Thursday, October 28, 2010

Things I Learned Along the Way Thursdays

Thursdays are the days where I reflect on my journey as a writer and let you know where I am or what I've learned.  This week I've learned that through all the hard work and rejection that comes with the trade, good things can happen too.

For the past month I've been querying my manuscript to various agencies.  It took a week or so for that first rejection to come.  I knew it was coming, it did, whatevs.  I had prepared myself for some rejection, but I wasn't ready for as many as I got in a row.  I knew I had a good idea, I'd polished it, worked on the query, etc. but I was getting back form after form after form rejection.  
Last week the Omaha Public Library had Gordan Korman come speak and sign books.  I took the opportunity to meet an experienced author and get a few autographed books.  I stood in line for an hour and while I was there I thought of a question to ask him.  I'd gotten a book by him meant for younger kids that resembled the genre/age level I was going for.  See I was querying as scifi (which could lead an agent to think it was for adults) and middle grade (which needed a higher word count.)  But other than that, what do I call my book?  What genre was it?  So I asked, "If you were going to query this book tomorrow what would you say the genre is?"  He answered, "A chapter book I guess."  Gee thanks...  I guess.  I responded with, "LIAR LIAR is a 6,000 word work of___________."  "Oh, a 6,000 word chapter book aimed at children in grade 2-4."  I was bummed that my first 50 queries were just for practice, but glad I'd asked that question.  Armed with 3 autographed books and an answer to a question I was dying to get, I fixed my letter and started querying again two days later.  I woke up the next morning, after getting 6 queries written, to 3 rejections in my inbox.  I filed them and recorded it on querytracker.  I was getting my list ready to send more when another email popped up in my inbox.  I began reading the email in my head before I even opened it.  "Dear Author, I'm sorry that.. blah blibbidy blah."  Then I actually ready it.  It had my first name in it!  It didn't apologize anywhere!  Someone read my stinking query and wanted to see some chapters!  BOOM!  My first request.  And man did it feel good for the following reasons:
-I will not go 0-80 on queries.  
-Someone read my query and thought the idea was worth looking at so the query must not be complete fail.
-Someone read my query and thought the idea was worth looking at so the idea must not be complete fail.
-A reputable agency who reps people I've heard of made the request.

I've gotten a rejection since then and expect all of the ones before I changed my query to come back that way, but the one partial tells me I'm headed in the right direction and gives me hope.  So if you are reading this, quit procrastinating and get to doing what you were meant to do.

But before you do check out my contest.


  1. That's good stuff! I didn't even try to query agents - went straight to querying publishers.

  2. Congrats on the partial request! This process is brutal, but all it takes is one person to fall in love with your work. I love how you described your reaction to getting the request. Great post!

  3. Congrats Chris!!I love your positive attitude. You will succeed, I just know it! Good luck with everything. :) Off to check out your contest.

  4. YAY! That's fantastic! It's hard to believe at first, isn't it?? You have to read again with eyes of disbelief.

    Good luck, and you're so right. At least one request means you're on the right path.

  5. Hi Chris,
    Totally admire your dedication, determination and resilience. And, indeed, one request is a most encouraging and positive sign.
    I was going to attend the 'Procrastination Workshop', sadly it has been put off for another time.
    Keep going and happy writing.
    With respect, Gary:-)

  6. You're on the right path! Congratulations on the partial request. It's lucky that you talked to that author and fixed up your query!

    Best of luck to you! This process is hard but in the end it IS worth it.

  7. Chris, very inspirational piece. lever the way you made use of line time and an opportunity with an author.
    Congrats and good luck!

  8. Congrats on the partial. I hope it brings a positive outcome.