Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Hate Your Stinkin' Guts

Its that time again.... Insecure Writer's Gang, here I am!

And--oh--am I SO all over the insecure thing or WHAT this month...

What happens when the agent you've just received a full ms request from,  declares after reading, that she does not like anything about your ms?

That was not a rhetorical question. 

I really WOULD like to know.

"Excited Julie" face
See, cause I just got sandblasted by this agent I was REALLY excited about the possibility of working with. Lets not even mention the fact that she was a totally like-minded individual that I'd probably be bosom buddies with in another life, and just go strait to the part where she asked for the whole freakin' thing after a COLD CONTACT EMAIL QUERY, THREE FULL CHAPTERS, AND A MEASLY TWO DAY WAIT!!!! I about died when I got her request. 

With happiness, that is. But then...


Not really, loser. Shoulda known it NEVER works out that easy. 

After another short wait, she contacts me back and--although VERY polite-- pretty much tells me she doesn't like anything about my book. Not my characters. Not my humor. Not my plot line. And not my third person writing style, which she called an "omnipotent narrator." 

Not that she wasn't nice about it, of course. In fact, I almost didn't even realize that she was telling me off, since she was so sugary-sweet-let-me-down-easy kind of nice. 

But then I got to reading... and reading... and REreading that rejection, and I done found out that she didn't really like ANY of it! 

"Sad Julie" face
Talk about crushed hopes and dreams. 

After drowning my sorrows in Diet Coke, taking my angst out on poor Hubbs, then seriously considering scrapping my ENTIRE ms and starting over from scratch (don't worry, my critique group talked me off the ledge), I started wondering if anything she said had merit. And if so, how do I tell?? When an important someone in the publishing industry tells you that some of your favorite (and major plot line) aspects of your book totally sucked.... what do you do?


S. L. Hennessy said...

Here's my proposed course of action. 1) Wallow for a few days - during which poor hubs may have to deal with the momentary fallout. 2) Think hard about what they said. 3) Ask your critique group, which has read your MS from cover to cover and ask their opinion. And then when they tell you that the agent was wrong, you listen.

Because not all agents are created equal. What one agent says does not mean that every other agent would agree. Of course there are things that might need to be changed, or edited. But just because one agent didn't get your vision does not mean others won't.

But that's just my humble opinion. As someone who's not only read, but loved your MS, I say this agent was not the one for you, keep editing (though NOT throwing it out entirely), and wait for an agent that's a better fit to come along.

Shell Flower said...

Have you let your crit partners read the letter? Maybe you are overthinking it? Hard to say without seeing it, but this agent obviously doesn't "get" you and others obviously do, so it may just be a matter of preference.

Total psych-out, though. I am so sorry to hear this. Writing is all about rejection, tough. Get some feedback from your crew, dust yourself off, and keep writing. Good luck.

M.S Tucker said...

*drags you into my corner. Hand holding is a must. Sorry, it's just the way I am.*

Now, take into consideration what I'm about to tell you...

(FYI- this will be kept "clean" for the kiddies. But you'll get the point.)
*clears throat* "Opinions are like butt holes. Everyone has one."

There. I said it! It sounds so... "Shakespearean". I recommend you repeat that quote with a British accent. It makes it sound more regal.

And I'll agree with S.L, not ALL agents are created equal. A lot of people fail to also figure out that if an agent likes your material, that they may NOT have your best interests at heart... So as exciting as it is to be signed by an agent, I recommend that you put your excitement on the back burner until you find out what they can do for you and what they expect from you in return before you sign the dotted line. Besides, finding an agent is like dating. Remember what that was like? I know Rob is like, the Hubby Of The Year, but remember how many toads you had to kiss in order to find him? I'd chalk this one up to be an "(agent) toad".

I think we writers get so wrapped up in the idea of just getting a foot in the door, but what if the door turns out to be a closet and there are monsters in it? The Ghostbusters are so 1987, but I think they still get the job done... but in case they don't get there in time, you'll have to rely on your own common sense.

A professor once told me that went out on auditions you had to come prepared, do your thing, walk out like it was the best thing you ever did, and then... FORGET ABOUT IT! Because you will literally kill yourself for wanting a part so badly. Only to find out that you didn't get it, and you'll start beat yourself up even more.

For me it comes down to the following-

a) Everyone says that you shouldn't write for the market, you should write something that YOU would like to read and if it's good, people will catch on. Stephenie Meyer didn't write the first Vampire book because P.C Cast and L.J Smith have been writing them in the YA department long before her. And Anne Rice was plugging and chugging the vampire books in the 80s and Bram Stoker LONG before her. So make your mark and put your own stamp of approval on your work. If YOU THINK the changes suggested are for the better, then make them. But if you think they don't, stand your ground and know that there will be someone out there who respects you and your story. Normally, I force myself to create 5 reasons why something should stay or go for my STORY'S sake, and no other. If you can't be subjective, than I'd leave it alone until you can talk it over with your writing group.

b) You could write something that you "think" other people will like, but will you honestly be happy with it? This is ONE agent! Personally, it really annoys me when someone gets your hopes up only to cause you to fall on your butt. It's like that in the Entertainment business; it's not what you know, but who. And let me tell you from personal experience, even the "who" can screw you.

P.S And who the heck says "omnipotent"?! She must've looked that word up in the thesaurus, right?

P.P.S Kathryn Stockett was rejected 60 times by agents! You have to know that her tenacity made her one of the largest rags to riches writers since J.K. Rowling!!!

I also posted this on your FB, but others might want to read it too...

P.P.P.S I blew up your Blog!!!! GO ME!!! (OH YEAH!)

S. L. Hennessy said...

M.S. said it best with her "Shakespearean" quote. And I totally agree with everything else she said too :)

Some people *cough - and but people I mean agents - cough, cough* should just shut it.

M.S Tucker said...

S.L was able to combine everything I said in three short sentences.

Well, dang!


Julie said...

Thanks for the wonderful advice, girls! Seriously. Its really comforting to get an outside perspective while in the midst of wallowing! Me (and Hubbs) appreciate it!!

Mandi: But your long winded-ness is awesome! I like ( : [OH YEAH!]

Also, I know I've said this before, but I love, love, LOVE your "agents-are-like-dating" analogy. Its SO true! I just need to keep reminding myself of that fact, and quit worrying about those stupid, dirty rotten, no good rejections!

Lauren: what would I do without my critique buddies? You're awesome, my dear BWFF!! Thanks for all your wonderful support!

Man O' Clay said...

Oh, I wish I this point, I'd just be happy to hear back from an agent!

I do hope you stick with it, though. Rejection can either be a stepping stone or a blow to the head. Go for the former!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Remember, it's only one person's opinion! Yeah, I know that doesn't help, but it's true. What if she'd liked it just enough to offer representation if you changed some things - lots of things - that you didn't want to change?
Have another Diet Coke, believe in yourself, and don't give up.

Julie said...

Man: Very true words! I'll have to remember that next time I'm getting stoned by an agent ( : Haha!

Alex: I'll "Hear, hear!" to that!

[clinks glass of diet coke]


And you're right. I didn't think of it that way.... it would have been a very difficult relationship if she signed me and then wanted all those things changed. In that situation, I might as well just scrap the whole book and start from scratch!