Sunday, August 29, 2010

Enchanted Castle 1

(I'll try to get 'em bigger from now on. In the meantime, click the image, then use your zoom. Thanks for reading.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Positive Response

No, not from an agent. I'm still waiting on several agents to get back to me, and I haven't yet finished the research necessary to query more.

But yesterday, I wrote and edited a short story, just over a thousand words, and sent it off to a small--but paying--market. I heard back just now! I've been asked to lengthen the story, focusing on one particular theme, and have been given a deadline.

Now that was fast. Publishing usually moves glacially slow. The process of writing and then publishing a novel takes years. Even short stories, when going to larger markets, can take months. It's so nice to get an answer right away--refreshing! And even though this publication only has a circulation of around 15,000, it's a magazine that I personally read, so I'm very glad to have them considering my work.

More on this later.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

No News is No News

I haven't been checking in because there hasn't been much news.

Mostly, I've been working on a website for my in-laws.

I wrote the blog post that's up there. It's short, but it has an adorable picture of my little filly, Tala, taken the day she was born. So cute!

As to the queries, my partial was rejected. Actually, I've gotten rejections from all but one of the big-name agents I queried. It's time for me to look up some new agents.

In the meantime, I've decided not to write another novel, but to focus on short stories. My natural writing length is between five and thirty thousand words; that's unsellable as a stand-alone book, but common for shorts sold to magazines and e-zines. Having made the decision, I'm actually pretty darn excited about it; I've already come up with a ton of ideas, and have a general idea of the market for each of them. So far, I have one short story under review at Tor. If it doesn't make it there, I'll shop it around a little, or maybe just post it here. :)

The next few days will be busy. I'll be working on the website and on personal business, researching new agents and getting a short story written. You can expect to hear from me more often after that.

See you then!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rejection Letters

I got my second rejection letter today.

Rejection letters come in two forms: form and personalized. Most agents stick to the form rejections--every author gets the same one. This is simpler for the agent, and, strangely, it seems to make some authors feel better than a personalized rejection.

I prefer a personal means the agent took more time on it, and, more importantly, it gives me a clue as to where I can improve.

Anyway, here, for your viewing pleasure, is the infamous "Slushkiller".

Slushkiller is a collection of rejection letters, some personalized, some not, followed by an author's summation of how it made them feel and an agent's reply. It's "must-read" stuff if you're ever planning on submitting a query to agents--because, chances are, you will get rejected a few times, and seeing this beforehand can both prepare you and give you some insight into the process.

I'll log in when I have more news!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Partial Hits a Snag

So I got a partial request from a fantastic agent--YAY!!

Only one problem. She requested that I send her the pages, double spaced, in the body of an e-mail. No attachments.

I went to my word processing program and double spaced the pages. Then I copied them...but when I pasted them into gmail, gmail automatically reformatted them to be single spaced. I tried several methods, all with the same result.

Finally, I tried hotmail. Hotmail didn't reformat the pages, and I sent out the query exactly as the agent had requested. I hit send before thinking things through.

Now I'm seriously worried.

On the agency website, there is a warning that unsolicited e-mails sent directly to any of the agents will be deleted without being read. One very convenient way of handling this would be to trash any e-mail that came from an unapproved account...and the agent only had my gmail account, not my hotmail. I made sure to put the name of the book and "Requested Pages" in the subject line, but believe it or not, some writers are stupid enough to put "Requested Pages" in their subject lines just to get attention. I really hope my message didn't get auto-trashed or ignored because it came from an unauthorized account.

Sad thing is, sending a second e-mail to check up on the first isn't a very professional thing to do. Ideally, I would have sent one from my gmail account first, explained the problem, and let the agent know to expect a message from my hotmail account. Now that it's been over 24 hours since the hotmail e-mail was sent, that's not an option anymore.

My current plan is to wait two weeks or so and then send a message from my gmail explaining the problem and making sure the partial was received. I can only hope I don't come across as pushy or hopelessly clueless.

Bleh. It's a good thing there are lots of agents out there--lots of chances to get things right! But I don't want just any agent, I want a great agent, and they don't come much better than the one I stand to lose if I screw this up.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The First Two Agents Respond

Two agents have already responded to my query letter. Considering how many queries they receive in a day, that's a remarkable turn-around time.

The first agent sent me a polite form rejection.

The second requested a partial. Yay!

So that brings my totals for this query to:

Queries sent: 5
Agents who have already responded: 2
Rejections: 1
Partials: 1

Here's hoping that Ms. Dream Agent enjoys the partial and requests a full!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Faster than a speeding e-mail...

I didn't just get my butt in gear--today, I was in hyperdrive. I finished my edits, did some research, and chose five awesome agents to query.

These agents are some of the very best, the kind that any writer would LOVE to be represented by.

So what's to stop me from landing one? Well, first off, they have to love the work. I read where one of them said she only takes on roughly 1% of the authors who send her unsolicited queries. In addition to the 99% rejection rate, there's always the possibility that a book similar to mine has already been taken on, or that I, despite all my research, flubbed part of the submission requirements, or...well, any number of things. There are many reasons why agents reject authors, and, as I said before, not all of them have to do with the quality of the writing.

And yet I firmly believe that if my manuscript is good enough, it will land an agent. I have complete confidence in the system.

It's not optimism that keeps me's knowledge of the publishing industry. The thing is, there are hundreds of thousands of would-be writers out there, banging away like those fabled infinite number of monkeys at their infinite number of keyboards. There's simply no way that the handful of major publishing houses out there could read every one of those manuscripts...they'd simply drown under an infinite number of pages. They have to have filters. And they do. They have agents.

Agents are people who know good writing and are knowledgeable in the publishing business. They read a short synopsis of your work--your query letter--and determine whether or not there's a market for it. If it's good, and there's a market, and you show an ability to follow basic, easy-to-read instructions, you'll get an agent damn near 100% of the time, if you query long enough. If not, the chances of you getting an agent fall to just about zero.

It sounds harsh, I know. But I'm speaking as someone who's written several novels and doesn't yet have an agent. I did have one kindly tell me, on my last attempt, that the writing was good; it really drew him in, and he read much further into my manuscript than he'd intended. The problem was the market. As pertains to that particular book, it didn't exist.

If you want to see why agents reject so many queries, check this out:

And here's an agent's response to some particularly terrible lines:

(Those are hilarious!)

And now, having linked to blogs much cooler than mine, I'll go back into hiding...

The First Two Betas Respond...

The last couple of days, I've been waiting. There's no more tweaking to do on the query, and I don't want to edit before hearing back from my Betas. I'm kicking around story ideas, even typing up little bits of outline, but mostly, I've just been here. Waiting.

Now I've heard back from two of my three Betas. The news is good: they each made some great recommendations, and the necessary edits will take me one day, two tops, if I get right on it. That means I could start querying as early as Friday or Saturday, and start hearing replies a day or two after that...assuming I get my butt in gear and do some serious research on agents.

It's not that I haven't studied agents before. But agents change their requirements, they look for different genres and they sometimes ask that no one query them. Sometimes agents close up the shop--other times, new ones open up. Occasionally, they'll blog or twitter or do an interview in which they say, "I'd really love to see this kind of work right now..."

So I research before I query. Every. Single. Time.

Next time, I'll talk about how. :)