I decided on a Wednesday to shelve the manuscript I had out with agents and two editors. It hadn’t been out for too long, but it’d been five months and I had another manuscript ready to query. The rejections on the manuscript were kind, but one after another, they read, “I liked it, you write well, but I didn’t love it the way I needed to love it.”
Frustration looks like cupcakes, and way too much money spent at Starbucks, and a lot of emails sent to critique partners, and resenting your phone every time it dings with an email alert.
So on Wednesday, I had an expensive Starbucks drink, a cupcake, and decided I’d stop querying it and pull it from the agents who still had it on their desks. But I didn’t pull the plug that night. I don’t know why. I simply didn’t.
The next day, I went to work and we were busy all day. I got a phone call from an unknown number, sent it to voicemail, and when I had a spare minute, I listened to it. It was a call from Kerri Buckley, an editor at Carina Press, a digital-first imprint of Harlequin. She wanted to talk about the book I’d submitted to them five months earlier. I hung up the voicemail, turned to my boss, and said, “Oh my god. Someone wants to publish my book.”
On Friday, we spoke on the phone.
Two weeks later, I had an agent and a book deal.
I’m not guaranteeing that when you give up on a book, this will land in your lap the next day. If I could, I’d do it for everyone I know. Because sitting in the query trenches and submission trenches is exhausting. Because no one, no one, gets that stress and frustration and hopelessness, like someone else who has been in that trench too.
Waiting is a part of publishing, but giving up isn’t. Patience is a virtue, but frustration is natural. It’s easy to wallow. A critique partner and I even call ourselves bonafide members of the wallow club.
But it’s important to lean on the people around you, your critique partners and writing friends (and to do so off public spheres! This is what email’s for!). It’s important to know that you’re not the only one who has gotten a frustrating rejection, a form rejection, a “I like it, you’re talented, but I don’t love it” rejection.
Hang in there. Discover your favorite cupcakes. (I’m a huge fan of cupcakes…) Consider your coffeehouse purchases a form of therapy, and a business expense to be quite real. If it keeps you sane and keeps you writing, then that’s always worth it. And while you’re stuck in queryland and submission land, keep writing. It’ll keep you from glaring at your inbox (stop refreshing. Gmail automatically refreshes. You need to stop refreshing.) and it’ll make sure you have something ready to go.
Besides, when you get The Call from your dream agent, you need to have an answer when s/he/they ask what your next project is. 😉
Write on, friends!
And as always, if you need a 140 character pep talk, I’m pretty much always around on Twitter. See you there!
Katherine Locke lives and writes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. Her day jobs always vary, but in the past she’s worked in nuclear weapons abolition activism, lead poisoning prevention and education, and food safety programs at a mushroom farm. She secretly believes most books are fairytales in disguise. She’s the author of TURNING POINTE, SECOND POSITION and the forthcoming FINDING CENTER.
You can find her online at @bibliogato on Twitter and KatherineLockeBooks.com