Full Requests and Empty Heads

On Saturday evening, my wife called me at work to tell me I had received a request for the full manuscript of Dead and Dying from one of the agents I queried. This came as a very pleasant surprise to me considering that I botched the query by not including the requested sample pages, then resent it with the sample and a cheesy “Now with sample pages!” added to the subject line. Apparently, Diana Fox likes cheese.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled by this new validation of my writing. Even though further research (i.e. reading Ms. Fox’s blog) informed me that she generally only requests full manuscripts, it is still a big deal to me that someone wants to see the whole thing. I understand that she may only read part of it before rejecting it, but it does save me a step if she likes it, allowing me to spend more time on my work in progress and less time worrying if I’m going to make the next cut. Since I revamped my query letter, I am two for two on the positive responses from agents I have queried and will probably be sending out altered versions of the same letter to a few more agents today or tomorrow in hopes of widening my net.

There are others, on the other hand, who have not had the early positive feedback I have received. One of the publishing blogs I follow is The Rejecter. The blog, written by an anonymous assistant in a New York literary agency, offers wonderful insights into the business of creating books and, on this occasion, reprinted a confusing email the blogger had received from someone claiming to be a literary agent who had received over 4000 rejections for his/her manuscript. I replied in a one-line comment, something I thought would amuse those familiar with other literary blogs, and the alleged lit agent blasted me in another comment, along with others who commented on the first post. In return, The Rejecter posted that comment on her blog, complete with the description of me as an asshole. The commenter obviously has some bitterness issues with the publishing industry, probably relating to his/her inability to write a coherent sentence. Typically, if my understanding is correct, writers who cannot write well find little success in publishing.

All in all, comedy of the highest degree.

There is a lesson to be learned here. I think the two most important things a writer can have aside from the ability to write a good story, are patience and common sense. The publishing industry moves at glacial speeds and trying to speed up the process by mass emailing everyone you can does not help, as common sense would dictate. If everyone had those two things, even those without talent would understand that there is a right way to seek publication and a wrong way. Using spamming software to query everybody who ever picked up a copy of Literary Market Place would fall in the “wrong way” category. I also consider scathing remarks against established professionals in the industry a poor way to promote your budding career.

Also, there is another thing to consider–if you’ve emailed a query to 4000 agents and have not received a single response, the chances are high that your writing is not that good. Perhaps you should try another field more in line with your skill set. I think if I tried something 4000 times and failed each and every time, I probably give up. There’s a line where persistence crosses over into lunacy and it lies way before 4000 rejected queries.

Work on Superhero is progressing slowly. I have four chapters done and will likely start on the next chapter tonight. My fanfic short story on Mugglenet was also finally validated and the reviews have been very flattering so far. In the midst of everything else, I am testing the job market and preparing for inventory at my store, a nightmarish prospect considering how overstocked we are. I am preparing for long days that will likely test my dedication to writing.

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About Lee Smiley

I write things. Maybe you'll read them.
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