Tuesday, November 19, 2013

And now I'm just waiting for someone to like me.

I feel like I've gotten to a certain place in my writing career where I've about reached the limits of what's in my power to do for myself.

I've written two books, the best writing I can do. I've found people to read and edit and make them even better, which I guess is technically getting help from someone, but you get my point.

I've been blogging since 2009. I use just about every social media platform known to man to network with people, make writerly friends and hopefully publicize books that I don't even have an agent for yet. I write and send out short stories and poetry and picture book manuscripts. I'm brainstorming my next novel and a screenplay.

Queries for my first book started going out a little over a year ago. I'm still going at it, and now I'm querying for novel number two. Maybe I shouldn't be talking about specifics until I've actually got an agent, but you know what, it's disheartening.

I feel like I'm at that point in my career where I've done everything I can do, and now I'm just waiting for someone (an agent or an editor) to like me. And yes, of course self-publishing is a great option, I just don't think it's a great option for me and right now it's not what I want. To get what I want, to get where I want to go, I need someone to give me a yes.

The thing is, after this waiting phase goes on for long enough, you start doubting yourself and wondering if maybe you're just obliviously terrible and never had a prayer. I'm genetically optimistic enough that I can usually chase those kind of thoughts away, but sometimes they are harder to chase than I want, and they always come back.

So. What do you do in this phase? How do you know you don't just suck? And is there any way to speed up the process of finding someone to like you or is it just a waiting/numbers game?

Thanks for the advice and support, guys.



Artemis Grey said...

First off, *HUGS* to you. I know this feeling so very well. I seem to be lodged in that stage of waiting, where agents are praising the books I've queried, and giving positive feedback, but always following with 'I just don't love it quite enough to offer representation' or 'But it's just not for me.' usually with a chaser of 'I know it'll find a good home soon' or 'I'm sure another agent will feel differently.' In my case, this is the second book I've queried to the same stage.

The first book was a dystopian, so once that rush was over and agents weren't really interested in seeing it, especially in a debut, I consoled myself with that knowledge. It wasn't really strong for the market any longer.

This second book is a contemporary, and seemingly fits into what so many agents say they're looking for, but so far, it's been the 'almost, but not quite' response.

For me, it's like a mash-up of the prom scene from Never Been Kissed, and Duckie from Pretty in Pink. I'm sitting there all hopeful and happy for what I've been dreaming of to come true (Drew waiting for the limo) but then the agent loves me, but 'not like that' (Duckie, always the sidekick, never the love interest) and I'm left standing there wondering what I can change to be what they want.

The thing is, you CAN'T change yourself just to be more appealing. It won't make you happy, even if you happen to sell a book. All you can do is write to the best of your abilities, get feedback and help from critique partners and groups, and conferences and then wait. You can make contacts, but that doesn't guarantee anything. And after having been at it a few years, I've come to realize that if you end up getting something published more because someone did you a favor, and less because your book was ready to get published, you're not going to end up ahead, but behind. Write what you love and know, even if it's not necessarily what is hot.

Also, never pass up the chance to reevaluate your writing. What have agents been saying to you? Are you getting straight form rejections? If so, I'd try and get some fresh eyes on the ms because there's something that's causing all of the agents to just pass immediately. Are a lot of them commenting on the same issues? Look at changing whatever it is. If you're getting 'strong writing' 'Intriguing, but not for me' or the like, then just keep on keeping on. You're waiting for two atoms to collide.

There IS always the self-pub option, but like you, I just don't want that for myself right now. I'm not ready to take that step. Also there's the option of sending directly to publishers, but again, I'm not ready to take that step. And truthfully, not many houses look at unsolicited manuscripts. Though there are new, smaller, publishers breaking into the market nowadays.

Jo said...

No advice sorry. Not an author. Do hope you have some success soon. I know it's difficult. A friend who has published 10 books had trouble selling her latest story. Everyone is very cautious out there I understand. It does seem self publishing is the way to go these days. Whatever you do, I wish you the best of luck.

Charlotte Brentwood said...

I'm also in the same place, Sarah. I'm querying my third novel, and I had pretty high hopes because I feel like I've grown a lot as a writer with this one. I've had feedback from contest judges that my writing is good but the plot isn't dynamic enough. I seem to be a 'character-arc' kind of writer who struggles with GMC.

It's early days - I've had some requests, and I'm yet to hear back from a lot of agents. But there's a steady stream of rejections, and that feel of desolation is creeping in. A rejection from a dream agent yesterday was crushing.

I think I will consider self-publishing it, because I really want to get it out to a wider readership. It's not the dream, but it may be better than nothing.

Hang in there.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

You probably don't want to hear that I didn't sell my first book until I was over 40. Well over 40.

However, although I've been writing all my life, I never really focused on trying to sell it. I didn't know how to query, and back-in-the-day, there were no blogs to learn from.

So, in know-how, at 24 you are well ahead of where I was at, um, 40.

You are doing the right things. You are querying one project, while working on the next. Rinse and repeat! You may have a winning novel on query right now -- and you just have to get it in front of the right people -- or it might be the WIP after next.

The only thing you MUST NOT do is stop writing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Unfortunately, so much of this business is in the timing.
Have you queried publishers as well as agents? That would double your options several times over.
Just don't give up or think you really have done everything you can. There is always more, and your moment might be just around the corner.

Melissa said...

I've never queried, but from what I hear, making that connection is part skill, part research (choosing the best-for-you people to approach), and part timing/luck.

Maybe what you need is to take a break and either write something different ot take a course, a vacation, or go to a writers conference. Any of those things can help you improve your writerly perspective.

Good luck, Sarah. Take a break if you need to, but don't give up.

sonia said...

I am rather an impatient person so after 10 plus years (ahem!) of querying, getting great feedback and no representation, I bit the bullet and self-published. That isn't to say I'm not planning to query agents with another book again, but I have to say, it felt great to have reviewers actually read my book and give my work praise. No, I didn't make money, but honestly, I'd rather have the validation of knowing I can tell a good story instead of not knowing if I stink of not. I began querying at about 25 and self-published at 37. In this time getting published is so extremely difficult (and I honestly can't stand the idea of catering to the market) that I felt I had no choice. I hope you find what's best for you!

Noelle Granger said...

If you become completely discouraged with the querying for the first book, consider self-publishing. I didn't want to wait possibly years for some agent to find me. So I published using CreateSpace. The end product was very professional and I sent out notices to my high school classmates, college classmates, and everyone in my address book. I did sell some books, now have the second book in final edits. At a recent writer's conference, I met reps from a company that markets self-published books (as well as a small publishing company that was interested in taking over the book). Not sure which way I will jump now. It's hard work marketing, but I enjoy it more than the endless query letters.
So, you might consider this route!
Hang in there, it will get better!

mooderino said...

Unfortunately when you have to wait for the green light from someone else there's not much you can do about it. It's got a lot to do with their personal tastes and what they happen to be looking for right now. Perseverance is all part of the process (annoying as that is).


Yvonne Osborne said...

I'm waiting for someone to like me too! You just keep plugging along, that's what you do. You keep writing like mad and you keep a journal and you eavesdrop and you make notes to yourself and you read agent blogs and attend writers conferences and did I said read? Read, read read!

LD Masterson said...

Sarah, while you're waiting on those books to find a home, try some other kinds of writing. I'd never written short stories until this year and getting one of those published really gave me a moral boost, as well as a writing credential to add to my resume.

Crystal Collier said...

Oh goodness, querying sucks. No way to put it kindly. In fact, I'd say FORGET QUERYING and go find a few contests to enter. The one I'd suggest that's going on right now (and got me all kinds of fabulous attention) is Pitch Wars with Brenda Drake. DO IT. Seriously.

G. B. Miller said...

No real advice to give other than you just gotta keep plugging away at it.

I do agree with Alex on his point of querying both publishers and agents.

I did that with my novel and managed to get it published late last year.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Don't give up, Sarah. I know it sounds trite, but these things take time. Keep writing, and keep sending your work out. I had to do that for years and finally did get an agent. But I never stopped writing, and that really has paid off.

BTW: Thanks for stopping by my 4th Wish blog.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Man, but do I feel your pain. Even after having been published! And I've found I'm not alone in this. My advice is to keep writing. Keep learning.

I agree with Alex. Much in this business is timing. If you love writing, don't let the less attractive things about this stop you.

One of my favorite authors is Brandon Sanderson (he is a wonderful writer but didn't hit it really big until he was asked to finish The Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan died of cancer). I think he said it was his 5th book that got published. Having a lot of book under your belt can be a good thing once you're finally picked up, so keep it up!

Unless you think 2 books are all you have inside you.

Gina Gao said...

I get this feeling a lot! The best I can say is to not worry about anything and see how everything goes. Everything will work out.


JeffO said...

There is no way to speed up the process, I'm sorry to say. You just keep sending out the queries, consider what the rejections are saying (or not saying) and write on.

And cheers to you for not jumping immediately into self-publishing after a few rejections, and having the self-awareness to know it's not for you. Maybe it will be, one day, but it's not something you enter into lightly. Be well.

Christine Monson said...

Here's some tough love- Stop waiting and continue writing. It's the same advice for love, friendship, and careers. You never ever wait, you continue to live your life. When the time comes, it'll come. Now go write and stop dwelling on what isn't meant to be and head towards what is.

emaginette said...

Time to write another book. Keep writing, and don't stop and don't wait. For some authors it takes ten years of writing and practice and networking to get published.

The problem is, is there are millions of us out there. We have to learn to shine and that takes time.

Anna from Shout with Emaginette

Lexa Cain said...

I queried two books, got no offers, moped around a bit (quite a bit), and then trunked them. But the third novel I was in love with. I just couldn't let it die. I queried over 100 agents and then small presses before I got offers. For you, I suggest continuing to write until you find the one that either gets you an offer or you'd move heaven and earth, including small pub or self pub, in order to get out into the world. Good luck!