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They keep saying no

standard March 9, 2012 3 responses

The contradictions involved in getting a novel published never cease to amaze me.

You need to shut out the world so you can get the story from your head into the computer.

But you need to sit in the world and observe so you can make your characters seem lifelike.

You need to stay focused on your story and your book.

But you need to be active online to build your platform.

And in the end, when the book is finally written, the characters alive, the platform built, you’ve still gotten exactly nowhere.

The “real” work (as if spending 4 years writing a good book weren’t work enough) lies in just getting an agent to read the book and chose to help you sell it.

In the last few months I’ve sent out many queries. In two heart stopping instances agents have asked to see more pages than what I had sent. The rest of the time I’ve received kind nos or no reply at all.

Receiving those emails leads to the most perplexing contradiction of all. Each rejection fills me with both despair and the resolve to just keep sending out queries until someone finally bites.

Writing fills me with a deep joy. I love the act of creating stories, giving voice to characters, and guiding plot twists and turns.

Carrying out field research amuses me. I love listening and watching people. I love letting my imagination fill in the blanks to the tidbits I overhear.

Building my online platform is fun and a good distraction. (Sometimes too much of a distraction.)

But the querying process is just draining. It’s hard to send out email after email to people I only know through online research or Twitter interactions. It’s hard to wait — sometimes for months — for a reply. It’s hard to tamper my excitement when replies finally arrive and to not give in to the voice that yells “give up already” when the emails end up bearing bad news.

I believe in my book. The people who have read the book believe in it too. I’m sure that somewhere the right agent for me still hasn’t opened my email or hasn’t yet received it. And I’m not going to give up until they do.

That said, if you see me flounder, remind me how many times some of those great authors had to query before finally finding their home. It’ll help me keep the despair at bay.

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3 responses

  • I wish I had your dedication. For the longest time I wanted to work at Pixar but after several set backs, and a couple of unseen roadblock I decided to give up that dream. Hopefully your hopes and dreams will become a reality, just keep hanging in there.

  • You’ll do this, I know you will. And as they say in sales, every no gets you closer to the yes.

  • Two thoughts:
    This is so true: “You need to shut out the world so you can get the story from your head into the computer.” The reason I first got into advertising is b/c I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t want to shut the door and leave the world to itself. I wanted to enjoy writing with other people. But true writing. Novel writing is a lonely profession. And you really do have to shut out the world to get it on paper.

    The real work is getting an agent. Hmm. I always thought the real work was editing. Once you get the words down, edit and edit and finally, underneath all the articles emerges the real story. But you know, I’ve never pursued going all the way. I admire your dedication. The world is yours, Jessica. And if that world is a published piece of art, I know you’ll get it.

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