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Posts Tagged ‘Rejections’

Interview Your Perspective Agents

June 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Many writers jump, head first, at the first offer for representation they receive from a literary agent. It is an understandable reaction. Most authors get beat down by many rejections before someone shows an interest in their work. Therefore, when someone tells them they think them can sell the author’s labor of love, the author is too happy to think about anything else once the good news arrives. Yet repeatedly, I hear horror stories from authors that did not look before they took the leap and signed a contract with a literary agent.

Just like with any other endeavor, it is very important that you, as a writer, interview your perspective agent just as the perspective agent is giving you scrutiny. I have mentioned this a couple of times to other writers I know and the general response has been shock that I would even suggest it. I don’t know why. I think it is only logical, especially considering the many horror stories I have heard from other authors about how bad either their current or former literary agent was.

I do not know about you, but I do not want to experience the following:

• Signing with an agent who does not return my phone calls for up to six months.
• Having an agent who repeatedly “looses” my manuscript.
• Landing an agent who insists on meeting with me face-to-face multiple times a year, and, worse, that I come to see her in New York, spending oodles of money on plane tickets when she has yet to sell my manuscript and secure at least an advance for it.
• Having an agent who repeatedly sends me emails intended for another client, discussing confidential contract and project information and then quickly having to send another saying, “OOPS! Ignore that!”
• Signing with an agent who constantly calls me “John” rather than my real name.
• Signing with an agent who feels the need to send me every humorous spam email he receives, which is upwards of twenty a day
• Landing an agent who argues with me over the clearly detailed commission she is supposed to receive based on our contract, complaining that it was a typo, and that she is really entitled to twice as much.
• Having an agent who does not send out commission checks until months after they are received or not at all until gently reminded to do so.
• Signing with an agent who pitches my novel to an imprint that has never published a Fantasy novel in its entire existence and has no interest in ever printing such things.
• Having an agent who tells me what my next novel “must” be about because XYZ publishing house is looking for yet another cheesy vampire tale to sell to teens and preteens and who then gets into a shouting match with me when I say no.
• An agent who insists on calling me at 2:00AM because he is a night owl, another author he represents is also a night owl and he just wants to see how things are going with me and when he can expect my next manuscript.

Yes, these are all real stories other authors have shared with me. And yes, most, if not all of them could have avoided these problems if they would have done some do diligence about who they were signing to represent them.

Thanks J.R.! Starting My Agent Query Spreadsheet

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Just giving a shout out my my buddy J.R. Fitch who has been giving me some great leads on literary agents to submit my novel to.  Ok, some of them don’t look like good fits but some of them do and I always appreciate the help.

I’ve started to construct an agent contact database to help track my submissions even though I am not quite there yet.  I like being organized though.

My database looks like this:

The categories are:

  • Agent Name
  • Agency
  • Interests
  • Recent Relevant Sales
  • Send (Y/N)
  • Date Sent
  • Heard Back (Y/N)
  • Interested (Y/N)
  • Followup

The list contains both loose and hard matches.  If an agent says generically that they accept “Fiction” they go on the list.  They might not be among the first few batches of queries to go out unless I see that they have recently sold something in the Fantasy genre however.  The category that agents through around that bugs me however is “YA Fantasy”.  This field is so poorly and broadly defined that I have come to realize that no one really knows what it means and every one seems to have different definitions they opt to go by.  But I will still target them as well as Under the Darkened Moon can easily fit into that category under many of the available definitions.

I think that this sort of a list will help me keep track of where my submissions have gone and see if there are any trends in terms of out right rejections versus interest.

I Feel Better After This Advice

May 27, 2012 Leave a comment

My friend Dan is a literary agent.  Unfortunately, he and his agency don’t deal with Fantasy novels so he cannot accept my manuscript.  But he has given me some names and suggestions about who I should submit my novel to and has given me great advice on my novel Under the Darkened Moon to help me out along the way.  But none of his advice has been as valuable or helpful as this:

“You hear about how 95% to 99% of all manuscripts are rejected right?  Well, I don’t know that you should have to worry about the odds being that high against you.  First of all, you have two things going for you that those 95% to 99% don’t have!  First is that you have written one heck of a manuscript for being a first time author.  I am very impressed with it.  Secondly is that you are going to make sure that you submit your manuscript to the right people!  I know you are because we have talked about this.

See, those there are the two reasons why so many books get rejected.  They are either not submitted to agents or publishers who deal with the material the author is writting about or what is submitted are horribly written first or rought drafts with zero thought put into them.  Plus, remember this please, that high rejection rate includes all the rejections of every manuscript sent to every potential agent or publisher.  You submit to 99 times and are rejected by all 99 then you are at 100% rejection rate.  But when you submit to the 100th and are accepted you are in that 1%.

I really hate how people in my industry try scaring off new authors with daunting figures that makes getting published look like an insurmountable moutain.  It is hard.  But when people put the time in they can be rewarded.  Now go and submit!  I am not saying you will get offers and ink a deal.  However I do deeply feel that anyone who rejects your manuscript is going to wish they hadn’t.”

This kind of encouragement makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Encouragement From My Friend Doug

May 26, 2012 Leave a comment

One of my reviewers, Douglas, has given me hope:

“I would say that your novel ranks in the same league with published works such as Flank Hawk or The Blade itself by Joe Abercrombie. If those works can be published then yours should too. It’s much better than a lot of what is published these days. You have definitely taken a lot of the critiques given to your rough draft and made this much better. I think that for your first novel it is a sparkling achievement.”

HA! Now time to get disapointed I suppose as the rejections roll in.

Stuck In A Rut

May 25, 2012 Leave a comment

I am compiling my final bits of feedback on my novel Under the Darkened Moon from my review group. Few negative comments. In fact, no real negative comments at all. Just lots of constructive ones. Of course, I’ve been working with some members of this group for several drafts now and we’ve pushed past the negative things long ago. The polishing draft is coming along and I am on page 211 of that and half way through. Lots of yellow markups which are mostly just me rewording sentences for my own preferences.

People are already asking me when the novel is going to be published so they can see the final product. But I haven’t even sent out the queries yet. And still half the group is asking me for the sequel, assuming that there is going to be one. Sequel? Hell, let me get the first one published!

I’ve been trying to work on a couple other projects, particularly Her Lovely Blood which i have really taken a like to but have not been able to concentrate on that with my polishing of UtDM proceeding. Started work on a fantasy/steam punk mix in The Arrow but after about 5,000 words I realized I need to do some more story plotting on that story before plowing ahead. Even Cry of the Golden Wyvern is not moving forward as I try to work out how to get the story to where it needs to go.

Basically I am in a rut I guess. I’m basically done with my first novel and in that place between polishing and submission. It’s been a year of my life dedicated to it and I know the process is really just getting started. It’s time to get a lot of rejections on the way to publication. It’s not the thought of rejection that is getting me down. Everyone who has read Under the Darkened Moon seems to really enjoy it and has high praise for it. So I am certain that someone, somewhere in the publishing world will like it too. And if not? Well screw them is what I say. I’ll put it on the shelf and write one of the other stories. I feel like a parent getting ready to send my child out into the world is what it is. You know what is going to happen, the struggles that will be forth coming for them and you just have to sit back and let it happen.