What I’m Up To – Update

What I'm Up To Update

I have finished my collaboration with my editor, and I’ve begun the process of querying again. I will be posting more about editors and what made me decide to go that route and how I chose one.

At the moment I’ve started wading through the Literary Agents, and I forgot just how much work that is. I’ll also be talking about finding agents and what to look for in an agent. I’ve talked about this before, but with all good things, a reminder is a good idea.

I’ve learned a lot this time around, more about query letters and writing a Synopsis. Needless to say, it’s been a long and involved process, and I’m both tired and excited. Oh and very, very, very, very nervous.

This time I have my act together, I’ve had my first 50 pages polished, my synopsis perfected and my query letter hammered out and ready to go. I have my handy dandy spreadsheet ready to keep track, and I’m using Query Tracker as well. I’ve already composed a few queries and bravely hit the send button, so I can now wait. 1 to 8 weeks is the standard.

Well, I have some blogs to write about all the things I’ve done and learned through this process. There are still a few details I need to work on in the manuscript. Exciting times are here for me.

Thank you to all who are following my journey.

-Sheryl

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The Aftermath Of Rejection

Writing a story is an investment. Of time, energy, heart, soul and everything a writer has to offer. We put it all into our work and it’s hard when it doesn’t meet expectations and is rejected.

I’m going, to be honest, it is very hard to be told no, over and over and over again. Every single rejection brings a deflating wave of disappointment down on me. Sometimes I feel fragile and shattered by the mass amount of no’s. The key is to let it go. Move on and forward. I expect rejections and I’m not bitter about it. It does suck no matter how I look at it or feel about it. I just refuse to let it stop me from trying again. When I started this journey I told myself that there was only one outcome, being traditionally published. I plan to do whatever I have to do to get there. I have a fantastic support network of family and friends that believe in me and offer the encouragement needed to get through the vast swamp of no’s.

I’ve talked about this before, but since it’s part of my daily life I’m talking about it again. Only this time what do I do when I’ve been rejected 100%? First, I look at the possible and most likely reasons my Query was declined.

  1. The agent is busy and I suspect didn’t actually read my query
  2. My query letter wasn’t good enough
  3. There’s too much competition (There always will be, I tell myself to get over it)
  4. My synopsis wasn’t gripping enough
  5. My hook wasn’t as hook like as it could be.
  6. The agent isn’t actually open (Even though they say they are)
  7. There are errors that may need addressing (Grammar, structure, flow, etc.)
  8. My story isn’t good enough. (Yes it is. Never believe your story isn’t good- I dismiss this thought as soon as it pops in my head.)
  9. I’m not a good writer. (Again I dismiss this one too. I am and will only succeed if I don’t give in or give up.)
  10. There are too many queries out there to get noticed (This is a numbers game where persistence will pay off)

Regardless of the potential possibilities I must be open to suggestion and set my ego aside. I will go through each and take the time to ask, can it be better? THe answer is yes.

SO what do I do about it?

  1. I buy/read books on query letters, synopsis writing and open my mind to the possibility that I’m not perfect and there is room for improvement. If I’m rejected 100% over 300 times, then something needs tweaking or fixing.
  2. I look at my notes on the agents and agencies before querying again. (This is a big task and I use spreadsheets to keep track)
  3. Professional editing is always an option (unfortunately it’s also expensive so I do my best to work through it myself.)
  4. I set my work aside for a while before looking at it again. Proximity can be blinding. 
  5. I never give up. I know what I want and I’m going to get there. Even when it feels insurmountable, I never stop trying. 
  6. I get others to read my work and ask for honest opinions. Sometimes, ah who am I kidding, all the time, criticism is hard to hear. But if I’m not willing to listen then I’ll never get my end goal of traditional publishing.  This is the hardest to do and I’ve taken some, sulked and over time mulled it over and found solid advice/reasoning and finally use it to move forward.
  7. I talk to others in the same situation and those that have succeeded. Jealousy will get me nowhere, petty thoughts of ‘why did they get published and not me?’ are dangerous and won’t help.
  8. Keep my mind open to possibilities and change

Although I’ve had well over 300 rejections in my last round of queries I know I need to keep at it. I will revise my query letter, synopsis and try again. I’m also in the process of finding out how to better tailor each and every query to better my chances of getting noticed. There is one thing I’m doing that is huge, but I’ll discuss this another time.

My advice about the aftermath of rejection.
The entire process is an emotional battle field. No matter how carefully you plan your attack and defenses there will be a struggle, loss, pain, highs, lows, frustration, and elation, before you win the battle. The only way there is to never stop trying.

-Sheryl

Other related posts.

Keeping Track

Rejected

Tricky Little Non-Rejection

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Bitter
Tailor

Rejected

Rejected again and again and again.  I’m almost at the end of my latest round of queries and alas all rejections.

Being rejected is such a personal thing. It goes right to your soul and chips away instilling doubt and depressive emotions. That’s natural. Nobody likes to be told no or they’re not good enough. However in this industry it’s sadly common to be rejected and struggle to get noticed.

I queried 125 agents on the last go.

41 sent rejection emails. All of them but one was a cookie cutter generic cut and paste insult to my effort.

45 have done nothing whatsoever.

5 are in limbo and still waiting to expire.

Within that 125

42 of them responded with an auto responded to let me know they got the query.

34 of them listed an expiry date and let it expire without any formal rejection. This is the agents way of not bothering at all. There is no way to know if they even read the query letter.

Each agency have their set of rules for querying and within in them each agent has their own requests/requirements/rules.  Basically it is an effort to apply to each agent. When I get nothing or the form rejection it’s a bit insulting and unfair. IMO.

I’m in the process of polishing my new first chapter rewrite and once that’s done and all the queries have expired I plan to try again. Many now famous authors took years to get published so expecting to land a deal right away would be setting myself up for disappointment.

The truth is that literary agents are busy, too busy. Even if they say they are open to queries I’ve found many of them say they are not in their rejection letter. They all say, in one way or another, “not a good fit for me” or “I don’t represent your genre”  All if it’s funny since they specifically say what they are looking for. And yes many of them have ‘assistants’ that preview the query for them and “reject” on their behalf. So I’m not even getting to the actual mystical freaking unicorn agents.

Regardless I’ll keep trying. Giving up isn’t an option and someday BiaAtlas will be published. Since my last round of queries I’ve learned enough to know how to proceed this third time. It’s a lot of work but I know it will be worth it. Some day I know my query will make it past the slush pile and actually read. One of these days I’ll open an email with an acceptance… a request for more information. *Sighs wistfully…*

While all this is going on in the background I’ve started a new book series and have been having some struggles with it that I’ll probably blog about later. For now I head out to work, where I’ll run through plot ideas for my new book as I wait for customers to come in.

My advice about rejection and agents.
They do what they do and well. They are worth the effort getting to. Have a lovely day everyone and remember, giving up is like sending out a “form” rejection letter. You deserve better.

-Sheryl

Other related posts (Judging by this rejection is a hot topic of mine)

Tricky Little Non-Rejection

Keeping Track

The many faces of Rejection

Rejecting the rejected

The rejection letter

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Acceptance

The many faces of Rejection

I hunkered down and put out over 100 agent queries. The odds are I will get a lot of rejection with that much exposure. All it takes is one yes and even if I get 100 rejections I’ll keep trying.

What is interesting about being rejected by Literary agents is the way they do it.

For the majority it’s  a standard form email. A cut and paste that is the same for every rejection they send. Sure it sort of sounds personal because they assure me they read and considered my work seriously.  There’s no way to know for sure one way or the other. I’ve even gotten “Dear author”. This is interesting because the general rule is to not blanket submit, to personalize each submission to the agent you’re querying.

Some, much fewer than most will send a short blurb to tell me no.  The shortest being only three words.  “We’ll pass thanks.” to a nice explanation of why they didn’t like my writing or story. A stab to the heart, but at least I know they read it.

Then there are the no shows. The agents that post an expiry. If after *X* weeks you don’t hear from me consider that a no. The true mystery. Did they read it at all?  Maybe.

Agents are busy, very busy with submissions and queries. I’ve been told over and over to just keep positive and understand that they have something called a slush pile. Where some queries never make it out of and are never even touched because they are overworked.

Rejection letters are like little passive aggressive slaps to the ego. They sound so polite, so nice and even complementary. They often have words of encouragement all the while telling you you’re not good enough for them, but maybe someone else… It’s kind of funny in a weird way. Like they take some positive encouragement, wrap it around the negative message then dip it in a bath of false positivity before shoving it my way.

Here’s and example of a somewhat personal “you suck” letter.

Dear Sheryl –

Thank you for thinking of me in your search for representation. I appreciate you sharing your work with me. However, after taking a closer look I don’t feel that this project is a good fit for my list, so I’m going to have to pass.

Please keep in mind that this is a very subjective business, and mine is only one opinion.

Best Wishes,
~M

Here is an example of one that is a complete cut and paste letter:

Dear Author:

 Thank you for allowing me to consider your work. Unfortunately, this particular project is just not right for me.

 I wish you all the best in your literary endeavors.

 Sincerely,
C

Here’s an example of a cut and paste that has a flair of ‘personal’ to it:

Dear Author,

Thanks so much for letting us take a look at your materials, and please forgive me for responding with a formletter.  The volume of submissions we receive, however, makes it impossible to correspond with everyone personally.

Unfortunately, the project you describe does not suit our list at this time.  We wish you the best of luck in finding an agent and publisher for your work, and we thank you, once again, for letting us consider your materials.

Sincerely,
D

And last but not least the fancy one that sounds personalized but is not likely: (Notice the lack of any address, no dear…) Oh and they are too busy…

Thanks for your interest in our agency.  Unfortunately you’ve caught me at a time when the demands of my current clients leave me with very little time to devote to exploring new talent and unfortunately in this case I have to pass on the opportunity to pursue this.  I am being extremely picky so please seek many opinions since my decision may have little to do with the salability of your work.

Sincerely,
R

With many of the responses I can see that even if an agent is listed as open, they may not be. I’ve had a few letters say they are too busy to take on more projects. Or perhaps they just aren’t a fit for my work. That makes sense, not everyone likes every style of writing. The bottom line is this process will either make or break me as a writer. I’ll either take it personally and run for the hills or I’ll keep slogging on and pushing forward through the stacks of no’s until I find that glorious endangered species of a yes.

I think I’ll take the hard road, and keep searching for the yes for as long as I have to.

My advice about being rejected over and over.
It’s a numbers game that requires persistence and the toughening of skin. It’s by no means easy to be pummeled with so many no’s daily. i think a line from one of my favorite movie(Galaxy Quest) is in order here.  “Never give up, never surrender!”

-Sheryl

Other rejection posts

The rejection letter

Rejecting the rejected

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Overworked
Exposure

Rejecting the rejected

BiaAtlas book update.

Well it has been 23 days since I started submitting my book to Literary Agents for representation. I got my first rejection letter from this round.  I am expecting them, after all not all agents are a good fit or are interested specifically in my genre (Even though they say they are).

A rejection letter isn’t the end of the world, I’ve talked about them before in the rejection letter.  I have to say I appreciate that they even sent one. Some agencies say ‘if you don’t hear from us within 8 weeks consider your query rejected’ or something along those lines.

Being rejected by someone or for something is a common part of our lives. Some people handle it like champs and move on while others on the other end of the spectrum dive into depression and struggle to overcome the hurdle. It also depends on how important the outcome would be and what the expectations were. How did I set myself up? To be hugely disappointed or go in knowing rejection is possible.

When and if I include rejection in my stories it’s not something I give too much though to. Why? Because I just didn’t think of it as important. Now I do. That is because it can, like so many other things I prattle on about, be pivotal to a story or character development.

So I’m going to write a fun part-chapter about rejection today.

Sasha meets Cal:

Sasha watched the handsome man approach, his dark brown eyes sparkled with interest. Anne and Valery ditched the moment they figured out he was interested in Sasha. Always interfering they giggled and snickered their way to a table to watch. He was tall, it didn’t take much to overshadow Sasha, but his height was coupled by a thick chest and broad shoulders. She did not want to be here, she did not want to be hit on, not tonight. She cast her tittering friends a death-glare as the man stopped and smiled down at her.

“I’m Cal.” He held his hand out.

Odd, this tall and impressive man didn’t employ the ancient tradition of weird pick up lines or cheesy invitations to buy her a drink.  He had a day’s growth of dark beard hair on his strong square jaw. Her inclination to touch his cheek brought a frown to her lips as she shook his hand instead. He was dangerous and far too attractive. Time to shut this down.

“Sasha.” She pulled her hand from his, picked up the lime daiquiri the bartender just set down.

“Nice to meet you Sasha.” Cal’s charming slanted smile made her palms sweat. “Christian Louboutin’s?” He gestured at her feet.

“Ah, yes?”

“You’ve been to New York?”

“No. I know how to shop on line like most humans.” She had lucked out and got them 75% off and a few others. Her size wasn’t standard so they sometimes had old stock. That they were last season or whatever they were labelled as didn’t matter one bit.  It is important for her to dress to impress for work and party. At home, she was jeans and a t-shirt kinda woman. Her suits and expensive shoes helped her land the bigger clients so she indulged on the designers discounts.

“You don’t look happy to be here Sasha.”

Again, no awkward pick up line.

“I’m not.” She dug deep to find her inner bitch. The sooner she got away from him the better. She would talk to one more guy as per the agreement with Valery and Anne, order them two more shooters each and leave as soon as they were drunk enough. “And this is not making it any better.”

“The gross frozen drink or my talking to you?” Cal tilted his head slightly.

“Both.” She glanced over at her friends who both gave her double thumb up as they sipped their daiquiris. She looked back at Cal who had followed her line of sight.

“Let me guess you’d rather be at home curled up on the couch watching a rom-com dousing your woes with a bottle of…” He smiled slightly and tapped his chin. “I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Norman Hardie Pinot Noir.”

Her mouth fell open, it was her favorite, and if she wasn’t drinking tequila shooters she would have had a glass or two.

“I’m not clairvoyant. You’ve glanced at the bottle behind the bar three times.”

“Oh.”

His unexpected charm was disarming.

“You’re planning on getting them drunk enough to ditch them aren’t you.” He smiled and tipped his glass toward her two friends.

“How could you know that?”

“Because Sasha you’ve been one to their three on drinks, you keep looking behind me at the exit and correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re about to tell me to get lost.”

Sasha took a deep breath and huffed. “I have to talk to you for at least five more minutes.”

He leaned closer. “Hmm. To get them off your back?” The scent of cologne wafted to her nose. The luscious blend of floral, spice and masculinity was subtle and not overpowering. If Sasha wasn’t so royally unhappy right now she might have considered being nicer to the very alluring man. Of all the nights he picked this one to stroll over all sexy, nice and talk to her. Not ‘how ‘bout that rain yesterday?’ or ‘what brings you to Starches?’ Real conversation was hard to come by.

“Well then I have four and a half more minutes. What do you do for a living?”

“Graphic design.” She dropped her eyes from his face and saw Anne leave to dance with a guy she’s flirted with since they arrived. Valery shrugged and mouthed ‘your turn’.

Rolling her eyes Sasha looked back at Cal. He would be an easy target for her built up anger, resentment and underlying sadness.

“Let me save you the trouble of the crap questions Cal. I’m a Virgo, I don’t have pets, I love my job, I don’t like dancing, terrible pick-up lines or small talk. I don’t like pushy men, or the bars they prowl in. I don’t care what you do, or who you are, what you do or do not like whatsoever. Since you voluntarily strolled over, I’m using you to fulfill a promise that I would “try”. I don’t date, ever, and before you ask, I’m not interested in women either.” She looked at her watch turned to the bartender and ordered six tequila shooters.

“Well at least you love your job.” He chuckled. “How ‘bout Piña coladas? Or getting caught in the rain?”

Her lips curled up slightly, he was trying to cheer her up and he was listening. Then the reality of the song hit her as she recalled the lyrics.

“I am into yoga and I have more than half a brain. I don’t appreciate cheaters or those that plan to cheat. I’ll say it again.” She looked at her watch before glancing at Valery as she finished her drink. “I don’t date, ever. Thanks for talking to me, but you can go now. Find some other woman to charm to bed I’m not interested.”

“You sure I can’t persuade you to talk more or maybe dance?”

“No you can’t.” She shook her head, picked up the six shots on the small tray with lemon wedges and salt and walked away to Valery.

Sasha has her reasons for rejecting Cal, this is her personal torment to overcome. I look at how rejection affected myself or others I know. It can be a wealth spring of opportunity to create conflict within a characters personal life. It can inspire struggle to overcome or depression and even anger. It can bring out the inner strength and determination they didn’t know they had.

My advice about rejection.
We can’t say yes to everything, even a simple no is a rejection. Use rejection to push a character forward or down. Or to showcase an inner struggle such as Sasha’s.

-Sheryl

Related posts

The rejection letter

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Ancient

The rejection letter

A few months ago, before I had any idea what to do, I sent out some queries to Literary Agents. At the time I was more curious to see what would happen. I did not expect anything from this.

The consensus regarding submissions is that it takes 8-10 weeks for a Literary Agent to accept or reject you. If they are interested they contact you, if not you don’t hear back. You can’t contact them after submitting a query.

Some of them sent an auto responder email to let me know they received my query and would get to it at their “earliest convenience”. A few even gave an exact timeline.

Four weeks in and nothing. No surprise, my query letter was a joke and my synopsis lacked flow. Not to mention my work was still riddled with those pesky little filter words. Week 7 however yielded a response.

I got a rejection letter. I was so excited. Yes excited. It didn’t bother me in the least that I was just rejected, I deserved to be for being so ill prepared. The letter was what I presume, a standard cut and paste rejection. There was nothing personal in it whatsoever. What was written made me laugh. Here it is.

Thank you for submitting your query and giving me the opportunity to consider your work.  Unfortunately, in today’s increasingly tough publishing market, I cannot offer you the support that you need for your project.  

Though my limited time precludes me from recommending other specific agents, a good place to start would be the Association of Authors’ Representatives website.

Please do not allow this letter to discourage you.  Many best-sellers have been passed on numerous times prior to being successfully published. 

I wish you the best of luck finding an enthusiastic agent and publisher for your book.

Sincerely,

Yes, it is true many bestsellers have been passed on; this is why I didn’t even entertain disappointment. The last bit made me chuckle. I wonder, do they realize they just suggested they are not an enthusiastic agent?  They did to me. They can’t offer the support needed or enthusiasm. I understand they get hundreds of applications a day (Or so I hear) so I didn’t take the cut and paste personally either.  I also didn’t go into this expecting anything. So an actual rejection is something.

Overall, it was a kind letter with encouraging words. The next time I submit queries to Literary Agents (Hopefully that will be soon) my expectations will be higher, much higher. Those rejections had better be personalized.  😉

My advice about rejections.
You will get them, what you do with it is what matters. Take it in stride don’t let it drag you down or toss you into the pit of doubt and surrender. Learn from it if you can. Easier said than done, I know.  Oh and it’s probably a good idea to wait until you are actually prepared and ready before trying. Unless like me, you do it for curiosities sake.

-Sheryl

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved