Home   |   LCS Prints Store   |   About Me   |   FAQ   

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Back to Earth - IWSG May 2022

Welcome to IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of the amazing and generous Alex Cavanaugh. Thank you to the May co-hosts: Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon! To find links to all IWSG contributors, click here.

This month’s question: It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs? And what are your writer lows?

A few years ago, I signed up for Grub Street’s Muse in the Marketplace. Generally, I’m reluctant to attend conferences because when I arrive, my “I’m-nothing-but-a-fake” demon inflates inside me, but somehow that year I beat down my fear. I even signed up for a critique session which involved sending sample pages to an agent prior to the event.

In spite of high anxiety, the day was a success, the workshops outstanding and in my mind, my agent one-on-one went worlds better than expected. The woman I’d been partnered with seemed engaged. She offered me sound advice and even appeared regretful when our time was up. All I’d wanted that day was to sit with a professional and acquit myself competently, so when she asked me to send her partial of the book I was querying, I didn’t so much walk out of that meeting, I sailed. It was enough of a rush to have enjoyed the conference, but piquing an agent’s interest in my novel? That wasn’t just frosting on the proverbial cake, it was ice cream, homemade fudge sauce and a massive dollop of whipped cream, too. I sent my submission lickety split.

But that’s all she wrote—pun very much intended—because I received no follow up—no request to read more, no “Thanks, but no thanks.” Nothing. Zip.

Now in case you’re wondering, by that point I’d written three books and queried two. I’d received partial requests, full requests, every manner of form rejection and was no stranger to dead air. But that day, I let my guard down. I left the conference over the moon. My husband took me out to dinner that night and I couldn’t stop talking. I was so proud of myself for conquering my fears, and while I wasn’t expecting a book deal out of it, I was convinced the agent was enthusiastic. I thought at least I’d get a helpful letter telling me why she was rejecting my novel. But instead, I got nada. I emailed after a couple of months, crossing my fingers that the lack of communication was an oversight, but received no reply to my email either.

I get it. Agents drown in volume. One  needs to be a great writer with a unique concept with the best query, and it needs to land in front of the right person at the perfect time. I can’t imagine all the queries agents (or their assistants and interns) have to wade through. But darn it. That meeting filled me with hope. These days, the cynic in me figures I was na├»ve—that requesting a partial was that agent’s personal code for “no interest.” It was easier than saying “no” face-to-face to an eager author wanna-be.

So, there it is, a best and worst tied together. Nothing earth shattering. I keep writing. Periodically I rouse myself to query some more. But this month’s question triggered the memory of that happy day I blasted off like a skyrocket, only to drift to earth a few months later—wondering how I’d managed to fool myself into believing my agent meeting had been a success.

17 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maybe it never got past her assistant. Maybe she left the agency. Frustrating with no answer because you'll never know.

Douglas Thomas Greening said...

That whole practice of ghosting seems to be an acceptable practice to many people that hold some kind of power. Hiring agents, financial investors, and others that seem to have forgotten or never themselves truly experienced the courage it takes to approach someone in their position. I can't count how many times I've been told we should do lunch sometime and review your ideas. If had waited for those lunches, I'd still be starving.

My wife is fond of saying, "If it is meant to be, it will be." Fortunately, I've learned to make my own lunch.

Thank you for sharing, Liza.

Karen Baldwin said...

That's awful. With all the technogy around, I wonder why agents can't have programs, an app or something that sends out generic replies - especially if they've engaged with you at a conference - like, "Sorry, I have to pass, but don't give up." All they'd have to do is "click" the response, or have their assistant do it. Waiting is the worst, but a little consideration is needed.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I still think it's a high experience to get a request for a partial. But yes, many times it goes no farther than the request. It would have been nice if the agent had sent a follow-up email, but it often sadly doesn't happen.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Letting our guard down is so hard to do because while we then get a chance at those wonderful highs, it also opens us up to those brutal lows. Sigh.

Nick Wilford said...

I'm glad you let yourself feel that high because it was still a massive achievement to attend the conference and speak to that agent, even if that result left a lot to be desired. You should be proud! As Douglas says, I think many people on the other side of the desk have forgotten what it means to be the one approaching them.

Jan Morrison said...

Hello dear woman, I totally feel this pain. It is so common that I have calluses on my psyche from it. I've started calling it The Brazil Effect. I don't know if you remember or saw the movie 'Brazil' directed by Terry Gilliam (Monty Python) in 1985 - but it is about, as I recall, a dystopian future where all the infrastructure is falling apart and bureaucracy has solidified any progress. People do not get back to you. And if you try and tweak their memory about promises made they stare at you impassively as if you'd just asked them when they were barbequing their children. Keep on keeping on - you are a very good writer and it will happen. I know it.

Joanne said...

I think Alex is right - a lot of maybe factors, but that's also SO disappointing. I feel your joy from that day, and then the dashed hopes. I've been there and that doesn't help you. Keep writing, keep persisting, keep blogging on here. Enjoy what you write and do and keep throwing the spaghetti on the wall. It might stick, might not. But you can always say you tried! Proud to know you.

Fundy Blue said...

Oh, Liza! That experience is awful. Actually, I consider that agent unethical. If an agent is participating in a conference by offering critiques on sample pieces of writing, she should be willing to respond to someone whose work she critiqued. If she wasn't, then she had no business at that conference. So I really feel for you. Don't give up! I'm prepared to self-publish if I need to. Take care. Sending you a big hug!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Querying certainly does open us up to the highs and lows! Glad you've kept on writing. I remember when I was trying to get an academic post; even after an interview sometimes I only know I didn't get the job when they announced publicly that they were hiring so-and-so. It sucks because it makes you feel insignificant.

Sherry Ellis said...

How frustrating! But at least you got over your fears and enjoyed the first part of the experience.

Kim Elliott said...

That sounds like it was an amazing day at the conference, but I'm sorry the agent didn't work out as you'd hoped. At least it was good practice!

Damyanti Biswas said...

Oh my, I'm so sorry things didn't work out.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

I felt crushed right along with you, Liza. Gosh! This writing thing is a difficult gig. Still, bravo to you receiving even partial requests to see your writing--your story.

Stick with it, Liza! I believe in you! All best to you.

Chemist Ken said...

That's why I'm self-publishing. The chances of everything lining up just right enough that you get a publishing deal are just too low these days. It's more of a lottery now. Have you ever considered self-publishing?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liza - it comes with the turf of being an aspiring author - just good and all the best ... keep writing - cheers Hilary

Shannon Lawrence said...

The lack of response is the most frustrating thing to me, both in submitting short stories and in querying agents for novels. It feels deeply disrespectful when a form response can't at least be sent so you stop waiting to hear from them. I pitched an agent and got an ask for a full once. Saw her a few months in at a different event, and she told me she was reading it then. Then nothing. Not a thing. Why hype me up multiple times then no response? I get it's part of the business, but it IS frustrating. Sorry you were given that hope then nothing.