. Athena's Books: Haters Gonna Hate
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Haters Gonna Hate

So I found a new blog I love-The Writer's Advocate by Chris Kepner, agent at Victoria Sanders & Associates.  

Judging from the title alone, you know this is a good one...who doesn't want someone in their corner saying Hey You Can Do This and When You Think You Can't Do This, Then Don't be Dismayed because I Have the Insight You Need!

The only thing is, though, that it was last updated about 9 months ago.  But, his last post from May 2011 is just what I needed today.  The post is an interview with Michael Sonala who has been on both sides of the fence, meaning on the writer side and the publisher side, and it's all about queries, rejections...and motivation to keep on keepin' on.

I already know the query letter is extremely important in getting me out of the slushpile, and I believe I have the strongest possible query I can write.  I actually modified it a bit in the last 2 weeks to make it stronger for the 2 agents I was targetting, but it won't hurt to revisit again and see what sort of Wow Factor I can still add and send out to new agents this week.

Here's a snippet from Michael Solona's response over the importance of The Query Letter:

"Your query letter is important. I mean, it’s really important. Actually, consider how important you believe it is — seriously, right now, take a second and think about it. Now multiply that by like a factor of ten. If I’ve learned anything while working in this industry, and pitching this industry, it’s this: there’s a lot of noise out there and not a lot of signal. Editors and agents have been conditioned, simply for experience, to expect a majority of work in their inboxes that ranges from terrible to legitimately insane. You may think that means you have an edge. You’re probably thinking, as I once did, well, score! I’m not a crazy person! My stuff’s at least good. It will stand out, right?


Unfortunately, what actually tends to happen is your work, regardless of quality, is assumed guilty of bad, simply for being in the slush pile, before the first word of your query is read. So you need to make that first word shine. You need to write the best paragraph of your entire life and show it to me and make me think my God, if I don’t read this right now someone else will and it will be amazing and I will lose this project and I can’t do that because HOLY CRAP! LOOK AT THIS! You need to write as if your life depended on it because trust me, the deck is stacked against you and this is not your first impression. This is your only impression. No one’s reading through your first twenty or thirty pages to see if things get better. If you work isn’t immediately, self-evidently great it’s assumed that it will never be. That’s an almost impossible judgment to recover from."

What about rejections?  They are overrated, just as I have been trying to convince myself on a semi-successful level.  I've actually only had one agency compliment my writing and give a small piece of reason as to why they might have passed it over.  Because of their more personal response, I have been able to reoranize my opening chapters/poems in a way that brings out character voice and development in a stronger sense.  Also, I added a spontaneous, grab-your-interest-fast poem I wrote in about 5 minutes as my new opening poem.  I had not added anything to my novel since I finished it.  Of course, I've done revision and editting, but not any new writing.
Here's what Michael Solana has to say about rejections:

"Look to the few really thoughtful letters you receive. There are going to be agents and editors who liked your characters, or your story, or maybe just the quality of your writing, and these are the people whose advice you should take to heart. Force your friends and coworkers to read your stuff. Join a writing group. Let the real-life-actual people you’re surrounded by tell you what worked and what didn’t work for them because they’re your audience, and their opinion is just as important as mine. It’s more important, actually.

But what is the role of rejection in an author’s life? This is pretty subjective, I guess. For me, rejection used to matter a lot. The letters said something about me. They were my only real ties to the publishing world and so I cared about them a great deal. But lately I couldn’t care less, and my life is better because of it. The letters are white noise. I hardly even read them anymore. I just kind of skim to get the gist, and I move on, because every moment you spend worrying about not being published is a moment you’ve just stolen from your writing, and from immediately sending your work back out to be rejected, rejected, re – hey! Success!

In the seminal words of 3LW, 'haters gonna hate.'"