TODAY’S BREW: The Julie Jam, 8 O’clock Coffee, Hazelnut in a hazelnut colored mug.
Author Kelly Charron, in her own words “loves to write about murder, mayhem and magic.” Her amazing list of works is enough to make me ache to hold all the paperbacks ever in my hand. (Look here: http://kellycharron.com/?page_id=12) But she also has been through the querying wringer, and she knows all too well how it feels. This is a reminder, from Kelly’s mouth to my blog to your face, that we all do this together. Art doesn’t have to be solitary. Now I’ll let Kelly tell her story and I’ll shut up.
Querying is exciting and nerve wracking. A part of me is hopeful and basks in the magic that each time I hit send could mean an agent will fall in love with my book and then me. I will sign my glorious contract, she or he will sell my all my books to the Big Five publishers and I will wait, luxuriating in a field of flowers as the cheques come rolling in.
This is not what happened. (At least so far- but I’m still hoping.)
Always an eager student, I wanted to absorb everything I could before I even started the process. All the do’s and don’ts. All the agent likes and dislikes. I wanted to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes that could thwart my success. I learned to always research the agent, tailor the query to the agent (never using generalizations such as Dear Agent or Dear Sir or Madam), and to actually write a decent query. I had many beta readers and author friends read the various reiterations, eventually giving me the coveted thumbs up. I learned that it was good practice to send out five to ten queries at a time so I could apply any valuable feedback to the manuscript before sending more out and possibly ruining a chance. And so I did this.
I was ready! Soon they’d be calling!
This is not what happened. (At least so far- have I mentioned I’m still hoping?)
I waited and waited and waited some more and soon the rejections came trickling in. That’s okay, I told myself. Everyone gets rejections. I’ll have a great story later of having 30 or 40 rebuffs before I found my agent.
Soon it became cleat that five to ten queries every two to three months could take a very long time so I began to query a bit more widely. The trickle of rejections began to pile up. That’s okay. It’s only my first book, I told myself. Many authors don’t get agented on their first book. It’s my learning manuscript. Time to write book number two!
And off I went completing the first draft in six weeks. I loved this book. My writing critique group, beta readers, indie and Big Five published friends loved this book––“way more than your first book” they cried in unison. “This is the book! This is the one to get you an agent!” they all told me.
I wanted to believe them.
It has not been the book. (At least not yet- have I mentioned I always have hope?)
I received ten full requests and an additional seven or eight partials and was told that my writing was “really good,” “you clearly know your craft,” “I love this concept, but it’s going to be a hard sell,” and “great idea, but not for us. Please send us your next manuscript.”
These are all amazing rejections! They liked my writing. They thought I had a decent story. They saw potential and wanted to see my next book. These are all wonderful things to hear, especially from very busy agents who took time out of their hectic schedule to write me specific feedback and I am grateful.
But I discovered something I wasn’t fully prepared for during this process.
“Getting closer” is not necessarily easier. It can be more heartbreaking. If you run a race and you come in last, your expectations wouldn’t likely be high. You know where you stand in the competition. You might think, wow that was fun. If you come in third or second all you can ruminate on is how close you came. You have worked hard for this. You can taste it, you can feel it, you’re almost there and then you don’t quite make it.
It can be disappointing. I’ve lost hope from time to time. I’ve allowed myself to pout and whine (temporarily of course) until I gain perspective because I believe that it could be the next book, or the one after that. There is no one way to get published. No magic formula or series of TEN EASY STEPS! for getting an agent or book deal.
I’ve spent a lot of time asking agented and published writers what the secret to their success is and their answer is always the same: they kept going. Kept writing and querying new books. For some, book number two was the lucky one, others needed five, some found success at number seven or eight.
I don’t know what the future has in store, but I am happy we live in a time where traditional and indie publishing co-exist. I have been writing for ten years. I have written four novels. I continue to work on my craft. I have 140 odd rejections, but I know that if I keep going, one way or another, my time will come. YES!!
Kelly Charron is the author of horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library.
Follow Kelly on Twitter https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron