Category Archives: Set Backs

Personalized Rejection Letters

I love it when an agent actually writes you a letter saying why a project didn’t work for them. It’s considerate, sometimes helpful, and more encouraging than a cookie-cutter rejection letter.

It still hurts though.

I’ve been waiting for six weeks to hear from the one agent who liked my #Pitmad tweet in December. This weekend I’ve been gearing up to actually start querying again, and then I opened my email to see her letter. She mentioned my main character by name and that she liked the tone, but the sample chapters were “too expected” and she didn’t feel compelled to read more.

I appreciated the time she took to highlight what she liked about the MS, although in some sense it hurt more when she didn’t want to give it a chance and read beyond chapter 3. Rejection is a huge part of the writing process, but it sucks. I can see why people give up sometimes or lose faith that their book will ever leave their computer. For me, I don’t want to give up writing, but it makes it hard to continue on with the same project. I think, “Maybe this other novel will be better, I should work on that one instead and forget about this one.” It’s true another MS may be stronger, but that doesn’t mean the one I’m querying now isn’t good, but why aren’t agents liking it when my critique groups have enjoyed it, but did the changes I add hurt the story, but what if I haven’t changed enough…ok I’ll stop now.

This whole process keeps me second-guessing everything I’ve put into my novel and now I’m procrastinating querying again, even though I’ve put months of revisions into the MS and re-written the query and synopsis multiple times. There is never “the perfect” time to query, and while the logic part of my brain knows that, the emotional part of my brain is afraid of getting another 50 rejection letters. The timing of this latest (although sweet) rejection letter is not helping.

If anyone has read King’s “On Writing” you will know he had a nail over his bed as a kid where he kept his rejection letters. That hanging reminder helped him move forward. I need to see past the rejections and keep going forward with this book, and then when my other MSs are ready, query them as well. Another book may be published before this one, but for now, I know this one is complete. There is no such thing as a perfect MS (we’ve all read published books we hated or with the occasional bad chapter) so why not keep going?

I’m also hoping if I say this over and over it will make it easier…not sure if it’s working yet!

Today I may not query, but my goal is to send out a couple emails this week. Today I will go through the first 15 pages and triple-check for grammar errors and probably fuss with some wording or something. I’ll review my query and synopsis again and see if I need to fuss with those too.

Keep going, don’t fall off the metaphorical horse, and seek solace in your family, friends, and critique partners.

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Filed under agent search, anxiety, Editing, query, Rejection, second guessing, Set Backs, struggling, Uncategorized, writing

Excuses, Tendonitis, and Writer’s Guilt

I should not be writing this right now.

I’m having a tendonitis flare up in my thumbs and elbows, and of course, the best course of action for this is to rest. This will likely be one of the few or only things I write for the next couple days so that I can recover and have the hand strength to write for longer stretches.

I’m a nanny to an infant, and everything that comes with taking care of him are things I should not be doing: lifting, holding, buttoning outfits, feeding him a bottle, etc. It’s physically impossible to rest an elbow! (Honestly, if you know how to rest an ELBOW tell me!) Hands I have dealt with before from clarinet-related injuries, but elbows are a whole different ball game. Of course, typing also aggravates everything too based on how I rest my arms and the small, repetitive motions.

The irony: I want to write.

When I felt fine and was able to type, I procrastinated, as we all do. The internet is a hotbed of distractions, so my writing would come in short, productive bursts. I’ve come to terms that I’m not the kind of person who can sit and write for hours at a time. If inspired, sure, I can have a good 45-60 minutes of solid writing. In general, those writing bursts are shorter, even on the rare days when the baby actually naps longer than half and hour.

Of course, now that typing is the forbidden fruit, I want it. So badly. I want to open up my WIP and go to town on them! Instead, I’m wrapping my elbow in an electric heating pad, taking 5 minutes to write this post, and resting until the baby wakes up. The writer’s guilt is so real right now. I want to give my projects the attention they deserve, and although I have a real reason to take a break, I still feel irritated and sad that I can’t do anything. I have to stay healthy enough to do my job, and I also want to be on top of this before I can’t do things. I’m luckily at a point of discomfort and not at the point where it’s severe. (The goal is to avoid weeks of occupational therapy!)

So to those of you with healthy joints this week: enjoy them. Lift things to your heart’s content, write, and scroll through Facebook for hours. Be careful and be aware of your posture and how much time you use your thumbs though (#smartphone), because this can sneak up on you.

Those of you with soreness these days: I feel you. Take breaks, try not to feel guilty about not writing. I understand that frustration since this is not the first time I’ve had to take a break from writing or practicing music I love. Find creative ways to remember your ideas and mull over some projects that maybe have had a little too much TLC recently.

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Filed under pain, Set Backs, tendonitis, Uncategorized, writer's guilt, writing

Contract Offer…Yay?

Today I received my very first contract from a publisher! Woo Hoo!!!

Stop. Read. Think. Re-read. Research.

I am new to contracts, so even though I may not be clear on every detail of the contract, I know to take a step back, understand what I can, and research the rest. The contract came from Black Rose Writing (BRW), and unfortunately their reputation does not make me optimistic. Most of the articles I found online are at least 5-8 years old, so the publisher has changed since then. However, it’s unsettling to read the unsavory reviews of a publisher who sent a contract.

They are not asking for money upfront, insisting I buy X number of books (as they once did), but I’m still hesitant. I’ve reached out to an author published through them to get an author’s experience of the publisher today. I’ve also reached out to SCBWI, my friend who writes and reviews contracts, and other authors in my critique groups for advice. It’s tempting to say “I did it” and sign away, although if BRW is a vanity publisher it’s about as exciting as getting a participation trophy at a sports event.

ABOVE WRITTEN FEB 14

Today I have heard back from several trusted people about BRW. Most people I have talked to are also skeptical and want to know more. This uneasy response has confirmed that I will not be choosing BRW as my  publisher.

The joy of getting a contract has worn off and disappointment has settled in, but I am glad for it. It’s important to do the research and tap into resources. I talked to a librarian today and she knew of another indie publisher in IL that is small but produces quality work. I will check them out. As a new author, using a small publishing house is a great way to get published and start the process of getting known. BRW, however, boarders the line of vanity press and requires the author to do most of the marketing. At least that is the vibe I get from the contract and website.

For those of you new to publishing who are afraid of getting targeted by vanity publishers, here are some things to look out for:

  1. A reputable publisher WILL NOT ask you to pay money upfront. If someone offers you a contract and requires you to pay a fee, buy a certain number of books, or pay for marketing services: run.
  2. Weird typos. Publishers like words and order and professionalism. Having a stupid typo in a contract is a scary sign. BRW had two: 31 of February, and Witnesseth.
  3. If you contact the press and they can’t say anything specific about why they chose you, it probably means they didn’t read the MS. You want someone who loves your work, not your wallet.
  4. Vanity and Subsidy press is the same thing. Both will prey on authors and try to get money from them. A publisher is supposed to support YOU, not the other way around.
  5. More info about staying safe and informed below.

RESOURCES

  1. http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/vanity/
  2. http://theworldsgreatestbook.com/self-publishing-vanity-publishing/

If you have experience with author contracts, what to look for, and how to stay informed, please comment below. I too have a lot to learn, and sharing helpful information unites us as a writing community.

 

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Filed under agent search, contract, query, questions, Set Backs, subsidy press, vanity press, writing

Got my Hopes Up

Last week I got a manuscript request from an agent. After collection 15 rejection letters I was over the moon excited, but I knew it wasn’t an offer. I sent along The King’s School and all week I’ve been resisting checking my email every 5 minutes.

Today I heard back from him………….

It was a no. 😦

My heart sank and I’m upset, but not crying-and-throwing-my-computer-through-a-window upset. I sent him a thank you email and asked if there’s anything he could suggest to improve my writing. I don’t know if he’ll get back to me, but I gave it a shot. He said my MS has “a lot to appreciate here” but he’s not convinced he can advocate for me. I at least got a personalized rejection which is more comforting than an elaborate, cookie cutter “NO” from someone.

Oh well. There was a glimmer of hope though! My query worked with someone and my MS caught someone’s eye. Now I need to find someone to fall in love with it. I will keep going, even if I have to exhaust all 75 people on my agent list.

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Filed under query, Set Backs, writing

Cover Set Backs

I recently found out that my cover artist is unable to finish the project. I’m really bummed out, but the circumstances were understandable.

On the flip side I think I have found an artist. She designs and formats book covers professionally. She has pre-made covers for sale as well as the opportunity for custom covers. I really like her pre-made covers, but they do not fit the tone of my book. I will go for the custom cover. It’s more expensive, but it will be nice that it was made especially for my book. She can also design bookmarks and banners for minimal cost.

I will have to wait about a month for the cover to be complete, but at least I have enough work to do with the MS to keep me busy!

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Filed under Self-Publishing, Set Backs