Thursday, February 14, 2013

Boadicea and the Patient and Resilient Writer

I boldly followed up with a couple of New York agents this morning. One has had one hundred pages of Summer Must End for over seven months. The other asked for and received the full Strachan's Attic manuscript five months ago.

Now I know this would seem to imply that neither agent is interested, but when it comes to big partials and full requests I've always been treated very politely, so I've come to expect an eventual response. Heck, I recently received a very nicely worded rejection for an initial query with ten pages that I sent  seven months earlier, and it was personal, not the usual auto-response thing. So there are agents out there who do seem to empathize with the lonely writer waiting for human contact.

In the first half of 2012, of 147 queries (involving several partials and fulls, so I know the query letter worked) for 4 different books,  I received 80 rejections, about half of them personally worded. 65 - not unexpectedly - did not respond at all. I stopped querying (to spend time licking my wounds) last July.

These days I'm totally immersed in painting, producing a couple a week, and selling here and there (check out the art blog if you don't believe me). The almost instant gratification experienced with painting has been rejuvenating, but I know it won't continue for much longer. For the first time since last July, I've started to feel a small twitch of anticipation at the prospect of agent research again. It's only a small twitch now, but it will grow more demanding. Call me a masochist, if you like, but you have to be in this game. And I'm not jaded, really I'm not.

So I am once again girding my loins, Boadicea-style, to begin the slow slog of snail-mailing queries to those agents who do not accept email queries. Most British agents fall into this category. It's true. I have no idea why. Perhaps someone can tell me. In any case, I've said before that my writing is more suited to the British agents' taste in books judging by my favorite reading, and I feel that I can no longer "hmphh" at their sweet eccentricity.

Do you, my patient writer friends, have anything to add about this business? We have all been so very, very quiet lately when it comes to blog comments (especially me) but I would like to know how joyous you are about approaching agents. Or do you mutter under your breath (using Anglo-Saxon words that are best left off blog pages) as you compose yet another letter?

May your spring and my autumn bring a new determination in this insane struggle we endure for the sake of our need to write.

Notice the date of this post? I feel love...somewhere out there.

Never give up the fight.


Melissa Marsh said...

I'm glad you're not giving up. In the publishing world, patience is indeed a virtue.

I stopped looking for agents for my latest novel about six months ago. I stopped because my latest novel has emerged as something better than the novel I was trying to sell. And who wants to sell a sub-par novel when you know the next one is ten times better? Now of course I could go back and rewrite the sub-par novel, but I would much rather spend my time on the current one.

I also don't blog as much anymore (though I hope you'll visit my latest entry as it has some exciting news!) because the sheen of blogging has worn off. I still enjoy it, but not as much as I once did.

Fran said...

Good for you for being realistic about the not-quite-right earlier MS. I'm so intrigued about your new one. Perhaps you will offer a small blog post from time-to-time about its progress.

I get quite lonely, writing and painting full-time, almost hermit-like, so my blog is a way of reaching out. Just wish more people would respond. Oh, well. As you say, perhaps the worn-off sheen of blogging includes commenting, too. (I know I've been guilty of that lately.)

And absolutely love your latest news!