12/9/10

I'm feeling a little verklempt

One of the toughest challenges we face as writers is rejection. Rejection by our peers, both published and otherwise. Rejection by publishing professionals - agents & editors. When you write a book, unless you plan on never showing it to anyone, you run this risk. Somebody is going to read it, and either they will tell you how they feel about it or you will nag them until they ultimately do. Good or bad.

Positive feedback is always welcome and quite the ego boost. Unless it's tempered with constructive criticism, however, it won't help you improve. So when you put your novel out there for everyone to see, for everybody to critique, well, it takes a badge of courage.

Earlier this year, I submitted the first 250 words of Urban Mythos to Authoress's awesome Secret Agent Contest - July Edition. I got plenty of feedback from my peers, mostly good, some bad, but almost all of them had an element of constructive criticism. I came in runner up and won a partial submission to a fabulous agent, who later rejected the partial but offered to have another look should I revise. (I did, and I did.)

This month, Authoress sponsored an absolutely unbelievable contest called the Baker's Dozen Agent Auction. First, you had to be among the first 100+ to get your logline and first 250 words emailed. After that, your logline and first 250 words had to pass muster and make the final cut of 40 total entrants. Then, and this is where it went from fantastic to other-worldly, thirteen agents bid on the entries they liked. Bidding ranged from a five page submission to a full. Not every entry would necessarily receive a bid. In addition to that, one of three published authors provides a critique for each entry as does editor Stacy Whitman.

This was a big big big contest with lots of people watching. The feedback was, shall we say, illuminating. Some of the same folks who read my excerpt before commented again, but there were many others. The critiques were more wide ranging, anywhere from "love this" to "hate this". Generally, it was quite positive, with bits of advice here and there that I take to heart. Whether I agreed with some of the more brusque comments was immaterial - I most definitely took something constructive out of each and every word people wrote and I sincerely appreciate it.

The hardest part this time was sitting by during the day of the bidding and not receiving one nibble. The Patriots had slaughtered my Jets the night before on Monday Night Football, and the day of the auction was my birthday. Alas, there were no agent birthday gifts. I got to feeling a bit melancholy about things. I must admit that three of the thirteen agents in the auction either already have my novel or have rejected it. And these same agents might have been the only three in the auction who would have bid in the first place.

I'll never forget two things that occurred during this contest, though. First, toward the end of the bidding, someone posted... and I quote, "Okay, I just have to say I can't believe no one has bid on this entry yet. It's so original and funny. Hang in there, author!!!" I still didn't receive a bid, but that made me feel pretty darned good.

The second item of note was that many of my writing.com buddies provided their comments as well. I thus name them here:

Louisa
Dawne
Kurt
Annie
Kate
Rachel

What I will most remember is that some of these fine folks took umbrage at one or two negative comments and posted their well conceived and incredibly well crafted rebuttals. I never asked for it and their efforts really weren't necessary - as writers, we all have thick skins.



But it's just the best knowing these great folks have my back. They should know I read their comments with a smile plastered on my face, and as my family would say, I got a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic. Rhode Island is neither a road nor an island. Discuss.

6 comments:

Kate Larkindale said...

I can't believe you didn't get one bite. But it's a good book. Original, fun and a great fast-paced read.

2011 will be your year. I have a feeling about it....

And are you sure Rhode Island isn't an island? I thought it was. Or is it a peninsula?

*hurries off to find an atlas*

M.A.Leslie said...

First off, sorry about the Jets, but go Giants.
I don't know a thing about Rhode Island, but I have always wanted to know why we drive on a Parkway and park on a Driveway?
I have been dealing with a great deal of literary rejection lately and while I try my best not to let it get me down, it does get hurtful.
Well, with all that being said, good luck to you on your new year. You have to get published because I can't wait to read your book.

Louisa said...

That pic is very fitting to the fuddy duddy that took a dig at UM. Taking a bow for my little cyber slap to that unamed fuddy duddy. Dawne take yours ;-)
I'm returning the cyber slap to you Jay for feeling sorry for yourself. Get out of the waaaahmbulance and back on success road/island.

Annie McMahon said...

I felt your pain the day of the auction. I kept checking if you had any bids... Nothing! What were they thinking? Your book is awesome! Can't they recognize a future bestseller when they see one?

I'm not sure about Rhode Island, but I'm wondering why New Jersey is called the Garden States. Where are all the gardens???

Annie McMahon said...

GARDEN STATE, not STATES. Sorry, I didn't get my morning coffee yet. LOL

Jay said...

Kate - Rhode Island does stick out into the water.

M.A. - And... why does the expressway always take longer?

Louisa - I was over it when I woke up December 8th. And seriously - I really appreciated what you did, even though ya didn't need to.

Annie - the farther from the airport and the turnpike you get, the more garden-like it is.