Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Been writing a lot lately. Not here on the blog, I know.

But with my novel. I had allowed myself plenty of time to revel in the accomplishment of finishing it and letting the whole thing marinade. I was full up with feedback from friends and decided I had done enough rewriting. I couldn’t keep questioning each clause and character arc. The time had come to do something with my work.

While I have plenty of experience in trying to sell screenplays (the operative word being “trying”), the book publishing world is new to me. I started exploring my few connections in this arena, but I pretty much had to cold-contact the literary agents. I put together a huge list of applicable reps I found from various sources -- and I keep finding more -- so even though I’ve only hit up a small fraction of ‘em, it was still a mass mailing (and e-mailing, to those willing to save me postage money.)

Then the rejections started coming in. “Thanks, no thanks”, “we’re not taking on new clients”, “sorry for the impersonal letter, but”, “our agency is under federal indictment”… I expected a high percentage of no, but one yes woulda been nice.

And when I got one, I freaked out.

Keep in mind, it just means “yes, I’d like to see a little bit of what you got.” Not even the whole thing. And it’s certainly not an agreement to represent the work, or send it out to publishers. No one’s buying the damn thing. It’s just another step forward.

So when one agent asked to take a look, I suddenly wanted to do more rewrites. I had to make it perfect, at least the first few chapters that he wanted to read. I knew I was putting way too much pressure on myself -- this wasn’t my only shot. There are plenty of other opportunities out there and hell, I’m still waiting to hear from dozens of agents. But so far, he was the only one interested. And maybe that was a fluke.

Was my query letter that bad? I spent days on it, trying to be professional and cordial, while capturing the quirky comedy within a few brief paragraphs. The novel got positive reactions from readers, but maybe I didn’t sell it well to the agents. This is why I procrastinated on marketing it – to avoid relying on responses as a reinforcement of my writing ability.

I was frustrated, and again, got back another handful of SASEs. But one of them had a handwritten note on it: “This isn’t really my kind of story, but your snappily-written letter got me curious…” And the agent asked me to send her a few chapters. Awesome.

Galvanized, I got going on the rewrite. I also had to do a synopsis, which can be tougher than the novel itself. But somehow I summarized and hopefully still stayed smooth.

Oh, and the day I was about to get these submissions together, yet another agent expressed interest, so I sent the stuff out to all of them. Now, while I’m still waiting to hear back from several agents regarding my query, I’ve got a few irons in the fire. Keep your fingers crossed.


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