Today’s guest blog is from another AW writer who went through 185 rejections before finding success. She even switched genres! Her genre was initially horror. But, thanks to the feedback she received from an agent, even though he passed on the manuscript, it’s now crime mystery, with an ex-nun as her chief protagonist. Habit-forming fiction indeed.
Alice Loweecey’s debut novel, Force of Habit, is being published by Midnight Ink and will be on bookshelves in February, 2011. It’s already been reviewed favourably by Publishers Weekly which says her character’s “fresh take on crime fighting is a delight in this blend of light farce and mystery.”
Isn’t that exciting? Congrats, Alice! You can check out her website http://www.aliceloweecey.com/ And read her story of persistence right here.
Never give up! Never surrender!
Once a writer makes the decision to pursue publication, everything changes.
Don’t roll those eyes! I see you on the other side of the screen, I used to be a teacher. Nothing escapes us. I am calling your attention to a fact you may not have noticed, what with the flurry of looking at your latest WIP with a different eye.
Your focus changed when you made that decision. It became not just ‘fun’ but ‘fun with a purpose.’ (I apologize if that sounds like an infomercial for something to teach a baby how to play piano while still in the womb.)
When I made that decision, I had a first book finished. I found an appropriate contest and sent it off. Two months later, I received a thick envelope with the contest’s three promised critiques. I threw it in the recycle bin, unread.
Two days later, I removed my head from my butt and rescued the critiques. The contest judges pointed out beginner error upon beginner error. I wanted to put a bag over my head before I ventured into the contest waters again.
Instead, I analyzed every word of the critiques. I took the book apart and put it back together again. Four times.
When it was ready (again), I learned how to write a query letter. (Insert much wailing and gnashing of teeth.) I queried Publish America, thinking it was a legitimate publisher back then. Thank God I did some internet research, found Absolute Write, and didn’t fall into that black hole.
I researched agents and legitimate small publishers and sent out the query. This reaped the first of 185 rejections. That’s not a typo. 185.
I can see your facial expressions. Sure, I thought of giving up and spending my non-Day Job hours knitting sweaters. But I’ve been writing since age 9, working through angsty teen stories and fanfic poetry. I was too stubborn to give up the dream of seeing my name on a bookshelf in a real bookstore.
The turning point came when I queried a well-known agent. I included my street cred — the manuscript was a religious horror story, and I’m an ex-nun. He passed, but said that he’s like to see a mystery with an ex-nun fighting crime. I shrugged it off at first, because ‘I was a horror writer.’
Eight months later, I had an ex-nun PI mystery. I queried him—and he passed! Very politely. But now that I knew I could write other genres, I stepped up the querying. I also started a paranormal.
All this took just about four years. There are few shortcuts in this business. There is, however, no lack of anger, angst, hope, frustration, dashed hopes, consumption of chocolate, and the absolute need for fellow writers to help you through it all. [Peggy: eg. AW and the Absolute Water Cooler.]
No whimpering now! The story has a happy ending. That ex-nun PI mystery hits bookstores mid-February. That dream—my name on a shelf in a real bookstore—comes true in less than four weeks.
Wherever you are in this journey (and however much chocolate you’ve consumed—I run a few miles a week to offset that) the choice to keep learning the craft, and keep putting my work out there was key.
In other words, Never give up! Never surrender!