Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What Writers Want.

I mentioned last week that there were still a couple of chunky submissions out there...well, heard back from one. She was under the impression she had already told me she was declining the opportunity of representing me. Believe me, if such an email had arrived, I would have known about it.

However, that old full submission is still in limbo. Perhaps it's been so long collecting cobwebs on the hard drive that their computer thinks my follow-up was just another poorly-worded query, and dumped it before it reached human eyes. Ah, well...c'est la vie and all that. And of course, the agent could be away at some long, long convention, in some remote place where there is no access to the internet.

In the meantime, I sent off six new queries over the last ten days, spread over all four manuscripts. Three rejections later, early this morning my time, I received a request for a FULL of The Place of Dreams, from the very first query. To say I was stunned is an understatement. My experience has always been (and remember how many queries I've sent out over the last year or so) that a full request comes at about query number 52.

A New York agent, too, which is refreshing. This book is most definitely not set in the US, and I always figured that's why I've struggled so much to get a good response from that city's creme de la creme (really thinking in French today). I'll still approach some British agents -- just as soon as my printer is up and running...really.

What writers want, in fact, need, is contact with folks who say they really liked the bits you've sent them so far. It's totally reassuring. It makes all the work -- and I'm not talking about the actual writing here  -- worthwhile. As an aside, with my paintings, if someone wanders into my house -- friend, neighbor -- and spies one of my pictures and says how much they love it, I often give it to them. I'm a total pushover for flattery. Of course, I won't be doing that with my novels. Will I?

I'll keep you posted, as they say.

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.

Quotes to Consider

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin

"Well behaved women rarely make history."~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”~William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894), theologian, teacher, pastor

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." ~Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd U.S. president

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), essayist, poet, philosopher

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~Mark Twain

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
~ Wayne Gretzky