Friday, January 20, 2017

Believe In Yourself (A non-success Story)

In September I jumped back into the query trenches for the first time in two years. I had previously found a great publisher without an agent and ran with it. I knew I would want an agent eventually but for right now, I didn’t need one.

But a few years later I was ready to try again. I’m ready to try for new avenues, while not closing my previous opportunities—I still plan on publishing with Entangled. I’ve enjoyed my time there, but those opportunities are limited. There are several things that I want to write that they don’t publish.

So I picked up a MG fantasy book that I’ve adored and believed in but put aside for the sake of my YA contemporary career, and decided to query again!

At first, I was hopeful. I loved this book and now I had some publishing experience! In the first two weeks I got a few quick full requests and I was super excited! It was going better than I’d expected!

Then the requests stopped coming.

I was stalled. Months went by with almost nothing new. No requests from new queries. Just… silence. Even the rejections were MIA. I started wondering if the book was ready. If I needed to make more changes. If the best I could hope for was an R&R.

I had a really close call with one agent but a few weeks later it ended in rejection. It stung.

More time went by.

Most of my open queries had passed into “Closed/No response” territory and since another full rejection I received sited market, I figured I was dead in the water. All hope seeped out of me. This beautiful quirky book of mine wouldn’t find an agent.

Funny that, even in my case, where I knew I could have a great career without ever finding an agent, so really, the stakes are lowered—I still felt hopeless.

I stopped trying.

Stopped researching agents. Stopped sending queries.

The only thing I did do was nudge one agent that had had my full for several months. She responded saying my book got “great reader reports” and she was exciting to get to it soon.

Hmmm… that, also sounds promising. At least, in terms that, well, maybe this book *was* good enough.

I then got another full request.

So I sent out a handful more queries. Another request.

I took a good look at my queries and realized that even though my requests were a bit lopsided, with few at first and then none in the middle, my request rate wasn’t so bad!

Maybe, just maybe, I had given up a bit too soon. Maybe things weren’t quite as bad as they seem!

No, this story doesn’t end in an offer of representation. Not yet, anyway.

Instead, this story should show you a few different things. 1) that even published authors, or people who you might think have it all together still struggle—they just don’t always show it. I know many previously agented authors who have gone through very similar experiences.
2) Sometimes we get so worked up about what’s happening *right now* that we missed out on the big picture.

But here’s one more I’d like for you to take from this, something I’m probably still learning myself.

It’s okay if you fail.

Even if I don’t sign an agent with this MG book, I will with another. Some day. The time between sucks. The questions, the doubts, they’ll still be there. But one day, things will fall into place (even if not how you expect).

When that day comes, I’ll be sure to let you know. Whether with this book or my next, or the next.

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