Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I did on my Christmas vacation!

This year for my week off work, I was a query hound with my Christmas gift come early (Power Mac!!!) Post query marathon returned a lot of rejection.  As promised, here are all my rejections, with names abbreviated to protect the innocent. 

Honestly, not one of these people had to send me a rejection; they could have just ignored me.  In fact, some of these same people who were nice enough to send rejections (including one whose name I misspelled - yikes) state right on their web pages that they don't send rejections, but they did anyway.  It's not wonderful to be rejected, but it is nice to not be ignored.  So for each of these 26 rejections I say, thank you literary agents for being prompt, courteous, and kind. There is a 27th rejection by silence, that is crickets chirping.   Some were especially kind, and they get an extra smiley face :).

For those of you contemplating writing a book, here is a preview of what to expect when you're done writing a manuscript and start writing query letters!

  1. Chirp, chirp - no response, assume rejected.
  2. Thank you for your recent query regarding representation. Having considered this, we've concluded that x is not going to be the right fit for your project but of course wish you all the best with it.
  3. We’re afraid your project does not seem right for our list, but thank you for thinking of D., and best of luck in your search for representation.
  4. Thank you for your interest in our agency. This sounds like a wonderful project, but alas, as A. mentioned in her newsletter piece, we just don't do a lot of memoir, and we lean more toward literary nonfiction (where the story resembles a novel), where this sounds more theme-based. You might try www.agentquery.com as a good source for finding an agent who is more open to this type of project. Our very best wishes for this meaningful book and all your publishing endeavors!
  5. Thank you so much for writing me about your project.  I read and consider each query carefully and, while yours is not exactly what I am looking for, I would certainly encourage you to keep trying.  I know your work is important to you and I am grateful that you wrote to me.
  6. Thank you very much for giving us a chance to consider your work.  Unfortunately, your project is not right for us at this time. Publishing is a matter of taste, however, and another agent may feel differently—we encourage you to keep looking for an enthusiastic editor or agent. We wish you the very best of luck with your work.
  7. Dear Author,  Thank you for your query.  The project you have offered is not suitable for our Agency at this point.  We apologize for responding with a form e-mail, but doing so enables us to respond quickly so that your work may be submitted elsewhere without delay.
  8. Thank you for the query.  I'm sorry that I do not think that I would be the right agent for the project.
  9. Thanks for your query, Amanda. This looks like a terrific book, but I'm afraid I would not be quite the right fit for it, and so must pass. But you should absolutely keep searching out other agents, as another may well want to grab it.
  10. Dear Amanda--  I’m sorry to say that I’m not confident that I would be able to find a publisher for your book.  Another agent may know just the right editor and I wish you great success.
  11. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to review your work, but it doesn't seem right for our agency at this time. Wishing you success.
  12. Many thanks for writing. You have an interesting and powerful idea for a book, and there's a lot to like about your approach. But in the end I'm afraid that I didn't come away quite fully convinced it was something I'd be able to represent successfully. I'm sorry not to be more enthusiastic but I'm grateful for the chance to review it nonetheless, and best of luck to you in finding it the right home.
  13. Thank you for your query letter.  This isn't quite right for me but thank you for thinking of my agency.  I wish you the best of success!
  14. Thank you for sending us your query. We are unable to ask to see more of your work as we can only review and take on a few new projects each year. We wish you all the best and thank you for thinking of us.
  15. Thank you for your query letter. We've had the chance to review it and, unfortunately, this project is not right for us.  Best of success to you in all your literary endeavors.
  16. Thanks, but we will pass.
  17. Not for us, thanks
  18. Thanks for your query for A Memoir of Hope, and for sending along the sample pages. This is a beautiful story, and my heart goes out to you and your family. I was also impressed by the quality of prose in these pages. With regret, though, I'm afraid that the project is ultimately not the best fit for my list at this point in time. I'm so very sorry I'm not the best agent for it, but thanks again for this opportunity, and all the very best on your road to publication. best, Andrea
  19. Thanks for writing, but I'm afraid I'm concentrating on mystery fiction and wouldn't be the best agent for your work. I'll step aside, then, with best wishes for your finding the right match elsewhere.
  20. Thanks so much for letting me take a look at your material, which I read with great interest. Unfortunately, the project you describe does not suit my list at this time.  I sincerely wish you the best of luck in finding an agent and publisher for your work, and I thank you, once again, for letting me consider your work.
  21. Thank you for thinking of me, but I am not a good fit for this. All my best,
  22. Thanks for your query and kind comments. I am right now (and 'right now' may mean up to a year) not looking to take on new writers or projects.  I mean, if Martin Scorcese approached me to do his memoir or if someone had smoking gun evidence to land the entire ex-Bush administration on Death Row for crimes against humanity, I would leap at the opportunity.  But, for the most part, I have been issuing a stream of rejections. My issue is that I have too large a stock pile of brilliant projects, at least I think they are brilliant, that need good publishing homes.  In the recent ugliness that has become publishing, with books by Olympian Michael Phelps' Mom and a novel by Jersey Shore's Snooki, I find it much harder to sell books by people who can write versus dunderheads with public platforms. I am not nearly so cynical as that last sentence may make me seem.  But - I am a "no."  I wish you well with others.
  23. I'm going to pass but thanks and good luck.
  24. Thanks so much for your query.  Unfortunately, though, I don't believe I'd be the right agent for your work.  I wish you much success.
  25. Thanks for your query.  Unfortunately, I do not feel that I could be the best advocate for your work.  Please keep in mind that mine is a subjective business, and an idea or story to which one agent does not respond may well be met with great enthusiasm by another.  I encourage you to continue writing to agents, and hope you will find someone who will get behind you and your work with the conviction necessary in the current market.
  26. I'm sorry, this isn't a fit for me, but it's an important story and I wish you the best of success in finding a good home for your book.
  27. Thank you for thinking of me with your query for your book.  While this sounds like a strong project, I'm afraid it doesn't strike me as a likely fit with me and my particular editorial contacts.  I wish you well in finding the right agent for your work.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cautious Optimism

As the mother of a child who's nearly died twice and continues to live on with only half a heart and a lot of innovating artificial plumbing, I consider myself a master of cautious optimism.  So, with that sentiment, I am cautious but excited to share that an agent (one of many I've queried and dozens who've rejected my query) finally asked to see more.  Yay, but shhhh . . . this optimism is cautious.

Anyway, please send me good karma! I've sent of the materials and Heaven knows how long this impatient lady is going to have to wait to hear back.  Meantime, for fun, I'll pull up some of my 27 rejection letters for y'all (channeling my forthcoming trip to South Carolina) to peruse.  Many are very kind, most are terse, all are appreciated because many agents don't respond at all, ever.

Eh, well, it's a process and a journey, and Lord knows I've traversed more treacherous terrain over these past eight years.  Eight years on the 30th - that's our D-day, the diagnosis day the world ended and a new one began.  I never get through the 30th without some shadows, but I always find a sliver lining - see cautious optimism.

Friday, December 10, 2010

So excited!

I am so thrilled! I just found out today that Deb and Sue, two amazing ladies and good friends from my days at HP have invited me to share Informed Consent, A Memoir of Hope at their monthly book club in January! So, they're reading my current version right now.  I actually feel this book is complete, but I am curious what the readers think now that it's on edition 64. 

It's more than enough that these ladies are reading my book, but it gets even better because a reporter is going to be at their book club meeting with me to do a story about the club and what they do - they've been meeting for a long time and have a strong bond.

I just feel so fortunate to be included with this group, and I'm so excited to hear what such avid and participatory readers think of my book.  Heck, even if it's bad, it's not published yet so I can use this as a second chance to make things better.

Well, that's my update.  If you are interested in being one more January beta reader, please post a comment below, and I'm happy to send you a copy of the pdf for the new year.

Don't forget, all I want for Christmas is more site traffic, so please tell your friends to visit my blog and help me start some buzz for the book.  With your help, we can get Informed Consent published!  Gosh, if I had had something like that when I was pregnant with Liam eight years ago it would have given me such hope and comfort. 

That's the best part of my book, that it might make another mom or dad be a little less scared and a lift their spirits. Just that one possibility charges me up to make this happen for real.

Heart hugs & happy holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Close Encoutereds of the Third Kind

Yes that misspelling in the title was intentional.  Last night I read an old draft of what I thought might be a good potential query letter for my book and realized that I used the word "encounter" in some form at least three times in the same letter. . . verb abuse!  Sure, encounter is a nice word, but come on, three times in one letter.  Three times in a Scrabble game would be amazing, three times in four paragraphs is very bad.

This was a good lesson to me that putting my writing away for a while before reviewing it again is the right approach.  It also reinforced how much I have to learn and how lucky I am for the Internet.  I'm finding all kinds of good advice out there to improve my writing.  Always room for improvement! 

Back to work!