So I originally wanted to call this Dealing with Dummies. Mostly in light of the #agentfail, #queryfail, #writerfail debacle. And one specific post that, for some reason, really inspired a lot of irritation on my end.
Here’s my feeling on the matter. And feel free to take it or leave it as you like. But if something like #queryfail offends you, and you don’t take anything from the experience…you’re probably not doing your job. Same for #agentfail. And same for even #writerfail (which hasn’t taken off yet, but it will!)
No one’s ever going to handle every situation perfectly. And I think #queryfail was like that. It came from a good place, it was made of good intentions, and some people might have taken it too far, but a lot more people took their indignation about it much farther. These are the people who didnt’ take anything away from queryfail. They’re a majority of the people that jumped on the #agentfail bandwagon.
The difference though, as someone else said, was simple. Queryfail attacked words. Agentfail attacked people. Personally. And I tried to stay out of the whole thing, for the most part, but what’s it’s really boiled down to is this.
Have integrity. If writing is something you feel like you’re compulsed to do, then do it to the best of your ability. This is where I don’t understand some of the comments people make. My first book got one request. Obviously, both my book and my query were lacking. So I took that knowledge, wrote a better book, and spent months honing that query. And you know what?
That first book, I probably sent about 40 queries that I got responses to. Probably another 20 I didn’t hear anything from. I got 1 full request.
The second book? I sent about 35 queries, got 14 requests for more, and had only about 10 no-responses. Because, in large part, I did my homework. I wrote that query, posted it, and kept tightening and rewriting until it was perfect. And I had a lot of friends who helped out on that front.
That second book got me an agent, and at first I held off on working on something new. I didn’t want to start a new project and have to put it on hold in case I had edits to do or something. But it’s all too realistic that this book may not sell. And once I started to accept that fact, I took what I’ve learned through the submissions process, talks with my agent, research on publishing, and just things I’ve learned from the books I’ve read, and started work on a new novel. Because if that second book doesn’t sell (and it still may, who knows), then I’m going to write something else that will.
I could sit back and complain that my agent’s not doing her job. Or that the editors don’t understand real talent. Or complain that books that aren’t as good as mine got published. But I don’t. Like Leah said to me on Friday. "It’s like a challenge. If this isn’t good enough, then by god I’d better step up my game until I’m on that level." (Or something to that effect).
And that’s what it really comes down to. If writing is something you have to do, if you can’t do anything else to be happy, then put your best foot forward. And always remember to keep an eye on that road you’re on. Keep it in perspective. And don’t forget that it’s always a journey – we’re never static.