Friday, July 25, 2008

Like Shoes

Wow, thanks for the birthday greetings, everyone! Littlest had a blast, and it was a great and blessed evening.

And thanks for enjoying the brownies with me. *burp* Oh! Excuse me.

***

I had kind of suspected, and have decided for sure, that finding the right agent is like finding the right pair of shoes: If it's gonna work out, it's gotta be the right fit. Another rejection tells me I haven't yet found my match. But I know I can't get upset over just one. Many more possibilities, just like in the seemingly-endless shoe department at my favorite store, are waiting to be approached. Maybe tried on for size.

Yesterday my thoughts wandered to those people you hear about (I know they're out there) who get partial request after partial request from agents. What does it mean, exactly? Obviously, they've done something right with their query letter. They've pitched their book just so, had that necessary hook, grabbing the attention of one professional after another. But I have to ask, how often does the manuscript (ms) live up to the expectation? What if the writer has sailed through the query stage because short, summarizing blurbs are their specialty, but when it comes to the full length of their novel, they've failed? On average, how many agents give time to those books seeming so promising, but so quickly kick it out the door because it just wasn't good enough?

I'm not judging, by the way. Just curious.

Conversely, how often is it that a query gets little or no attention, regardless of the story that lies behind it? What if it's a diamond in the rough, to use the old cliche? The diamond is the ms; the rough is the query.

My book is good. I know it is. (And if saying that makes me sound presumptious, then presume I'll have to do.) So is it that my query's bad? Am I one whose query just doesn't cut it, so no agent gets far enough to see what qualities my ms may hold? If so, I need to reassess. My friend, Wendy, who also lives this writing life, suggested I post my query on AW (the writers' forum site) for critiques. As much as I've avoided it before (though I did get feedback from 5 fellow writers whose thoughts I value, including Wendy herself), it may be time. If I'm missing that one crucial element (or dozens) and have included a no-no (or dozens), I really should correct it all.

As for the most recent rejection, received day-before-yesterday from the agent's assistant, it was generic. "Dear Author... Thanks for ... the opportunity... not the right agents for your work..." EXCEPT THAT "...we wish you success with your work... keep writing... [and] we strongly urge you to keep submitting elsewhere, as you might already have a bestseller in your hands." (bolding is mine for empasis)

What?! Oh my holy canoli. Did you read that like I did?

Okay. I know that, given the generic nature of the rest of the e-mail, it's not a statement I should plan my world around. It could simply be their way of boosting a writer's - any coherent writer's, for that matter - morale and esteem. But then again, why would they say such a thing? Create false hope? And they wouldn't do that with every Jane (or Janna, as it were) who comes a long. Would they?

Either way, I'll take it for what it may be worth. I'll hold on to that little glimmer and keep searching. 'Cuz someday I'll find the perfect pair of shoes. Er, agent.

8 rejections; 9 out

12 comments:

Melanie Avila said...

I can see that comment going both ways. It sounds like a generic letter, but why would they make the best-seller comment at the end? To torture people? Ugh.

You sound more optimistic, the brownies must have helped. :) Keep your chin up, your shoes are out there.

Joanne said...

Hi Janna, The query letter can be a work-in-progress! I've found the short, one-page, concise letters get the most response. Those dreaded rejections can teach you a lot, I've revamped my query as I went along. Just keep shining that letter and sending it out, all it takes is one. And thanks for adding me to your blog. I've put you on mine as well, so hey there, neighbor!

WendyCinNYC said...

I think that if you are not getting nibbles with your query, it might be time to take a look at it again. You wouldn't want the right agent to pass just because something about your query didn't hit her in the right way. Then your novel never even gets a chance. The people who frequent the AW Query Hell forum are a brutal bunch, but they seem to have some very, very good suggestions and will keep giving comments until it's perfect.

I haven't posted mine there yet, but I do plan to.

Janna Qualman said...

Thanks for the advice, ladies. I did strike up enough nerve to post my query for critique and, though I haven't looked in a few ours (doing that next), some good feedback came in. I haven't had much time to devote to my query yet, but I've already made some exciting changes!

Janna Qualman said...

Pfft. 'Ours' is supposed to have been 'hours'. Can you tell my mind is still somewhere else? :P

Janna Qualman said...

And I meant I hadn't had much time to devote to my query since I posted it for feedback. *deep breath* I think that's all...

Michele said...

Aw.... *hugs*

Janna, I think the best thing we writers can do is just keep digging deeper for more patience. It seems we spend our lives waiting, eh? It is usually always worth it, one way or another. Either we hear good news, receive an awesome rejection letter (yes, I just wrote that!), or learn how to improve and work harder to achieve our goals.

I can't wait to see your book on shelves! Hold on to that thought!

*smiles and hugs*
Michele

Janna Qualman said...

You rock, Michele. Thanks!

Joshua said...

hang in there cuz!

colbymarshall said...

So, that sounds like what my issue has been in the past: I had a query that rocked agents' socks off and I got literally almost 25 requests. None panned out, though, because the book had some problems. But now, my query letter isn't as amazing, but I feel like the book behind it is. I've gotten requests off the new one. Not as many, but enough to feel there's interest there.

Janna Qualman said...

Fantastic for you, Colby! To know there's interest must be a rewarding, reassuring thing. Good luck to you!

I think this is a big part of what we have to do: Find our weakness, tweak and spruce it up, and go for it. Bah!

Janna Qualman said...
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