You can know anything. It's all there. You just have to find it.

-Neil Gaiman


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Reading between the lines

If you want to get published as a writer you will have to submit a query letter.
Unless of course, you blog.

But if you want to see your book in print you will need to practice writing a good query letter.
You will also need to learn to accept rejection and not take it personally.

I've lost count how many rejection letters I've gotten.

Lately, I've been trying to find an agent. A few years ago, I had some interest, but nothing came of it. I figured that since I have a published book that it might be easier now.

That remains to be seen.

I got 2 rejection letters yesterday. They were both form letters and I won't say where they came from but it went something like this. I added parentheses for translation.

Dear Author,

(We don't know and don't care what your name is.)

Thank you for thinking of ________ Agency. While we are currently looking for new clients we are only taking on projects that we feel passionately about.

(Your writing is horse-poopy and probably won't make us enough money to pay back the cost of the piece of paper upon which this letter was printed.)

This is only our opinion.
(We are drunk right now.)

And another agency may feel differently.
(If they smoke crack and have bipolar disorder.)

We wish you the best of luck and thank you for thinking of us.
(Don't contact us again, you deluded ego-maniac.)


Another tip for writers...if an editor or agent takes the time to write you a personal note or comment, pay attention. I submitted a short story a few years ago and the editor took the time to say what he liked and what he thought should be changed. I made some changes and resubmitted and they published it.

This whole process of sending out letters and emails and waiting to hear from people who may have to power to change your life (career-wise) can get tiring. I find it best to forget about the letters after you mail them because it can take so long to hear any news, good or bad. Despite it all, I still get optimistic and think, someday I'll write the GREATEST BOOK EVER!

Usually it ends up like what Mark Twain wrote in his short story, Poor Little Stephen Girard. I've included in here because it pretty much sums up most people's experience, including mine.


The man lived in Philadelphia who, when young and poor, entered a bank, and says he: “Please, sir, don’t you want a boy?” And the stately personage said: “No, little boy, I don’t want a little boy.” The little boy, whose heart was too full for utterance, chewing a piece of licorice stick he had bought with a cent stolen from his good and pious aunt, with sobs plainly audible, and with great globules of water rolling down his cheeks, glided silently down the marble steps of the bank. Bending his noble form, the bank man dodged behind a door, for he thought the little boy was going to shy a stone at him. But the little boy picked up something, and stuck it in his poor but ragged jacket. “Come here, little boy,” and the little boy did come here; and the bank man said: “Lo, what pickest thou up?” And he answered and replied: “A pin.” And the bank man said: “Little boy, are you good?” and he said he was. And the bank man said: “How do you vote?”—“excuse me, do you go to Sunday school?” and he said he did. Then the bank man took down a pen made of pure gold, and flowing with pure ink, and he wrote on a piece of paper, “St. Peter”; and he asked the little boy what it stood for, and he said “Salt Peter.” Then the bankman said it meant “Saint Peter.” The little boy said: “Oh!”

Then the bank man took the little boy to his bosom, and the little boy said, “Oh!” again, for he squeezed him. Then the bank man took the little boy into partnership, and gave him half the profits and all the capital, and he married the bank man’s daughter, and now all he has is all his, and all his own too.

My uncle told me this story, and I spent six weeks in picking up pins in front of a bank. I expected the bank man would call me in and say: “Little boy, are you good?” and I was going to say “Yes;” and when he asked me what “St. John” stood for, I was going to say “Salt John.” But the bank man wasn’t anxious to have a partner, and I guess the daughter was a son, for one day says he to me: “Little boy, what’s that you’re picking up?” Says I, awful meekly, “Pins.” Says he: “Let’s see ‘em.” And he took ’em, and I took off my cap, all ready to go in the bank, and become a partner, and marry his daughter. But I didn’t get an invitation. He said: “Those pins belong to the bank, and if I catch you hanging around here any more I’ll set the dog on you!” Then I left, and the mean old fellow kept the pins. Such is life as I find it.

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