Notes from the Field: August 21 2017

Here’s the latest latest, about the latest:


Here’s the latest latest, about the latest:

  • Let’s tear off the band-aid: I got my first official rejection email from the first wave of queries that I sent out almost 2 weeks ago. The odds of nailing it on the first try were vanishingly slim, but hey, I can dream, can’t I?bleah

    (That’s me, in the yellow, there.)

    Not the best feeling, but as it was bound to happen sooner or later, I’m glad that shoe has dropped. Beats the famous “closed – no response” tag I’ve seen a lot on Query Tracker.

  • I’m working on two other manuscripts at the moment. My technique is to write one until I reach a stopping point (or hit the wall), and switch over to the other one. As they’re vastly different stories, it activates different parts of my brain and where words dry up in one story, they gush out for the other, and vice-versa.
  • One thing I absolutely refuse to do, besides give up, is review or even acknowledge any of the (fiction) books I have checked out from the library. No good can come of that. If I weren’t writing my own stuff, and querying agents, and going through the roller-coaster of emotions about it on an hourly basis, I could probably get away with it. But I’m no fun when I’m seeing agented and published material that I’d never in a million years write, or deem worthy of running up the flagpole if I had. (See? The less I say about this, the better.)Okay, without naming names, I will pass along this example: The narration was first -person. The character describes the crazy scene at a bar… when suddenly, his sister throws her drink in a guys face! Well, says him, because this is accompanied by “I ran out of there ten minutes before that happened,” with no connective tissue like “and I found out about that days later” or something explaining HOW he knows something happened after he left the room. UGH.
  • After taking a moment, I think the online dating analogy applies neatly to book publishing. Getting turned down stinks, but the worst move is to get bitter about it. Keep looking, better yourself, or move on. Those points as they apply to getting a literary agent, in my limited experience:Keep looking – “Not a good fit” cuts both ways. Rather than beg, plead, and cajole, find a better match. Just because somebody is a literary agent doesn’t mean they’re best suited to your work. If they’re not feeling it, find somebody who is. (Note: This is really just me giving myself a pep talk, ignore as you please.)

    Better Yourself – I’m very fortunate that I have other manuscripts in development. If this was my one and only shot at getting a book published, then I’d be a basket case and probably on some sort of medication by now. I’m still tweaking and polishing my Book One manuscript in the way that the Friends writers would tweak lines while they were filming takes. I’m reading other books, and doing other things besides staring a hole through Query Tracker wondering why nobody loves me. I do that offline. Also, I may need to tweak my query letter, synopsis, and approach, depending on what sort of feedback I receive over the coming weeks.

    Move On – If the book isn’t going to get picked up by an agent, decide what’s next. Self publish (eBook, not vanity press)? Give up? Write something else? Or, especially in terms of dating, maybe your local area just doesn’t have enough interested parties. Maybe a change of venue is in order. I met Jaime when I was living in Wisconsin and she lived in Illinois. Focusing my search on “5 miles or less from my home” wasn’t going to make that happen, although this analogy breaks down massively because she contacted me. But that wouldn’t have happened if she had refused to search outside of a tight radius, so, saved!

  • In other news, Jaime and I met up with a friend of ours and her friend from college over the weekend at Epcot. Over lunch, the subject of my book writing came up (shocking!), and after further ado, I let them read my query letter. Apparently, I have a confirmed audience of two. They were literally slapping the table with excitement when they read the sales pitch about the book and what sorts of things happen in it, and they’re demanding more, more, MORE! Which honestly, is a fantastic feeling, but one I am still trying to stir up in a literary agent. Ah, well.
  • Happy eclipse! Be careful out there, if you partake.

Author: Ethan Johnson

Words like silent raindrops.

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