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  1. #1
    Jackie Andrews

    Unreal experience

    Hello, everyone. I've been lurking on this board and others like it for a couple of weeks now. I wanted to post my little story to see what my fellow writers thought about it.
    I wrote a novel about five years ago. Worked on that sucker day and night for about a year and a half. Did the querying thing, received one request for a full, sent it, got the expected rejection. That was it -- nobody else even wanted to see it.
    The novel then sat on the shelf for, oh, about three years. About a month ago, I dusted it off and found that it was truly HORRIBLE. I mean, I was CRINGING at my own writing and at what I thought was ready for publication. So I ripped it up, restructured it, cut about 30,000 extraneous words (literally). Did Round Two of the querying process, sent out 81 queries to agents in my genre. This was at the end of February. Three days later -- three days! -- I got phone calls from two major players in the biz asking for fulls (AAR, etc.). Three days after that -- three days! -- I got a call from one of them saying they wanted to sign me IMMEDIATELY. So, what do I do? I sign, of course. (I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid.)
    Long story short, this agent is big-time (recommended by P&E, reps several NYT bestselling authors, made at least one multi-MILLION dollar deal that I know of). I guess what I'm saying is -- I'm STUNNED. One week after querying, I sign. So, maybe some of you can take heart with my story. Just keep plugging away. It CAN happen to you! Although the industry is known to move at a glacial pace, things can happen VERY quickly if the enthusiasm is there from "an insider."
    Oh, one more thing -- I happen to feel that my own writing SUCKS, which is another reason why I'm stunned. Do any of you ever experience crushing self-doubt -- even when others tell you your work is great?
    Sorry for the long post! I'd love to hear anybody's thoughts on this crazy experience of mine (and the self-doubt thing).

  2. #2
    Christos Angelis

    Re: Unreal experience

    Congratulations, both for your success with the agents and for your initiative to share your story and inspire others.

    As for self-doubts...
    Although it is understandable (we've all been there) to think that your writing skills aren't that good, it is, nevertheless, something that you need to discard from your mentality. You must believe in your work; better, you need to believe in your strengths and to know your limitations.

    Has anyone noticed that the word "strengths" has 8 consonants and only one vowel? It even has 5 consonants in the row. I doubt that another english word can top that

  3. #3
    Jackie Andrews

    Re: Unreal experience

    Thanks, Christos. And you're definitely right about discarding the "I'm-not-good-enough" mentality. The weird thing is that sometimes I read my own stuff and think it's pretty good, other times I think it's AWFUL. Curse of the writer, I guess. I wish you well in your quest (if you're on one)!

  4. #4
    Arthur .

    Re: Unreal experience

    That's great, Jackie! I doubt if your work "sucks" -- not three years ago and not now. You have proof that it is imaginative, well-written and salable. My experience was no so dramatic as yours. I had no luck with agents until a mutual friend introduced me to one. Then she sold four novels for me! I love coming here for these kind of stories. I went to Smoko first and they were talking like ladies getting their hair done at a salon. Really shallow and stupid stuff about television shows that only Jerry Springer types watch. I blessed them out and left, praying for a revolution there so the real writers could talk too. For some reason, fools post over and pover again, as if they were on messenger or a telephone. How selfish! But again, you'rfe one of "us" now Jackie and you'll know what I mean as soon as you go to Smoko and get pushed out by some dumb jerk ratlling on about that reality designer program.

  5. #5
    Arthur .

    PS for everyone else here

    Pardon me! I didn't mean to imply that unpublished writers are frivilous, like those ladies who took over Smoko. No, if you care about literature, if you're seriously working a book or idea for a book, if you want to publish -- they you are a serious writer, and you'll almost no doubt find publication. I'm talking about those chatter boxes at Smoko who chat as if they owned the forum. Some of us serious go there and complain. Let's embarrass them into letting us in their closed box.

  6. #6
    Molly Tenbrooks

    Re: Unreal experience


    That's one inspiring story. It reinforces two important points--polish makes a huge difference and a single rejection means nothing.

    To further enlighten the agent seekers:

    To what genre do the manuscript and the 81 agents belong?

    How did you--generally--structure your query letter?

    Did you query via email, snail mail, both?

    When can we buy your book?


  7. #7
    Jackie Andrews

    Re: Unreal experience

    Thanks for the kind words. You're quite right about the polishing, and to answer your questions, Molly:
    The genre is mystery.
    I structured the query with the usual opening "I'm seeking representation for my 90,000-word completed novel, TITLE, then suggested the work may appeal to fans of a certain famous author. From there, I had a paragraph about the protagonist and the difficulties she was facing. Then a couple of paragraphs about the antagonist (much more interesting character, IMO). Wrapped it up with a (very) short paragraph about my credentials and the usual niceties.
    As for the third question: When can you buy my book? Ha! I wish I had that same kind of confidence! Right now I'm still expecting the "Oops! We messed up call." But I already got the editorial letter pointing out plot weaknesses and I did the re-write in about a week. (I was PUMPED!) So, for what it's worth, I encourage everybody to stick with it!

  8. #8
    Butterfly Sea

    Re: Unreal experience

    That is awesome.... Great for you! It is nice to hear something positive about the life of writers. (cool beans)

  9. #9

    Re: Unreal experience

    Richard, you have lost all self-respect.

  10. #10
    Savannah Thorne

    Re: Unreal experience

    Jackie, I had a similar experience but unfortunately I sent to several agents with an "unready" MS. How embarrassing! When I went back through it I found inconsistencies (I think it was day and then night at one point), some other mistakes, and some just plain crappalicious language. I cleaned it up and in my first new send out was lucky enough to find an agent who loved it.

    I hope your story and mine will make a few folks think twice about sending unready stuff out. The old saying of "stick it in a drawer for a year" is truer than one might think. It takes some distance to be able to read your own work clearly and objectively, with a good editor's eye.

    Like you said, though, just keep plugging away! Keep working. Keep trying. Self-doubt happens to everyone, but so does enthusiasm. Make the best of it and hang in there, everyone!

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