise editing services, but I don’t know where to start. wah wah wah. I can go on, but you get the point. I’m just so overwhelmed with the venture, it’s paralyzed me into inactivity.

For you self-publishing gurus out there. How did you get started? What was the first step after writing your book (and polishing it, of course)? Someone needs to publish a non-fiction called “How to Self-Publish a Book that Doesn’t Suck.”

Now for a bit of a self-advertising. I am looking for a beta readers. If you’re interested in checking out the first three chapters of Shadow Cat, fill out the Beta Reader Form or go to my Got Beta Reader? post for more information.

So, share with me your fears and successes of self-publishing. Offer advice. I’m listening. 🙂

Querying Too Soon

A big piece of advice I read on so many blogs is: Don’t query too soon.

Sound advice, if you ask me. Did I query too soon? You betcha! You dork, some might say. 🙂 So why did I do it? Honestly? Lack of knowledge. Really, there is so much advice out there…great advice! Problem is, new authors don’t always realize what they don’t know. Hey! That’s me. I know it frustrates agents; I see the blog posts all the time about some faux pas a novice writer made–a mistake I likely made over the last several months. All of them are screaming, “LISTEN, DAMN IT!” or darn it for some.

Really it’s a shame. The information is out there. Trust me! I’ve run across so much I didn’t know. And I cringe every time I pick up a new piece of information which shows I’ve flubbed again. I have so many burning bridges for Shadow Cat, I have to toss it to agents from a distance these days. Here, catch! Thankfully those bridges mend themselves when it comes to new projects. 🙂

So! You’ve queried too soon. Now what? I’ll tell you what! Do more research! Make those revisions! Write more! and get back out there and query (but hopefully not too soon). 🙂

Are you one of the naive ones who’s queried too soon? Share your story.

A Dime a Dozen

Katiebabs posted a blog yesterday about Respect and Professionalism from the Agent to the Writer and Visa-Versa. It’s a wonderful post, and I hope you take a look. It hit me on such a personal level that I wanted to follow up with my own response. I’m seeking representation, new to the industry with no connections, and honestly afraid I’ll say something to blacklist myself before I even get started. There! I said it. 🙂 I’m afraid. Moving on.

Katiebabs mentioned many agents  are helpful in the query process. She names a few in her blog post. In addition to her list, I read the Query Shark aka Janet Reid. She’s harsh and no nonsense, but her critiques push the author forward, and she gives authors additional tries until they get the query right. She goes above and beyond for authors she doesn’t even represent. I can’t expect her services from every agent, but knowing agents are there who care for the aspiring author is encouraging.

I’ve been on twitter a few months and have seen the other side of agents–ones who mock writers on a regular basis and post negative blogs. Agents have no shortage of authors from whom to choose. I understand. With agents receiving hundreds of query letters a week, I guess there’s no worry about burning bridges. For authors, it’s another story. Thousands upon thousands of authors vie for the attention of a few hundred agents. I’m okay with that. It reminds me of applying for a job. Only thing, it’s not applying for a job. It’s more on the lines of seeking a professional to take one on as a client. Having an agent increases the chances of an author seeing his/her work published. An author doesn’t NEED an agent for this to happen, but it certainly helps. I think of agents as gatekeepers. Get your work past the secret agent door, and they’ll push it through to a publisher…hopefully. 🙂

Here is where my frustration comes into play. Before I started querying, I imagined it would be like hiring a lawyer. I’d shop for the perfect fit, and the lawyer would choose to represent me or not. I thought we (the agent and author) were on equal footing, seeking each other in order to meet a common goal. Instead I feel as if many agents look at authors as a nuisance they have to tolerate until they decide to take one on as a client. Authors are not beneath agents. It’s supposed to be a partnership. The author has the novel. The agent has the contacts. Without both the novel and the contact, no contract would exist. Everyone loses.

Someone might say, but you don’t understand the horrible stuff which passes an agent’s desk. Perhaps people think if I saw the crap, I’d be more sympathetic to the agent’s dilemma. I critique. I know a lot of work isn’t up to par. Heck, I’ve received rejections myself…I’m sure agents have put my work in the ‘not up to par’ category.

Here is my thought. Regardless of how frustrating the situation is rude, disrespectful, or unprofessional behavior is unwarranted. An agent who has no clients has nothing to sell. To me, this makes authors valuable.

I’ve heard agents say they don’t get paid to read query letters; they get paid for sells.  Many agents read on their personal time. I can imagine it can be time consuming, but isn’t that part of the process of finding clients? Writers don’t get paid to write query letters and synopses; they get paid for getting their work published. Likewise, query letters and synopses are part of the writer process for finding a good literary agent and publisher. Agents and writers both have tasks they’d prefer not to do. Like my husband says, sometimes we do chores we hate because we like the end results. His take on yard work, but it applies to the query process on both sides of the fence.

Agents don’t have to read my query letters, and they don’t have to respond. Of course I’d like them to, but it’s really they’re prerogative. Still, without those query letters from authors, the selection would be very sparse, leaving an agent with few or even no one new to represent. Those mounds of query letters might house an introduction to your next client aka your next pay check. Don’t future clients deserve a bit of respect and professionalism? Be one of those agents writers are dying to have because they’ve heard and seen such amazing things from and about you.

When I land the perfect agent, and people ask who represents me, I want to be able to puff out my chest. I don’t want to mumble your name under my breath because I’ve read the snide remarks you’ve made about other authors. It frustrates me and leaves me a little resentful to think agents have become such a commodity that some think they can treating aspiring authors like crap.

Nathan Bransford wrote a blog this week How Would You Handle the Query Deluge? He’s said in the past he loves queries and said it again here. He probably receives more queries than any agent out there. Yet he keeps a 24 hour response time to queries, with a few exceptions. Why? Here’s a direct quote pulled from Nathan’s comment.

“Oh – also meant to mention regarding delaying responses to people I might be interested: I’ve had times where I was out of the office and couldn’t get back to people for a couple of days, and by the time I was back they were already signed. Hopefully that also helps explain why I jump on things quickly – I send requests for partials just as fast as I send passes.”

He’s looking for the next great book and knows they’re written by authors (potential clients). He’s professional, helpful, and respectful. As an author he DOES NOT represent (though I’d love if he did :)), I feel valued. He’s combing the slush piles for me or maybe you. He doesn’t resent us for querying, even though I’m sure he receives the worst of the worst sometimes. He doesn’t make himself to be better than the writer. He treats us (writers) as equals who might one day be his partner in the publishing industry.

I’ve seen agents post their feelings were hurt by a writer. I’ve seen agents rally around the injured party. I completely sympathize with the mean responses agents receive after sending a rejection. It’s hard enough trying to do a job without having people rag on you. Agents can’t represent everyone. At the same time, I ask agents to remember that writers have feelings also. You get hurt by unsavory responses, and so do we.

A lot of authors put their heart into their work. Writing is a dream for some. They’ve taken that dream and presented it to you as an agent. Yet some agents find it acceptable to take someone’s dream and jeer. Suppose the situation were reverse and agents were plentiful and authors were few. How would you feel if authors posted your attempts at trying to acquire their works then laughed?

Anyway, I hope some time in the future we (authors and agents) can overcome who needs whom more and just become partners like we’re supposed to be.

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Dealing with Rejection

As some know, I’m in the process of finding a literary agent for my first piece of work Shadow Cat. Though I’ve only been at it since December 26, 2009, it hasn’t been an easy task. I’ve had quite a few rejection letters, most of them a simple no thanks from the agent.

I’ll be honest. My first rejection came as a complete surprise to me. I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again. I’m a bit conceited. I think my work is great. That’s not to say it can’t use some improvements, but I believe in my work. It probably wasn’t until about the 5th rejection when I thought to myself…hmmm, something might be wrong with my queries or my first chapters.

I trimmed my novel, wrote a different query letter, and sent it out to the wonderful literary agents with too much to do and too little time to review. At this point, I have to admit, I was a little less confident. I was just happy I didn’t query everyone at once and burn all my bridges in one go.

One thing I found I hated more than anything was waiting. Many literary agents have this rule: Don’t bother us. If we’re interested we’ll let you know. If you even THINK about nudging, you can assume your stuff is rejected. I’ll be honest. I’d rather have a form rejection or even “No Thanks” in the subject line and an empty message than the silent treatment any day.

Anyway, more rambling. My next set of queries came back rejected also. So, back to the drawing board. I took time away from my current WIP to reedit Shadow Cat. This is where I totally became burnt out on writing. It took me days afterward to find motivation to write again. This time I limited my queries to agents who were responsive according to other writers.

Okay…this has dragged on way to long. Let’s just say I did this rewriting thing many times. Finally I received a request for a full manuscript, which was rejected by the way. But the feedback, just a couple of lines, was motivating (after I got over being bummed about the rejection of course). It gave me an opportunity to look at my work in a new light.

Anyway, I’m tired of the query process for now. If nothing comes of these last few queries, I’ll set it aside for about a month, unless I find some extra motivation. I need to concentrate on my next works of art instead of letting these rejections drag me down.

My stats:

As of today, I’ve sent out 28 queries. Not sure if that’s a lot in a 1 1/2 month period or not.

  • 15 Rejected Queries
  • 2 I’ve written as no response to Queries
  • 10 outstanding Queries (4 probably no response)
  • 1 request for Full
  • 1 rejection for Full

If nothing else, the novel after Shadow Cat is a stand alone, so I can market it separately. Onward!

Update 2/19/2010 @2pm: I couldn’t help myself. I applied to another literary agency.