Month: October 2015

Famous Rejection Letters

Thanks! I needed this!

Cristian Mihai

letterFor any aspiring writer, a rejection letter, regardless of the provenience of said letter, is one of the most dreaded of objects. In this line of work getting rejected is considered a sort of literary murder – people are knowingly destroying something you’ve spent time on, and a lot of it. But the thing is everyone got rejected, more or less. I can think of very few instances when writers found publishers/agents from the first try. Or the second, or the tenth.

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The first you-know-what letter

The good news is that I am not waiting any longer to hear from my first agent submission. The bad news is their response was a rejection. I have a great and good friend who would say the bad news is “the other good news” because it means something even better is ahead!

I catch up to her attitude only after I’ve thrashed around on the floor like an eel and cursed a few also-ran gods and mourned the hard effort I put in. This is a chance to feel affectionately superior to one who is experiencing that first rejection letter, lying there in the mail box like a hit man, ready to fire the mercy bullet into one’s hope. And you recognize this envelope because you sent it to yourself! You wrote your address, you placed the stamp, you paper-clipped it to the proposal and marketing plan and cover letter over which you labored for months. So you pick it up, you open it because you want to know if they at least took a moment to make it personal (they did), and you read it, and you wonder whether you should keep it.

This agent is actually very successful and well-recommended. His web site suggests many excellent resources and they publish regular blogs which are honest and helpful. His name is Steve Laube, and that is the name of his agency, as well. Try him! He may become your agent, and you would be fortunate if he did.

Writers want their work to be read. We can’t help it, and I’m not sure we should resist that desire (without letting it become a requirement for happiness) because it’s our part in the circle of creativity. There is a relationship between writer and reader that makes each one who they are – writer and reader. But, do readers doubt they are readers if there aren’t any writers? No. Then why do writers doubt they are writers if they don’t have readers? Isn’t it a circle?

Three agents were highly recommended to me. In the next two weeks, I’ll look into the requirements of the next agent, adjust my proposal/marketing plan and cover letter – and resubmit. Okay? Okay.

Once the proposal is mailed…

I researched and wrote my book proposal during the warm summer months at a table under the pine trees… blue skies, earth-scented breeze, the occasional car/truck ambling down the unpaved road as the driver waved amiably because in Idaho everyone waves at everyone… I wrote. And rewrote. And re-read and revised. I read the agent’s web site in detail, bought and read every book-proposal-preparing book they suggested, bought and read many books pertaining to bookselling so I could add a detailed marketing plan to my wondrous proposal… I worked harder  than I’d ever worked at any writing project in my life, including writing the book itself! I sent it to my eagle-eyed friend to proofread/edit and she made great suggestions and I included all of them. I went through the same process for the cover letter. No document in living memory ever went through so many versions as that cover letter. I chose the clear-cover presentation folder, ever-so-carefully hole-punched all the pages, and inserted them carefully into said folder. I remembered the letter-sized SASE. I drove my book proposal to the post office and placed it in a most-excellent large envelope and… mailed it. That was two weeks ago. It seems like two years.

And in those two weeks, I’ve been trying to get my mind off the ceiling and coax it into focusing on something else. Writers often talk about being afraid to send off proposals, the hardball hit to the stomach when a rejection letter arrives, the endless waiting to hear back. But finding other mental employment in that interim? Geez. I have wrested my heart away from the window and guided my feet away from unnecessary trips to the mail box, and have started polishing a script for a play I’d like to do next year. But it was hard to switch gears!

Finishing a book and sending the proposal are the two most anticlimactic things on God’s earth. They take such commitment and emotional energy, and they both end in… waiting. I realize I want a RESULT! Results are long in coming, and when they arrive, they might not be the ones I want. This is one of those times when “enjoy the journey” truly applies, because after the journey of writing, there is a long empty interim before the destination of publication comes into view. And you know what? I DID enjoy the journey! I’m proud of myself for having completed it (thus far) and I am proud of you – all of you – for doing so as well.

Evidently, being a writer takes more than writing. It takes courage.