Archive for the ‘Getting Published Sucks’ Category

Literary Agent Elana Roth is giving all looking for professional representation a one-of-a-kind look into the life and mind of a literary agent. For the first time that I have ever seen, an agent is detailing exactly how many queries they reject or accept, some of the flaws contained within the queries and the best part: exactly why they accepted or rejected them. Ms. Elana Roth of the Caren Johnson Literary Agency is just that agent, blogging her statistics, and better yet her commentary on exactly why so many of the queries she receives get rejected almost immediately. Now, here at the Rogue Imagineer, you all should know better than this, but just in case you don’t, here are some of the things she outlined. Needless to say they are stupefying:

“…there were a few cases where the querier CCed the entire industry on the email. I don’t respond to those and they get deleted.”

“This was the first month I got a query sent from an iPhone. Yep, “Sent from my iPhone” signature at all. And it was one of the categories I don’t rep. So that person’s tactics probably need some re-evaluation.”

“…the ever-rising syndrome of “just plain unprofessional” letters, that show me people are querying somewhat casually. Several other agents have commented on this on their blogs this week, so I’ll just reiterate their points. Whether it’s just that the internet blew the lid off the filters, or that people are lazy, it is definitely too easy to send off those letters.”

Think that is bad? That is only the beginning. People spelled her name wrong, queried her for genres she clearly does not represent, ignored her requests for no specific characteristics (E.g. vampires. I hear you, Ms. Roth), in the words of Yul Brenner: “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…”

I have included the link to Ms. Roth’s blog below. Go read it. NOW.
And as always, keep writing, keep moving forward and keep your chin up! Getting published sucks! Might as well have some fun with it! Leave me a comment below!

Elana Roth’s Blog


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Photo Courtesy of Rubberball Photos

Getting published sucks…or at least it seems that way.

So, many times over I have submitted, been rejected, submitted, been rejected, submitted again, been rejected again, then submitted once more and…WE LIKE YOU! SEND US MORE!

Yay! Now I wait, wait and wait some more…then, finally, in a flurry of excitement (and extreme nausea) I hold the returned manuscript in my hands (or behold the response in my e-mail).  Despite all of the fantastical, fabulous responses you and I have dreamed of and conceived, there will only ever be two responses at this point:

1. You suck. Your manuscript sucks. We hate you. We hope you die.


Of course these are exaggerated (for everyone else that is, for me, this is exactly what happens). However, at their essence, this is what happens. Agencies receive such a gluttony of responses and material that once it has made a decision, the decision will be quick, precise and generally to the point. E.g., they will not waste time in the letter. You will either be told A. We want to represent you or B. Unfortunately, it is not for us.

As cruel as it may seem, do not fool yourself. If it is any response other than acceptance, the agency did not like it. Instead of believing what they write you and reading too far into it, ask yourself “Why didn’t they like me/my manuscript/my idea?” Now, don’t do this in a fling of self-pity, despair or drunkeness. That will get you nowhere. Instead, wait a couple of days or even a week (that is what I try to do), then give yourself and your manuscript a thorough self-examination to learn from your failure.  Or better still, politely and professionally ask the agent.

“But Mr. Rogue Imagineer! You said never to contact them after you’re rejected!”

True. But that was for a simple query/partial submission and rejection. If you have been asked for a manuscript and then get subsequently rejected, you have FAR more rights and capabilities than before. At this level, you DESERVE an explanation as to why they didn’t like you and/or your manuscript. I mean specifics too.

Now, most PROFESSIONAL agents/agencies will give you this information in the rejection letter. “Your novel had a strong voice, great exposition and interesting characters, but unfortunately the flow of the plot, specifically in the first half of the novel, and the tone of the novel were not as well developed as we were hoping for.”

This is a good thing. This gives you (and me) something to work with as well as explaining why the agency essentially wasted the last 2-3 months of your life (especially considering that more and more agencies are requiring exclusivity when considering manuscripts, a practice I believe should be done away with, but that is just my opinion). Take this information, ask some professionals or peers around you to analyze your work for these issues, then consider revising the manuscript.

However, situations arise where the agency does not send an explanation, or even a reply. If the agency did not send an explanation, send a polite and succint e-mail asking for one from the agent his/herself or call the agency directly (again, calm, polite and professional is key). If the agency sent no response at all (e.g. they still have your manuscript and the quoted period has passed), then call (DON’T E-MAIL) and politely ask for a status update from the agent him/herself. If you cannot get an update, cannot get through to the agency, and/or are getting the “run-around”, then do some research about the agency. A good source is a fabulous website called Preditors and Editors.com (http://www.pred-ed.com)

This website’s goal is to assist and protect new authors and writers from predatory agents/agencies and expose the ugly side of the publishing world, a side some want to stay buried. The site is so accurate and so cited, that the website and its owners have been hit with legal action as an attempt to keep these practices under wraps. However, the website also highlights agents/agencies/editors that are known to be helpful, professional and serious about what they do, not to mention ethical. If you have not received a response at all and have tried to recitfy the communication issue, then consider researching this website to see if your agent/editor has been classified as predatory. If they have, immediately contact them and demand your manuscript be returned (by law they either have to return or destroy it, any other action is considered a possible copyright violation). You may or may not get a response from this, but either way, make sure you document the request. It could be vital to protecting yourself.

By chance, though, if the agency has not been reported to Preditors & Editors, then consider reporting them so that future writers (and even publishers) are not taken by them. This is an unfortunate step, but one that is becoming all too common during the representation process.

Negatives notwithstanding, ultimately, getting your manuscript should be an exciting process regardless of the response. Rejoice if accepted, learn if rejected. Either way, you win. It just depends on the way you look at it.

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Photo Courtesy of Rubberball Photos

Getting Published Sucks.

At least some of the time…

So now, you have written the query, waited, gotten rejected, re-written it, re-submited it, waited some more, had a cup of tea, waited again, got a “nibble” and THEN….nuthin’.

This definitely sucks. Waiting? Okay. Replies? Patience, my young padawan. Nuthin’? YOU DO NOT YET KNOW THE POWER OF THE DARKSIDE!

How do you know it’s bad? Well, hearing an asthmatic James Earl Jones monologue in your head is a bad sign.  However, if you start trying to shoot lightning out of your fingers at the agent in question then you KNOW it’s bad.

Let’s get serious for a second. You have done all this work, gotten a faint glimmer of hope, and now, after all that excitement, you have a big steaming pile of nada.  Welcome to publishing! I’m Satan, nice to meet you…

The honest to god truth is that this period of waiting for your manuscript to be reviewed is truly one of the most excruciantingly exciting and simultaneously torturous waiting periods in your publishing process. Unlike waiting for a response from a query, which, especially with e-mail submissions, warrants a response very quickly, the manuscript submission can take weeks,  many times even months, to receive a response.

Why? Simple, agents are busy. Really busy. You just can’t possibly imagine how incredibly, durastically, ridiculously busy they are. Also, what you probably don’t realize is that they are just as excited about finding a new client as your are about finding an agent. What does this mean?

Well…don’t freak out. It generally means that if an agent likes your manuscript enough to offer you representation, that agent will seek you out VERY QUICKLY. Ergo, if an agent gives you a response time of 6-8 weeks for your manuscript, the likelihood of representation decreases exponentially after you move past the half-way point of the outer time bound. E.g. 4 weeks for the above.

That is not to say it won’t still happen, agents are people too and they are just as strange as you and me. It is perfectly conceivable for an agent who loves your short 40,000 word novella to take 3 months to offer you represenation. They may be busy, they may read like molasses in winter, they may just like to sit on manuscripts and read them all at once in a singular week of masochism. Who knows! The point is you still have a chance, it’s just not a good one.

Nuthin’ sucks! But keep your head up! Perseverance, perseverance, perseverance…

Leave me a comment! Just say anything, let me know you read!

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Getting Published Sucks.

Or I should say TRYING to get published sucks.

At least most of the time….

However, every once in a while there is a break in the perpetual never ending hole of suckiness that is trying to get published. That break comes in the form of wonderful, short-lived, wholly  misleading sparks of hope known as nibbles. Nibbles are exactly what they sound like, nibbles. Little bits of interest in your work from an agent or a publisher. You send in a query ( if you haven’t yet done that or are  just curious about what sort of unimaginable fun that part of the process is, please see episode 1: The Query Menace, you may just never want to write anything else ever again…) then you wait (a joy we also discussed in episode 1).

Waiting in and of itself is pure torture, but sometimes, in a supernova of orgasmic electronic communication, you get a reply back from an agent that is NOT a rejection. Your heart stops, your eyes widen,  your stomach jumps into your throat and you do an internal jump for estatic joy mixed with a strange urge to suddenly vomit on everything. Now this nibble will look one of two ways:

1. Please forward me “X” sample chapters (and/or synopis), the first 10, 30, 50 pages of your manuscript.

2. Please  send the manuscript.

Both are AWESOME. The second is better, exponentially so, but the first is still a huge step forward, it just isn’t the entire book. Plus, the first involves more of the best thing in the entire process! WAITING! YAY!

Now that you have a nibble, after the excitement dies out, let me give you some advice in the words of Douglas Adams:


This is a good thing. Do NOT:

-Decide to edit your entire manuscript in 10 minutes.

-Figure this is an excellent opportunity to rewrite the whole novel in a day.

-Spontaneously combust. (It just makes a mess…)

This is important: Aside from spotting a glaring error that needs to be corrected, do NOT do anything to what you have written. Make like Paul McCartney and let it be. If it sucks when you go to embed it, it will only suck worse if you try to change it. Why? You are excited, pumped, freaking out and nervous, a veritable TNT concoction for complete disaster. Don’t do it.

What else not to do:

1. Attach a manuscript without being asked 2. Attach ANYTHING without being asked 3. Forget to embed the sample 4. Forget to send the e-mail (no I am not joking) 5. Forget to thank the agent 6. Decide this is the perfect opporutnity to draft your life story as a thank you (the agent will not feel thanked)

And finally, most importantly…ENJOY! Your nibble is awesome! Once you get one, you are addicted for life. The rush is almost as good as a theme park ride. (almost.) Just don’t let your brain go to pot in that rush of awesome.

Question of the Day: Have you ever gotten a nibble for anything in life? What was it and how awesome was it? (being bitten by mosquitos, sharks, small children DO count!) Let me know below!

*Gush about me: I myself got a nibble today for my novel! A full manuscript request! I am Andrew, and I am SWEET AT LIFE.

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Or, Why Query Writing Sucks!Getting published sucks.

Okay, so what I mean to say is trying to get published sucks. Getting published in and of itself is awesome beyond the boundaries of all awesomeness, or at least I imagine it is, for all I know getting published could turn out to be a dreadful experience, but I will take my chances and err on the side of awesomeness. Yes…it will be awesome.

However, getting to that level of almost unattainable awesomeness is like carrying a possessed ring to the top of a fiery volcano while fighting through Orcs and trying not to die alone the way. It’s like finding out you’re wizard, that you have to save an entire world, it taking seven years to do so and when it’s finally time, you have to die to do it.  It’s like being given an enchanted compass, traveling the world to find your friend only to hand him over to be killed, then journeying through the multi-verse just to defeat a terrible god-like entity only to discover that he is nothing more than an old dude in a box.

These literary allusions doing anything for you? No? Well then suffice to say it sucks.

Of course, the first step any new author must take is  the most damnable, awful, annoying, terrible, masochistic, torturous, nauseating step in the entire process.  Those with heart problems be warned! This revelation has been known to induce trembling and internal hemorrhaging simply at the mention of it!

It is the devil known as QUERYING. (**dramatic music, thunder and lightning, hail, all manner of plague, weeping and gnashing of teeth ensue**)

Querying is a sadistic practice in which a new, hopeful author creates a letter detailing themselves as an author, the general plot of their work and any other fancy-pants credentials that say to the agent “See! This says I can write a book!”.

Now, their are two types of queries, A GOOD query, and a BAD query.

Good Query: Dear (Agent), Hello, my name is (bluh-bluh-bluh) and I am seeking representation for my novel, Whatever, a 78,000 word expose on the trials and tribulations facing a young beaver as he journeys to the city…

BAD query: Dear Sir and/or Madam (or “to whom it may concern”, or the absolute worst, “dear agent”), I am totally pumped for what I’m ’bout to show ya! Its the bitchin’est novel since that one russian dude wrote than one book about that one thing! Prepare to blown away…

This may seem like I am being facetious, but I have read queries that are WAY, WAAAY worse than that last one. Look up “bad literary queries”, you will get positive treasure troves of examples of ACTUAL, real queries that are SOOO much worse! Why do I point this out? Because it is easy to see why these queries not only get rejected, but downright don’t even get read. However, my queries look nothing like this. They are prime examples of excellent letter writing skills with perfect grammar, excellent, concise exposition and perfect formatting.

How do I know this? Am I just full of myself? No, I know this because my queries get accepted all the time!


Hold up, what’s the problem then?

One word: waiting. This is beyond just simple patience or perseverance. We’re talking Jedi-like waiting. Weeks, sometimes MONTHS, of gainless, answerless, empty waiting. Like Yoda on Dagoba waiting for Luke in a swamp, waiting.

This waiting also has only one of two possible outcomes. In fact, the entire agent/publishing process only has two possible outcomes:

1. Get Published 2. Keep Waiting

I am the latter of the two. I have submitted over 75 queries in the last two years and have been rejected over 65 times. Yes, you read that right, there are some agencies that do not even bother rejecting you (which is a whole ‘nother rant entirely). The real kicker is that 25 of those rejections were to the first query, the rest, after I sent either sample chapters or the manuscript itself. Meaning that I waited not once, but twice to get rejected! The fun never stops!

Add to this the time to actually write and formulate the query itself, a process which if done correctly and personalized to the agent (which is a definite MUST DO if you EVER want your work to see the outside of a wastebasket. Believe me, my manuscript has seen the wastebasket, it and the wastebasket are friends, they vacation together, hell, they are thinking about filing a joint tax return…) can take hours or even days. If an agent then wants a synopsis you can go ahead and just kiss your life for the next few days adios. Seriously, synopsises are Satan. Try writing one if you don’t believe me, go ahead, I’ll wait….wasn’t that just horrible? I shudder at the thought…

However, at the end of the day, queries are part of the game, a game you have to learn to enjoy to keep from losing your mind before you start trying to make time machines out of Deloreans…I’m just saying…. My patience has been tested over and over again with this process, and the more it tests me, the more I am invigorated by the chase. Yes, queries suck…but so do spiders, yet without them the world would be taken over by mosquitos and horse flies.  (That analogy sounded really awesome in my head…)

So strap on your query kickin’ boots and get ready to take names! You can’t avoid them, so let’s show ’em what we authors are made of…

They can reject our BOOKS! But they can NEVER REJECT OUR FREEEEDDDOOOOM!!!!!!

*Now, I should take a moment to note that if you get a request to see any work at all, it is definitely something to get excited about. In fact, most people never seen that point in the process at all, so I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to have achieved the level of success in rejection that I have achieved. It still sucks that I have not been published. That is simply incontrovertible, but it most definitely sucks less! Yay for positive thinking! Snaps for you!

Question of the day: How many times have you been rejected?? Whether in trying to get published, find love, get a job, etc.? Leave a comment in the comment section below!!

Rejection is part of life, let’s share it with one another!

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