Well, I got another two agent rejections, but they were form and boring, so from here on out I’m only going to post the interesting/potentially beneficial ones. I will say, for the sake of your general awareness of which agents I’m soliciting, that they were from Shana Cohen of Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, Inc., and Jodi Reamer of Writers House, LLC.
Due to various events and life getting in the way, I’ve missed my last few writing days and am therefore still in the midst of writing the concluding battle scene of “Bloodlines.”
That’s all for now, though I should mention that a writer acquaintance commended the essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” by TS Eliot, to me. Sounds good, and after I read it, perhaps I’ll post my impression or some takeaway here.
Nothing terribly interesting in this post; just another pair of form rejections. The only thing worth noting is that Jabberwocky Literary Agency is the agency that represents Brandon Sanderson, though Sanderson’s agent is not currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts.
I greatly appreciate the opportunity to consider your query – thanks for sending it.
Alas, the query wasn’t quite intriguing enough to inspire me to offer representation or further consideration of your project. I have read your query letter myself; I wish I had time enough to respond to everyone personally and with constructive criticism, but it would be overwhelming, hence this form response.
This business is highly subjective; many people whose work I haven’t connected with have gone on to critical and commercial success. So, keep trying!
I am grateful that you have afforded me this opportunity to find out about you and your project, and wish you the best of success with your current and future creative work.
All best wishes,
VP, Jabberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.
Thank you so much for your query. Unfortunately, however, this project
doesn’t sound right for me. I encourage you to continue to submit
elsewhere, and I wish you every success in your writing career. Thanks
again for thinking of me.
Trodayne here hijacking Amy’s email. She wanted me to read your sample.
Your writing has a lot going for it and your query was quite strong. As
I read your synopsis and query I found myself intrigued. But as I
finished your sample I was left hesitating on requesting more. The plot
seems to work well enough. From what I can tell the characters work as
well. I know you can write a strong action scene. That much you clearly
demonstrated quite effectively in the prologue. But then you
demonstrated it again and again in the pages following it. As much as I
did like the premise and the first part of your sample, I found myself
feeling a sense of repetition as I continued to read. I believe the
contours of the writing didn’t progress as much as I’d hoped. I must
trust my instincts in this case and pass but Linn Prentis Literary
would welcome, no, we would encourage future submissions from you,
I think this is perhaps as good as a rejection gets, at least in my world! Though disappointment was inevitable, I am (obviously) quite motivated to send my next project Mr. Northern’s way.
I was fairly kicking myself after reading this particular email. The beginning of my novel – sans the prologue, as I wrote that after I finished the first draft – is probably the weakest part of the book. I knew that, and many beta readers told me so in so many words, but I didn’t want to scrap the whole thing and rewrite it. Now I wonder what my fate would’ve been had made the extra effort to do so.
But, as they say, what’s past is past. I am certainly aware of my tendency toward slow beginnings, as that is one of the critiques I’ve received about my ongoing “Bloodlines of Epheria” serial. The next time around, I will pay special attention to wholly grabbing the reader’s attention from the get-go.
As to your material I’m afraid I will be passing — I’m just not
enthusiastic enough about the concept of your story to feel that I’d
be the right agent for the project. I realize it is difficult to judge
your potential from a query; nevertheless please know that I give
serious attention to every letter, outline, and writing sample I
Sorry I couldn’t give you a more positive reply. Thanks for thinking
of me, though, and best of luck in your search for representation.
Though this seems like a personal reply at first blush, look closer and you can see it’s a form rejection. I only say that as a point of interest, because this is the only thing I am really allowed to expect in the way of negative responses. Ms. Jackson seems like an excellent agent for sci-fi/fantasy, and her form rejection is kind and respectful, which makes me want to query her again in the future if I don’t end up with someone long-term before then.
It was a disappointment to receive this, to be sure, but a more minor one than you might expect. The Lord has been working on my heart a lot in this area. As I reevaluate my priorities, I remember that first in my life is Him, second is my husband, and third, my daughter. My career, as it were, comes at the very end of the list, even after taking care of the home. And lest those who don’t know me think me a quiet, mousy push-over (my husband will laugh when he reads that), know that I am anything but, but wouldn’t have my priorities any other way. Of course, I still value my writing career and will continue it (for I passionately love to write and always will!). I am simply able to rest in my lack of immediate success, because I know I am being faithful in the things that matter even more.
And now – with the evening breeze sweeping over the porch and a latte at my side – to write.
Can I see 50 pages and a plot synopsis as attached word or pdf files please?
I would call this a promising response, but it actually promises nothing. It was progress, though, for Ms. Blasdell to be interested enough in my query letter to request a piece of the manuscript. I’m beginning to see that writing a captivating query makes a tremendous difference in an agent’s general response. It’s the “inside cover description” of your novel, if you will. Does the description of your book really pop in the humdrum sea of queries an agent must wade through each day?
I’ll probably post my original and improved query side by side at a later point so you can see the stark difference that complete restructuring made.
Second answer received: December 30, 2012
Read as follows:
This is not for me, but thank you for the look.
Succinct, as most rejections are. Particularly disappointing because Ms. Blasdell is a staunch advocate of sci-fi/fantasy, rather than one who merely tolerates the genre as part of her job.
Anyhow, you may have noticed that my writing has come to a complete standstill of late. To make a long story short, in addition to having been engaged in holiday busyness, our little family is in the middle of a cross-country move. We’ve been packing up our house, shipping our things to the East Coast, living out of bags and tending to our sick selves/a sick baby meanwhile. I assure you, after we settle down in our new state come mid-January, writing will re-commence.
I hope you all had a warm, restful Christmas and a happy, hopeful New Year’s celebration. Until next time!
Answer received: November 27, 2012 (and here I should note that the agency does not promise a rejection notification at all, so it was nice to get one)
Read as follows:
I’ve read the material you sent and though it shows promise I just wasn’t fully convinced. You’re a thoughtful writer and you have a good story sense, I think you need to just keep working until the writing and storytelling is truly compelling. Best of luck.
You know, it really could be worse. There are some bright sides to this. One is that if I ever want to query Mr. Ellenberg again, I at least know what he’s not looking for. Two, there are a pair of nice compliments in there. As a dear fellow writer friend of mine teased, “You’ve officially made it out of John Grisham category with the first one (thoughtful writer), and Stephen King category with the second (good story sense)! You’re practically magical.” Three, this is all a good lesson in (sigh) humility, and (double sigh) dealing with minor failure.
Here’s the thing about querying – once you send your query on a particular project to an agent and they reject it, you can’t query them about that project again. That might not be the way all agencies work, but you’ll find it’s true more often than not. So, I could revisit the manuscript before I query anyone else…but the question is, how long do I work before I call it “ready?”
My former professor and writing mentor Mel Odom suggests that I keep querying until I’m completely out of options. He’s always telling me to move on to my next novel, and if this one never gets published, I can return to it and tinker with it again a few novels into my future.
Then there’s my husband, who is much less easily-discouraged and generally a much faster worker than me, who says he thinks the best course of action would be to revise the manuscript now before querying again.
I say that I need a luscious piece of dark chocolate, some iced coffee and an episode of “Dr. Who?” before anyone even thinks about mentioning writing to me again.
I thought some of you might be interested in what it looked like for me to write my first novel.
I began my 130,000-word fantasy novel for school…kind of. “Writing the Novel,” the much-anticipated class required for OU’s professional writing degree, started in the fall. However, I jumped in to my novel the summer before.
What can I say? I couldn’t wait! I spent the summer hammering out a general outline, plus the first few chapters of the book. So:
Summer ’10 – I wrote the outline. The outline was not comprehensive – if anything, it was a mere skeleton of the story. It included the backstory, introduction, a handful of central plot points that moved the story along, and the conclusion. The outline continuously guided me to the next big thing, but hammering out the murky places in between was a do-as-I-go process.
August – December ’10 – I wrote. And wrote and wrote and wrote. Even when I hated it, I kept going. I didn’t edit as I wrote – my professor insisted we would get too hung up on little mistakes, and probably not finish the manuscript, if we didn’t simply plow through. He wanted us to prove to ourselves we could do what seemed so out of reach – finish – before we nit-picked at details.
I finished the required 50,000 words demanded for class halfway through the semester, but I was only halfway done with the novel.
January ’11 – May ’11 – I wrote the ending, since it was required for class whether or not we had completed the manuscript, but I was about four to five chapters shy of actually completing the first draft of my novel.
May ’11 – June ’11 – First draft, complete! I took a break from the manuscript for a little while, then moved on.
July ’11 – September ’11 – I began the draft number two, which meant running a wide-toothed comb through the story to fix glaringly obvious mistakes, fill in plot gaps, add in chapters that needed to exist and didn’t, and rewrite scenes. It was pretty frustrating at times.
September ’11 – I found out I was pregnant! Chris and I were extremely joyful. However, I experienced profound sleepiness at all hours of the day during the first trimester of my pregnancy. After that, I pretty much dropped writing until after the baby was born, so distracted was I by this new phase of life.
Fast forward 8 months…
Our first child, Ellie, was born!
Fast forward 1 more month…
I decided to jump back into novel writing full-force. Not least because enough people were speaking doom and gloom over my life, and how it was going to crawl to a standstill once the baby was born – I really wanted to prove them wrong (And I did! HA! Take that, you naysayers)! My awesome husband made sure to give me a solid three hours to write, twice a week, away from the house at a coffee shop while he cared for the baby.
June ’12 – September ’12 – I finished the second draft, which meant the novel was really, truly finished and in a complete, coherent, readable form. I was pretty excited about this, and psyched myself up to send off the manuscript to an agent.
September ’12 – Beta Reader 1 suggested significant structural changes. I had a meltdown, after which I ate an entire banana split all by my lonesome. I sent a query letter to one agent to test the waters. I haven’t heard back, yet. If I don’t hear back from him, I’ll return to the manuscript and make the suggested changes in *deep breath* DRAFT THREE, and that will definitely take a few more months at the least. As I am fond of saying, blarglesnorfs.
October ’12 – I’m waiting to get feedback from Beta Readers 3 & 4 (2 just emailed me with an extremely comprehensive commentary, which was simultaneously awesome and overwhelming), as well as hear from the above-mentioned agent. Until then, I’m working on the serial that I’ve already mentioned far too many times in previous posts.
And that, my friends, is what it looked like for me to write my first novel. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a relationship, but – as I know on my more clearheaded days – worth every minute. I’m a much better writer for having completed the project, and it’s an accomplishment to have finished at all. As the fortune cookie paper taped to my laptop reads, “Do not let great ambitions overshadow small success.” So, even if nothing ever comes of the thing (eh, it could go on Kindle, at the least), here’s to the acquired skills that I couldn’t have learned in any class or workshop, skills that come from practice.
Well, my plans for my full-length fantasy novel have taken some twists and turns, which has been more than a bit stressful. Nothing like a good ol’ dose of feeling-like-a-total-noob right before sending your first query letter to an agent. So, today I took a short break from anything related to that project. Instead, I started writing something strictly for my relaxation and your enjoyment.
“Bloodlines of Epheria” is a fantasy serial that I will publish on my blog. Check back frequently to read the next installment, and by all means, leave your feedback! I love interacting with people about story.