Monday, April 24, 2017

Being skilled doesn't mean you'll get an agent, but it helps

One of the most important things I’ve learned about writing since I released a book with Curiosity Quills, is that Publishing is subjective.

When I queried the book that became Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon, agents said they loved it, just not enough to represent it. As time went on I came to learn that there was a book very similar to mine that apparently flopped, and so my book was relegated to the back burners for a ton of agents because of a business happening.

At the time, what I thought was that all these agents were being nice. The invitations to sub again with a new project? Just politeness.

I had come to equate skill in writing with getting an agent. To a certain extent, that’s true. If the writing is really terrible, it’s very unlikely to be the one that lands an agent. On the other hand, even if your writing is spectacular and impeccable, if there’s something fundamentally not matched to the agent, or your story is in the unsalable category, it’s very unlikely to be something agents are after.

From the writer’s side, there’s a feeling that if my book is just good enough (great even), then I will have crossed that magic threshold of skill and be on to the realm of agent land, and it’s just not true. I really wish I had understood this earlier in my writing, and, to be honest, I still suffer a bit from this misconception. But today I’m here to remind all my writer friends that there’s something else, something more than skill when it comes to finding an agent. It's fit. It's passion. It's all the things you have about your book, the untranslatable bits that make you love it. If your agent doesn't have those feels too, it's not going to work. And I've seen enough writers part with their agents to know that process isn't always a walk in the park, but it's often a hit to the self confidence. They tell me it's worth waiting for the right one. 


What do you guys think? Do you feel like rejection is an indication of low skill and quality?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I have to remember things sometimes

Sometimes, I forget to enjoy writing.

Which is a funny statement on the surface, because writing is very much my passion. It's definitely the thing that keeps me up at night and drives me from my bed in the morning. It's sort of an impossible task, and I like that about it too.

My troubles with writing all stem from the difficulties associated with Publishing. Publishing has a unique way of making your craft a consumable product that you sell. For us writers, we spend way too much time making sure we are palatable to as many potential readers as possible, and I'm no exception. Before I tweet, I try to remember that a large chunk of my fanbase is very conservative, and I think that's wonderful. Everyone gets to be who they want to be. But knowing that definitely makes me hesitate before posting something polarizing and political--and considering how political my social media feeds have been, that should say something--I have sort of whitewashed many of my stances and beliefs on social media. I definitely don't talk about my family with the kind of candor I would if you were to meet me in person.

As well as combing through my public appearance, publishing has also sort of driven many of the stories I have tried (and sometimes failed) to tell. And that's simply no good. I have driven a story one way to be more on point, and then it suddenly wasn't. I've tried all kinds of things to make my stories fit into the buckets made available (or maybe more appropriately, known) by the market, and it just hasn't worked.

This has been a constant battle for me, and only recently have I come to understand some things about my work. When I have a project and it doesn't sell, or it doesn't get an agent, or it doesn't immediately have a huge selling, I used to think it was the writing. Now, to be clear, poor writing will often kill opportunities, so all writers should spend a lot of time absorbing craft. However, the idea of fit is starting to be a real concern.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that I qualify as an odd duck. No really. I'm a little off. I see the world differently, and that informs my writing. Some people like that, some people don't. And that's okay.

What isn't okay is when I try to write my stories to fit in. That's a no go. And I know I've talked about this before, but it's way better to fail as yourself than it is to succeed as a fake. Good luck out there, and some big news is coming soon (sorry, I'm such a tease).

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Queries are more fun than usual, IWSG

After a lengthy hiatus, I've returned to the world of querying agents. I have to admit, I did not miss all the anxiety and crazy feels I get when I'm querying. I hate that I'll attempt to tweet something, you know, to interact with an agent then fret over the interaction for hours. I hate that feeling of "Whelp, now that agent thinks I'm a crazy person, auto reject in 3... 2... 1..."

Generally, that doesn't happen, but the feel is there.

The funny thing is that I didn't worry about these things when I wasn't querying. I interacted with agents (various reasons) while not querying, and it was amazing. I didn't worry about how my emails sounded (other than sounding professional, but not written by a robot), and amazingly, finding agent email in my inbox didn't fill me with one part hope and three parts demon riddled anxiety. They were normal emails saying they could or could not do a thing.

My point is that all the insecurity I've been feeling lately is wondering if an agent will love my work. After publishing, I thought I had crossed some magical landscape and found myself in the valley of self confidence. Alas, that wasn't the case. Even as I'm getting super good news, I'm still struggling to feel confident in my work.

When I was first starting out, I didn't have much feedback for my work. Now I have reviews for published works to give myself a counterpoint to the inevitable rejection, but the last time I queried, I didn't have that, so I wanted to offer up some quick thoughts.

I have hundreds of requests for a sequel to my book. People FB me all the time and ask if it's going to be a thing, and I still get down about rejections.

In short, anytime you put yourself up in a situation where someone could reject you or your work, it's going to mess with your head. Your writing is probably good, maybe even great, you just haven't found your lobster. That doesn't make you a bad writer, that makes your work not what those agents are looking for right now.

Okay, I could talk about this for a very long time, but I want to know how people manage to handle the feels that come with querying. I art. (yes, I verbified it).

Also be sure to stop by the Ninja Captain Alex, and to thank this month's Cohosts: Christopher D. Votey,Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey!