Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On Rejection in the Literary World: Pitching Piercing the Fold to Literary Agents and Publishing Houses

I have  been hammering the literary agents and publishing houses nationwide with my manuscript for the past two months.  Some would like it formatted this way. Some would like it formatted that way.  Some will only take electronic submissions.  Some would like to receive a full manuscript by mail only along with cover letter and a SASE.  Some don't want all of the manuscript; just the first 50 pages.  Some would like the first two chapters.  The list goes on. 
I can safely say that I have sent all of these variances of my manuscript for Piercing the Fold to about 25 literary agents/ publishing houses.  And, I have been "passed on" almost all of those times. 
"It is not my cup of tea at the moment." or "This genre is very competitive and it is not the right fit for us right now." or "This industry is very subjective and what might not appeal our agency, might appeal another." 
The rejections have been great!  I know, you are probably thinking I have flipped my lid.  But hear me out.
Keeping to simplicity and not over-analyzing it, I am thinking of rejection in two ways.

ONE,  what an amazing opportunity to reveal the process of rejection and perserverance to my children.  First hand, my kids are watching thier mother package and send a manuscript in hope of receiving the ultimate dream for a writer, publication by a publishing house. 
Here's how it looks:

Child D: "Hey mom, what are you doing on the computer?"
Mom:  " I am putting together a submission of my book to a person that might want to promote me and get my book published."
Child D: "I have read part of it.  It is awesome mom. They will publish it!"
Mom: "We will see."

...2 weeks later.

Mom: "Hey D, can you get the mail honey?"
Child D: "K."
Child D: "Hey mom! You got a letter from _______ Agency.  Is this for your book?"
Mom: "Well, I don't know. Let me open it."  (Mom can't help but get a little giddy at this point too)
Child D:  "Did they like it?  They have to like it mom.  It is awesome!  L, mom got a letter from someone who might publish her book!"
Child L; "Awesome mom! Did they like it?"
(Great- now the room is filled with hopes.  I read the rejection. "Unfortunately, we are going to have to pass.  Best wishes on finding the right agency.")
Mom:  "Well, they didn't think it was a book that they wanted to promote L and D."
Child D: "What? I think your book is amazing mom.  I love the main character the best."
Child L: "Don't worry mom.  You are going to keep trying, right?"
Mom: (with excitement and smiles) "Of Course!  Here is the thing.  I believe in this book that I have written.  I am a little sad about this letter.  But, you know what?"
Child D and L: (as they hug on me for support; God, I love those kids!) "What mom. "
Mom:  Because of this letter, I am going to work harder on the next package I mail out. I am not going to give up, because I know that my idea is great. I just need to find the write people to carry it to publishing."
Child L: "Good mom! Love you."

That dialogue is a priceless lesson for my children.  To see their mother taking the steps of performing, putting herself out there, being "passed on", and keeping on! Making it evident in their eyes that even moms and dads are not untouchable when it comes to failure or rejection.  I am more human rather than super, human, untouchable mommy to them now.  And, when they feel the pangs of rejection, they won't come to me thinking I don't get it. Because they have seen me get it first hand- and I didn't hide any of it!

The SECOND way I see these rejections,  or "passes", is more personal.  Many of you know that I am a Texas Realtor, and I practiced real estate actively in Austin, Tx. Pitching a manuscript is much like real estate.  I am trying to sell an idea, a vision,  to a targeted market (the agents).  It is very rare that you sell a house on the first day on market. I have had the blessing of doing this 3 times in my 7 year career in real estate.  But, it just doesn't happen often.  Many consumers will pass on a property because it doesn't fit their style or needs at the moment. 
So, when I see a rejection letter (and I am very comfortable saying "rejection letter")  I see it not as a failure, but as an opportunity to strengthen my pitch, re-edit my manuscript where needed, and send out to another agency that might need that exact genre at that very moment.  It is all timing!  And, I am not giving up; so eventually I will catch the right time!

I have received one follow-up with an literary agent.  I must say that I am excited! But, much like real estate, a follow-up is not an offer.  So I will keep the submissions going. 

There are many more agencies and publishing houses to send to.  I have only touched on a quarter of the agencies and houses that are looking at submissions from the Young Adult Fiction genre. 

All in all,  promoting Piercing the Fold has been motivational for me and my kids. 
And, book 2, Surfacing the Rim, has already been outlined and is being drafted right now on in the other window of my desktop! 

Keep on keeping on!

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