Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Growing Pains

MAN I hate life lessons… Forced growth is just no fun. I mean I don’t hate it all afterward, but during the process, it can be SO humiliating… painful, even. So I hate them, but I love them.

I’m going to tell on myself a little, just to get across how LITTLE I knew…


The Bio Snafu

I blogged about this a little last week: Agent that requested pages, synopsis and author bio: so I spent time on a bio that looked like the BIO we send in with grants. (Can you spot the source of myconfusion? Bio, in the two contexts has different definitions). An AUTHOR bio is apparently the book jacket variety. Who knew? *snort* Okay, so apparently everybody but me. When we send in grants though, we are required to submit a Bio that includes our education, publications and the kind of work we’ve done that is pertinent to the project… (doesn’t sound so bad, does it?) Except it is formatted like a resume. That was what I sent the first time… I sent an email with the corrected sort of bio, explaining where my misguided idea originated, so hopefully I am cute, instead of pathetic… Not that cute tarts are the most appealing kind, but they are better than idiot tarts.

To compound matters, a different agent, because I mention I publish scientifically, asked what kind of scientific writing I do… I proceeded to detail the CONTENT, instead of saying what I now believe she wanted… “peer reviewed, scientific journal articles”. This one I just didn’t have the heart to correct, since it was such a quick correspondence (it was the agent that asked for a chapter). Oi!

My DAY JOB brain caused big giant fails in two different domains… or rather the same domain in two different ways. I was asked questions and my academic brain put me on auto pilot. Not going to let THAT happen again!

Now I know. Never let it be said that the Tart can’t take her knocks…


The Query

I am so amazingly grateful to the agent who took the time to say “I don’t get it” to me. I’ve been using the same query for two rounds now (about 30 agents have gotten it), and because I’d gotten a few nibbles, I really thought it was working. Form rejections give you NO CLUE what the problem is. This woman, in two sentences, guided me to make it a much better grab for the next round…

"I have to tell you that from this query, I really have no idea what your book is about or who the main protagonist is. You might want to take another crack at this."

Hmmm… the last person to feed me a lesson like this was ALSO a Colleen… seems maybe that is a name destined to give me lessons I don’t know I want but I need… but I digress…

Unfortunately, she then passed on the manuscript, suggesting that if I am aiming thriller, it really needs to still be tightened more. So THERE my mistake was in ever mentioning thriller… just like with my other mistake… I think it’s okay to have a thriller underlying, but if I say the darn WORD then they are expecting genre-thriller, which it is not. (and I don’t really want to rewrite it so it is, as I think the family relationship is the heart of this more than the thriller plot--I NEED all that darned character stuff.)

I figure though, that is only the first rejection this round, and it wasn’t an instant reject… progress…

Now to debate who GETS the next round and whether I am up to doing it right now or not…

Man, I hate querying.

One lesson I DON’T have yet, is when it is okay to reQuery… I feel like I might be well within my rights to retry the people I INITIALLY tried (who got the version about the 200K book) because I am pretty sure they saw that number and didn’t read a single other word. The query was also a lot worse at that point… But do I even want to go there? There are LOTS of agents out there.

And I still don’t have a feel for whether I want to join this Amazon contest or not… If only one agent is really looking at a partial, I think I may go ahead, but if I have a couple requests for more, I’ll hold off… I think…

Shaken Confidence

When I was first blogging, I would see these writers comment on moments of feeling like they couldn’t write. I was baffled, because I’ve always felt rather a lot of confidence (probably too much so… I have a nice, healthy ego). But the query process sure takes the mickey out of you, doesn’t it? I’m doubting CONFLUENCE. I’m doubting everything I try to write in my trilogy (and making stupid mistakes—writing things that mess up the timeline and such). When I type up what I’ve written I’m thinking ‘well that’s stupid, what was I thinking?’

I keep trying to decide if I am getting more discerning or am just in one of those moods… a mood that had never really struck me until recently. I am still going with that though. I know my writing will improve, and as it does I’ll have less tolerance for mistakes, but I just really can’t think what I’ve done already is BAD, especially the fourteenth round of a book that was a good story to begin with…

Hmph.

9 comments:

Helen Ginger said...

Don't let this get you down. I guarantee you agents have gotten worse than a professional bio sent to them. Besides, you learned from it. There are plenty of authors who don't. Set aside time in the day to deal with queries or rejections. Then forget about what you've got out in the agent-world and go back to writing on the next project. They're little birds you've let fly. All you can do is wait for them to return.

Helen
Straight From Hel

uninvoked said...

Rejection is part of writing. It's no big deal, and it certainly doesn't reflect on you as a writer. Keep going, and keep trying new things. You'll find the right angle eventually.

Watery Tart said...

Very wise, Helen--thank you! Let them fly... leave them a perch, but try to forget until it is reminder day (for those it is okay to remind...)

Uninvoked--thanks to you, too, and welcome! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Marjorie said...

Well, I think they are all nuts, because I am extremely interested in CONFLUENCE. I can't wait to go to Borders or some such bookstore, and tell the chashier, "My friend wrote this book! She's brilliant! You should read it too."

Watery Tart said...

Awww, thanks Marjorie! I sure wish "all my friends will buy it" worked better with agents.

"My writer's group loves it" isn't supposed to work either, so I haven't tried it...

It is such a strange thing though, this market where you have to follow some exact line to get somebody to take something... I keep hearing "readers like to know what to expect" when it seems to me I prefer to be surprised and delighted, rather than running across the same old pattern.

Jan Morrison said...

Tartlett - ya know what I love about you, kid? It is your crazy ass optimistism! Don't be losing that. Here's my secret to enjoying querydom - every rejection that I receive puts me closer to acceptance, so hating them is like hating the ground you're covering. Better yet, you're starting to get it - the whole who am I? who is my manuscript? thingy. Some things we don't budge on, some we change, some we change a little bit or argue a little harder for. And if we don't hear stuff then we start to make it up in our head. You and Dorey and me - we'll just keep on swimming OK?

Jan Morrison said...

optimistism! wow a new word by Jan. I think it means sort of positive and slightly crazed. not sure....

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I wouldn't sweat these "mistakes"--they've seen soooo much worse.

I'd probably re-query the folks you're really interested in. You've done so much work that it's really a different book now!

Elizabeth

Watery Tart said...

Yeah for Optimistism! Jan, we'd like to invite you to our make-up-word thingy club that we need a better word for! It's responsible for such gems as frunk posting (what happens when you type drunk and hit the wrong key). I think Optimistism DEFINITELY has more umph, and I like it! And thanks so much for all the support! We'll get there!

Elizabeth-It IS a different book, and it is REALLY a different query, so I think I will take a look at those early ones! Good advice, so thank you!