Writer’s pity party

There is nothing attractive about a person who spends all their time bemoaning how hard it is to do whatever it is that they’re having a hard time doing. And it’s doubly annoying when the person in question hasn’t actually been doing anything for months. Sometimes, however, it can’t be helped. I perused my blog backlist to make sure I hadn’t subjected you to this before (which would make the behavior even more egregious) and determined that I was overdue for a pity party.

In 2010, I wrote a post called The end is just the beginning. I had finished my first manuscript and was excited about my prospects. You might want to revisit that post if you need a refresher course on how publishing works, but in short, you send a cover letter and the first ten pages to agents to try to convince them how marketable your book is, and then it’s out of your hands. It doesn’t matter if your manuscript took three months or ten years to write, it all comes down to the thirty seconds the agent (or their assistant) spends with it. (It should come as no surprise that writers spend an inordinate amount of time rewriting the first chapter.)

keyboard and ms

My current manuscript is a middle grade, contemporary fantasy. I’ve submitted it to quite a few agents. While many are never heard from, some have been kind enough to provide the rationale for their rejection. Comments I’ve gotten include:

  • “This is a fun and fresh story but to my ear, the voice isn’t hitting the right notes.”
  • “I love your opening descriptions and felt Megan’s impatience viscerally, but some of the submission read as a bit dramatic and choppy.”
  • “You’ve nailed the family dynamics in this story, that’s for sure… Even with this potential, I’m afraid I found the story a bit too simple and wished it were more developed…”
  • “Right now, the story gives us a little too much play-by-play… This will make the pacing seem slow…”

This manuscript has been critiqued by fabulous readers, published writers, and a few honest-to-goodness industry professionals. I’ve listened, learned, and revised. I’ve taken classes, attended conferences, and yes, paid for professional help. I’ve tried to address the agents’ concerns, some I didn’t agree with, and some have been too overwhelming to think about. In any case, unless an agent invites you to revise and resubmit it doesn’t really matter, because, as they all tell you, another agent may feel differently. But then again, they may not.

You can see how crazy-making it can be.

I have a few options at this point. Give up my dream, start a new project, or pull up my big girl pants and go back to work on my current manuscript.

I know what I should do. The question is, can I motivate myself to do it?

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11 responses to “Writer’s pity party

  1. I have read a ton of books lately that are written by unknown authors I have discovered on Amazon via bookbub. Often, I after reading a free book, I end purchasing additional books. In one or two cases, I have bought every other book the author has written. All that to say, have you considered self publishing on a venue such as Amazon?

    • Thanks for writing. As to the question of self-publishing, first I’d need to be convinced that it’s as good as I can make it. In my black little heart I know I’ve shirked my responsibility to my ms, so no, not yet.

  2. Been there, am there, continue to be there…nothing about this work is easy. But we have stories to tell, and I happen to love your story.

  3. LOL on how unattractive it is to bemoan how hard it is to do whatever we are having a hard time doing – that’s me in a nutshell. Losing weight, finding a job, being a working mom. I call it venting. Sometimes we just have to get it off our chest.

    I cannot believe you are having such a hard time – I read a lot of books, and your writing is better than 75% of them.

  4. LOL on how unattractive it is to bemoan how hard it is to do whatever we are having a hard time doing – that’s me in a nutshell. Losing weight, finding a job, being a working mom. I call it venting. Sometimes we just have to get it off our chest.

    I cannot believe you are having such a hard time – I read a lot of books, and your writing is better than 75% of them.

  5. Oops, somehow that posted with my blog name.

  6. This was a fun, and educational read! (although some of the rejection comments needed editing… ). For the life of me, I cannot figure out what makes an agent decide to publish vs. not to publish. I was grateful to hear that they want the first 10 pages of book in addition to the pitch letter. I always thought the idea of a pitch letter was really bizarre. (Perhaps they need to know how the book jacket would read?) However, I do know that a few of my favorite books did not “take off” until I get further into the book. (“Confederacy of Dunces” and “A Man Called Ove” fall in this category). Maybe you should run for office? Politicians seem to have no trouble getting published. Good luck, Judy! You have many fans.

    • Thanks, Candace. I’m sorry to say that I have also encountered some agents who only want to see the query. I guess if the idea has no appeal then they don’t want to waste a second longer than necessary. Mind you, this is for children’s books, agents for adult work may be different (although if anything, they’re probably tougher).

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