Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beautiful Rejection.

After 30 rejection letters and 12 no-responses, trying to land a literary agent can start to feel like a fruitless effort.


See, the thing that is really hard about submitting your work to agents is that you usually get back form rejections.  They are pre-written and usually say things like, "Thanks for thinking of me, but this is not right for my list at this time."  Sometimes, after you're lucky enough to have someone request the entire manuscript, you'll hear something vague like, "I liked it, but I didn't feel on board with the relationship at the beginning."  (This type of thing leaves you wondering, why not? Does that mean it needs to be rewritten? Is this just a personal opinion? Does the relationship feel contrived, somehow?) And guess what?  You aren't allowed to ask for clarification.

As a writer, you are kept in the dark and you have to deduce what literary agents really mean.  Does "not right for my list" mean "eh, I'm not interested in this type of story" or "you can't write worth crap"?  When one agent told me "you're clearly a very talented writer" and another said "I admire the quality of the writing and the execution", do they mean that?  Or is that simply a form rejection that everyone gets?  There's really no way to tell.

Discouraged, I recently began submitting to a handful of small presses instead of directly to agents.  Being signed by a small press has its ups and downs (generally you don't get an advance, and you get less publicity than with a large press) but I figured, what the hell.  I'll give it a try.  The worst they could do is reject me, and by now I'm used to that.

I just got the most beautiful rejection letter back from a small press.  Here it is, in part:

Hi Alison,

I enjoyed your chapters, but this isn’t the kind of text [our press] is interested in. That is, we are committed to publishing excellent work that, given the current publishing milieu and market, is unlikely to be otherwise published.

Your writing, and what I imagine of the whole book from your description, on the contrary, is much in demand, consequently much wanted by regular publishers.

I would send the ms around to more mass market houses than we are, and agents that list “romance fiction” as what they’re looking for. I think you have a good chance of getting this book published in a marketplace far larger than literary fiction.

So I guess maybe I was a little off-base calling this literary fiction with romance elements…I submitted to nine new agents who specialize in romance and general fiction, so we'll see what this yields.  All in all, the best rejection I could have gotten: one that lit a fire under my discouraged ass and got me to keep going.  Onward!

Saturday, January 18, 2014 is either really good or really bad.

I've known about for a while, but I'd never really poked around there.  Today I was researching an article I'm working on and I got completely sucked in!

I've been stalled in production for my children's television show for years.  I always get little stops and starts (oh! a famous author agreed to let me use her book! oh…now she's no longer responding to my emails? -and- oh! a guy agreed to help me write math songs! oh…now he's no longer responding to my emails…you get the point!)  The problem is, no one wants to do anything for free, and no one really has the passion to put a lot of time into helping out.  So I'm on my own…and on my own, well…I do my best, but things like work, school, and my novel come first. might be the answer to my troubles.  It's a little soon to tell, but just browsing it, they have a lot of services that I'm looking for: they'll write jingles, record animated intros…hell, there are even people who will record their kids shouting whatever you want.

I'm going to try to scale everything down a bit and see if, by utilizing, I can get this show off the ground…eventually.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

30 by 30 (part 3)

It's officially January…are you ready for installment number 3 of my 30 by 30 list?  Here we go!

9. Christmas shop in NYC
10. Go to "The Real Bedford Falls"
11. See Annie on Broadway
12. Get a latte with latte art

I managed to do all of these things, too!  I didn't really have much to buy when I went shopping in NYC, but I did check out the original Herald Square Macy's (all seven floors!) and buy a Christmas ornament there.

After about three years of wanting to go and missing out, I finally got to The Real Bedford Falls, as I talked all about in this post.  It was amazing! I'm so glad I went.

I just got to see Annie the weekend before last.  The show was great and it pretty much fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine to see Annie live…yet there was something missing from the production that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  Although the performers hit every note and nailed all but three lines (I'm looking mostly at you, Ms. Hannigan!) there was some sort of passion or excitement that the show seemed to be lacking.  That being said, I'm still glad I got to see it before it closed.  It closes in three days, so if you're jonesing for an Annie fix you'd better run and get tickets ASAP!

And oh, lattes with latte art!  This seems like such a small insignificant thing in the grand scheme of my other list items, right? Well, unfortunately latte art is super hard to find around me…and I totally love it. Something about it just makes me so happy.  And I'm willing to go to extremes for this art…which included walking in circles in Hell's Kitchen in sweltering temperatures before I finally found the coffee shop I was looking for, hidden behind construction awnings.
One day I hope to find a shop that does more of the really elaborate types of art.  But until then, this still floats my boat.
(A much paler version of latte art that I managed to find in Massachusetts.)

That's it for now! Four more things checked off my list.  :)