Saturday, June 18, 2016

"persistence and humility can pay off in the long run"

 Dear Your Sharkliness,


Many months ago, you answered a question on the blog for me.  I was going to a conference to read my opening pages to an agent and gain feedback from the agent and the other writers. 

I went to the conference, pages in trembling hand.  I took everyone's main advice, which was to sit there with my mouth shut and my ears open.  Both agents I had the privilege to meet gave me similar feedback. I smiled, nodded, and took feverish notes.  My fellow writers also gave advice (sometimes contradictory); I wrote it all down.

It should be noted that clearly some of the other attendees do NOT read the blog.  They challenged each other and the agents.  I tried not to visibly cringe.  The agents were lovely.  Their responses were something along the lines of, "I've been doing this for over a decade, and your word count is really too low, but maybe you are right and you are the exception." One person tried to shove a paper copy of his manuscript into an agent's hand.  The agent politely gave him her card to refer to her submission requirements on her website.  To her credit, she did not try to shove it up his nose.

I queried the agents I met at the conference, after making changes.  Both requested fulls.  Both rejected the fulls.  However, one gave me some lovely feedback.  I realized I needed a break from that manuscript. I took some of the big picture advice I gained from the conference and wrote a new manuscript.  I queried that, and signed with an amazing agent this week.

In conclusion: thank you Janet, for your advice and for this community.  I understand why writers want to cry bitter tears into their shark fin soup, it is so difficult.  (Or maybe that's just me.)  But this has taught me, again, that publishing is a long game and persistence and humility can pay off in the long run.



      

49 comments:

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

OP how utterly wonderful. Congrats, hard worker, congrats humble writer, congrats on hanging in and showing up.
What an awesome post. A great example of heeding the blow-hole spewed advice which rises to the surface around here.
Keep us posted OP. We're your first customers.

Kae Ridwyn said...

What an inspiring post! Congrats, OP, and thank you, Janet, for sharing this with us :D

Steve Forti said...

Congrats to whoever you are!

Claudette Hoffmann said...

Ditto, Amen, and Great Appreciations to OP for sharing, this Blog Community for supporting, and the Empress of the Coral Reef for guiding.
Now back to writing and revising.

Kitty said...

What 2N's said: Keep us posted OP. We're your first customers.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

What a great letter. Congrats, Opie.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Fantastic job OP. I am playing the long game myself. This blog is truly an oasis of pristine waters in the dark ocean that is publishing. Such an inspiring story. I wonder which blog reader this is?

mickibrowning.com said...

Congratulations! All best in your continued success.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

What a lovely story, Opie. Congrats on your professionalism and humility paying off. Do let us know when your book sells. You know we'd love to read it.

Claire Bobrow said...

Congratulations! So glad to hear your persistence and attention to good advice paid off. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to learn from Janet and all of you guys swimming with the Shark.

Donnaeve said...

I loved this! What struck me was the pithy way OP described their journey. It read like it happened quick - and we all know "out here" this likely took A. Long. Time.

Congratulations OP, and since you're a Reider, I hope you'll let us know who you are! And what you write. And when it sells. And all that other good stuff that follows.

luciakaku said...

Always love hearing the success stories. Especially because buried in the story of success is always a point where they're feeling pretty much like I am now, if I look.

What all the research into the publishing industry has taught me is that I don't need to cross my fingers, toes, and pigtails and stand outside every evening, looking for that first star to wish on in order to have any hope of ever getting an agent, let alone a book deal. I just have to not give up.

I'll save all the wishing for getting a blockbuster deal that changes the world forever, no one ever has anything bad to say about, and makes me billions. (The most impossible of which, obviously, is no one ever saying anything bad.)

Laura Brennan said...

Congratulations! Woot! Can't wait to read it.

Theresa said...

What a fabulous story of perseverance, professionalism, and talent. Congrats, OP!

Elissa M said...

I needed a happy story today, with fire on the horizon and various other frustrations nipping at my heels.

Congratulations OP! If your novel is as good a read as your short missive to the shark, I'm not surprised an agent snatched you up. Here's hoping the publishing journey goes smoothly. Be sure to keep us all informed. :)

Julie Weathers said...

I absolutely LOVE that the person was professional enough to do exactly what they should have done. I'm sure it was disappointing when the previous manuscripts were rejected, but eh OP kept trying. Congratulations on your new agent and the new leg in your journey. I wish you nothing but the very best.

It also points up what Janet and others have said:

1. Conferences can be good places of contact.

2. You can get good feedback if you keep your mouth shut and listen.

3. Many people won't.

4. Keep Writing.

5. Don't give up.

Colin Smith said...

YAYYYAAYYYAAYYYYY!!!! Huge CONGRATS Opie!! And well done for not falling to the temptation to be obnoxious and wear certain kinds of head wear.

As others have said, let us know when a book deal happens. :D

Sherry Howard said...

I love that Janet is generous about sharing this type of letter. It's so affirming. Congratulations, OP. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Few of us realize that at the beginning. I'm sure OP will let us know whose book we want to buy.

Andrea St. Amand said...

YES!! Congratulations!! And, as always, thank you Janet for being here for us.

Julie Weathers said...

Totally off topic. Rather than clog this wonderfully affirming thread with the details, I responded to some questions about the twitter accounts old and new on yesterday's post.

Craig said...

Yeah, verily should we sing praises Hosannas and Hallelujahs to the Queen. She has been around the writers block a time or six, though, and would probably regard me with giblet sharky eye if you hadn't already run screaming from what I call singing. Get her attention the right way. Write something she can sink her teeth into.

Remember that it takes all kinds and that some of those misbehaving attendees are doing that because they are insecure. It would be hard for someone even as cool, calm and collected as I to not fawn all over the august presence of the Queen. That is why I have sworn off writing conferences.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

This is such terrific affirmation, OP - you ran your own race, kept your integrity, and was rewarded in the end! Thank you for sharing your story with JR, and Thank you JR for sharing it with us. Like the others said, WE ARE YOUR Customers! I have my book budget jar just awaiting! Congrats!

stacy said...

Oh, lovely!! Congratulations, OP!

Cassandra Briggs said...

Sincere and hearty congratulations, OP!

Celia Reaves said...

YYYAAAAYYY! Acting like a professional is, once again, the best path toward becoming a professional. I can't wait to find out which of us will have a first novel coming out!

Patricia Harvey said...

I needed to hear this today. I took a long break from my manuscript after an agent reviewed my book. It was one of those opportunities offered in conjunction with a conference. But during that break I wasn't doing nothing at all. I was still writing. More importantly, I was reading good writers and taking "book notes" on the writers' craft. Conference agent-meetings can make one over-the-top excited or jump-off-a-cliff depressed. I find it best to take the center path. Meeting with the agent, I was over-the-top thrilled that she expressed interest. She'd reviewed the first 25 pages. However, she made a few suggestions in her review. The same day I sent her the changes, she asked for the full. But I didn't have it. The book wasn't finished. I could have banged that sucker out and shipped it to her within a month. Maybe two. But it would not have been my best efforts. The book I'm writing now is the one that will be sold. It's the one that took it's time.

roadkills-r-us said...

I was feeling laze this morning, but now I'm ready to dive back into revising and editing. Thank you.

And congrats, Opie! You are in my Hall of Heroes, alongside Janet.

Let us know if you ever do anything with that first one, too!

Megan V said...

Congratulations Opie! And well done! :)

Joseph Snoe said...

I love happy, positive stories. They make me feel good.

Now I'll get back to writing the chapter where my hero E.J. is stabbed, clubbed and shot at.

Julie Weathers said...

Roadkills,

I know. I tossed and turned last night, unable to go to sleep, but some bits to the new scene worked themselves out in the process.

This post today simply lit a fire under my butt even more, so I was very glad to read it. Of course, I'm still in the new words phase.

John Davis Frain said...

Yesssss!

Lovely note. So happy you shared it in Janet and she passed it on to the rest of us. I long to write a similar piece one day, the sooner the better. I could think of a million other things to do on a Saturday afternoon, but -- and I love this! -- none of them entice me more than editing my manuscript. Again.

Thanks for the inspiration, which is never in short supply but I still enjoy the abundance. Good luck on your journey, Opie. Keep us updated as you hit some milestones, it's exciting stuff to read about.

Panda in Chief said...

HUZZAH for today's OP!!!! I love stories about people suceeding. It reminds us that it is possible, that the true meaning of "luck" is where preperation and persistence meet opportunity. It is a rare person who asks for advice both receives it and acts on it. So Wonderful that it was to such a good outcome.
And along with everyone else, I want to know when the book is ready for pre-order. Campagne corks will be popping here!

(And who doesn't enjoy stories of #WritersBehavingBadly at conferences and know that it is not you!)

Lennon Faris said...

Woo-hoo! Congrats, OP! This was a wonderful post. Thank you Janet for sharing!

french sojourn said...


Great post, and such a great community.

Cheers to opie, go git em!

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Congratulations OP. I do hope you tell us the title.

One of the reasons I read this blog everyday is because I've found awesome books to read.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Oooh, what an uplifting post. Absolutely fabulous...! Congratulations and bravo.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I been following comments all day. Do we know who the OP is yet? What the book is? Such an uplifting post as I shelve my last project after similar experience to OP and begin a new one. Excellent reminder in the virtue of perserverence while swimming upstream in the traditional publishing maelstrom.

Where There's A Quill said...

Congratulations, OP! Whoever you are, I'm so happy for you! I hope to see you on the other side one day.

This is just the warm, fuzzy fuel I need to get through my Sunday shift.

Adib Khorram said...

This was a wonderful post to wake up to. Congrats to the original poster! And kudos to Janet—and to all of us—for making this such an awesome community.

I have been super busy lately so I haven't gotten to comment, but between Meat Loaf, Twittering, and all that, it's been a great week for the reef. And this is the icing on the proverbial cake.

Joseph Snoe said...

I listened to an old Donovan album a few minutes ago and heard lyrics that seem apropos to today’s blog:

“Few people get there quick by their chosen road.
They don't know it’s quicker to go by natural velocity.”

You can hear it in context here (If I did the hypertext correctly):
Donovan

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

What a fantastic letter! I spread the Sharque Gospel to whoever will listen, and feel like it is the Right Thing To Do™.

(a note on persistence: my most recent acceptance was rejected 20 times. 21 was the charm!)

SiSi said...

Congratulations, OP! It's great to hear about hard work and professionalism paying off.

Julie Weathers said...

Joe

My theme seems to beWicked Twisted Road. Whatever road gets you there, I suppose.

Kate Larkindale said...

Congratulations, OP! Very excited for you. And thank you for sharing. It's always great to hear success stories.

kdjames.com said...

What a lovely and inspiring letter, thanks to both the writer and Janet for sharing it with us. A great model for not only persistence, but patience and hard work.

Congratulations to the writer on the success! I concur with what others have said: please let us know who you are and when the book is due out, once it's acquired. This will be your next level of paying attention to advice, learning how to "promote" yourself and your work to an eager, somewhat captive, audience. :) Best wishes in the journey ahead.

AJ Blythe said...

Opie, what wonderful news. Congratulations. I can really only ditto what other Reiders have said. Keep your head down, work hard and don't be an a**hat.

I'm sure it's for moments like these that Miss Janet writes this blog.

Karen McCoy said...

What a beautiful story! And a wonderful reminder that the art is in the recovery. No rejection equals the end of the road...and can give us the strength to push on. Congrats, Opie!

Joyce Tremel said...

I'm a little late to the party, but congratulations! What great news!

Elias McClellan said...

Late, LATE to this party but I had similar experiences (except for that whole signing-with-an-agent thingy). I've attended three or four conferences. Received encouragement from folks who rejected my full and had the near-miss with one agent who offered representation then went MIA. My take away is humility and character works better than the poorly-trained-toddler schtick. As a result the esteemed Ms. Shark herself tore me a new one--and told me what was wrong with my MS in the process. Like the original poster, I've written a new book and I'm scrapping my jingles together for an editor while hammering away on a query letter. Best of all, I've burned no bridges.