Processing the process

30 09 2010

Weather: High: 71º & partly sunny. Heading into Fall with lovely chilly temps to follow.

I’ve been lax in my blogging, but I have a viable excuse.

I’ve started the submission process. Of course I’m tentatively sending out queries to agents first, parceling them out at a snail’s pace.

It’s kind of grueling and exhausting and nerve-wracking and, to be bluntly honest, I keep having to stifle the urge to abandon my efforts and run screaming.

It’s not that agents & editors are mean people  and I expect them to return my newbie efforts with a slap and a scornful statement of derision. It’s that I have researched and read advice and done everything I can to fit my queries to the requested formats…and I’m terrified that with one badly turned sentence, I may have shot my chances of getting published. It’s the self-flagellating perfectionist in me that keeps making my chest tighten when I hit the send button.  It’s still too early in the process to know whether I have done well or badly. It will be a few weeks before I get a rejection or, ::crosses fingers:: a request for a partial or, heaven hopes, a full MS.

But this is the process. I have it on good account from others far more well versed in publishing that it never really gets any easier.

It leads to second guessing your story. And wondering if you were a fool to pick up the pen in the first place. I read horror stories from various agents and publishers about receiving queries from people with egos & arrogance that would make Narcissus blush.  At least in this situation, I am spared.

We’ll see. Hopefully my stories will find a home.

Of course, I’ve now headed into that scariest of second phases: My next book. Book One (When the Lights Go Down) is really the first book of a Trilogy. I have the second book well under way, though it’s not coming along as easily as the first one. And the third book, well…it’s been outlined.

On the non-writing front, Brian and I are still struggling to get our house ready for sale and get ourselves moved to Seattle. Considering the time of year, we are now having to move our plans to next year.  (Trying to drive through the Cascades in winter in a Jetta? Yeah, Donner Party comes to mind.) We’re trying to paint the situation as more time to get things done, but we’re understandably dispirited. Still, nothing’s a done deal until we’re 6 feet under, so still we keep moving forward.

Speaking of the husbeast. He had finished a number of stained glass pieces. You can visit his website and I’ll give a heads up when the pieces are available for sale. It should be any day now.

And that’s the news that fit to print. I’ll be blogging more frequently now that I’ve jumped into the publishing process with both feet. Let’s hope I have some good news to report soon.

My earworm for the week:
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) by My Chemical Romance

CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS ALBUM!

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2 responses

30 09 2010
Allyn

I’m terrified that with one badly turned sentence, I may have shot my chances of getting published. It’s the self-flagellating perfectionist in me that keeps making my chest tighten when I hit the send button.

Last weekend I wrote a query letter; I’d decided, simply on the basis of “Would it be cool to write…?”, that I would at least try and crack this one particular magazine market. I knew the article I wanted to write, I had a pretty good idea of what I would say, but how to pitch it to an editor who didn’t know me?

The first paragraph of the query letter, as I typed it, was awful. There’s no getting around that. It’s simply fact. I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t know how to explain to this editor, whom I’ve never met, who I was, why he should listen to me, and, ultimately, why he should buy a story from me. I genuinely thought, two sentences in, that this simply wasn’t going to work, and why was I wasting my time, to say nothing of faceless editor’s time, on this fool’s errand?

The second paragraph, though.

The words just flowed. “Your magazine has done this, and I’ve no doubt that you’ll probably follow it with that and it will be fantastic, but just imagine this and how neat and unique it could be!” (Not an exact sentence, but something of the flavor or the underlying thought.) The third and closing paragraph? It read like magic.

I needed to get through the bad words, though, to get to the good words at the end. I didn’t need the opening to be perfect, I didn’t even need it to be good, I just needed it to be enough to get the creative wheels turning, and once they were spinning and the motors were purring, I could go back and chop those bad words, those awful words, those “why did you ever think you could sit down at a keyboard and write” words to holy hell.

And I did.

I don’t know if my query letter will get me in the door. I hope so.

Now it’s just a matter of waiting.

It’s still too early in the process to know whether I have done well or badly. It will be a few weeks before I get a rejection or, ::crosses fingers:: a request for a partial or, heaven hopes, a full MS.

I always find the waiting strange. It comes, I think, from the fact that in the day job everything I write sees print within a month. I write it, a month later it is in my hands and I can read it.

I’m now two weeks on a book pitch, and it boggles my mind that I’ve yet to hear anything. It seems strange.

Or maybe it’s three weeks. Either way, it’s longer than I’m used to waiting. 🙂

I read horror stories from various agents and publishers about receiving queries from people with egos & arrogance that would make Narcissus blush.

I used to read query letters all the time. They were called cover letters, though, and they came attached not to short stories or manuscripts or pitches but to resumes. The letters served the same purpose — interesting a stranger in making a sale.

I read cover letters that made me weep for humanity. I read cover letters that made me question the sanity of the person who sent me the resume. I read cover letters that displayed no grasp of even basic social skills. The overwhelming majority went in a file where I would never, ever have to look at them again.

The ones that made it through, however, all had something in common.

They assumed the sale was made.

They weren’t forceful about it. They weren’t wishy-washy, no “I hope to talk with you about the position.” They were direct — “I look forward to discussing the position” or “I look forward to sharing my ideas with you.” The close was confident, it assumed the applicant was already a part of the team.

I try and write my query letters the same way to convey a sense of “You’re going to love this story, because you’ve already bought it.” No ego, no arrogance. Just a statement of fact. 🙂

30 09 2010
Heidi Ellis

I’m sitting here nodding at everything you’ve said.

Right now the waiting is being staved off as I wrestle with the follow up novel, and I’m managing not to break my Ctrl-R keystrokes refreshing my e-mail awaiting a response.

My queries got better as I re-wrote them. I think I had a good 10-11 AWFUL ones before I got the wording to sound not clunky and stiff.

Here’s hoping we both get positive answers back.

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