Tuesday, July 28, 2020

You Think You're Close... But Then

I recently saw a post by a fellow agent who talked about one author's first book selling. As always, this is a great time to rejoice and celebrate. But the take-away I noted (and this is not to be negative) is that it took over 1 year of trying to massage the book, get it ready and then the marketing. As I continually say over here, it takes time. 

But it did get me thinking of the numerous times I have seen authors state that they are "on the brink of being published." While this is a great positive thinking approach, there is simply no such thing as "being on the brink." You either are or you aren't 

You may have spent hours on that query letter and synopsis. You may have spent months on that story. You really have it. You send out a proposal to your editors or agents, or in a Pre-Covid-19 time, you sat down with an editor or agent at a conference. You got feedback that they were totally excited about the project and wanted more! That is what you want to hear. 

So you make one final check, you send that project out... and then wait. 

Now comes the heartbreaking email back. "While we loved the story and the premise, in the end, we are going to have to pass on this." Ugh!

You may or may not get a fully developed reason. Even then you start asking yourself, "What happened? Everything seemed to be in alignment. It all looked so good in those first conversations. 

The think is, the story DID look good. There was excitement at the time. But like everything in the publishing industry (actually pretty much the entire world these days), things change. 

First of all, remember that editors in particular, are looking way in advance. They are looking at projects for 1-2 years down the line. They have current authors that are already under contract. There are other authors submitting at the same time that might have something stronger. Or, in the cases we have seen lately, many publishers are still worried about the economy and might not be taking risks.

I have an author who had worked really hard on this new proposal. She is established but was looking at trying something slightly different. She put in the the time. She did the right things. Even the initial feedback looked great, but then, we got the rejection. Not what they wanted right now. That is the reality.

Secondly, the story might not be the same thing as what you pitched, or what those initial three chapters looked like. I get this so many times when I read a query, think I have something amazing and then the bottom falls out. 

Finally, if you are working with an agent, we might think the world of the story, but the editors just do not see it that same way. I remember one author who ran her story through a workshop I coordinated at the RWA Conference in Orlando. We hade 4 other agents on that panel and ALL of us wanted the story. She had offers from everyone. She took one offer and they too worked that story, prepped it and everything, but it did not sell. The enthusiasm we all had was just not there for the editors. 

So, what do you do? You keep writing. Start something new. Take a breath and move on. It may be with the same story (which we will be doing with the author of mine) or maybe you find a new direction. Those rejections are not going to go away. So live with it and move on!

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