Telling The Truth–What I’ve Learned To Be True

So, as I mentioned in my blog below, I received a request for a partial read.  The only catch is–my book is going to the editor tomorrow.

I was put in a place of having to tell the truth.  I had to write this agent and say–listen, this book isn’t perfect, I know that, so be prepared and I’m sorry in advance.  But, believe me, I’m also working on it.  In one month, the story will be better.  My voice will be clearer.  So what you’re going to read–while a solid effort on my part–isn’t perfect, not by a million and one mistakes.  (Okay, I didn’t phrase it like that…but I did say “this is going to a freelance editor”)

So…here is my truth…

If I could go back in time and do anything differently–the one thing I wished I known then–is that, what I sent out should have been edited by a professional.  I should have hired a professional editor prior to doing the querying thing.  I should have had an editor lined up, ready to go, chomping at the bit for my manuscript and cash.  That is what I should have done–it’s exactly what I didn’t do.

This is something I never thought of before.  The thing I didn’t consider.  The thing publishing books won’t tell you.  No where, not in all of my reading did I ever come across phrase hire someone before you query.  It was a regrettable oversight–one I’m openly talking about in hopes to save others from my undoing.

When I was walking blissfully into this whole publishing thing, I really thought: hey, I wrote the book, that’s my job–I did it.  It can be a “come as you are” manuscript because if I sell the book to a publisher they have an editor.  I’ll do content editing.  I’ll rewrite and rehash and edit for clarity…but my sloppy mistakes–someone bigger than me will read through them and find the nugget of potential…right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!

The truth is…as a new writer…my first footfall needed to be perfection. If I was brazen enough to ask someone to take a chance on me–a first timer from the Midwest who has never published anything before–it needed to be amazing.

I sloughed the responsibility off on other people, when the whole time, the onus was always on me.  I failed to see that.  I made a big critical mistake–and sitting here right now, sure as God made little green apples–I believe that hurt my chances.   And as much I wouldn’t mind being an Indie…that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse for a lackluster performance.

The agents who have taken the time to entertain my query…they were patient, kind folk.  And I’m truly sorry I didn’t take that opportunity and shine.  I’m sorry I bothered them with novice mistakes–honest though they may be.

When I finished THE MILESTONE TAPES, I could not wait to query.  I wanted to be swooped up and adored…and, yes, I was really silly enough to believe that.  I didn’t think about my first impression as much as I thought about the light at the end of the tunnel.  Remember–in my first post–when I said I was new, green and fumbling?  This moment, right here, is exactly what I meant by that.

Ten years from now, when I kind of/sort of have this whole thing figured out, I’ll look back and laugh, probably blush a little, and shake my head in stunned disbelief.  This was a one time mistake.  Next time around, before the book is even finished, I’ll have an editor ready to go, I’ll sit on my freaking hands if need to be to stop myself from querying before I’m really ready.  I’ll take the paces and give the book the space and time it needs to be amazing.

The truth is…you get one shot.  That’s it.  One time, one moment, one read.  If you blow it–it’s blown.  And, if you’re going blow it…being unedited is really, really, really not worth it.  Blow it because your book is a crazy, genre-challange machine of epic proportions that some people don’t get.  Blow it because your better off Indie and that’s who you want to be, because you can’t see yourself handing off your book and crossing your fingers that the finished product will look like what you first wrote.  Blow it because you’re a risk–a beautiful risk.  Anything less, you’re just selling yourself short.

Sending Out An S.O.S

Just when I thought I was out of things to talk about…

I received an e-mail from an agent who would like to read my first 3 chapters…excellent, no problem.  AND…he’d like to read my synopsis.

My what?  Huh?  Come again?  I didn’t know I needed one of those–now I have to hack one together in the span of hours…(although, that’s for your eyes only…I’m really trying not to come off as a total incompetent moron to the professionals)

Just when I thought I’d figured out this whole “application for representation” process, a curve ball flies in from the left and gladly knocks me on my ass.  Amazing.

I have to do it.  I have no choice in the matter, I have to write a synopsis.  As of now I can look back at everything–all my misadventures and false starts and novelly green ideals–and say, at least I tried.  I’ve not let one opportunity slip through my fingers, and I’ve learned from everything.  I put in the time, energy and heart.  I made the most of it, albeit clumsy at best.

And now, I’m staring down something I literally have NO idea how to do.  I’ve written my fair share of synopsis’ in my day (but when I say “my day” I mean school…a place I have attended in over ten years!).  And this one isn’t for a grade…it’s for something way more sacred.  No pressure, though.

So…author friends…how do I do this?  I wrote the book, I know it–pretty gosh darn well–but to sum it up in 3-5 pages?  I’m lost.  Help a girl out.  Please & thank you!

Update:

I figured it out.  I locked myself in my home office for an hour and got down to the brass tacks of the story.  Whether it works or not, I certainly hope so, but only time will tell.

Then There’s The Matter Of a Broken Heart

Life is full of rejection.  Big ones and little ones a like.  The type that stay, linger forever in the back of your mind.  The sort that are fleeting, in and out so quickly it hardly resonates.  I never thought a book could break my heart.  But, like with everything about this trek through the publishing web, I should really stop being surprised when it goes to a whole new level.

One of my readers, Deshipley, gave me sound advice a few days ago.  She said, when the rejection comes–based on your book, after a professional has read it–it hurts.  She was right, totally correct…it does hurt.  It’s pounds of hurt and disappointment and self doubt and fear and so many other emotions I can’t pinpoint them.

I’ve taken a lot of no’s with this story.  I’m so tired of that word.  I can sit here and say it’s a matter of taste, I can reason that it’s not my fault or the book’s fault per say.  I can say all of that and sometimes I can even believe it, but other times, I’m sorry, but I simply can’t buy it.  Today…I’m having a pity party for one.

I submitted my book to a small publishing house.  Don’t ask me why, I don’t really know.  The sample contract was extremely limiting–no print books, little control over my edited manuscript, 50% profit after the royalties of eBook sales–which we know is already a lowly sum to begin with. The gains were little, all things considered and weighed evenly. But still, I queried.  And with that single try, I managed to get a full read.

The publishing house I went after was tiny, a start up only a few months old.  Maybe I did it simply because there is an innate desire in me to have the backing of a real publisher, no matter the size of their muscle. Maybe that desire is something I cannot quash, no matter how promising Indieland is, and maybe that’s what it’s always been about.   You always want most what you can’t have.

The editor got back to me so quickly initially, and she had such nice things to say out of the gate after reading the first 30 pages.  I actually had the gull to be hopeful despite logically knowing better.  I apologize for not posting about this full read on the blog–but I wasn’t sure what to say…

This morning I received the following rejection:

Dear Ashley,

Thank you for your submission to <name removed>.  Unfortunately, this story does not meet our publication needs at this time. The beginning of the story felt a little awkward, and as I moved further into the manuscript, the story didn’t really catch and keep my interest.  
That’s a really sad way to start the day.  It broke my heart just a little bit, just like Deshiply promised it would.  All with all rejections, rebound is inevitable, I’m certain, but still…it stings.
I think the hurt mostly pours from the very personal message in the body of the e-mail. And this is why…
I tried, of that I’m positive, to write a book that was gripping.  But, it never to be your stock women’s fiction novel– not in the way commercial fiction grips you, not in your expectations of speed.  It’s unconventional, I know that, but to tell the Chamberland’s story, there was simply no other way.  It had to have the pace of real life, it was why I didn’t write “chapters” but rather “months”.  I designed the book to feel that way…a slow build to a moment of utter grief, and the length and effort it takes to heal from that–it all happens by inches, across measures of time and life, not chapters.  It was never supposed to be a fast burn.  I wanted the readers to meet Jenna, to love her and understand her so completely that come what may, they’d have a richer, more profound, understanding of who she was.
If that doesn’t resonate from the pages of the story…then I’m simply lost. I thank God that I have an editor on board who will help me refine what I’ve written.  But, I understand today that I’m at a huge crossroads with everything….and I’m not really sure what happens next…

So…My Balls Dropped

Okay, that is a fairly graphic title–but yes, I guess my balls have dropped–and there is simply no other way to say it.  I’m getting ballsy.

This morning I received a rejection letter.  The agent said…and I quote…”I hope you plan to write another novel, because I do think you have talent. However, both your query and your opening pages need some editing, and the story could use some revision.”

Normally, I’m a “no means no” sorta gal.  My mother raised me that way.  I don’t back talk, and I’d never ever go against an adult.  But hey…this is a grown up world, I’m an adult too and I’m trying (really hard) to find my place.

The fact is, I like this agent.  I like that not only did she take the time to tell me–point-blank–my manuscript needs work, but that she saw something in my work that could be a launch pad for bigger things–things that I want long-term.  It’s not the standard “I’m not right” or “thank you, but we’re not interested”…she communicated with me.  She told me where my problems lie and gave me some real solutions…she just didn’t know I already knew that, that I was already working towards coming correct.

So…back to my balls…

I read, reread and reread again the e-mail.  I thought it over, and in my mind I reasoned–nothing ventured, nothing gained.  My book is going to an editor in 8 days.  It will be revamped and polished and sorted out.  My clumsy first-timer mistakes will be corrected and what remains will be a better, rounder story.

I figured–let’s see how serious that “talent” comment was…I e-mailed back.  This is where I’m dropping the “no means no” pretense of my entire life.  I asked her for a second chance.  I said that yes, I know this MS needs work–but I’ll do it, and I’ll put everything I have into making it right.

Make no mistake about that, I’m as serious as a heart attack when it comes to this in general–this book means everything to me, and it will be perfect, whether I’m an Indie or Traditional, it makes no difference to me…my accountability will be to my readers and they deserve nothing less.

So, I took the gamble.  I rolled the second chance for that first impression dice.  She may say “no way, girl”…but she may not.  Had I not tried…done at least that much…I’d never know.  And that right there, that’s exactly what I can’t live with.  I can take rejection, I can take silence and unanswered queries because I know what they mean…but not trying, that’s not my personal style.  I’ll try and try and try until I run out of road.

I understand what I did was unconventional–I told her as much.  I understand what I’m trying for may be a total literary faux pas. And this is nothing I’d recommend someone doing–because it might be a really, really bad thing. But–what do I really, really have to lose?  She already rejected me once…twice can’t be much worse, right?

***I’ll be updating this post if or when I receive a reply…good, bad or ugly***

Edited For THE UPDATE

I heard back…she said the particular story didn’t interest her, but she’d be willing to entertain other books in the future.  I quickly added her to my address book–Dear Agent Lady, you’ll be hearing from me again someday, unless I get a believer from jump street.

So…I guess I stay true to the course–we’re off to the editor in 8 days (so thrilled) and then, if nothing else, self publishing (super thrilled)…and of course, book two which is already in the worlds (extremely thrilled about that one).

The lesson here is simple and one that, I suppose, we all have to learn by trial and error…

Rejections aren’t always as simple as they may seem.  I’ve, personally, been told so many different things on my journey with THE MILESTONE TAPES–but the base line is this…different agents really do want different things.  That’s not stock font, people.  That’s really, really true–it’s the grass-roots of reading at large.

I’ve always believed–even before I wrote, just when I was an average, everyday reader: One persons beautiful book is another’s wasted space.  And now that I’m on the other side of the coin, I’m realizing, this whole author/agent/query thing…it’s not that much different from being a reader–you turn a book over, you read the back and decide if this novel is right for you.  If it’s not–that doesn’t mean in five minutes another reader won’t come along, swoop it up and devour it in a solitary afternoon because it’s so them and it’s exactly what they needed.  You can be a great author with great talent, and if the book isn’t an agent’s cup of tea or personal flavor, they’ll pass…same thing with any reader, really.  But that’s not a reflection on you as the writer–it’s on them, as the reader.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  Nothing at all.  We’ve all done it, we’ll all do it for the rest of our lives in a million different ways.  It boils down to choice.

I love what I do…I want others to love it as well.  If you don’t, I’d rather skip the melodrama of trying too hard.  I’ve hated the query process and all its baggage.  But, what I can appreciate is the lessons I’ve learned…the growing I’ve done because I put myself through querying.  I’m not going to say querying is something everyone should do, many won’t for personal reasons, and that I can respect.  But for me, as someone green, new and fumbling I needed too–not because it’s fun, but because it’s simply educational.  It prepared me for everything else that will come my way in bucketful doses; rejection, adoration, the highs and lows.

My balls and I are happy we e-mailed back.

AMP, over and out!

The Query Fixer Upper (an exclusive invite continued)

Just over 10 days ago I received an exclusive invitation, from an agent I had reached out to on round one, to have my query revamped for salability.  Many folks told me “run”…but I opted against their advice and decided to proceed with what the agent was selling–the opportunity was something I just didn’t want to let slide.  My hope was that she would really tear me apart–word for word.  I wanted to learn from this.

I finally got the query back.

10 days…and she had four comments, okay well three verifiable comments, since one was answered for her in the line above–but, she apparently missed that.

It was my intention to come here and share a blog seeping with information.  And in the spirit of full disclosure and to be honest, there wasn’t anything enlightening or any really rare nuggets of agent wisdom she shared with me.  There’s really nothing to pass on and for that, I apologize.

You all were right…I was wrong.  Bummer.

Today Changes Everything or Nothing At All

I am hesitant to project this outwardly on you all…deeply nervous…but excited; so excited I could scream and dance and cry.

I received my first request, from an agent, for a full MS read.  It took the agent an entire 5 minutes to e-mail me back.  5 minutes and a full…pick me up off the floor, please.

But, this post isn’t about that pre say, because–I as I titled this–it could change nothing at all and I don’t want to get ahead of myself with ambition.  But the emotions…whoa…they deserve a post all of their own.

The first time an agent told me “thanks, but no thanks” that was hard–not bone crushing–but hard.  Hard to read, hard to understand, hard to figure out what I said or did or didn’t say or didn’t do wrong–I’d obviously done something, but what?  And instead of wallowing in the despair of rejection, I learned from it.  I tightened up my query–did my homework, read blog postings and articles and practiced, practiced, practiced.  So, to read now that I’ve somehow managed to be enough for a full MS read…it’s hopeful, and surprisingly, just has a hard.

When I queried, I sent out a lot.  I felt like the door to door sales woman peddling my wears to busy housewives–some ignored me, some slammed the door, others were kind enough to say “thank you, but I’ll pass”.  I was never discouraging.  I’d simply highlight their name of my ever-growing list and move forward.  Now…now I’ve been invited inside.  I have the chance, a real honest-to-God chance, to sell this book.  And there is so much fear and doubt and anxiety that hangs on this small, significant chance.

If this agent says no– she very well may say just that–it’s only about my book.  It won’t be about my lack luster sum-it-up skills.  It won’t be because I didn’t query the right agent.  All of those excuses will be dashed, tired and worn thing–the only thing that remains hinged together and halting the flow will be…my book.

Scary right?  Damn, scary.

Want to know what I did?  I sent out the full MS.  I did so with shaky fingers and so much doubt.  I let go and let God–cliché right?  But what choice did I have?  None.  She wanted it and this is what I do…I write, and I battle self uncertainty–one keystroke at a time.  But really…it was really, really hard.  As I turned the book into a Word.doc, I wished I’d done a hundred things differently.  Wished I’d had an earlier date with an editor.  Wished I had the time go over the book one last time.  Wish, wish, wish, send….

…Then…

I turned my mind off.  Totally and completely.  I grabbed my little white Chihuahua, turned on a rerun of Ghost Whisperer and took a nap.  A short nap, but it was luxury.  I rested and tuned out my inner monologue for a solid hour.

I don’t know if anything will come from this–maybe everything changes, or maybe nothing at all (I kept convincing myself of the latter, so if or when it comes to that I won’t be ruined for days).  Either way, it’s another place this journey was meant to go, and that…is definitely worth celebrating.

December First…I’ll Be Reviewing

Starting on first of December, I will begin taking on a small number of Indie books to review.  Authors, you can use me!  I’d love to read your words and give you honest feedback–honest, being the keyword (please read that word carefully and understand what it means before going any further).

Writing reviews is always something I enjoy.  I love to read–I have a reaction to reading, and yes, it’s a wordy one.  Sometimes books are salt of the Earth good, sometimes they stick in the middle, and others are just bad.  But, every story leaves a mark.  I want to give that back to you–let you know what your writing evoked.  You’ll be free to use the review in publicity campaigns and I will publish the review on both Goodreads, Amazon, B&N and right here!

I’m interested in the following genres:

-Young Adult

-Women’s Fiction

-Chick Lit

-Literary Fiction

-Biographies/Memoirs

-Horror/Ghost Stories

I’m not interested in the following genres:

-Erotica

-Epic world adventures (think steampunk, sci-fi, and the like.  That’s pretty vague, I know, so if you’re stuck wondering if you fall in this category, e-mail me)

-Fantasy

This is nothing personal, I like to read what I like to read, right?  To give this the best effort possible, I’ll stick to the comfort zone.

In order to submit your book, please e-mail me labellanovella@gmail.com.

Please include the following:

1. Your Name

2. Genre of book

3. Title

4. Length of book (pages or words will do)

5. A blurb about what you wrote, tell me your story…

6. Is your book currently for sale?  Please include the vendors…

How I decide which books to take on:

If your book is for sale on Kindle, I will order a sample.  I’ll read it.  Then, and only then, I’ll decide.  It goes back to being able to find myself drawn to your story.  Let’s face it, you want good reviews and I want to give you good reviews…so we should start on a high note.  If, for whatever reason, I don’t take on your book–it’s nothing personal.

If your book is accepted to be reviewed, the following things will happen:

1. A copy (Kindle version only, please!) will be provided to me by the author.

2. I will e-mail a series of questions for an interview after finishing the book–they will be book relevant questions…that’s right folks, you get the spot light on my homepage!  Not only will I review your book, but I’ll feature you on the La Bella Novella blog as well (win/win…right?)

***

The fine print (’cause there is always fine print):

*Reviews will be written and submitted to author prior to publishing on any format (including, but not limited to the above listed outlets).  If you’re unhappy with what I have to say–we can part ways.  You are under no obligation to use my review if you feel it doesn’t capture the best of you and your book, by doing so you will opt out of any publishing on this blog.  I will, of course, respect that and in turn, please respect the fact that I read with an open mind–where it goes, it goes.

*I make no promises of bigger and better sales.  I’m one person. I will publish the review in the above listed sites, I will also entertain publishing in other locations in accordance to requests.  Your interview/review will receive an outgoing tweet to my followers on Twitter as well.  I encourage you, the author, to do your own marketing–including Facebook announcements, Twitter, blogging and the like to let your readers know where you’ll be.

*Please be understanding that I am not a professional reviewer…I have a job, I write, and I have a family.  Unforeseen circumstances and life may delay the review process or halt it all together at any time.  I’m a good communicator, and I will let you know if anything stops me from pushing through to the end.

*Not every book will be queued, I cannot take all submissions for multiple and various reasons.  I reserve the right to kindly say “no thank you”.

*I will not read through your mistakes.  I’m not an editor.  I’m not even a beta reader.  Consider me among the hordes of readers clamoring to read your story.  What you’d expect of them, expect the same from me.  If the book is full of errors, just like any other reader, I’ll close the cover and return it.  I’ll, of course, let you know that I can’t continue.  If you choose to make the corrections, you’re more than welcome to resubmit. No bridges burnt here.

*I’ll read as quickly as possible, but I am aiming for one book every two weeks (give or take–sometimes more on the take side).  I will not continue to queue into the great abyss, forever and ever amen.  Once I reach a daunting number of “to-be-read” books, I’ll close for submissions until I can catch up.  During that time, you’re encouraged to send me feelers to blimp on my radar, but I make no commitments.

*One review will not break your book.  My opinion is just that…only my opinion.  It doesn’t really mean anything–so if I don’t review favorably, remember…I’m just one person–and many, many more will love your book!  Don’t be discouraged!

OOOKKKKKAAAAYYYY…

Now that we have all of that out of the way…I’m excited to get to interact with you all.

Check out my previous reviews and my style at:

www.goodreads.com/AshMP

The Kindness of “No”

I want to share a query response I received a few days ago…the one I touched briefly on in “My First Ben Franklin”…the query that kind of changed things for me…

Dear Ms. Mackler-Paternostro

Thank you for your e-mail query.  I appreciate the opportunity to consider THE MILESTONE TAPES for possible representation, but I’m afraid I’m not the right agent for it.  The concept just didn’t grab me, and you deserve an enthusiastic agent who can champion your work.  Of course this only one response, and tastes vary widely among agents.  I wish you the best of luck finding the right home for your work.

Sincerely

XX

When I started writing The Milestone Tapes, I thought “damn, this book is butter, who wouldn’t want to read this?”  Of course I felt this way, it was my story and I believed in it so hard it hurt.  I gave up a huge chunk of my every day life to tell the story of Jenna and Mia; I worried it and felt guilty over it, and I cried when I typed “The Beginning” which is my code word for “The End”– but not the end–you know what I mean?  Okay, maybe that wasn’t clear…read the book one day and you’ll understand better … promise :).

Anyway….The Milestone Tapes became so much a part of me and my life, that naturally I assumed it would inspire the same in others…similar to the way a mother views her child as the end all-be all-best thing to even happen-best child alive.  The way I felt was unshakable, I was certain.  I knew going in, there would rejection and that would either be what made me or what broke me.   

While that response was an affirmative “no”…it was also a cornerstone for me.  That place where I could say “the worst they can say no–and some are saying that…and the best I can do is keep going–so I will.”  She explained that to me, one “no” isn’t the end of life as I know it nor is it the close of my dream.  Tastes vary.  You don’t just give up or quit because that will get you nowhere.  So, with that in my back pocket, I’ll keep working.  Onward and up.

**I want to take a moment and thank the agent who, not only took the time to pull my query from the slush pile and read it, but took that moment to send me an e-mail and explain why it wasn’t for her.  I sincerely appreciate the kindness–and I do consider it kindness of the best sort.  Whatever the reasons she didn’t want to take the book on, she still took me seriously–and as a newcomer, that’s pretty freaking amazing.**

A New Twist To The Old Query

Today I was musing about art of the query.  Right now, the query letter kind of rules my life.  And I started to wonder if things could work different and maybe be more successful for everyone involved.

An unsolicited query goes into the slush pile.  This, right out the gate, is offensive.  Any author should be somewhat offended by the terminology considering the amount of TLC that goes into getting a book query ready, the least of which isn’t writing the darn thing to begin with.  Having someone’s work likened to dirty, melting snow doesn’t exactly start things out on the right foot.

Then, the fact that most agents, editors and the like are over approached to begin with.  This is another bad thing.  It means, I assume, as an author you’re getting considerably less attention than you’d hope. Agent’s can’t take everyone seriously.  It also means you’re responsible for querying the right agent at the exact right moment…that’s a lot of pressure on a newbie.  It’s sort of like dating with the hopes of getting married, you have to sort out all the bad boyfriends to meet from the right guy, and like dating, it can come with a lot of rejection.  I doubt agent’s enjoy being the barer of bad news and I know the writers don’t revel in receiving the bad news.

So, I started to think….

What if there was a place, a website, where new authors could submit their query, 30 pages of their work, and agents had to buy a membership to visit the site?  An author’s work would be private, unless of course, the agent with their membership decided to click on it and read.  And of course, every agent who visited the site was actually an agent searching for a new writer to represent.  There could be various genres, long stories and short, something for everyone to read and enjoy.  The queries would be kept private from other authors, naturally, to protect their books…but verified agents could graze for days.

Novel.

My greatest fear, as an author, is missing the one agent who will take a chance on me.  It’s the same reason girls get dolled up every weekend and truck it to the hottest club.  It’s the fear of missing the one.  That single person who will see the value in you and make it their own.  And, just like there is no possible way for every girl to meet every guy in the wide, wide world, there is no possible way for every author to query every agent.  But unlike with the publishing world, there are dating websites which increase the odds substantially.

Authors are hitting their target market with one submission, rather than spending countless hours submitting various forms of queries.

Agents are feeding from a generous pool of work when they have time or energy or need.

Everyone wins.

Right now, this doesn’t exist…at least not according to my searches.  But wouldn’t it be nice for those looking to be published and those looking to skip the slush pile and hone in on their next great writer?   Maybe I should go into business…

 

 

The Query Worry

Who knew writing would be the easy part.   Not me!

Finding an agent…is not…easy.  You’d think: they could make money, I could make money–we should all be so happy…but that’s my greenness poking out.

Agents want something.  Something you have to consolidate down into a paragraph.   Something that says “represent me, I’m the next big deal.”  In.  A.  Paragraph.   Holy sh!t is that not easy!

Okay, I am so not dogging agents.  Not at all.  I want one.  I’ll do whatever they say, send whatever they request and try my best.  I’m dogging me and my nature.  I’m wordy.  I like to explain things.  I want to write books–not memos.  It’s really, really hard…

So…here it is…thus far.

I started querying at 9 am on Thursday, August 25th 2011.  I joined a site (for anyone interested: http://www.1000literaryagents.com ) which boasts, as promised, 1000 agents at your finger tips. The process is very simple, you register (it’s free!) and suddenly you’ve unlocked all sorts websites and e-mail addresses.  Pretty amazing, no?

((Side bar: How did anything ever get accomplished before the internet? As hard as it is now, and it is hard, it must still be a thousand times easier…right?))

So, I plotted my course, page by page, researching the agents accepting queries from first time authors in Women’s Fiction or Chick Lit.  I opted to go to e-mail route, and set my sights of those willing to go electronic along with me.

I did my best to find the agent at each agency that I felt would, either through history or personal statement, get what I was trying to do.

The first query I sent out made me sick to my stomach.  Not what I was expecting, but okay…lets go with it.  I realized, the moment I clicked “send”, that I had unleashed my private art to the world.  It was my moment to scream “judge me!  Am I worthy?”…and it scared the you-know-what out of me.  Talk about a flash flood of doubt.  Suddenly, this project I believed in so hard was up on the chopping block.

But, I kept on, because that’s what we do–we swallow the fear and hesitation down, and keep going forward.

At the close of the day, and I’m talking like 15 hours of “Dear So & So,”…I’d queried 18 agents, had officially I hit my mental wall and called it a night.

…This is where it get’s discouraging…

I picked up where I left off the night before.  Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I logged onto 1000 Lit Agents and got back to work.  I sent out two queries first thing—and within 10 minutes got the dreaded “Not for me.  Thanks” from one that I’d literally just e-mailed not even 10 minutes before.  Talk about frustrating…it takes me longer than 10 minutes to decide what I want for dinner, forget about holding someones future in my hands…

%&(#%*# = me.

Just as I’m recovering, giving myself the pep talk “this happens, it’s okay, you still have a bagillion more out there”…in rolls another.

&^&%%^#*(*%*(# = me, again.

Here’s what I’ve learned in…oh…the last 24 hours.

E-mail queries, while amazingly fast and smart and savvy, are a curse.  That goes double for anyone with a smart phone and triple for anyone whose e-mail puts the message under the senders name.  You hear the little chirp and you immediately check–there is no sensor, no “maybe this is a bad time”…you just check your e-mail, same old, same old.  And the rejection doesn’t care.  It doesn’t wait until you’re ready for it.  No.  It just jumps out and smacks you in the face, POW!  You’re not accepted.

Putting yourself out there, be it in a relationship or when you’re looking for an agent, is scary.  Scary because there is a good chance you’re going to be rejected, and when you click “send”, you’re opening yourself up for that.  People will say “it’s all part of the game”…and while they’re right, it doesn’t make the sting go away any faster.

There is no saying that an agent, any agent, will ever see potential in my story and pick me up as a client.  That’s what I’ve realized.  But that doesn’t mean “don’t try anyway”…I’ll keep sending my queries, and pounding the pavement (and by pavement, I mean keys on my Mac) and hope that somewhere in the slushpile, someday, I get lucky enough (blessed enough) to hear “It is for me…thank you.”

P.S: I wanted to add that to the agents who shut me down–I appreciate that you both reached out to tell me that directly.  I understand that the demands on your time are deep and wide, so that you’d give me even a second glance, matters.  It may not have been the answer I was hoping for, obviously, but still…knowing is better than not knowing…so, thanks!