Friday, February 12, 2010

You Lost Me At "Uh, No."

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Thanks for all your well wishes, advice, and sympathy in the last post. My chin is fully up now and I'm looking at a bright future beyond.

I know that rejections happen to everyone and everyone admits that in the end they are for the best. I think it's for the best already. At least I've met quite a few really cool agents this way anyway. And most have asked to see future work.

But something is nagging at me: I can't help but think that this manuscript is severely flawed. No agent has said so (in fact they've said the opposite) but have passed on the grounds that it wasn't true love. Then again, would they really tell me what was wrong? They might not for fear that I, being a perfect stranger, would put some voodoo curse on them for their honesty. Or send a scathing email. Or both. Which I won't. Because I'm not that desperate. Yet.

Has anyone experience with this? Manuscripts that were getting attention but no contracts, I mean, not voodoo curses?

I've revised it a bunch. I've had editors look at it. My half a dozen betas loved it. So now what? I thought for sure it was The One (aka my perfect debut). But now I second guess myself. I know no one has an answer as to what I should do, but I am wondering if others have been in my shoes. Have you felt this way? I would love to hear what you have to say.

It's not as if it's my only project and it's not as if I'm unwilling to drastically change it either. I'd love to cultivate this book more and I have so many ideas that I'll never be able to write them all. In fact, my next book is so fun to write that the other day I forgot to pick up my daughter from the bus stop. Poor thing. But post-WW II Germany and a character who sometimes reminds me of Katniss from Hunger Games? It's making me spacey, I admit it.

And then there's that fairy tale...

And then there's that nonfiction in the same vein as Charles and Emma...

And then there's the one about bird scavengers...

Then there's that fantasy I want to rework...

Ahh! The voices! Make them go away!


  1. My latest WIP garnered a lot of interest, but no takers. I finally got some solid feedback from one agent who'd read it and had 3 others read it as well. Her advice as dead-on. Over the past year I have rewritten the entire manuscript. I'm trying to get the ending perfected right now. Then it's off to my CP for thoughts. There's something about this story that made me want to give it the best shot I could. It is definitely better now. I hope to make it more so. We have to keep the hope alive. :)

  2. Anissa, that's a great story and beautiful advice for me because I feel the same way about this one. Thank you so much!

  3. I don't think agents worry about voodoo curses or about hurting our feelings - they tell it like it is, because that's exactly what we need to hear. If they had a problem with it, I truly think they'd tell you. It's just a matter of finding that perfect fit - good luck!

  4. I'm just catching up with your last post and this. Sometimes it takes awhile to find the right fit with an agent. He/she may be the next one you send to.
    But if you have concerns that something is wrong you could put it aside for a bit while you work on one of your new ideas, and then give a read in a couple of months. If you are still loving it when you pick it back up, start a new round of queries.
    I'm guessing that agents are too busy to give a lot of feedback, but I think if they saw a major problem, they'd tell you.

  5. Sorry about the rejection. It's hard to know specifically what's stopping a manuscript from reaching its home, but maybe it just hasn't found the right one? I also second the idea to set the work aside for a period of time and come back to it with a fresh look, polish it until it shines, and try again. It takes only one yes to get there!

  6. I find reading your blogs very interesting as although I have been a freelance writer for a number of years, I am just beginning the quest to become published. I'm not really sure where to start. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I like your writing style and wish you great success.

  7. Hey, Jackee! Thanks for coming by Write in the Way! It's great to meet you and I look forward to getting to know you.

    I had very kind passes (and suggestions) from agents, but never was asked for a partial. So I haven't made it as far as you. That was a year ago and my novel has undergone extensive work. I'm hoping this year will be different.

    You can do this!

  8. Jackee, how many fellow writers have looked at it in its present form? That may be all you need at this point - new eyes to get a new perspective.

    Were you given any specifics in your last rejection or was it the vague "voice" or "not feeling connected to the character" or "don't have passion for the manuscript I would need in order to sell it". It's those kinds of rejections that make me wish I could afford to hire an editor to give me the skinny on my manuscript's flaws.

    I've been in a similar position and am not sure what to do as well. I'm getting feedback from you, so I'm hoping that does the trick for whatever flaws are left.

  9. If you love this MS that much. Don't give up. Maybe there is something you could change to make it the perfect debut. Read it through. Really read it.

    Have you read Revision & Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell? A must for all writers. I think this book is truly a writers best buddy. I am going to do some posts about it. And in there he quotes Alfred Hitchcock. "A great story is life, with the dull parts taken out." Happy Valentines Day. (^_^)

  10. Don't give up.

    I know it's hard when someone requests a full then passes, because you know they only requested the full because they WANTED to like it, but somehow didn't get all mushy over it.

    I'd say, if the advice isn't helpful, then keep querying, but get another piece ready to go out there into the query world.

    At least now you know which agents respond at all and which just leave you hanging.

    Also, if you've exhausted your agent pool, I'd say go ahead and try it directly at a publishing house. They haven't seen it yet and, well, you never know....

  11. Susan: I hope you're right because it has all been encouraging. Now just to find that special one...

    Tricia: You have me singing "Just around the riverbend!" in my head because of your next agent comment. Ha, ha. No, that's great advice. I AM going to put it away for a couple months and focus on my new books. Thanks!

    Joanne: Thanks for the advice. It's exactly what I think I need to do right now. And I personally think it's just that it hasn't met the right agent. It's a very unique and risky story because it's so old-fashioned. But that doesn't mean I'm not open to revising it though! :) Thanks again!

    Theresa: Thank you so much for your kind words! You've just made my day. Possibly my week. :) If I have any advice I'll be sure to pass it along but remember that in the ladder climb to publication you could surpass me overnight. It's happened to many an author. All it takes is a good query or connection!

    Kristen: You are very welcome! It only takes one yes, don't forget, one partial or eight fulls. We'll get there if we keep trying. Both of us!

    Theresa: I like how you said fellow writers because it gives me perspective--it's only you since I've incorporated the agents suggestions. :) The others have been family and friends. The agent liked the changes, she just said she wasn't "head over heels" is all. I actually still have another full out, it's just gone a bit cold...

    Robyn: No! I don't have that book. I'm going to order it right now. I'm always in need of a new, good revision book. Thanks! And happy V-day to you too. :)

    Shelley: Great advice. It's even harder when they like it but WANT to love it. Ya know? It's like breaking up with a boyfriend and wondering, "What did I do wrong?" When in reality it's because it wasn't the right fit in the forever scheme of things.

    Right now I'm going to focus on getting that other piece out there.

  12. There are LOTS of agents out there. Since you've gotten positive feedback, I'd take that seriously and keep trying.

  13. Melissa, Thank you! That warms my heart. I just want it to be the best it can be, you know?

  14. In my experience agents don't say things just to say them. If you're getting the "I just didn't love it enough" kind of rejections I'm guessing you need to SEND MORE QUERIES. Seriously. It's just a matter of time! Good luck!!!

  15. Oh, Lisa and Laura, how I hope you are right!