Tales of Rejection

or the journey to becoming published

Vacation, all I ever wanted…

I got an email this morning from Priya. She wanted to make sure I knew it was official.

How freaking COOL is that?

It was really nice opening up my email to see that, because today has not been the greatest of days. We’re supposed to be leaving tonight on vacation for a week, and my son woke up with asthmatic bronchitis (he’s had chronic respiratory and allergy issues since birth). Any little flare up can turn into a big deal very quickly. There are few things more terrifying than watching your child struggle to breathe. I generally qualify this by saying that I know in the grand scheme of childhood illness, his isn’t all that terrible. But that doesn’t make it any less shitty for him when he’s sick.

Now he’s on an antibiotic and we’ve got to do breathing treatments around the clock. The antibiotic made him sick to his stomach (add that to the fact that we’re potty training), so this afternoon was especially exciting. I felt so badly for him. He’d just flush the toilet before he would look at me and say, “Mommy. I gotta go again.”

Poor kid.

Moving on…I’d like to say HELLLOOOO to all my new followers. I’m so glad you’re here! I’d also love it if you’d follow me on Twitter. I’m @aenoblin, and I’m always looking to follow more people. I let my Twitter account languish for about a year, but now I’m back and trying to build a following. Which, in all honesty, sounds kind of lame. But I keep reading and hearing about how important it is to have a platform and an internet presence, which is something I’m not super great at. I don’t like the thought of having to promote myself because I don’t want people to think that I’m being self-involved. In some ways, I hate the digital aspect of publishing/writing because it puts all this pressure on writers that many of us are ill-equipped to deal with. Most of us are totally weird and awkward 99.9% of the time. However, at the same time there are so many neat things about being able to build an online readership or self-pubbing or interacting with other writers in a way that makes the sterotype of the lonely writer obsolete.

I don’t know. I’m just going to jump in and do the best I can. I mean, what else can a girl do?

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It is official…

Today I signed a contract with Lotus Lane Literary, LLC. Priya Doraswamy (formerly of Jacaranda Literary) is my literary agent. 

Let me just say that last part again….MY LITERARY AGENT. 

“So, this means your book will be published, right?” My grandmother wanted to know. 

Well…not exactly. Or maybe not at all.

The journey has really just begun.  

So for right now, I’m going to pour myself a glass of Moscato and dance around the living room with my 2 year old. 

Because we can. 

Slish Slush: making my way through the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents

Below I have listed the agents/agencies I queried that were featured within the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents, which accounts for maybe half of the agents I queried in total. The book was a great guide and a great place to start. Ultimately, this was not how I found my agent. I’ll list the other agencies I queried that were NOT in this book in another post. 

Every agent/agency I queried represented one of three genres: commercial (or general fiction, which honestly encompasses a LOT), women’s fiction, or romance. I’ll link their websites if one is available. Please be advised that sometimes agents don’t respond if they are not interested in seeing more material. So a non-response doesn’t always mean the agent is flaky or not interested, and many of them ask for as long as 12 weeks to give a response. 

A+B Works: Queried 4/24. Rejected 5/10.

About Words Agency: Queried 4/24 and have never heard back.

The Ahearn Agency, Inc: Queried 3/25 and have never heard back. 

Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency: Queried 3/29 and have never heard back.

Betsy Amster Literary: Queried 3/25 and have never heard back.  

Artists and Artisans: Queried 4/24 and have never heard back. 

Robert Astle and Associates Literary Management, Inc: Queried 3/25 and have never heard back.

Avenue A Literary: Queried 3/25 and have never heard anything back. 

Barer Literary: Queried 4/24, and have never heard back, although I DID get an automated message stating that they received my query. 

Barone Literary Agency: Queried 3/29. This is one of the agencies on which I should have done more research. On 3/31 Ms. Barone asked me to “re-write” the sample chapters I sent to her. I thought that was kind of strange, because if she didn’t like the way the first three chapters were written, she probably wasn’t going to like the rest of the novel. I am not going to say that she is not a capable agent. However, I will say that most of her sales are to small presses that don’t require an agent. Ultimately, I did not resubmit the chapters to her. 

Liza Dawson Associates: Queried 3/25. I’m pretty sure I was rejected by this agency, but I don’t have it marked down. 

Baror International, Inc: Queried 4/15, and have never heard anything back. 

Loretta Barrett Books, Inc: Queried 3/29, and have never heard anything back. 

Faye Bender Literary Agency: Queried 4/24, and have never heard anything back. 

The Bent Agency: Queried 3/29. Rejected 4/9. I accidentally re-queried this agency and sent Jenny Bent an e-query in May. Once I realized my error, I sent her another email apolgoizing. She hadn’t been the agent to reject me originally. She responded about a week later with a polite rejection. In fact, she was extremely nice about it and had very nice things to say about my sample chapters. Jenny Bent is a class-act, and anyone represented by her is a lucky duck. 

Vicky Bijur Literary Agency: Queried 4/24. Rejected 5/9. 

David Black Literary: Queried 4/24, and have never heard anything back. 

Bond Literary Agency: Queried 4/15, and have never heard anything back. 

BookEnds, LLC: Queried 3/25. Request for first 3 chapters from Jessica Alvarez, but was ultimately rejected on 4/20. This was my first rejection after a request, and it really sucked. She was nice about it, though. 🙂 

Bradford Literary Agency: Queried 3/29. Rejected 4/15.

Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, Inc: Queried 4/24, and have never heard anything back. 

Barbara Braun Associates, Inc: Queried 4/15. Rejected: 4/17. They’re fast!

Paul Bresnick Literary Agency, LLC: Queried 4/17, and never heard anythin back. 

Curtis Brown, LTD: Queried 4/25, and never heard anything back. This agency does say that should they ask for material that they’d like to be exclusive. At the time, I had no other partials or fulls out there, so it would have been okay. Just make sure you know that before you query. 

Browne & Miller Literary Associates, LLC: Queried 4/25. Rejected 5/6.

Tracy Brown Literary Agency: Queried 4/25. Rejected 4/26. They’re fast!

Sheree Bykofsky Associates, INC: Queried 4/17, and have never heard anything back. 

Kimberly Cameron & Associates: Queried 4/17, and have never heard anything back. 

Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc: Queried: 3/28. Rejected 4/2. Pretty quick!

Castiglia Literary Agency: Queried 4/25. Received a request for the first three chapters from Winifred Golden. She said she’d get back to me within a week, but I never heard from her. I take partial responsibility for that because I should have nudged. Interestingly, I heard back from her today about the offer of rep I’ve received. She asked me to send the rest of the ms. 

Chase Literary Agency: Queried 4/25. Rejected 4/25. Fastest of the fast! I took a chance on Farley Chase because he had been interested in my non-fic project a few years ago, and I was really impressed with him. I pretty much knew that he was going to reject me, though. My book isn’t really his thing. At the time, he was with another agency (can’t remember who), and he is out on his own now. 

Jane Chelius Literary Agency: Queried 4/25, and never heard anything back. 

Elyse Cheney Literary Associates, LLC: Queried 4/26, and never heard anything back. I did, however, receive a confirmation that the email had gone through where they stated that they do not respond if they are not interested. 

The Chudney Agency: Queried 4/17. Rejected 5/3. 

FinePrint Literary Management: Queried 3/26. Got a request for the first 50 pages from Becky Vinter. I was ultimately rejected. I can’t find the rejection date, but it came about 5 weeks later. 

Frances Collin, Literary Agent: Queried 4/25. Rejected 4/30. 

Don Congdon Associates: Queried 3/26, and have never heard anything back. 

Cornerstone Literary, INC: Queried 4/29, and have never heard anything back. 

The Creative Culture: Queried 4/29, and have never heard anything back. 

Laura Dail Literary Agency, INC: Queried 4/29. Rejected 5/13.

Liza Dawson Associates: Queried 3/25. Rejected 4/17. 

The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency: Queried 4/1, and have never heard anything back. 

DeFiore & Co: Queried 4/1. Rejected 4/13.

Jacques De Spoelberch Associates: Queried 4/29, and have never heard anything back. 

Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency: Queried 4/1, and have never heard anything back. 

Dunham Literary, INC: Queried 5/14, and have never heard anything back. 

Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner Agency: Queried 4/17. Rejected 4/23. 

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management: Queried 3/28. Rejected 5/2. 

Anne Edelstein Literary Agency: Queried 5/14, and have never heard anything back. 

Judith Ehrlich Literary Management, LLC: Queried 5/14, and have never heard anything back. 

Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency: Queried 3/27, and have never heard anything back. 

The Nicholas Ellison Agency: Queried 5/14, and have never heard anything back. 

Fairbank Literary Representation: Queried 3/27. Rejected 3/29 Super fast!

The Fielding Agency: Queried 5/14, and have never heard anything back.

Diana Finch Literary: Queried 5/14. Rejected 5/26.

Folio Literary Management: Queried 3/27, and haven’t heard anything back. I did, however, receive an automated email that they received my query.

Fox Literary: Queried 3/27. Rejected 4/4. 

Lynn C. Franklin Associates, LTD: Queried 5/14, and have never heard anything back. 

Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency: Queried 5/14. Received a request for the first 10 pages from Ms. Freyman on 5/16. Personal rejection on 6/12. She was very nice and invited me to submit future projects to her. 

The Friedrich Agency: Queried 5/15, and have never heard anything back. 

Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, INC: Queried 5/15, and have never heard anything back.

The Gernert Company: Queried 4/8, and have never heard anything back.  

Frances Goldin Literary Agency, Inc: Queried 5/15, and have never heard anything back. 

Irene Goodman Literary Agency: Queried 3/26, and never heard anything back. However, I did receive a confirmation email stating that if they wanted to see more they would let me know. 

Doug Grad Literary Agency, INC: Queried 3/27, and have never heard anything back. 

Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, INC: Queried 4/8, and have never heard anything back. 

Kathryn Green Literary Agency, LLC: Queried 3/28.  Rejected 4/17. 

Jill Grosjean Literary Agency: Queried 4/8. Rejected 4/9. FAST!

Laura Gross Literary Agency: Queried 5/16, and have never heard anything back. 

Richard Henshaw Group: Queried 4/3, and have never heard anything back.

HSG Agency: Queried 5/16. Ms. Carrie Hannigan requested the first 50 pages on 6/1. When I emailed her to tell her about my offer of representation, she asked for me to send the rest of my ms. I ultimately declined to send it. She is very nice and professional.  

Fine Literary: Queried 4/3. I’m pretty sure I was rejected by this agency, but I can’t find the info to confirm it. 

Andrea Hurst Literary Management: Queried 5/16, and have never heard anything back. 

Inkwell Literary Management: Queried 4/3. Rejected 4/22.

International Transactions, INC: Queried 5/16, and have not heard anything yet. 

Jabberwocky Literary Agency: Queried 5/16, and have never heard anything back. 

Jet Literary Associates: Queried 5/16. Received an email from Ms. Liz Trupin stating that due to a family illness she is no longer accepting queries. She was very polite. 

Natasha Kern Literary Agency: Queried 4/3, and have never heard anything back. I did, however, receive an automated email stating that if they were interested I’d hear back from them. 

Harvy Klinger: Queried 4/8. Rejected 4/9. FAST!

Kneerim & Williams: Queried 5/17. Rejected 5/21.

KT Literary: Queried 4/8. Rejected 4/25.

The LA Literary Agency: Queried 5/17, and have never heard anything back. 

Laura Langlie Literary Agent: Queried 5/17. Rejected 5/17. Super fast!

Michael Larson/Elizabeth Pomada LIterary Agents: Queried 4/8. Rejected 4/10. While I appreciated the quick response, I felt like Ms. Pomada was quite flip in her response. Maybe I read into it more than I should have, but it really rubbed me the wrong way. 

The Leshne Agency: Queried 5/17, and have yet to hear back. 

Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, INC: Queried 5/17, and have yet to hear back. 

Paul S. Levine Literary Agency: Queried 5/17. Rejected 5/18. FAST!

Lippincott Massie McQuilkin: Queried 5/17. Request for the first 50 pages on 5/21 from Mr. Jason Anthony. Ultimately a very kind rejection on 5/30. All in all, this was extremely quick turnaround. 

Lowenstein Associates, INC: Queried 4/9, and have yet to hear back. 

Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC: Queried 4/8. Received a request for the first 50 pages from Ms. Kevan Lyon on 4/12. Ultimately a very helpful rejection on 5/13. I was pretty bummed to be rejected by Ms. Lyon. I really wanted to work with her, although I know now that it worked out for the best. 

Lyons Literary: Queried 5/17, and have yet to hear back. However, I did receive an automated email stating that if they were interested they would let me know within 3 weeks. 

Donald Maass Literary Agency: Queried 4/8. Rejected 4/16. 

Gina Maccoby Literary Agency: Queried 5/17, and have yet to hear back. 

Ricia Mainhardt Agency (RMA): Queried 4/10, and have yet to hear back. 

Kirsten Manges Literary Agency: Queried 4/10, and have yet to hear back. 

Carol Mann Agency: Queried 4/10. Rejected 5/8. I think they may have requested some sample chapters, but I can’t find the documentation. 

Manus & Associates Literary Agency, INC: Queried 4/17, and have yet to hear back. I actually accidentally re-queried on 5/17 without realizing it until just now (oops). I have yet to hear back from either query, lol. 

The Denise Marcil Literary Agency, INC: Queried 5/17, and have yet to hear anything back. 

McIntosh & Otis, INC: Queried 4/10, and have yet to hear back. 

Dee Mura Literary: Queried 4/10. Rejected 5/14. 

Muse Literary Management: Queried 4/10, and have yet to hear back. 

Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, INC: Queried 5/17, and have yet to hear back. 

Nelson Literary Agency: Queried 4/10. Rejected 4/12. 

Northern Lights Literary Services, INC: Queried 4/10, and have yet to hear back. 

Fifi Oscard Agency, INC: Queried 4/10, and have yet to hear back. 

Park Literary Group, LLC: Queried 4/10, and have yet to hear back. 

Pearson, Morris, & Belt: Queried 5/17, and have yet to hear back. 

L. Perkins Agency: Queried 4/11, and have yet to hear back. 

Alicka Pistek Literary Agency,LLC: Queried 4/11, and have yet to hear back. 

PMA Literary and Film Management, INC: Queried 4/12, and have yet to hear back. 

Linn Prentis Literary: Queried 4/13, and have yet to hear back. 

Prospect Agency: Queried 4/13, and have yet to hear back. I did, however, receive an automated message to let me know my query had been received. 

Helen Rees Literary Agency: Queried 4/13. Rejected 4/13. Super fast!

Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency: Queried 4/13. Rejected 4/15. Pretty quick!

RLR Associates, LTD: Queried 4/14, and have yet to hear back. 

B.J. Robbins Literary Agency: Queried 4/14, and have yet to hear back. 

Jane Rotrosen Agency LLC: Queried 4/14, and have yet to hear back. 

Wendy Schmalz Agency: Queried 4/15, and have yet to hear back. 

Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency, INC: Queried 4/14, and have yet to hear back. 

Serendipity Literary Agency, LLC: Queried 4/8, and have yet to hear back. 

Wendy Sherman Associates, INC: Queried 4/18, and have yet to hear back. I did, however, get an automated email letting me know they’d received my query.

Spencerhill Associates: Queried 4/15, and have never heard anything back. 

The Spieler Agency: Queried 5/18, and have not heard back yet. 

Steele-Perkins Literary Agency: Queried 4/18, and have never heard anything back. 

Stonesong: Queried 5/18, and have never heard anything back. 

Robin Strauss Agency, INC: Queried 4/18. Rejected 5/6. 

Pam Strickler Author Management: Queried 4/18. Rejected 4/23. 

The Stringer Literary Agency: Queried 4/18. Rejected 4/23. 

The Strothman Agency: Queried 4/18. Rejected 4/22. 

The Stuart Agency: Queried 4/18, and have never heard anything back. 

Emma Sweeney Agency, LLC: Queried 4/18, and have never heard anything back. 

The Swetky Agency: Queried 4/18, and have never heard anything back. 

Stephanie Tade Literary Agency: Queried 5/18. Rejected 5/20. Pretty fast turnaround!

Talcott Notch Agency: Queried 4/18, and have never heard anything back.

Tessler Literary Agency: Queried 4/19, and have never heard anything back.  

Three Seas Literary Agency: Queried 4/19, and have never heard anything back. 

Triada U.S. Literary Agency, INC: Queried 5/18, and have not heard back. 

Trident Media Group: Queried 4/19. Received request for full ms on 4/23 from Ms. MacKenzie Fraser-Bub. When I contacted her about being offered representation, she asked for three days to continue reading, but ultimately declined the ms. She was extremely polite and had really nice things to say about my book. She was one of my top 10 agents. 

The Unter Agency: Queried 5/25, and have not heard anything. However, I did get an automated email stating that the agency received my query and that they would contact me if they were interested in viewing more. 

Upstart Crow Literary: Queried 4/19. Rejected 4/24. 

Venture Literary: Queried 4/19, and have never heard anything back. 

Veritas Literary Agency: Queried 4/22, and have never heard anything back. 

Waxman Literary Agency: Queried 4/8, and have never heard anything back. 

Weed Literary: Queried 4/22, and have never heard anything back. 

WM Clark Associates: Queried 4/23. Rejected 4/29. 

Wordserve Literary: Queried 4/24. Rejected 4/24. It is no surprise that I received a same-day rejection from this agency. This is yet another agency I failed to research as much as I should have. In fact, I’m really surprised I queried them at all because they clearly state that they are a Christian-based agency. My novel is not rooted in spirituality of any kind, and there are drugs, sex, and violence within the text. So…yeah. Once again, do your damn research!

Writers House: Queried 4/24, and have never heard anything back. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awkward

So, once an agent has offered representation (and you want to take it) you then must go through the process of letting other agents know that you’ve been offered said representation. You only have to let agents who’ve asked for partial or full manuscripts know, but in my case that was 9 agents.

Luckily, I followed the rules and didn’t submit to agencies that required a query be exclusive. Twice I was asked for exclusives by agents. Neither time could I grant the exclusive. One agent passed almost immediately (less than an hour after I replied and denied exclusivity) and one agent accepted the ms anyway. However, I still had to tell these other agents. I’m not complaining. I mean, hell, I’d just landed my dream agent and these should be HAPPY emails I’m sending out, right?

Well, not exactly.

I read a few articles that told me agents would be annoyed if I emailed them with an automatic, “Sorry, but I’ve accepted an offer” type of email. Instead the suggestion was to send an email that sounded something like this:

“Dear Mr. Agent,

I am writing to let you know that an offer of representation has been made to me regarding [TITLE OF NOVEL]. Out of professional courtesy I am checking in with you regarding the status of my manuscript.
I appreciate your time and consideration.
Sincerely,
[AUTHOR A]”
So, that’s essentially what I did even though I was certain I wanted to go with the agent who’d offered me representation. Besides, I figured that they’d all email me back with a polite rejection.
That was not the case.
I’ve not heard back from two of them, and two others DID respond with a polite rejection. But four of them responded by asking for more time to read, and another actually offered me representation on the spot.  By this point I was feeling like a major asshole.
I was trying to avoid annoying these agents, and what I did instead was waste their time. I’d already made up my mind. It wasn’t going to change. I ended up emailing them back and telling them so.
I need a facepalm meme here.
Here’s what I should have done: A) Asked the first agent to give me a couple of weeks to decide and then given the other agents a true chance to read/offer representation, or B) Been up front with the agents from the beginning, even if that meant annoying them.
Remember what I said in my previous post about making mistakes?
I’ve heard back from a couple of them since, and they didn’t seem irritated in the least. In fact, one of them seemed absolutely relieved that I’d let her off the hook because she was “swimming” in manuscripts. I think I got myself all worked up over nothing (which can happen when you spend too much time reading on the internet).
Although I’d much rather be dealing with this problem than dealing with no offer at all, I still feel badly for not handling the situation better. I truly hope that I end up staying with this agent for a long, long time. However, if I ever end up back in the querying game I’ll know how to respond should this situation arise again.
One can only hope.

Long time, no write

Well, I’ve been writing. Just not here.

I’ve been writing to what has felt like millions and millions of literary agents. I think the actual total is somewhere around 140, but who’s counting?

I had every intention of keeping this blog going while I began the querying process, but the end of the semester (150 essays to grade) as well as querying proved to be the most I could handle at one time. In addition, I’m just not very good at keeping up a blog during the summer. Even though I don’t have to go in to work every day, I end up with less free time to write than I have during the fall/winter months. So, there you go. Those are the best excuses I can come up with for being a lazy asshole and not updating this blog for three months.

I started querying literary agents towards the end of March.

It took a significant amount of time to work my way through the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents. I researched every agency that represented women’s fiction, commercial fiction, and romance. I ranked agents as first tier, second tier, and so on. I read their Publishers Marketplace profiles, searched for their names on the Absolute Write Water Cooler, and did basic Google searches which included visiting the agency’s websites (if they had one). I was really surprised to find that not all agents within the 2013 Guide were necessarily “good” agents. None of them were scam artists (charging fees, etc), but there were a few with no sales or sales to small presses (even vanity or self-pub, which technically isn’t even a “sale”).

I feel like I’ve learned sooooooooooo much over the last few months. While I was editing the manuscript, I spent a lot of time downloading and reading e-books about agents, publishing, etc. I think I wrote about a few of those books early on. They were invaluable, but not nearly as invaluable as what I learned while in the thick of research/querying. There were a few things I’d already learned from my experience shopping my non-fic project in 2010, but this time I am much more committed.

So here are a few things that I think are extremely important for any newbie writer to know when throwing themselves to the wolves of publishing:

1) No reputable literary agent charges fees. Let me repeat that, NO REPUTABLE LITERARY AGENT CHARGES FEES. Simply following this one rule will save you so much heartache. I can’t even begin to recount the horror stories I’ve heard and read about scam agents swindling naive writers out of thousands of dollars. That means if an agent asks you for an upfront fee before submitting a manuscript OR asks for money upon signing a contract they are NOT a reputable agent and most likely WILL NOT sell your book. And this non-service is going to cost you money. Lots of money.

2) The forum I mentioned above, the Absolute Write Water Cooler is absolutely one of the best sources a writer can have when researching agents, agencies, publishers, and pretty much every aspect of the publishing industry. It is free to join. You can search thousands of threads, and it is really the best source for finding out the dirt on the agents/agencies that you’re thinking of querying. Writers can talk about their experiences, and the moderators of the site have lots of experience in the industry and really do their research. Some of the moderators such as Victoria Strauss also write for Writer Beware, which is another excellent source and is a division of SFWA. I realize I’m throwing a lot of links at you at once, but if you haven’t visited these sites it is about time that you did.

3) Preditors & Editors is also another great source.

4) No literary agent at all is certainly better than being represented by a scam agent, but it is also better than being represented by a mediocre agent. What is a mediocre agent? Well, sometimes it can be REALLY hard to tell. I have to admit, I queried a few of them because I failed to do the proper research beforehand. A mediocre agent is the kind of agent who is really trying to be a good agent, but doesn’t have the connections or skill to be a good agent. It is extremely important that agents have contacts with major publishing houses, and it is preferable that they have multiple sales to these publishing houses. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being published by a reputable smaller press or even an e-publisher. However, 99.9% of the time, you don’t need an agent to submit to these smaller presses. Therefore, you don’t need an agent who can only get you published this way. It doesn’t matter how nice they are. It doesn’t matter how well intentioned they are. Your work is worthy of a great agent with great contacts. Don’t settle for anything less. Period.

5)One way to know if an agent is reputable is to find out if they are a member of the AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives). There are plenty of great agents that aren’t members of the AAR, but they will generally follow their code of conduct anyway.

6) Should you decide to remain agentless, there are plenty of reputable publishers and e-publishers out there. How will you know which ones are reputable? Well, check out their websites, check where they sell their books, check out the books they’ve published, send them an email, and FOR SURE check out the forums and websites I mentioned previously. Sometimes these publishers will even send you a sample contract so you can get an idea of royalty rates, copyright info, etc. Just as with agents, no reputible publisher will ask you for money. Ever. If you’re paying to have your book published then you’re A) self-publishing, B) working with a vanity press, or C) working with a disreputable publisher who is going to take your money and in return give you a shoddy product (or no product at all). Some independent and reputable publishers that I like are Belle Books (e-book and print), Kensington Publishing (e-book and print), and Samhain Publishing (primarily e-book). Although these publishers accept agented submissions, you don’t need an agent to submit to them.

7) Even though you can’t submit to the major commercial publishing houses without an agent, many of these publishers have tried to cash in on the e-pub business by creating their own e-pub imprints. Some even have print imprints (are you confused yet? Learn more about imprints HERE) that writers can submit to without needing an agent. One of these such imprints is Avon, which is a romance imprint of Harper Collins. And while we’re talking about romance, there are a few e-pub imprints of the major houses that accept unagented submissions. Some of them are Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt, which are all romance imprints of Random House. And if you’re really looking to submit to the mother of all romance publishers, you don’t need an agent to submit to most of the print or e-pub imprints of Harlequin, either. Of course there are other e-pubs and imprints of big houses that cater to different genres like TOR, a sci-fi imprint of Macmillan/McGraw Hill. So it is possible to become published by one of the major houses without having an agent. Some even pay an advance. Should you get an offer from one of these houses (or one of the independent publishers mentioned above) and you are unagented, it is SUPER important that you have a lawyer who is well-versed in intellectual property law look over the contract. Just because the publisher is reputable doesn’t mean they won’t try to screw you. I know that sounds terrible, but it is the truth. They’re in the business to sell books, not coddle writers, and you are especially vulnerable without the protection of a good literary agent.

7) There is a difference between an advance and royalties, and not all publishers pay an advance. An advance is simply an “advance against royalites”, which means that the publisher is paying you the royalties they think you’re going to earn, which also means you won’t begin seeing royalties until you’ve sold enough books that the advance you were given is paid off. If you have an agent, he/she will generally receive a standard 15% of the advance (an agent who asks for more is probably not an agent you want to work with). Many e-pubs don’t pay an advance, but the writer will generally get a larger portion of the royalties than with traditional publishing. It really just depends on what your goals are. To learn more about advances and royalties, go HERE.

8) The query letter is all-important. Write a bad query letter and write your ticket to obscurity. There are several awesome e-books about writing a query letter that I know I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Another great online resource is Query Shark. I can’t tell you what to say in your query letter, but I can say again that the query letter is so so so so important. It can be the reason a door opens or the reason a door slams shut.

9) Make a list of the agents/agencies you’ve queried. Write down the date you queried, the date you were rejected, or gasp! the date a partial or full manuscript was requested. This will save you a lot of time and keep you from querying an agent twice, querying an agent who has already rejected you, or forgetting which agents and agencies you’ve already queried.

10) When in doubt, ask questions! That’s what half of the forums, websites, and books for writers are for.

11) You don’t have to listen to every. single. piece. of. advice. given.

12) Stop obsessing. Get some sleep. Play with your kid. Go shopping. Do whatever it was that you did before you got yourself caught up in the nausea inducing merry-go-round that is finding an agent/becoming published. Trust me, nobody finds the process as fascinating as you do (unless you only speak to fellow writer-nerds) and everyone will appreciate not having to hear the word “query” every five seconds.

13) Lastly, don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake or two. Or five. Or ten. It is bound to happen. If you screw up and don’t research an agent or publisher as thoroughly as you should have, just make sure that you do it before you accept an offer. If you screw up and query an agent you’ve already queried or query two agents from the same agency, own up to it and send a polite apology (I had to do this at least twice). You can’t possibly know everything before you begin to search for representation, so just do the best you can. Half of the learning is in the doing, anyhow.

So, what were my end results? Well, I mentioned querying well over 100 agents. Of the agents I queried, I was probably rejected by 40% after the initial query. I’d say 30% have yet to respond to my initial query, and another 30% requested a partial or full manuscript. As of last week, I’d been offered representation by one of the agents that was in my top ten list of agents I’d like to work with. I’m so pumped. I want to stand on a cliff Lion King style and shout at the top of my lungs that I’m represented by Agent P, but I won’t list any names until I have signed a contract.

Obviously, I’m no expert. I’m still a novice in many ways. I’ve got so much yet to learn! But I hope that this post will help some of you trying to muddle through the vast landscape of publishing.

Maybe we can muddle through together. 🙂

Fuck you, revision!

I’ve decided that the chances of me giving up on this book during the revision process are a lot more likely than the chances that I would have given up during the initial draft.

Seriously. Revision sucks.

I find myself constantly amazed by how many errors I find and by how much needs to be fixed. Isn’t the work supposed to get better with each draft? I’m on page 37 of draft #4, and I just want to chuck it into the trash bin.

HOW did I miss all this shit the first time? It is so bad that I had to go back and make sure I’d printed off the right draft, which brings me to another question–how much drafting am I supposed to do before I send it off? At this point, it feels like it will never be ready, and I know that no matter how many times I read it, I’ll always find something wrong. I’m not the kind of writer who can look at anything she’s written and think, “Yep. That’s perfect.”

So how will I know?

I don’t want to start querying agents before its ready, but I don’t want to butcher the thing. There is such a thing as too much revision. 

WHERE IN THE HELL IS THE HAPPY MEDIUM??

I bought a new bra over the weekend, and it is squeezing me just a little tighter than I’m comfortable with. I think that’s the problem. Maybe I’ll be able to figure something out once the blood flow returns to the upper half of my body.

Since, you know, that’s where my brain is.

 

Flash Fiction

I entered a Flash Fiction contest today over at Flash Fiction Chronicles. It was a really fun mental exercise.The rules for this contest were that you had to use at least four of the words I’ve listed below to write a story of 250 words or less.

EVENING-QUARRY-ACCENT-ROSE-TEAR-MINUTE-GRAVE-CLOSE-

ENTRANCE-BOW

 

I’m thinking about using something like this in my Composition class this week. I think my students would really enjoy it…well, as much as they enjoy writing anything. If you’re interested in entering the contest, the guidelines can be found HERE. Below, is the story I submitted!

**

The Quarry

Angel hated her house. She hated its green shutters. She hated the peeling, red paint on the door. She hated the brown of the dead grass in the yard at wintertime. Most of all, Angel hated the rock quarry behind her house.

The quarry killed children.

Nobody believed her. Nobody believed her about the how. The newspapers said they had drowned, but those children hadn’t drowned.

The quarry had taken them.

Two weeks ago they had gone, a boy and a girl, during the last minutes of evening to the quarry. Angel had watched them as they walked hand-in-hand towards the entrance. How delighted they’d been as the water soaked their skin! How they’d splashed and giggled!

But they began to feel sleepy. The quarry rocked them back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until their eyes closed and the frigid blanket covered them.

Angel screamed. She pounded on the shutters, and she kicked the door. It was no use. The children couldn’t hear her. The children couldn’t see her.

“What a shame,” the papers said. They placed their pictures beside the other children the quarry had taken. Over the years pictures grew a little older. A little faded.

Angel’s picture was oldest of all. Taken the day the shutters were new and the paint was fresh and the grass was green. The day the quarry had called to her during those last minutes of evening. The last day she could remember ever leaving her house.

The day the spin cycle died

My washing machine broke on Saturday.

I was just sure that my father, who can fix anything, could come over and get it going again just like magic. NOPE. My poor washing machine has finally bitten the dust. She served me well, really, so I can’t be mad at her. I bought the set used back in 2008 from some girl who lived in a house I was getting ready to rent. She was taking her damn sweet time moving out, and she pretty much told me that she’d be out two days earlier if she didn’t have to move her washer, dryer, and the massive chest of drawers she had in the house. But she’d be more than happy to leave them there for me…for a price.

I bought them, and they’ve worked great over the last few years. That washer has seen her fair share of crap…literally. I have a two year old and four dogs, plus a husband.

Like I said–I can’t be mad. Instead, I’ll be making a trip to the appliance store on my way home from work.

It’s just par for the course during the month of February. A couple of posts ago I mentioned that the house we’re living in is being sold, that my son was sick, and that my husband had to have new brakes on his car. Well, now MY car needs new breaks, my mother-in-law has shingles, and my washing machine is broken.

FEBRUARY SUCKS.

That’s all there is to it. It always has, and it always will. For now, I’m just going to laugh about it, because if I don’t I’ll go insane.

I didn’t get any editing done over the weekend. I’m going to try and wait until I get a few more critiques. But I have printed off the newest draft. I spent a good deal of my time going through the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents, which I highly recommend to anyone trying to find representation. I realize I’m not really in any position to be giving advice, but just in case you were looking for some–there ya go. I have been going through the book with three highlighters and a system (pictured below). I’m highlighting the agencies I think would be best suited to receive my work in pink, second place agencies get yellow, and third place get green. After I’ve gone through the book, I’ll start researching the agencies online (if they have a website) and I’ll find the agent within the agency that is mostly likely to be interested in my work. From there, I’ll begin to tailor my query letter to that agent.

It takes my mind off the impending doom of writing another draft. And maybe if I just sit still in one location it’ll be at least a few hours before anything else goes wrong. :-/

Image

I received the first critique of my novel yesterday. It was so enlightening! I won’t lie–it helped that the reader (whom I don’t even know, might I add) liked the story. She was positive, but at the same time gave me lots of helpful feedback. She asked questions about story flow in a few parts. She asked about parts of the story that didn’t make sense or presented a problem for her as she read. Some of these things I’d also noticed, and it was good to know that other readers are going to pick up on these things as well.

I still have lots of work to do. 

But I’m encouraged. 

I wanted to share with you one of the positive things my reader wrote:

I was enthralled enough with the story that when it was time to leave work yesterday I considered emailing myself the copy that I had been making comments on so that I could continue reading and commenting. I actually had to tear myself away and finish the story this morning. For me that is the ultimate sign of whether something “good” or not.

This has been a ridiculous week. I am emotionally and physically drained. But I’m also feeling energized to jump back into my story and flesh out a few of those problem areas.

It’s time to go and buy a new pen.

 

Performance Enhancing Toddlers

You’ve not lived until you’ve been at home all day with a croupy kid hopped up on steroids. 

Seriously. 

I was hiding in the bathroom after my husband got home from work when it occurred to me that I haven’t updated in a couple of days. I do have a pretty good excuse, though. This was my weekend in a nutshell (and in chronological order)

1) On Saturday the owners of the house that my family has been living in for two years informed us that they were selling and that we had to buy or be out by May.

2) I tried to submit my novel for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest and the competition was already closed. 

3) We spent most of early Monday morning (from midnight on) in the ER with our two year old. He has Croup, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t too scary, but he has a lot of respiratory issues–issues the pediatrician calls “asthmatic tendencies”–and so any little thing can turn into a big problem…fast. 

4) Aforementioned two year old was given a high dose of steroids and banned from daycare until tomorrow. 

5) It isn’t payday until tomorrow. 

So…yeah, it has been a stressful few days, and I’ve spent nearly all my time browsing houses for sale in my area and hanging out with a miniature version of Lance Armstrong.

I have gotten a few things done, though. I sent out a draft of my novel to about 15-20 readers, which makes me really, really nervous. I know most of them, but I’m close friends with only a few of them. I’m really hoping for some usable criticism, but I’m worried that they: 

A) Won’t like it

B) Won’t be critical for fear they’ll hurt my feelings

C) Won’t respond at all

D) Won’t like it

I’m really worried that they won’t like it. I mean, OF COURSE, I’m worried about that. I read all the time about writers who are so in love with their books that they can’t handle criticism. Or they are so thin-skinned that they can’t handle criticism.

I’m just genuinely afraid that my book sucks. 

Tonight, after I put Mommy’s Little Monster to bed, I’m going to begin the daunting task of going through the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents. I’ll be spending the next few days (or weeks) with my Kindle app, a notebook, and some highlighters. I’ll be researching and researching agents and agencies that might be interested in representing me about 100 drafts from now. 

But right now I’m going to go fill a dropper full of cough medicine and hope for the best.