My new addiction is reading Rachel Vater’s blog. Rachel is a literary agent with Lowenstein-Yost Associates, and her blog is chock full of good info. Take, for instance, today’s post. In it, she talks about a client’s first query to her. There is a sample of the query and the first page, which Rachel passed on. The writer rewrote the story and the query and tried again six months later. This time, Rachel was interested. Another round of rewriting and layering, and the writer got an agent and a book deal.
Jeaniene Frost kindly volunteered her old query (which was rejected by all 10 she first sent it to) and her newer one, which first got my attention. I sold Jeaniene’s novel in a two book deal to HarperCollins / Avon this spring shortly after signing Jeaniene up as a client. But Jeaniene isn’t an “overnight success” because she worked hard for this. She reminded me recently that I passed on her work 3 times before taking her on as a client: The first time, she got a form response. She revamped her query and tried again, and this time I gave her encouraging notes and revision suggestions. She was so fast and so good at creatively implementing editorial suggestions I knew she was someone I could work with further. So I gave her some more notes. And then one more round. (Remarkably persistent! Very impressive!) But you can see how her work evolved, and how her query and sample pages improved.
The examples from Frost’s pages are worth reading in order to see how a talented writer didn’t give up and kept trying until she got it right. I thank God every day that writer’s are so giving. Examples like this not only give me hope, but they also teach me something valuable.
Another great post today comes from Magical Musings. Here, Maria V. Snyder talks about the rejections she received before selling. Apparently, she got a LOT of rejections. But she didn’t give up and she’s proof that all it takes is one yes.
After 17 publishers said no – I finally, finally got a yes! And although I was thrilled to have an acceptance, there was a small (tiny, really) part of me that thought (with a smidgen of disappointment), “But I still have three publishers on my list!” And with all those rejects – I couldn’t help but feel the story was deficient in some way – I worried that I would get the “Oh, we’re sorry we made a mistake and we’re not going to publish you after all,” phone call. Instead, the publisher, Luna, decided to print the book in hard cover. It received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, won the 2006 Compton Crook award for best first novel, and was nominated for a Romance Writer’s RITA award.
Jeez, does it get any better than that? It’s stories like this, and my own stubborness, that bring me back to the keyboard again and again. I may set the work aside for a couple of months (especially with an academic deadline staring me in the face), but I always always come back to it again. I don’t want to quit. I just want someone to tell me how to fix what I need to fix.
Oh, wait, someone did that. And she works at a real publishing house buying and editing real manuscripts every day. I can’t complain about that, can I? Back to work, then.