Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Query Question: who needs glaciers when you've got waiting time?

I've been querying a non-fiction project that I am working on with another writer. We've been accumulating our share of rejections and so were really excited when an agent we queried asked for the full proposal. (This is an agent I have gotten rave reviews on from a fellow writer)

Of course now my mental illness springs into action as it's already been more than 3 months since she's had our proposal. We emailed her (briefly and courteously, natch) after she had had it for 6 wreks, and got a reply from her assistant that she was indeed reading it. More time passed and now at the 3+ months mark with no word, I learned that she had switched agencies. I emailed her again at her new agency, but it's been a week (4) and I haven't heard a peep (or a beep).

I understand that her current clients come first, but if she is not interested it would be nice to know so that we can move on. (5)

So I guess I have several questions:
1: what is a reasonable legnth of time to consider a full non fiction proposal?
2: If a full has been requested, would the " rejection by no response" rule still apply, or do they owe me a "no" even if it is a form "not for me" rejection?
3: Is there summer camp on Carkoon and what kind of cake does it serve?

(1) I generally ask for 30 days after receipt of a proposal. Right now I'm running about 90. I'm not proud of that fact, and I'm working pretty hard to get stuff read, but as you say, clients come first, and silly me, I've been selling stuff left and right and as soon as one contract is finished, another one rolls in. I do try to reply to pings but even with good intentions, I'm not always as responsive as I wish.

(2) You know my feelings about no response means no.  (It's here if by some chance you didn't hear that rant.) Generally however, no response means no applies at the query stage. Yes, I've heard about vast silence on requested fulls and proposals but I'm really hoping it's not the norm.

(3) I do not know the details of what goes at at Carkoon. Much like Her Majesty Queen Victoria and the penal colony in Australia, I just transport people there, I don't visit.

Now, let's talk about what you're going to do with this information.

(4) Since this agent has moved agencies she's barely figured out where to get her morning coffee, and buy her lunch at this new office. Let alone where the best watering hole is.  In other words, she's busy adjusting to the new office and her new colleagues.  You need to give her at least a month here before pinging at all.

(5) And by "move on" what do you mean? Stop pinging her with reminders? Or start querying other agents?  Because you should be querying until you have an offer. Reading a proposal is NOT an offer. Don't wait around hoping this agent will sign you. Seize the initiative and query widely.  NOTHING moves a dawdly agent faster than "I've got an offer from one of your more nimble competitiors, slackerpaws."

Waiting is the pits. I know it first hand (you think editors respond instantly?? oh please, would that it were so.)

But I also know that the best way to deal with waiting is to keep moving. Keep sending your query out. Keep building your platform. Keep reading books in your field that can be comparable titles.

If waiting time is a glacier, your only job is to hang in there and keep moving.


Donnaeve said...

Wheeeee! This will be the last day of first for moi... Off to MS tomorrow a.m. at 5.

Sam Hawke said...

Surely you'll come and visit our penal colony some time, oh QOTKU? I'm sure we are part of your vast, toothy empire.

Waiting times are frustrating, OP, but publishing's a long game. Consider this wait early training for a hopefully long and fruitful career filled with it. :)

Donnaeve said...

The wait in publishing never ends, even after achieving big milestones, like signing with an agent. Even after signing with a publisher.

There will be the wait for shouting out the good news. The wait for a possible new title. The wait for a book cover. The wait for a release date. The wait to see how well the book does.

Then, you write your next book, and...

Learning to wait is a matter of training. This is only the very beginning of a long list of waits. The good news is, she asked for a full, and even though she switched agencies, (like I mentioned before, silence isn't a no, or a yes, it's just silence) query on because by doing that, you take/have control of this process.

Unknown said...

Congrats, Sam! Rumour has it you snagged an agent.

Agent snagging (as opposed to agent shagging which is a whole other, not to be discussed, topic), seems to be all about patience and perseverance. Keep moving is good shark advice.

french sojourn said...

My great-great Grandfather, Elloidal T. Buttonweezer, wrote in his first Novel. "Marooned on Carkoon" that the natives made this delightful Breadfruit Pie, and that there were no Cakes to speak of. He went on to explain, the Breadfruit Pie was extremely helpful in the digestion of bones...whatever that meant.

In his second novel "Aluminium foiled again" he detailed the preservation methods the locals used for storing their different cuts of meat. His editor and his proofreader were somehow lost on the Island the evening before the Ceremonial B-B-Q. The local Chief assured Elloidal that they were there in spirit.

He mentioned, the Breadfruit Pies really did help with digestion. Now there are just the POQOTKU (Prisoners of the Queen of the Known Universe) and some exiled writers.

There is a puppet Government set up there, an exiled writer C. Smith watches his fiefdom crumble due to the phylloxera plague that wiped out the Breadfruit crop. It had been used primarily in distillation, and used as currency.

Just my two breadfruit shots worth.

AJ Blythe said...

Ahh, so JRs never been to Carkoon? So now I'm thinking you guys are doing an awesome job of fooling her into thinking it's a terrible spot to be marooned.

After all, this is England, and this is Australia... where would you rather be? *grin*

Although I think maybe JRs already been Down Under.

Opie, as hard and frustrating as waiting is (I'm the worst person in the world at waiting, just ask my fmaily!) there's nothing more you can do with that agent for now. Keep querying. Keep writing. And hopefully good news will pop into your inbox when you least expect it. Good luck =)

AJ Blythe said...

Gah, family, not fmaily. Too busy trying to get hyperlinks to work to check the rest of my post *blush*

Susan Bonifant said...

Per Janet: "Don't wait around hoping this agent will sign you. Seize the initiative and query widely." Amen.

I'm still thinking about the response last week from Kari Lynn Dell which described ever-new stages of anxiety that follow each stage of success on this path to publishing.

I've read similar accounts by other writers. Dwelling and obsessing at these early "pending" points might be inevitable but since it IS such a long, hurdle-heavy path, there should be concerted effort to stay in motion however possible.

A submit-forget-rinse-repeat kind of mindset could help make nice responses happier, and "not for me" responses easier to take in stride. But there has to be a stride.

Colin Smith said...

AJ: "fmaily"--I like it! :)

I have nothing to add to Janet's comments since I haven't ever queried a non-fiction proposal. But I will add my encouragement to Opie: hang in there! Keep querying and reading and writing, just as Janet said. All the best to you!

Carkoon is much like the picture of Australia AJ linked. Except the sky is much redder during summer. And the trees are not quite as green. OK, not at all. They are thin, pale, and sorry looking things. And if you replace that sea with dried mud, and the sand with gravel, and turn up the temperature about 100 degrees, you're getting there. I don't blame QOTKU for not visiting.

The Summer Synopsis Camp will be starting up soon. And I'm informed that "Granny" Buttonweezer (rumor has it she is a decendant of the exiled Elloidal) will be making some variation on the Breadfruit Pie. What's not clear is whether it will be for attendees or for those judging their work...

LynnRodz said...

OP, what Julie just said and you're not banished to Carkoon for the summer, you're going to be here for quite some time because of #5. Get use to it! And don't let AJ's photos fool you, what you don't see in the Aussie photo are the salties! You think you just have to worry about Janet's family in the water, well no, you have to worry about getting eaten by the largest crocodiles in the world! Is it any wonder the QOTKU doesn't make an appearance over here. Personally, I stay off the beaches in Carkoon except once a year when it's the Ceremonial B-B-Q and I know they'll be serving up the Breadfruit Pie. Otherwise, I'm in my cave.

DLM said...

Slackerpaws is awesome.

And, interestingly enough, it kind of applies to me in my failure so far to submit Gossamer the Editor Cat to

Fortunately, this is because I got DISTRACTED FROM TEH INTARWEBS working on research last night, and so I am following the day's advice, just at a different point in the process.

Mmm. Breadfruit pie. I am intrigued.

Noble Jameson Beaumont. I'm intrigued there, too, miss Julie.

Mmm. Armadillo cake.

Y'all are making me hungry for dessert, and it's not even ten a.m.

Anonymous said...


You think you just have to worry about Janet's family in the water, well no, you have to worry about getting eaten by the largest crocodiles in the world!--

When Will, youngest son, was in the army, they got sent to Louisiana for special training before they deployed. Their hikes often included roads that were lined with alligators. One of the guys was terrified of the gators. Will said, "Remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the hunter is out after the raptors and some of them distract him while the alpha sneaks up on him?"


"These are the ones distracting us. The one we have to worry about is the big one we can't see waiting for us. RAWR"

"You're an ass, Weathers."

Colin Smith said...

Julie: Did the alligators put that sign up? This could almost be a Far Side cartoon... :)

Anonymous said...

Janet is completely right, of course.

1. We emailed her (briefly and courteously, natch) after she had had it for 6 wreks, and got a reply from her assistant that she was indeed reading it.

This made me cringe. Six weeks is nothing in the publishing industry. The impression it gives is kids in the backseat of a car on a thousand-mile trip pulling up to the first stop sign and saying, "Are we there yet?"

I may be chewing my nails to the quick about an agent, but I'm going to pretend I've been so busy penciling in names of handsome young men on my dance card I haven't noticed Noble Jameson Beaumont hasn't asked me to dance yet.

Not that the agent knows or cares what mental games I play, but I'm not attracting the wrong kind of attention. Well, I guess they might if they were really disturbing and I wrote about them. Then again, it might be a best seller. 50 Shades of Play: Mental Games Authors Play While Waiting to Get Published.

2. I understand that her current clients come first, but if she is not interested it would be nice to know so that we can move on.

What are you going to move on to? Haven't you continued to query other agents? If you haven't, you should be. Agent Awesome asked you to dance, nothing more. I'm getting flashes of Great Expectations in a not good way. Two elderly authors open a room set with the remains of an elegant celebration dinner. Cobwebs drape elegantly from candelabras to dessicated flower arrangements. A rat squeaks in protest at having his exploration interrupted, but the food has long since disappeared to the worms and rats gone before. Only bones and disappointed dreams remain.

Unless the agent is charging you parking time for leaving your proposal there, which would be an interesting idea for a story, stop worrying and do something productive. Query other agents. Work on the next project. Learn how to bake an armadillo cake for your celebration dinner.

Yes, you can bet your sweet Aunt Aster I will have one when I get an agent.

Too funny. Verify cakes.

(Grrr typos. Sorry, I couldn't stand it and had to repost.)

Anonymous said...


Isn't that the truth?

Craig F said...

I am very sorry but I am confused. It seems to be getting to be the norm for me but I really don't understand.

Querying a non-fiction and a request for a full proposal? I know that I have problems with memoirs being non-fiction that isn't proposed like other non-fictions but this is really odd.

On the Queen and plausible deny-ability. It is a must. She needs to not know about the workings of Carkoon. I say this as the guy who was not only exiled to Carkoon but from Carkoon also. The official reason for this was that I admitted to Donnaeve that Carkoon is a state of mind. I think it had more to do with me saying that Fuzzy Print's plan for an editing service was hinky. Not being able to create a brown ale close to Newcastle also helped. Colin is a good egg except when it comes to beer. Then he gets picky.

Lizzie said...

Waiting to hear back is always tough. No one is going to write a novel or non-fiction book and a craft a query and research agents if success isn't the goal. And it's strange to wave off inquiring friends and families with feigned disinterest. If they knew how much it mattered, how deep this time suck of a hole you've dug yourself they wouldn't ask you how your writing is going because until your manuscript is legitimized by an agent the answer is still nowhere. Sure, you've crosssed off calendar days and seasons have changed, but you're still back a square one, waiting for an agent to read your manuscript. And please don't give me that nonsense that this business always involves waiting and that all waiting is equal in its pain and intensity. Until you have an agent, you're an amateur in the eyes of everyone who matters most. When I started writing I didn't know that "aspiring writer" would become a derogatory term, that it's meaning could stretch and stretch to encompass any milestone I reached. And if we're being honest, even the waiting is aspirational. We talk about it as if it's a rational activity, as if progress is made from point A to point B, but that's the hope shining through, hope that our place in line will be honored, hope that the aspiring will end.

Anonymous said...


I have friends who are driving themselves rabidly insane wondering what this agent is thinking or doing. Granted, I have one who has some queries out with two agents who normally respond quickly and she hasn't heard a peep in months, so I understand her angst on them.

For me, and I shouldn't admit this in public, I first started querying agents twenty years ago back when everything had to be mailed and queries and partials never got back in decent shape so you had to spend more money buying nice quality paper to reprint the partials. Then mail everything back out to another agent.

I had two agents. Quit writing for a long time. I'm back in the trenches, but I've been at this stretch going on ten years now.

Honestly, I don't count the days. I have no idea right now who all has my material. I can look it up on my spreadsheet and see which agent, agency, date sent, what sent, expected response time, if I wanted to, but I don't even look at the spreadsheet unless I'm sending out another query, adding an agent or making a change to status.

I get up in the morning and write the new story. Then I revise the old one for an R&R. I read to renew my mind. I screw around here.

I keep my mind too occupied to worry about how long someone has had something. I don't know how long they've had it unless I look. I don't dwell on it. It distracts my mind from other things like creating.

"And please don't give me that nonsense that this business always involves waiting and that all waiting is equal in its pain and intensity."

I've had agents. Waiting was waiting for me. Everyone has their own journey, though.

I've been in a funk lately, but it's not because of publishing. It's because this is my season of madness. I always slide into the pits from June to the middle of July so things like rejections and stupid people might bother me more.

Normally, I just think it's part of the journey.

Rejection is part of the journey. Dejection is a choice.

Craig F said...

The best thing about this community is that aspiring writer is not a derogatory term here. We are those on either side of you in that never ending line. We are here because there is a whole lot more to know about writing than just having an idea that we wish to communicate.

We can truly commiserate because we have or are there. We know that waiting is one of the hard parts. We have been lucky enough to have found one of the few sources are real business knowledge out there. Sometimes we may seem flippant but we are such a diverse community that it is hard to find common ground. The one common thing we all have is a desire to be a writer. That is a good start.

Matt Adams said...

@Lizzie "Until you have an agent, you're an amateur in the eyes of everyone who matters most... hope that the aspiring will end."

It doesn't stop when you have an agent. I'm not sure it ever stops, but having an agent is only the second or third step in the process of becoming A Writer. That was the mistake I made, thinking that getting an agent was the endgame. It's not. For me, I bragged and told people and got excited and now I'm still at the same place, with Aspiring in my job description. You still have all the same questions from the world until there's a book on the shelves with your name on it.

The number I've never seen anywhere is an idea of what percentage of agented MSes actually see publication. I've seen plenty of statistics about agents and queries and such, but I've never been able to get a feel for how many books an agent believes in end up published -- a frame of reference to what having an agent really means in regards to the probability/possibility of actually being published. Anyone have any ideas, anecdotal or otherwise?

DLM said...

Reasons Julie is practically idolized in our little community:

"Rejection is part of the journey. Dejection is a choice."

I smell header material there.

Lizzie, to whom do you think "aspiring writer" is a derogatory term? Janet's whole blog is testament to the fact that this is not true and we are not beggars at the banquet. Of course, some of us use "woodland creature" or "pre-published" instead, but the bottom line is, we are the creators of anything those great, terrifying figures we make of agents and editors can make a living selling.

Without you - without us - there is no publishing industry.

We may not be owed representation and success. But we certainly have not earned the derision we turn most upon ourselves, the doubt and recrimination we manufacture in the void.

I'm pushing 50 and had to put away the novel it took me a decade to produce. The next will come faster, but it'll hardly be finished in a couple months.

I've spent eleven years in love with a man 4000 miles from me, whom I never even met until I was thirty-four.

To paraphrase The Dread Pirate Roberts. "Life IS waiting, highness. Anybody who tells you different is trying to sell you something. (Most likely editing services or a self-pubbing deal that's no deal at all.)"

DLM said...

Matt Adams - respectfully, becoming agented may be step two or three in the process of one type of publication, I was a writer before I ever even contemplated publication. I became an *author* when I finished a novel. The only thing securing an agent and a sale will change is that I will then be a published author.

It's all in the modifiers. :)

french sojourn said...

Craig and DLM;

What you both wrote about this writing community was spot on. It really is a great place to come knowing that each person beside you is here because of their desire to write.

Cheers Hank

Matt Adams said...

DLM --You're right, my bad. Writer is far too generic. I usually use Author, but even that might not fit.

My point is in the minds of the rest of the world -- not those of us who know how hard it is -- lots of people are writers. Writing for a living -- getting paid to write -- is a much more rarified category.

I didn't mean to diminish anyone (including my own) accomplishments. But the world doesn't see it as worthwhile/significant/employment/a career unless you get paid for it. It's not an answer to the question of "What do you do for a living?" unless you get paid for it, unless they have something tangible they can read.

Again, at least that's the way it is for me.

LynnRodz said...

"What Julie just said," ahh, where did it go? Oh okay, further down.

Julie, I would have been terrified on that road too, but the little I know about Will, he would've lassoed the alligator and hog-tied him! (Wait a minute, I had to look that up. I guess it would be kind of hard to hog-tie a gator, but if anyone can do it, Will can. LOL!)

Craig, unlike most of you, I don't even know what I said that got me over to Carkoon.

Matt, it may be better not to know that statistic.

Lizzie and Matt, I can understand where you're coming from. Just the other day I had to write to someone close to me after they made a certain remark. (I preferred writing than talking to them face to face, because I get too excited in confrontations and I forget to say certain things and regret it later. Taking the time to write down what I want to say makes it easier for me to get my point across.) Part of what I wrote was:

Do you think it's easy to work for nothing, to work day after day with just the hope of one day being recognized for that time spent? Are things only worth something when there's a monetary value placed on it? If everyone thought this way, imagine what the world would have lost....

I must've gotten through to this person because they apologized for what they said.

DLM said...

Matt: :)

I very loosely use "writer" for the wide array of people who write in all the million ways that can be done - and I was one from a very early age. But I didn't consider myself an author until I had completed AX and tried to get it out there. Author to me connotes something more than writing, and in my mind it is connected to all the work we do in support of the writing; it carries something of the sense of authorship as it applies beyond writing: author of my fate and all that. Just me, but we've all done that much, here in this community, it seems like. So all of us deserve that recognition!

BUT that's all just my little lines in the slippy, slippy sand.

/shutting up now/

DLM said...

LynnR, that is beautiful. May I quote your excerpt above in a blog post?

(I actually have a similar letter to write myself - not specifically about my writerliness, but about my day job, which someone I love very much seems entirely unaware that she "others" as something other than a profession all the time. Sigh.)

french sojourn said...

Your point was well written. Good perspective.

Ly Kesse said...

Aiiee! Waiting. Something I'm so not good at.

I am grateful for this blog because it's good to know what at least one agent thinks. The hardest part in all this querying is trying to discern the real points of concern behind the rejections. Maybe if I understood that, I could make the right changes.

So, Opie, good luck. You're a step ahead of me.

Hmpf, aspiring-shmaspiring. I woulda stopped writing a long time ago if this futile effort were driven by what the world thinks. Me, I'm just hoping to turn a compulsive activity into one that pays something.

Tony Clavelli said...

I'll take up that idolization! I'm still somewhat new to this community, but JulieMDub is a rockstar. Janet always says the best stuff is in the comments and I thought that was some kind of humility, but this stuff is really helpful. Dejection is a choice, but it's awful hard to recognize that when you're in your own dread-loop. Anyway, thanks for sharing those stories.

Also, I'm with DLM--I feel like an "aspiring writer" is someone who wishes they were writing. A Writer (sure, with the big W) is someone who writes. And writes. And writes until it's so much of what they do that it needs a name. And yeah, I always think of "author" as that person with the books that are read people who don't know her. I'll aspire to that.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Diane, I agree with you on Julie's wording. She gets to the point in a poetic fashion.

Matt, awww, c'mon. We're always writers if we create stories. Is it that we're aspiring to be known as A Professional Writer or A Published Writers?

Lynn, thank you for that perspective, of asserting our woodland creature selves to help other's be aware of the hard work and sheer joy that goes with writing.

To Opie: hand in there and keep querying until you get a an offer.

DLM said...

Tony, you don't (really) know me. Wanna read my book!?? I wanna be an author for reals.


In a semi-related question to pretty much any post Janet puts up any day of the week: is it weird that I actually MISS querying, reading this blog every day? I mean, I am loving my WIP. But I feel a bit more back-in-the-shell (Colin, I'll be sure to get my own!) than when I was doing all that drudge work supporting AX.

Lizzie said...

Well said, Lynn and Matt and everyone.

The cognitive dissonance this business requires is baffling, a singular belief in your work yet an acceptance that your belief is also insignificant. We might as well be creating ephemeral sand mandalas here. Hats off to everyone who has mastered the contradictory tightrope.

swedishfish said...

I queried for two and a half years before securing an agent. Two agents were interested enough to read the fulls, offer extensive comments, and then reread (one, a HUGE agent in the industry, read the full 3 times!!) and then ultimately say no. I signed with an agent last October, and she too has been guiding a rewrite (much lighter this time). I've sent her 3 rewrites this time, progressively more minor. It takes her about 2 months to get to them, and I'm a client. This time, which we have called "the last" (To God's Ear) it has been 3 months. She has had many, many things come up. But she's a great agent and she responds to my emails promptly and she has a great track record with other clients too, so I bide my time. I found the day job particularly useful with that, along with starting a new project. I'm still in the "something shiny!" phase with that one. :)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Hey, congrats Sam, if rumors are true!

Once again, I take Mr. Tom Petty's lead here and agree that "waiting is the hardest part".

Still waiting on my full (no, I haven't nudged yet. I still don't know how I want to word it.) and I haven't sent any more out because this was towards the end of my "first batch", so I wanted to reassess and perhaps revise after this. AND, I just realized that somebody I queried was a "no reply means no" agency, and I thought I'd avoided those. But. That agent followed me back on Twitter. what does it mean?! (kidding! It means exactly that. A Twitter followback. No more, no less).

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Sam Hawke!

Craig: by 'full proposal', they mean the entire proposal, unlike the query, which often includes a part of the proposal and maybe a chapter or two. Just as most agents don't have time to read a full right off the bat, they don't have time to read a full proposal until they ask for it.

And I agree with Lizzie. Getting an agent isn't the end-all, be-all, but once you have an agent, you can tell all the non-writers who are wondering what's wrong with you that "I've got an agent." And the non-writers can smile and say, "Oh, yes. You really are a writer." Getting paid for writing will make it official. But knowing that someone in the industry has approved your writing means that it isn't junk.

And that's to non-writers. Not to the folks here. Non-writers, non-industry-professionals, don't understand the industry. They don't want to understand, because they really don't care.

My parents always told me that you can't make money writing, so you have to get a 'career'. A boring one, at that. It wasn't until I started technical writing and making more money than my mother ever did in all her years working at a bank that they realized you *can* make money writing. As for my fiction? They've stopped asking me how that's going. Because they just don't think it's that important. Because I'm not making money at it, and my status 'seeking an agent' never changes.

Me, I've always been a writer. It's a part of my soul. But there's that 'prophet isn't honoured in his own village' mentality out there. "Well, you're just so-and-so. You can't possibly write well enough to be A Published Author."

At least, once you have an agent, they'll back off, because you finally have your foot in the door.

Why does ReCaptcha even give example pictures if the ones you have to choose look nothing like them? Seriously. It gave me ice cream. The examples was a group of ice cream cones. One of the chosen pics was of un-ice-creamed cones, upside down in piles.

LynnRodz said...

DLM, yes, please do! Thanks everyone, I think too many people who aren't writers don't realize the work involved. They think of it as "playing around" or "not working" or worse "wasting time." Only when there's money involved do they think of it as work, or a job, or worthy of the time we spent.

Congrats, Sam! I hope it's true and if it's not, well this may be a sign that it's coming soon.

Karen McCoy said...

Mucho congrats to Sam! I heard that agent-snagging rumor too. Each step is a step closer. Just keep moving forward.

At times like these, I always like to watch the last few minutes of Meet the Robinsons. The song, "Little Wonders" by Rob Thomas is especially poignant. And be sure to read the quote at the end:

Meet the Robinsons clip

Anonymous said...

Oh snap.

What did I miss? Inspiration from all the greats on this list, jeez!

I agree with the above. So much so that I've been pondering a new blog post about it.

I think the hardest part about being a writer isn't the writing, or the waiting, or the revising. It's the forgiving. Strangely, I think we need to forgive ourselves for more things than words we write.

We need to forgive ourselves for... let's see...

our bad attitudes.
missing our wordcounts.
getting into a rut.
hitting a wall.
envying another position.
wishing too much and writing too little.
not maintaining good habits.
losing focus.
chasing the meat wagon.
not staying true to our story.
getting caught up in research.
forgetting to live life.
putting writing above all else.
putting writing below all else.
getting stranded on Carkoon.
reading too many blogs.

The list goes on and on and on. It's pretty easy, then, to see the OP struggle and to say the practical thing. Set aside hope. Keep querying, or editing, or writing.

But personally I've gotta remind myself to do that every day as well, and that can really only happen if I let go of the fact that I haven't been doing it all along.

Anonymous said...


Oldest and youngest sons are very laid back. They tend not to get excited about much, kind of a Sam Elliott attitude. Fix what you can, don't worry about what you can't, and do your best at whatever you put your hand to. That's all you can do.

I've said this before, but I got an email from Will in the middle of the night saying, "I'm ok. Talk soon."

The next day I got pictures of two Mraps that had been blown up. No fatalities.


Don't let them fool you. Once in a while it's something profound. Usually, it's something more confounding. Welcome to the shark tank.

Now, since a morning appointment screwed my rhythm, back to writing in the afternoon.

Unrelated to that incident he and the guys spent one morning picking up body parts. After that when I'd ask how he was, he'd say, "I didn't start out the day picking up body parts, so it's a pretty good day."

That kind of puts everything in perspective.

There's waiting and then there's waiting.

I have several pictures of Will's unit sleeping on the ground as they wait holed up somewhere.

One of the great truths of publishing is that you will wait. The secret to preserving your sanity is to stay so busy you don't realize your waiting.


"My parents always told me that you can't make money writing, so you have to get a 'career'. A boring one, at that. It wasn't until I started technical writing and making more money than my mother ever did in all her years working at a bank that they realized you *can* make money writing."

My former editor at the magazine had a home on Malibu Beach and one in Palm Springs when she was the editor for an architectural magazine. Her father, a farmer, asked her for years when she was going to get a real job and teach go into real estate like her sister or something.

Diana Gabaldon's father kept giving her job openings at various companies and colleges after she was a best selling author. You know, just in case this writing thing doesn't work out.

My ex, to this day, thinks I sat at home doing nothing just because I wrote for the magazine from the house for twenty-three years.

Paychecks don't always mean a person has arrived, unfortunately.

Swedishfish (I'm picturing the Muppet chefs)

"Two agents were interested enough to read the fulls, offer extensive comments, and then reread (one, a HUGE agent in the industry, read the full 3 times!!) and then ultimately say no."

Been there, done that and it's hard, but you want someone who is going to be your battle buddy.

Anonymous said...

Brian: Tremendous post! Thank you!

Julie: Very true. A paycheck doesn't mean a person has 'arrived' anywhere - not to everyone. But a paycheck is what my parents - and many people around here - value. So as long as there's a paycheck, you're gold. The bigger the better, of course. Everything else is 'wasting time'. *goes back to read Brian's post on forgiveness*

The name 'swedishfish' just reminded me - when was the last we heard from JulieH? I wonder how she's doing...

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

You guys are a bunch of wusses, especially LynnR - not swimming in the turquois waters surrounding Carkoon. No crocs here, just rusted out skeletons of old WWII battle ships. Plus remnants of A-bomb testing in the fifties and half the worlds plastic bottles and six-pack rings.
The main cottage's lawn ornament, yes we have a lawn, is a Lockheed Electra with a few dents. We think is was Freddy and Amy's plane but no one knows for sure. Freddy and Amy were an odd pair, kept to themselves for years. We think they were famous and came here to hide out but not sure.

Anonymous said...

And of course, that stray "your" should be "you're". See, this is why agents say no! Kidding. Put up the angry white horse.

Craig F said...

Crud, I forgot to say why I am a writer.

I am a writer because I let others read what I have written and some of them complimented me about it. Now all I need is money for it.

AJ Blythe said...

Julie - I love this: Rejection is part of the journey. Dejection is a choice.

Colin - so Carkoon isn't that bad after all *snort*.

Anonymous said...

Why am I a writer?

I have auburn hair, freckles, and a writer's brain. It's just the way I was put together.

*hangs head in shame and picks up the glass jar with the brain in it*

"Yes, I hear you. I will return Mr. Poe's brain."

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Two Inn's, your description of Carkoon puts me in mind of where Case is for a portion of time towards the end of Neuromancer. Which is pretty rad, really.

(I may or may not intend that pun. Your choice.)

Lance said...

There is no waiting. Query widely, write. Repeat.

I suspect Carkoon may be worse than the reports we receive lead us to believe. Wearing croc-skin clothing with necklaces of croc teeth.

LynnRodz said...

2Ns, when it comes to gators and crocs "Wuss" is my middle name. Crocodile Dundee I am not!

Lance, you've only heard the half of it.

Now I'm off to bed and hopefully no nightmares.

Anonymous said...

Going back to permissions for a moment - I don't know how many people know that the song 'Happy Birthday to You' is owned by Warner Music Group. Not the words, but the words and music together. It can cost thousands of dollars to be able to use the song on a TV show or movie.

But that might be changing. Someone has contested that Warner didn't buy the rights to the song itself, just to a certain piano arrangement. The case could be decided this summer.

It's really an interesting bit of copyright law. Here's the article from Yahoo Finance:

Here’s why they don't sing the 'Happy Birthday' song in movies and TV shows

Lizzie said...

Well said, BJ.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I didn't have time to comment until this morning. This waiting game. Waiting for the CALL. Waiting for agents to read fulls, revisions, news about editors' responses. I think the real anguish must be after an agent takes on the writer. Because then you have no excuses, you have to produce. Before an agent it's all speculation

Like Julie said, keep busy. Waiting for aligator pics or emails from military children must be way more anguishing than waiting for an agent's call.

Before internet I used to print slides to send to galleries. Slides sent to image banks. Photography was a huge expense and a time suck from painting.

Off topic has anyone seen that Amazon plans to pay royalties based on the number of pages actually read for each e-book. I guess their cookies can trace readers' clicks through the pages. This seems unfair to self published writers if Amazon obtains their entire share for the sale of the book. If anyone can self publish with Amazon, can they judge the value this way? The article I linked to has a quote from Donald Maas. He'd like to pay a restaurant for the amount of hamburger he eats. LOL! This will apply firstly to the self published. I speculate this means they plan to apply it to all e-books in the future.

Here is the link Amazon to Pay Kindle Authors Only For Pages Read

If Carkoon has a desert it should be popcycles made from icerbergs.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Here is the link to the Amazon nonsense:

Anonymous said...

I heard about this. It's currently only being used for Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners Lending Library - where ebooks are not actually being bought. Up to now, authors have been paid a percentage of a fund used by Amazon to pay all the authors. Now, rather than a percentage, they're paying for how many pages read beyond a certain point. I think the 'certain point' is to give a minimum payment for all authors involved, but to pay more to authors whose books actually get read.

Amazon says they're listening to the authors involved with Kindle Unlimited and the lending library, and they're sure those authors will approve of the new payment scheme. There are authors who do think this is a good thing (probably those authors who honestly believe that people read their books all the way through).

I think the Telegraph article is a bit over-dramatic. That said, I don't like this, either, for a number of reasons:

1. If this works out for 'non-bought' ebooks, will Amazon push the scheme on all ebooks? Or only those published through their publishing service? Where will they draw the line? They've already shown that they have the power to make arbitrary changes without checking with the owners of books. How far will they go?

2. They're paying on the number of pages read. Which means they *know* how many pages are read. If you read half a novel then set it aside because you got too busy to finish it, they will know. They're not only tracking your purchasing habits - they're tracking your reading habits.

3. I don't know how Kindle Unlimited or the lending library work. Are you able to download any of those books to read off-line? If so, how will those pages be counted?

So, my thoughts on the Telegraph article are: Their urgency is a little over-the-top. It's not panic-worthy. It is, however, thought-provoking, and something to be watched very carefully.

If the authors involved want to fight this, now is the time to do so. Opt out of Unlimited and the Lending Library (yes, they can opt out of this if they want). If enough people opt out, Amazon may have to rethink their decision. But then the authors might lose the guaranteed percentage they'll still get (however small).

Like I said, it's definitely something to think about.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I meant to add: thanks for posting that link. It shows another side of what I'd already heard.

CynthiaMc said...

Once upon a time I was an editorial assistant (one of my favorite jobs). I was the only full time person. My boss worked from home and we would meet once a week or so to have her sign off on things. Our big boss was also the head of the Latin American imprint and was usually busy with that so I would meet with him every couple of weeks to have him sign off on his stuff.

All that to say, don't be worried if you don't hear back in a minute. Sometimes you have to catch the editor when you can. Even editors go on vacation.

I read the link on no reply. We always replied.

I have a full time corporate job. I do theatre at night and on weekends. In between theatre projects, I write. I don't have time to wring my hands and wonder.

Not replying sends me the message that 1) the agent is rude or 2) the agent is disorganized. Neither of those are traits I'm looking for in an agent.

Cynthia McClendon

Sam Hawke said...

BJ - Amazon definitely already track how much of the books you buy you read. Every now and again they put out a list of the most 'unfinished' books - ie books the most people have bought but not actually finished reading. Probably don't want to be on that list...

And yeah, thanks guys! Rumours (if by rumours you mean me blabbing excitedly about it too much, haha) are indeed true - as of last week I am one step further on the way. Take heart, even woodland creatures can scurry out of the query trenches eventually. :)

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

The waiting game annoys me. It used to annoy me waiting for agents, but lately I've found another waiting game that's more annoying than the Agent Waiting Game.

This year I've diverted all my energy into the High School Waiting Game.

Here in Western Australia you don't have to go to the high school of your local intake area. There is a Gifted and Talented Entrance (GATE) program that can get you into the best public schools in the state. Also, many schools have their own Advanced Placement programs, and most schools will consider Out of Area enrolments.

I live in a blue collar area where educational aspirations aren't terribly high. It's the expectation you stay in high school until Year 10, then you either get an apprenticeship (fr'ex, bricklaying or hairdressing) or you get some entry-level unskilled full-time job.

University? Only if you're in the oddbunch 5% who wants to go to university.

Then there's the social aspects. There is a big issue with lack of respect, substance abuse, fighting, bullying, etc. It's not a pleasant environment.

The local high schools are a very scary place. Can you blame me for wanting to seek out a better education for Their Ladyships?

Eldest got into one of the best schools in the state. She's thriving there in a culture that values mutual respect and education. Also, 80% go on to University. My daughter will be the fifth generation of women to have gone on to tertiary education.

Youngest is in the process of application. Unlike the eldest who was successful with her GATE test, youngest's scores weren't quite as high (though still high enough for a shred of hope).

Just In Case, I applied to a whole bunch of good schools (general student intake).

Applying for high schools is very much like agent-hunting. You put in your application (query) and include school reports, tests, etc (sample pages of your best work) and you wait to see if you're the 2% who gets accepted. And it takes so long to hear back. Our school year doesn't start until next February, yet testing for these positions started last March.

So far we've had one rejection and looks like we'll be getting three more by next week. That leaves about eight outstanding.

All it takes is one yes.

However, if this A student with 90% test scores gets rejected, she's going to have to go to the local high school. Frankly, the thought of that terrifies me. Not a single person I've spoken to (and I've spoken to lots) has had a good thing to say about the "School That Has To Take Her By Law."

Why don't I simply move into an area with good schools? Because the Australian Housing Market is ridiculously high. The neighborhoods of the Really Good Schools don't offer family homes for any less than $1,000,000. Yep, a basic 3x1 house cannot be had for less than one million dollars.

So yeah. The Query Train's a doddle compared to the High School Entrance flat-tyred rusty bicycle with no seat I'm riding.

And no, I'm not considering indie publi-- er, I mean, homeschooling. That's far more effort that I have energy or patience.

I so hope Second Ladyship can get into a good school so I can stop worrying about her educational aspirations (she wants to be a Vet) and get back to the languorous rhythm and relaxing effort of pitching to agents.

Is it warm on Carkoon right now? Because it's cold in Australia and I don't like the cold. I'll bring my own cake.