5/10 Denied

So, I woke up this beautiful Saturday morning and, while waiting for my fritatta to bake, I decided to check my email. Lo and behold, there it was: another rejection, this one from my favorite agent. It was a nice little letter, but no matter how sweet, it was still a form letter and that kind of hurts a bit. Yet another letter to add to the rejection spike. Now is when I keep reminding myself that so many of the books I love today were initially rejected multiple times before they were published. Hell, Harry Potter was rejected a dozen times. Now, no, I don’t fancy myself as the next J.K. Rowling, but we do what we need to to keep our heads above the waters of depression. So, if you’re in my shoes and need a little reminding that not everyone is accepted on the first couple submissions, here’s some facts I dredged up from the internet:

  • Beatrix Potter had to publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit by herself
  • Tamora Pierce was rejected four times before someone recommended editing her manuscript for The Song of The Lioness into a young adult series. I have been unable to find how many times it was rejected after that.
  • Gertrude Stein submitted poems for 22 years before one was accepted (This one’s for you, Tara and Olivia!)
  • Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times
  • Rudyard Kipling was told he didn’t know how to use the English language
  • A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune was rejected 23 times
  • Agatha Christie had to wait 5 years before being published
  • And, of course, J.K. Rowling was told not to quit her day job

If you’d be interested in learning more, there is a website dedicated to stories of bestsellers and their initial rejections.

So, another rejection to add to my spike, but at least I have a lovely fritatta.

The Rejection Spike

So, my good friend Olivia once got the coolest writing present ever. Her grandfather (I believe) made her something called a rejection spike. It was the first one I’ve ever seen and if you do a google image search, it’s the only one that comes up. Well, mine might come up now, you never know. Anyways, when I started my submission process, she recommended making one so every time I got a rejection, I could print them off and drive them through on the spike. I thought about what I would want to make mine out of. Olivia’s is made from a plank of wood and a railroad spike. Wexford, being the great metropolis it is, doesn’t have railroad spikes just laying around, besides, that one’s Olivia’s. That night I was talking to the man creature and he recommended I try this catch-all shop in town. I was headed into the library and would pass by it anyway, so I popped in. I had to dig to the bottom of a crate of old, dirty, rusted garden tools (thankfully, I have an updated tetanus shot), but I found this long, thin file with the perfect point at the top. Even better? The woman sold it to me for a whole euro.

Next, I needed a base. It needed to be quite thick since the file is solid metal and heavy. Enter Irish charity shops. They always have books there and books can be quite thick. I thought, why not? Then perfection happened. They had a copy of Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m not a fan. I’m not one of the rabid anti-fans, but I never thought I would buy one of her books. Well, I did. I just also happened to drive a metal spike through it. I figure it can serve as a reminder that if Twilight can get published, so can I.

IMG_20141022_155103 The supplies

IMG_20141021_134525First, I had to clean the file with a wire brush. It was pretty dirty, so it took a while.

IMG_20141021_134515

And as it happens, Netflix had just recently added Gilmore Girls. I never really watched it when I was younger, so I figured “Why not?”. I nearly lost it when baby Sam Winchester popped up, calling himself Dean.  IMG_20141022_180701

It took a while and I lost a few layers of skin on my hands since, you know, it IS a file and I had no drill.

IMG_20141101_095134The finished product on my desk with four rejections. And let me tell you, driving the rejections through is SO satisfying!

Another One Bites The Dust

And we have another denial. It was a short one line rejection that basically amounted to “Thanks, but no thanks.”

That’s Four down, Six to go.

To be honest, I think the self-doubt is really starting to take hold*. It took me four days just to write my submission for my writing group. And NaNoWriMo is starting in November. 50,000 words in 30 days might prove to be difficult but it could also prove to take my mind off the wait. We’ll see.

*Does not mean I am giving up. There is no surrender.

On Advice From A Friend

Hey guys!

So my first weekend waiting for replies has passed and it was suspenseful. Even though it was the weekend and I know agents get days off too, I still checked my email a dozen times or so. I also read a book and a half (which for as slow a reader as I am, is kind of impressive). Jonathan Stroud is currently keeping me company through my wait. I first read his new book, The Screaming Staircase, and since the library doesn’t have the sequel yet (I think it just came out), I’ve begun his Bartimaeus Trilogy. They’re great books. In depth worlds, snarky characters, full of adventure and misconceptions and bad guys. I can’t recommend them highly enough. Especially if you’re waiting for replies.

So, the point of this post: I have a good friend who is very cautious and she reminds me to be cautious until we know the rules. Last night, she pointed out to me that my naming the agents rejecting me and my reactions to these rejections might not be the smartest decisions. If they, or other agents, stumble across my page they might see a review of my encounters with them and think my post is an attack on them when, really, I am posting for educational purposes, so others might know the possibilities of what lies ahead (and so I don’t have to repeat my rejection notification a hundred times so everyone can hear. That just makes it worse.) So, under my friend’s suggestion, I have made a few edits to the posts which could be construed as negative. I’m not doing this so anything reflects badly on the agents or their agencies. So, from now on, unless I have a very positive experience with an agent, there won’t be anymore names. I’ll still cross them off on the Rounds page so you can see who is in the running, but no more names.

Well, This One Stung

I got another rejection back this morning. It still wasn’t a form letter, so I suppose there’s that much comfort I can take from it, but it was far less encouraging than my first rejection.

Logical me knows agents only take on so many authors, so the ones they do take on have to have stories the agent is passionate about. I know and fully support this. Still, emotional me didn’t really like reading the words “I am not enthusiastic enough…” All that hurt I was surprised I didn’t have from the first rejection? Yeah… the flood gates just opened.

That will teach me to check my email before getting out of bed because I’ll tell you what, getting up and out of bed after being hit by that metaphorical wrecking ball was not easy. Paired with this morning’s gloominess, I have deemed today a pajama day until further notice. At least until my morning writing session is over.

First Rejection- John Wordsworth of Zeno Agency Ltd.

So, I just got home from adventuring out to find the bits and bobs of what I need to make a rejection spike (that will be a later post) and I have my first ever rejection. John Wordsworth of Zeno Agency Ltd. is off the list. I thought I’d be absolutely shattered, but it was a good first rejection. He gave me some positive opinions, but said that it wasn’t what they were looking for at the time. It made all the difference to me that he didn’t send a form rejection. It was tailored to me and let me know that he did actually read it.

It’ll probably hit me in a little bit, but for right now, I’m calm. It helps having friends bored at work who I can talk to….and a pile of dishes I need to get up to wash. Yay for having distracting things to do!

Someone OTHER than WordPress E-mailed Me!

Hey guys!

I just had to share this bright little bit of sunshine! It’s nothing big, but…

I set up an email specifically for submissions. For the past week, all I’ve gotten in that inbox has been notifications from WordPress (Which I would REALLY like to stop. I check the blog often enough and seeing that I have something in my inbox gets my heart racing. If you know how, PLEASE leave a comment!). I just made my sixth submission (I know I was supposed to get up and go outside, but I thought, “Hey, why not one more?”) and I got an email! It’s just a confirmation e-mail from The Cooke Agency saying they have recieved my query safely, but it felt SO good to see something OTHER than WordPress in my inbox!

This is getting exciting, guys!

OHHHHH! WE’RE HALFWAY THEEEERRREEE!

I’ve just made my fifth submission and we’ve officially made it to the point in the first round where I don’t need to pause and fill out anything new–no new CVs, no new Bios. From here on out, it is simply different variations of the query letter, the synopsis, and specific page numbers! What a relief that is!

I have only had major issues with one submission so far: Sheil Land Associates. Honestly, I’m not even sure what went wrong. I got a new laptop a while back–a nice little notebook that fits my tiny hands perfectly!–but it has Window 8 and the newest Microsoft Word. Because I was living out of LibreOffice on my old laptop, there were some serious formatting issues when I swapped over programs. I spent a couple days sifting through and making sure things were in order, so I’m not sure where the issue is coming from, but the double spacing option in the new Word is pretty similar to the 1.5 spacing my manuscript is still in from its days in LibreOffice. Imagine my surprise when I copied my fifty pages into a new .docx document to attach to the email and all of the sudden it’s only 35 pages. Long story made short, I had to make a decision: Do I convert to the new .docx and have more room, but possibly go over my alloted pages if it reformats differently on the other end of the email or do I stick with what I have? In the end, I decided to stick with what I had (It ended in the PERFECT place). I ended up having to sacrifice one of my old .doc copies of the manuscript I was keeping as back up in order to get the spacing to be consistant, but I have enough copes of this beast of a manuscript that I could justify it.

ANYWAY! That was my conundrum for the morning, but I made the submission to Sheil Land Associates and also the submission to Zeno Agency Ltd.. I would be making another, but I need to run out into town for a few things. I’ll probably make more submissions when I get back, but autumn has descended on Ireland and the sun goes down fast these days!

I would also like to say hello to all of the new people following me! I think we’re up to 14! Not bad considering I thought I would only be followed by people I knew! I hope this is helping someone out there!

Author CV

So, I’m three down, seven to go and next up is Sheil Land Associates. They’re a British agency I found in my much-loved Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2015. Super helpful book! Anyway, I have begun piecing together the required bits and bobs for the submission packet, but one of the things they require is an author CV.

I found a really helpful template here. It’s a couple scrolls down the page, but there is a downloadable word document that was really handy in figuring out what I have to offer…which isn’t much, as it turns out. My initial CV had three bulletpoints:

  • My objective is to obtain an agent who is pationate about my novels.
  • BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing
  • Founder and member, Wexford Writers Critique Group

Yup…. that was pretty much it. Sad, isn’t it? I have since found other things to flesh it out (without lying) and it’s shaping up into a nice half a page. Luckily, the submission guidelines requested specifically that I explain why I write, when I started writing, and what genre I write in. Yay for “About Me” sections!

But the fact is that pretty much everyone I’ve mentioned it to find this to be a rather odd request for a debut author. I have to admit, I did too, but I have other agencies asking for Bios and I didn’t think anything of it, so I guess it’s kind of the same thing. I just hope they’re not expecting anything extravagent because I have zero publications, zero pertinant work history. Nada.

I guess we’ll see how it goes!

Hello To My Hollins Ladies!

So I woke up this morning to find that I *officially* have my first three followers! And isn’t it just like a little Hollins reunion in here? I’m still working on getting everything up on the site (you may have noticed a distinct lack of synopsis on the ‘Query and Synopsis’ page). Unfortunately real life takes over every now and then and I have to do annoying things like make dinner and spend time with the man creature. Okay, well, that second one isn’t annoying. I still have these dreaded moments of remembrance of when he was over here in Ireland and I was back home in Ohio/Virginia/Pennsylvania. Definitely not annoying.

Anyway, back on track! I’m up early (and actually awake for once) so I’m thinking I’m going to get a good bit done today. Nevermind that I say that every morning. Sadly, I re-learned (as I had forgotten and placed her in the wrong chunk of agents) that Jennifer Azantian is closed to submissions until January 2015. That’s not too far away, so I’m not absolutely heartbroken, but that means I needed to add a new name to my list. So, move the names all up a slot and my new number ten is Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown Ltd. After I post this, I’ll be creating a new page for my current round. I will be crossing them off as I send submissions out and turning the text red when/if I get a rejection.

If any of you followed my last blog, you know the possibilities of failure are high, but morning routines and a great big scoop of excitement helped to keep me on track today. Maybe it will continue in the future.

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