Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why I Did It--Part the Second

So before we go on with this, I want to make one thing very clear: I think that agents and trade publishing is awesome. If I had a chance to make it there, I would definately take it. But as I am about to SLOWLY slog through, I no longer believe that I have that chance, and that makes me rather sad.

But I've done well-ish as a self publisher, and that makes me happy.

So I sent out my very first batch of Query Letters over the course of a couple of days. I tried to keep my hopes down, not understanding that my hopes were unreasonably high already, and that getting them down to sanity would require multiple lead weights (and probably a massive does of reality). I carefully added each agency's e-mail address to my contacts under the words "Rejection (agency)" so that I'd be in the right mindset when I opened the email.

This didn't work, by the way.

I had my little excel sheet with the agencies contacted, and the very first item after "date sent" was of course "rejection received".  I reminded myself each time I hit "send" that this would be YET. ANOTHER. REJECTION. and that I shouldn't get too depressed.

Again. This did not work.

Of course, it wasn't all suck. One of the good contacts I got from the Dennix Hall Incident was a WONDERFUL local fantasy writer who deserves all the praise in the world. She invited me to be her helper at a con in Houston, and when the con-runners found out I was a fantasy artist, they upgraded my status from "pig iron lugger" to "Guest" and let me run a couple panels, even.

I met Steve Brust there. He was very cool. I fangirled.

Another interesting thing that happened between '10 and '11 was my decision to leave my job as an overnight dougnut fryer and become a waitress. At the time I thought it was just a lateral move, but in reality it was the best thing I could have done at the time. The money was much better, the people I've met through that job are awesome, and it gave me much more free time with which to work. It also interrupted what had become a long, steady stream of rejection.

The first one to crush my soul was the rejection of my first (and only) full manuscript request. Of course, I didn't count it as a comment on the quality of my work. For one thing, I was twenty-three and I was still firmly convinced that I was an underappreciated star destined for greatness. For another, the agent-assistant who had requested the full left the agency, and the one who replaced her was the one who did the rejecting. At the time I assumed it meant that one assistant liked it and the other one didn't. Now I assume that meant the first assistant was accepting fucking everything and that it got on the agent's nerves.

I also began to notice a very steep decline in my mood. I have never been the most stable person. Winter of '10, though, was my first year On My Own. I was receiving an average of one rejection a week, moving into two or three if I'd been especially industrious. It was also the year I was assaulted, so dealing with that really didn't help. By January '11 I asked my dad to help me find a counselor, and instead he got me on anti-depressants. They helped. A lot.

The whole time I kept revising the book. And revising the book. AND REVISING. THE BOOK. I changed the title three times. I redid the query letter more times than I can count. And of course, I prayed. Because I'm a good little Christian girl, and I knew--and this is still true--that writing was MY GIFT FROM GOD (I'd put /crazy but this is the crazy part and it hasn't even really started yet. You may either assume that there's real spiritual stuff behind this or that I had a mental breakdown halfway through this story. I don't care either way, but the religious stuff is just part of the story). I knew it because I couldn't stop writing, my attempts to get God to take away my gift of writing never worked, and because it was the one thing I thought I could do.

Ironically, the one thing all my research into publishing did was convince me that Self Publishing was the one big no. You'd be better off flushing manuscript pages down a toilet than self publish. You threw away all your rights, and nobody would ever want your story...and most of the self publishing services were cheats, anyway. You were better off just waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

And writing more query letters. And waiting some more.  And keeping the rejection letters because...Stephen King did it, I guess.

Rejections flowed like a river.

In March of '11 the new job and the move put a stop to everything for a while. I stopped sending out query letters and started packing. I know now that this move--a suggestion from my mother that I move closer to her--was more for my parent's sanity than for mine. I was in BAD shape at this point, not so much from rejection letters as I was rejection letters, night shifts, a shit job, a bad manger, an unaddressed sexual assault, a lack of good nutrition, and probably kicked puppies. I saw human beings I did not work with MAYBE every other week, on the rainy days when I needed a ride. The move was a good thing.

Of course, my computer was the very last thing that I was going to pack up. I did one last check of my e-mail and I saw I had a letter from an agency. I had chosen it mostly because they represented Fantasy Author I Worship, and it was one of the rejections I'd been dreading. I did my usual grit-my-teeth-and-repeat-"rejection" -a-lot preparation and then I read the letter:

 You could hear the squeeing from outerspace, I swear to God. 

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