Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thursday's Children 12/13/12

This week's Inspiration came from eavesdropping on Twitter.
Two Writer-Tweeps were talking, and one of them mentioned the TV Show WipeOut.

WipeOut - a metaphor for a writer's journey to publication.

Round One

You've finished your manuscript, your betas and CPs have had at it, you've polished and tweaked and can't think of anything to do to it that would make it better - you're ready to enter the competition. 

First Challenge: Querying, or The Big Balls.

There are at least 3 parts to a successful query:
Researching Agents, Writing a Kickass Query, Having an Opening Bit that Rocks

Along the way something often goes wrong...

And your doomed query languishes in the slushpile.

I've heard that 95-99% of Queries Never Escape the Slushpile

But IF you take your time, and study how others have effectively navigated 
The Big Balls, well, then maybe this will happen.

You've Beaten the Big Balls, aka Received a Request for a Full or Partial!
This is ENORMOUSLY validating.
Keep those requests. Read them often. Even if ultimately this is what happens.

It feels just like that.
Reading something like the letter 
I received from an agent a couple of years ago regarding my first book.
From my archived "File of Pain" as one of my CPs calls it...

Dear Rhiann, 

Thanks for letting me look at your partial manuscript.  

I love your voice.  It's subtle and very natural.  But I'm afraid the plot felt slow.  The idea driving this story, which you laid out in the letter, is terrific.  I found myself wishing this world were developed more right from the start in a more page-turning fashion.  

With this in mind, it's with regrets that I'm going to pass.  Sorry this didn't work out but I wish you the best of luck finding the right agent for this project.  Thanks again for thinking of me.

Clearly my MS didn't live up to the query letter. 

Words of Friendly Advice: When a letter from an agent starts off with a compliment and quickly segues into a "but", go get yourself a drink. And some chocolate. 
Maybe even a shoulder to cry on.

Here's another rejection for the same book. The "pass" was so vague that I asked for some clarification. Here's what she wrote.

Dear Rhiann,

We appreciate and respect that as a new writer, critical feedback is
key to honing your craft. We actually found your writing and pacing to
be quite engaging. Rather, it was the character development and use of
what have unfortunately become over-mined and archetypal aspects of
this genre that kept us from being fully won over. I hope this is helpful.

Alright, so this agent thought the pacing was fine, but didn't like the characters. 
I'm still working on revising that manuscript. 

IF you survive the query and the request, and maybe even a revise and resubmit, THEN you will have

Round 2!

I've heard that Round 2 is a lot like Round 1, only now you have a team-mate. 
You and your agent are strategizing.
He or she is contacting editors. 
You might be working on a synopsis for a sequel, or your social media platform, or a WIP. 
Or your wardrobe, in case Oprah wants you for her Book of the Month Club. 

Again, things can go wrong... 
I saw an agent tweet that she estimated 60-90% of agented authors get a deal. 
Which means 10-40% won't. I prefer not to think about that. 
But it probably feels something like this.

But let's say you get a Book Deal- Go, You!!
As you can see, everything is all fancy and dramatic now. 

Round 3 - The Big Leagues.

Think of the obstacles as Publicity/Marketing, Reviews, Competing Books, Foreign Rights, Film/TV etc.
At the end you might feel like this...

Except of course, you'll be holding your book.

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  1. This is such a great comparison. And they're right. Round 2 is a lot like round 1. But that's okay. We get quite good at the 'hurry up and wait' :)

  2. Hilarious.

    I tend to think more of Fear Factor and Survivor when I think of the post MS journey. The tribe has spoken!

    But yeah, it can be such an emotional journey, like sending your babies out to the laughter. What's helped me is to try and keep a more objective, dispassionate view of both my work and the process.

    Stay level-headed through each round and do whatever you need to to move on, and you'll be holding that book sooner than later :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Well, then I'll be looking forward to your Fear Factor or Survivor as metaphor post one of these days :) As far as being dispassionate, I have a much easier time managing that before that last rejection which means game over...

    2. Meaning after every full/partial I have out has been passed on, and there are no more agents to query. Technically I guess that leaves small presses (haven't looked into that much), and of course self-pub(but for now that is not what I want to do).

    3. LOL. Welllll.... you can't possibly have queried every agent on the planet! There must be some agent out there who hasn't seen it. It's never over!!! ;)

  3. Okay. I am not sure if I feel better or worse now. haha. It sounds like you're getting really close to reaching that final round though.

    And, I've only had rejection letters that were that helpful off fulls, never off a query or partial. So, that's definitely a good thing for you!

    We'll all get there someday. Just gotta keep going through the rounds. Great post and loved all the pics. :)

    1. Most of my helpful passes were off fulls too. But hey, just the fact that a full or partial has been requested is pretty major. It means you're doing a lot right.

  4. So true! My niece just introduced me to that show :-)

    1. It's kind of addicting, and amazing to see what the human body can withstand with no significant injury.

  5. I'm with Tamara - I'm not sure if I'm feeling better or worse after seeing/reading this - lol! I can't wait to see you take your victory lap with your book - it's gonna be sooooon! :D

    1. Haha. I hope we all get to take victory laps. And sooooon would be good :)

  6. I've never seen this show, but querying is such a grueling process. It would be nice to come out victorious. It does sound like you're really close if you're getting those kinds of rejections. :)

    1. Well, yeah, I've been "close" for years now, lol. Sure would be nice to get "there".

  7. Rhiann,

    My husband loves that show. I can't stand what appears to be the pain of it...
    But I do know and understand your angst. I am there with you and wonder what the future holds. I wrote what I thought was an epic love story / suspense -- Only problem with epics -- if no one reads them they become 'epic nothing' -- I am going to finish my 'epic' and it will be available on Amazon Kindle, mainly because I promised the few fans I garnered from the first book that was self-published in hard cover and soft cover.
    Here's wishing us all a prosperous and successful New Year in 2013.

    1. Hey, fans are fans and if they are reviewing/recommending your book, who knows where it can lead? I do not own a Kindle - or a Nook. Sad isn't it? I'm sure I will eventually, just not in the budget at the moment. Yes, please to prosperous and successful!

  8. Loving the comparison, it's so appropriate! I'm going through the query process again right now so this is pretty much how I'm feeling. I don't dare get my hopes up in case a giant metaphorical fist hits me in the back of the head! :P

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Well, obviously you have my sympathy. When I'm in querying mode I always have "inbox dread", which skyrockets when I see an email from an agent. I tend to read them with one eye shut...

  9. Love this! I feel like I just got knocked down from the wall of fists. OUCH!

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