Archive for the ‘Suzie Townsend’ Category

In the writing process, most specifically the querying process, writers’ self-doubt is at an all time high.  After you’ve given all you can into a project that has consumed your life for the last 6 months to 6 years, you now put it out there for the world to judge.  So what ends up happening when rejected?  Some people get angry.  Some people take to the internet.  And some people go after the people who rejected them — agents.

Most do not do this literally.  Although in 2012 there was some crazy asshole who did do this literally and trended on Twitter.  Some rejected writers take to their blogs, twitter statuses, and random comment sections to rail against the agents who rejected them.  I never understand this.  Even as a person who has received rejection, I really don’t get hating the messenger.  Yeah, it sucks.  Sure.  Get a grip and go back to work.  Shit, if it were that easy, wouldn’t everyone write a book?  And then how special would you feel when you did it?  It’s like the Looper movie all over again.  (Okay, I know that’s a stretch.  I just saw it and it’s on my mind.  Oh, that terrible scene with the limbs haunts me.)

To combat this unjustified hate, I spread rational love with royal icing.  New Leaf Literary is an agency of very generous people.  They dispense advice through their Tumblr, chat it up on Twitter, and provide encouragement through their WriteOnCon keynote speech.  Do they have to do this?  No.  Does it take time to do this?  Tons, I’m sure.  Then why would they do this?  To help those writers out there still receiving rejections.  Hey that’s you fucko who’s about to write some scathing comment about how they’re ruining publishing with gatekeeping.

Here’s to you New Leaf Literary for being awesome.  Thank you for taking the time to help us all.  Even the fuckos.  It’s appreciated by many.

new leaf_finale

Author’s note:  No, the cookies aren’t a bribe.  No, I did not send them with my query.  No, they aren’t a gimmick to go with my current WIP.  They are only a genuine thank you.

Author’s note #2:  I fought every urge in my body to title this post with a cliché.  Out of respect for the pretty cool people the blog post is about, I silenced all my witty one liners.  Seriously though, if they were witty, they would’ve made the title.


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Everyone knows about my awesome experience with Super-Agent Assistant, Meredith Barnes.  I’ve called back to it many times and stopped every stranger in town to give play by plays.  What also came from the Skype chat was an awesome follow-up e-mail from Meredith’s co-worker and Young Adult Agent, Suzie Townsend.  Ms. Townsend was at the top of my dream agent list even before my awesome experience with the great ladies of Fine Lit Print.  I did cartwheels after hearing from her directly.  (Okay, let’s get serious, there is no way in hell I did a cartwheel, but if I was nine years old and skinny I sure would have.)  However, I did consider wallpapering my work cubicle with it.  Don’t fear; it’s still covered in concert posters and kid art.

But with the excitement comes the pressure.  Now that I have the awesome opportunity of Ms. Townsend remembering my name, I better bring some killer product to go along with it.  So I took a deep look from the vague information I got back from my beta readers on my WIP.  Even though they’ve received countless lectures about “being brutal for my own good,” I continue to get niceties.  Don’t get me wrong, I love them.  They help with my insecurity of wondering if I have a good story.  But I want the best story. 

Here are three pieces of feedback from unlikely sources.  My seventy-eight year old father-in-law said the writing was good but “it will never sell.”  Although I will use this comment to torture him on a regular basis, I had to look for the merit in it.  He said my writing has improved, but it’s too dramatic.  Others said to ignore his opinion because what does he know about Young Adult?  There may be some truth in that, but it doesn’t make his point invalid.  Second was a twelve-year-old boy who read the first page.  He said, “I wasn’t riveted.”  He used this word because his mother taught it to him the few minutes before.  Again, not my target audience, but kept under advisement.  Third, was the boy’s mother who said she skimmed over A story to get to B story.  This prompted me to re-evaluate the tension of A story.  All this action has been over the last two months and I’m starting to worry about…well, about everything.  I’m questioning changes; wondering if the original was better.  Does it really matter?  What if they laugh at my query and shudder at the sample pages?  What if I embarrass myself?

Then I read this blog.  What a perspective check.  She did a great job describing my reaction in the third paragraph although I didn’t get a request for the full.  I really want to impress.  I really want people (especially agents) to like the story and writing.  But I have to get my best piece of work on their desk first.  I’m taking the advice–I’m going to be brave, cut the delay, and hit the send button soon.

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Recently, there have been some posts on my regularly visited blogs (Tawna Fenske and dammit, I can’t remember the other) about how “not to” deal with rejection.  The sentiment was not to whine in public view when it happens to you.  (And yes, of course, it’s going to happen to you.  Although you may view your writing as indestructible as Superman, you’ll quickly discover rejection kryptonite leaves a mark.)  This got me thinking about when I started this process two years ago and the rejections which started rolling in after six months.  Did I handle it like a mature writer who knows it’s part of the process or did I whine and cry like a little baby?

Admittedly, I was a baby.

But aren’t we all when we start the process?  We write a novel with wide-eyed hope of seeing our name splashed across a hard back cover in some fancy font and sitting on the main display table of Barnes and Noble.  At that point we’re basking in the success of having a 70,000 word completed piece of work.  There were times it was a question if we’d even get that far.  But, we haven’t done any research, asked any questions, or done any hard work to find out about the business except for writing the damn thing.  (Which you soon realize is just the first step.)  If you have any questions if writing is for you, check out this blog.

Now, I know I went out to query waaaaay too early with my first book.  I did some research to find out I needed a query letter to get an agent and an agent to get a book deal.  I read through a few query examples on “Absolute Write” and composed a letter following the rules.  All I needed was for an agent to give me a chance.  Another naive thought from a writing adolescent.  The letters were sent with feverish pace to every agent I could find in one of those thick agent books.  

I got a couple partials and one full manuscript request from an evolving query letter.  The rejections from agents who had given my book a chance stung more than the generic mass mailing of “This isn’t for us…Good luck.”  But, I must admit my favorite rejection was my own typed letter back with a big “NO” written in pen across the front.  And while at the time I thought I was right to rant and rave about the process, I know now I was going through the teenage rebellion of my writing lifecycle.

The first mature thing I did in my young adulthood was shelf my first novel.  It was painful because I loved those characters and wrote a sequel to the first.  (Another rookie move.)  I hope one day when I am more mature, I’ll write them in the novel they deserve.  I submerged myself in the writing world by reading books on structure, following agent and author blogs, and understanding other parts of the business.  One example, is following my favorite agents’ reading chocies, writing preferences and clients’ books.  Right now it may look like I’m stalking Suzie Townsend’s reading list, but I’m doing my homework.  I’ve learned so much in the last year about the process that I won’t sabotage my latest work by being impatient or ill-informed. 

So how old am I?  A woman never tells.  Honestly, I’m not quite sure.  I’ve grown a lot and I can see the rejections for what they are…feedback.  (Okay, maybe I’m not that mature yet.)  I won’t brag I have a thick skin because I don’t.  I doubt I ever will.  It hurts when your piece is rejected, but isn’t it supposed to?  If it didn’t, I’d wonder how much passion I had for it in the first place.  But, does it mean I’ll fall on the ground in a fist-pounding, leg-kicking tantrum?  No, I can safely say I’ve outgrown that.

What about you?  How do you deal with rejection?  What stage are you in of your writing life?

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