Monday, November 29, 2010

Open Forum - Answered!


Michelle Merrill said...
I'm curious about the timeline on a debut novel that's in the first rounds of revision with a newly signed client. As an agent, do you typically shoot for a certain word count per week? 

There are no time lines for revisions. I think the instinct for most writers when they are asked for a revision is to get it done as quickly as possible to prove they are ON it and capable of doing it (at least, I know that’s how I used to feel!). But in reality, when I get a revised manuscript back within two or three days, if I wasn’t asking for minor things, I get wary. I don’t want a rushed revision; I want a thoughtful, TRUE revision.

Also, when you’re working with a new author on a second or third book, what's your timeline on getting that new book? Again, do you try to get the author to send a certain word count per week or do you wait until they've written a set number of chapters? 

That is completely up to my client. I don’t set goals for my clients’ work; that’s their job. If I were an editor or a publisher, then yes, there would be a deadline to turn in the next book under contract (same for revisions, too). These deadlines are stated in the contract; I’ve seen anywhere from 15-30 days for revisions, and 6 months to a year for the next book (it varies a lot by genre, too, what the deadlines are). I have clients who like to show me works in progress and get feedback, and I also have clients who like to wait until they have a finished manuscript to show me. Up to them; I’m open to any stage from my clients. That is something to discuss with your agent and decide how you will work best with him or her.

makenna.landes said...
I'm curious about the process involved once an author has been signed-more specifically, about what happens after an author's first book. 

Since a signed author already has an agent, he or she would not need to send out a query letter for subsequent books. Do these books, however, need to be approved by the agent? And how does this work?

No, an existing client does not need to pitch me (or query me) their new book. However, not all agents automatically represent the next work. Many agents sign clients on a book-by-book basis.

Typically, the client still doesn’t need to actually query again even in this situation; they just email or call and say “I have this new project…” and the agent will take a look.

Whether or not a next book is approved by an agent, well yes, whether the agent is book-by-book or career (represents all works), the agent still has to feel it’s something he or she can sell before going to market. I HAVE told clients, “no, I don’t think this idea is strongest; let’s move on.” You NEVER want an agent who will represent ANYTHING you write, regardless of what they think.

Would a signed author tell his/her agent an idea for the next book before the writing process even begins, once there is an outline, once the book is written, etc?

Again, up to the client, and often, up to the agent. For me, yes, I love when my clients run ideas by me – but it isn’t necessary.

Amie Kaufman said...
My question is about how you work with clients on second/third/later books. Do you look at their ideas together and choose a project, or brainstorm? Do you advise on what might work best for them or the market?

Since I’ve answered the ideas question, I’ll focus on what works best for the market. Yes, I do advise if I think a project won’t have market potential. However, what I usually say is: No, I don’t think I can sell this now, but if you want to write it, WRITE IT. I won’t EVER stop my client from writing what they want. I just may not take all of it to market. ;)


Cathy said...
Any advice/wisdom/enlightenment on how to determine a story's genre?

Hopefully you are reading in your genre, and so usually, the easiest way to determine what in the world you’ve written is to see what books out there resemble yours the most.

Andrea said...
What's the best thing to do if one queries you, and gets a request from office assistant T who has since begun taking on her own clients, and you're not sure your full was received (because you mailed it from another country), so you resend via email (as the agency has now gone to email), but you're still not sure it's been seen yet? Wait a month and then ask/nudge?

Well, to try and answer this as generally as possible… ;) Many agents don’t acknowledge receipt of a request. It’s not because we’re mean and rude people; honestly, it’s just that we don’t have the same perspective as the author. An agent will log in to 50 + new emails each day; letting an author know we got their email often isn’t priority! For me, usually it goes straight into my queue to be read.

That said, if you have a request, general protocol would be to wait at least two to three months before nudging (as gently as possible). And if your request was by a different agent in the office other than the one you initially queried – be flattered! It means your story wasn’t quite right for that agent, but it was still GOOD ENOUGH to be passed on to someone else.

Jenilyn Tolley said...
If an agent gives feedback (but ultimately passes) on a partial or full, is it all right to requery them after making major changes?

Yes, but always make sure to state that they’ve seen it before. You’d be surprised how good agent memories can be; since I’ve gone to email, for instance, I’ve gotten several repeat queries I saw on paper before. It annoys me. It does NOT annoy me if the person says, “I queried you a few months ago, but since then, I’ve re-written, and so just in case…” etc.

And, after making major changes, is it okay to requery other agents who passed on the query and sample pages alone?

I would say, as a general rule, unless you have MAJOR changes, I wouldn’t do it.

Joanna St. James said...
When you are successfully querying an agent, do you have to tell them what pub houses you are targeting with that manuscript or do they just look at it and think this will be good for Simon &Schuster or Harlequin?

You never need to specify what publishing houses would be perfect for your book. That’s the agent’s job to know.

However, if you write a book that you think WILL only fit in one publishing house (for example, a specific Harlequin line), you may have a problem, because agents want to represent novels they can pitch to more than one house. Because if that one perfect house rejects it…well, sh*t out of luck. You’d be better off sending directly to that house sans agent if that is the case (and you could always ask an agent to negotiate a deal for you later – though I’ll have a post on the pros and cons of this later!)

catdownunder said...
An agent says "I am not taking any more new writers at the present time." Is it the correct thing to write and ask them if they could let you know when they are going to take new clients because (a) you really want to be represented by them and (b) this is what you have to offer? Is this considered rude, too pushy, an indication that you do not listen to advice or just that you are determined to try?

NO. If an agent says they are not taking on new clients, they DO NOT want to be contacted. If you really want to be represented by them, you just have to wait it out until they are taking on new clients.

Michelle said...
What is a typical minimum word count that an agent will accept for a MG and for a YA novel?

Minimum for MG: 35,000 (on the low, low, low side; more often, 40,000).
For YA 50,000 (again on the low side, typically contemporaries more than any other genre).

Obviously, there are always exceptions, but honestly, I don’t know why anyone would TRY to be the exception. Exceptions are exceptions because they are HARD and near IMPOSSIBLE!


(Can I preface this topic with….nooooooo!? *deep breath* ok. Diving in!)

Ilima Loomis said...
Can you talk about historical fiction in the children's/middle grade market? I've heard this genre is very slow right now. Can a new author debut in this genre?

A new author can debut in ANY genre; nothing is closed. And yes, while certain genres are tougher to sell, if it’s amazing, it WILL sell. Personally, I think historical is slow only because it’s tough to do well, and tough to do in a new way.

More generally, do you think it's worthwhile for a writer to invest time in a project when the genre is supposedly "not selling"?

Yes. Never force yourself to write something just because you think it’s “hot”; it just won’t be as good of a book. Write what you’re passionate about; that’s the only way you stand a chance to make a tough sell amazing enough to sell!

Everything in publishing is cyclical. I like to use romance trends as an example: historical was out, contemporaries in, historicals were all the rage, contemporaries were dead, and now contemporaries are on the rise again – all within a 15 year time span.

Timing is the key when shopping a project – so even if you have a “slow” genre, just keep at it; eventually, it will pick up again.

Pam Harris said...
I know most agents hate the trend question, but are editors buzzing about any genre in particular right now? Something that they're just dying to have?

Honestly, the most I will say about this is that lighter books tend not to be doing so well, nor do angel and demon books (already a ton under contract at pub houses), mysteries, chick lit, or memoirs. I heard gods and goddesses and mermaids were next, but even those are already starting to glut in sales.

Again…focus on your passion, and the cyclical nature of publishing will eventually circle back your way.

:) said...
What do you think is the most important thing for fairy tale writers to know about the market?

That it is GLUTTED with spin-offs. It is VERY hard to do a fairy tale unique enough to stand out; look for more original sources than just Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast!

Is it different for writers of original fairy tales than for retellings/reimaginings/reperspectivisms?

Well yes, because original fairy tales won’t have to worry about competing with every other Cinderella and Anorexic Vegan Zombies out there! Typically, original fairy tales will appeal more to a younger crowd, however, and so the best thing for this type of writer to know is that it would have to be darker and less silly to appeal to an older audience.

I just saw a news story that said Disney is off of princesses after Tangled for the foreseeable future. Are princesses going out of style or are they timeless like vampires?

Princesses will NEVER go out of style, imho. ;) Disney is just being dumb, because they didn’t get the Russian and Fairy princess.

Michelle Merrill said…
Do you think paranormal romance will still be popular in five years? Maybe something with a fresh look on a topic that is totally new or so old it will seem new? 

Again, cyclical! I have no idea.


LTM said...
Some bleeps recently were approached by agents who'd read samples of their writing on their blogs. (Like they got full MS requests from samples.)

We were wondering:
#1-how common is this? (agents trolling blogs/reading writing samples)

Not common at all. Usually the agents who do this are newer and hungrier to build their list (and this is not telling of “good” or “bad” agents, rather, they are rising stars and real go-getters, if I don’t say so myself…!)

#2-are there any dangers? (self publishing concerns, etc.)

Yes; you don’t want to give the milk away for free, so to speak! SAMPLES are ok; anything more does indeed get into the self-publishing area.

Some agents will ask that their clients take down their samples once they go on submission. A big reason for this is that once a book sells, the publisher has the exclusive right to publish the material, and blogging is a form of publishing. Excerpts fall under “first serial” rights, and publishers will try to get these placed in magazines etc. You can still post samples, but you need to get permission first.

#3-any advice here? (if we do this, what should we post? First 250? The most exciting part?)

Post one to two sentences of description about what the book is about – your hook – and the first 250 words. The FIRST 250 words, not a random part, if it will be constant (you can participate in “teaser Tuesday” and post a random part, though usually these are snipped later so as not to build a collection of the entire book!).

Jaci said...
How important is a blog following for a fiction writer? Are blogs really seen as credible, or do you roll your eyes when someone says, "I blog!"

Not very credible at all, I’m afraid. The reason for this is that no matter HOW many followers you have, there is no guarantee they will all go out and buy your book. People with followings like SH*T MY DAD SAYS are credible because they’ve proven a very WIDE audience, and so there’s more of a probability that many people will buy the book.


Bluestocking said...
What, in particular, are you looking for in your historical romance submissions? Is there a particular time period or periods you especially enjoy?

I love Victorian romance novels. Not as much of a fan of anything too outside of those years. My favorite historical authors are Julia Quinn (earlier stuff), Lisa Kleypas, Johanna Lindsey, and Jude Deveraux.

Julie Hedlund said...
What are your favorite books right now in the young adult, middle grade and picture book genres? Just in general, not necessarily your own clients'

I like that you asked “right now,” because my favorites change the more I read! However, with that in mind, I think my classic favorites are really what continue to inspire my tastes, not anything recent.

Brief sample of all-time favorites/reading history:

YA/MG: ELLA ENCHANTED, CALLING ON DRAGONS, THE CHINA GARDEN, LIRAEL, Joan Lowery Nixon’s mysteries, Tamora Pierce’s books (all!), Caroline B. Cooney books, THE MEDIATOR series, I WAS A TEENAGE FAIRY, BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE, THE LAST VAMPIRE/Christopher Pike novels, MIRA, The Royal Diaries series


And I am SO going to think of a bazillion more I would want on this list…!

Marsha Sigman said...
What would you like to see in your slushpile right now?

Nothing. No really; I’m so swamped, if I had nothing in it it would mean I was caught up!
I’ll be honest: I had about 300 submissions to wade through when I left the office on Tuesday. The only thing that would catch my attention right now would be what any agent would want to see: something original and mind-blowing.

Ask me again when I’m less swamped, and I’ll be more optimistic. :)

Michelle Merrill said...
At writeoncon you mentioned that you like princess stories. What is your favorite thing about them?

They’re girly and underappreciated. I like princesses that kick butt, either by personality or literally. Many people think air-head when they think princess; I think rich spunky bitch who can care about her wardrobe and still save the day, and that appeals to me.

Candyland said...
If you like something about the story (voice, characters, etc), will you request a revise and re-submit or just pass? Also how long will you wait on said revision before moving on?

If I like the voice, but the plot just isn’t standing out to me, I may ask to see the next work. If I like the plot but not the voice, I’ll pass. The only time I ever ask for an R&R is if I think the story has BOTH, and they just need to be polished (maybe just some plot holes/twists that needs to be addressed). Then it’s a matter of whether or not the writer is capable of polishing!

As mentioned, I don’t have a time frame for revisions. If I liked it, I won’t ever move on; BUT, I may not be as jazzed about it in six months, say, as I would be a month later.

Makenna Landes said…
I was just wondering what your favorite fairy tale is.

Beauty and the Beast.

:) said…
How do you feel about made-up words like reperspectivisms?

Awesome in conversation, not so much in stories – unless they serve a purpose.


Beth said...
Do you ever get the impression that some writers look at publication a little like winning the lottery, in that they think it's not as much about skill and craft, but more about the luck of the draw?

Yes, and I agree to an extent, because of issues like timing (agent/editor already has a similar project, too many on the market, they’re in a transition, etc) and connections (who you know who will get your work into the hands of an agent or editor). Conferences help with connections, but timing is unpredictable.

Honestly, every author has the same chance as any other when it comes right down to it (once a manuscript is in an editor’s hands). Either the stars and planets are all in alignment with timing and the writing and voice are there, or they aren’t.

Bottom line: for most people, perseverance pays off. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t an exception or zipping down the easy road.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Open Forum

For the life of me, I can't seem to think up a new blog post.

So I'll let YOU do it.

Post your questions below and I'll either make a blog post of it, or I'll answer it flat out in the comments section. Win win!

Oh, right...but only the first...20 posts! Go!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Agent's Take on Some Common Writers' Frustrations

There are an incredible number of resources for writers. Googling alone will show that. Regardless, there are a few concerns I’ve seen popping up over and over again:

The Synopsis
The Book Genre
Book or Manuscript?

Some of my favorite resources to start with:

-Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents
-The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

In terms of the synopsis, it should never be over two pages long, single spaced. The biggest reason agents request this is to see where the plot is going. It’s not considered a sample of your writing; it’s considered a sample of your plotting ability. Can you describe your plot in two pages? Will the book hold together? In other words, don’t stress so much about how it’s written; worry about whether or not it shows the true nature of your book (and includes the ending!). When I turn to a synopsis, it means that I liked the sample of writing (my personal preference is to see if the book hooks me first, and then turn to the synopsis), and I want to make sure the plot isn’t going to suddenly go from chick lit to time-traveling alternate-history paranormal suspense; I want to see what I’d be getting into if I requested more. That’s it.

And regardless of what an author may think, I’m not going to throw away a submission if it’s been called a paranormal suspense and it’s really a romantic paranormal suspense. My job, as an agent, is to know which editor to send this to; an author’s job is to know which agent to send it to. If you can get the basic elements of your novel into a sentence (i.e., it’s an historical novel with supernatural mystery elements), that’s all you should need to find an agent to submit to (look for someone who works with supernatural, or mystery, and, if historical, if they have anything remotely similar to what your book is about on their list). And in fact, many agents blend genres; they don’t have to pigeon-hole themselves in quite the same way that editors do.

There are many sites that give a basic breakdown of genre; here are some of the more confusing ones:

-Commercial – it’s written to appeal to as broad an audience as possible

-Literary – Character-driven. The plot is secondary to the development of the characters; it is more about how it is written, the art of writing, than plot

-Mainstream – genre or literary fiction that sells well. (Like Stephen King – he’s technically genre, but sells to readers outside of that genre as well; his books have the ability to attract readers who wouldn’t normally read horror)

-Genre Fiction – more emphasis on plot than on fine writing and character development, appeals to fans of the genre but not to a wider audience (romance, thriller, etc)

-Upmarket – a combination of commercial and literary; can appeal to both audiences

-Mass-Market – the smallest paperback, what genre fiction is usually published in (romances, mysteries, thrillers)

-Trade Paper – the 15.00 paperback

And of course, if all else fails, you can always search on Amazon for a book you think is similar to yours, and see how they classify it.

Even if you do get your manuscript into the hands of the perfect agent, it’s not a guarantee of representation. Agents have to have passion and enthusiasm for a project in order to sell it. Rejection IS NOT PERSONAL; it’s business. I’ve rejected many manuscripts I thought were wonderful, but just didn’t “click” with me. It’s so incredibly subjective; the best advice is to take what you can from a rejection, and move on. Always think of the WHY, not the WHAT. Meaning, don’t focus on the rejection; focus on WHY it was rejected. Did you query the wrong agent? Do you need to work more on characterization? There’s always a reason someone reacts the way they do; try and focus on that reason instead of the reaction. It’ll help to gain constructive feedback from even the word “no.”

In the end, it may just be that self-publishing is a route for you. Here’s how you know: if your book is so regional or so niche that it won’t appeal to a wider audience. Or: you’ve written a non-fiction book and will use the self-published version to build a platform of 1,000 books a month for 12 months, proving there’s an audience for your book.

For fiction, self-publishing is usually not the best option; in most cases, it will serve as a handicap. Because even if you sell 5,000 copies of that fiction novel out of the back of your car…those are dismal numbers to any book buyer. Once you self-pub, you get an ISBN; publishers and book buyers WILL use that ISBN to look up sales numbers. And since self-published books are never sold in chains, where most of the numbers come from (BookScan)…it’s going to look even more dismal. Publishers will pay money for a book equal to the amount of copies they can expect book sellers to buy. If book sellers are seeing no demand for a book…they won’t buy. Period. But if you just want a few copies to share with loved ones, by all means, self-pub away.

A book is a book is a book. Yes, technically, it’s still a manuscript until it’s published; but in my opinion, if you write a book, it’s a book; a publishing contract only means someone wants to pay money to promote it widely, because they think they’ll make money on it. So don’t try and sell yourself short; even Webster’s says: “a written OR printed work of fiction or nonfiction.”

Template for a Good Query

I most definitely do NOT want a bunch of cookie-cutter query letters, but the below template should help you out if you're trying to figure out just what to say, what to add, and what not to do!

[Dear Mr./Ms. Agent’s Last Name],

[The FIRST line should indicate if this is a referral or if you’ve met the agent at a conference etc.]

[The first PARAGRAPH should show you’ve done your homework. Why this agency? Why this agent? This could be as simple as mentioning that your book is a Romantic Suspense and you read on their website that the agent is interested in this genre.]

[1-2 paragraphs about your book, including word length and hook. Write as if you’re writing the blurb for the back of the book – a quick, catchy paragraph or two to make you pick it up. The synopsis will tell the rest]

[Brief bio - if you have no publishing credentials, something as simple as "I'm a member of SCBWI and live with my cat in San Diego" works just fine.]

[Thank the agent for his/her time and consideration.]

[The LAST line should also show you’ve done your homework – on submission requirements regarding what you've enclosed. EVERY agency is different in what they want. Look it up, put it in the letter, and send it that way]

[Your name, and email]

[your full contact info]

Quick Grammar Review

I had a lovely mini crash course on grammar on Twitter a while back and, as I certainly think it's important, thought I'd post the transcript up for future perusal!

(print this and tape it to your computer!)

Lie/lay/lain=to recline
Lay/laid/laid=to put down
Who=a person, that=a thing
whom=him, her
It’s=it is, its=possessive
You’re=you are, your=possessive
Lose=not win, loose=not tight
(person) and I=we, (person) and me=us
Affect=verb, effect=noun

Ah hem. So, today's mission: sort through some of the trickiest little grammar mistakes even pros make. Hashtag will be: #crashgram. And no, I'm not an expert, though I have been known to do a few of these on occasion:
So let’s begin!

• When a character speaks: "Hey, how are you?" <-- quotes surround all

• When narrator butts in: "Hey, how are you?" she said. <-- quotes only around spoken words

• Examples of the 's: Charles Dickens's, The Club's, the boys' <- When it's a singular person, even if it ends in an s, add an 's. If it’s plural, just add an ‘

• lie/lay/lain = to recline. lay/laid/laid=to put down. (present/past/past participle)

• who=he/she, whom=him/her. Replace the "who" with the pronoun to figure out which one to use i.e.: Who do you think did it? --> He did it.

• its = possesive, it's = it is

• your = possesive. you're = you are. .There = place, they're = they are

• When writing in the past, use the past participle to denote something that has already happened. i.e.: I went to the mall and then realized I'd already been yesterday. -->past participle = has had, had had, etc

• Nick and I = we, Nick and me = us --> try using we or us in the sentence to figure out which to use i.e.: We're going to the store (Nick and I); it was closed so we left (Nick and I), Steph went to the store with us (me and Nick)

• Correct way to use a dash: he went to the store -- not the one on sixth -- and I went with him. (word space dash dash space word)

• semicolon: it's a continuation, not a side thought (like the dash), and must be followed by a complete sentence.

• Commas: Way too many rules to tweet, so:

• Capitalize Uncle/Mom etc when you use it in place of a name, but NOT if in the possessive, as in my uncle said, my mom said, Uncle Bob said, Mom said OR I saw Oxford Top at the store today, ew. <-- this is correct, if Oxford Top doesn't have a name

• There is no space between a word and any punctuation, so: the end! and not the end !

• ... (three)= you can continue the sentence ; .... (four)= you finished the sentence & will start a new one (put space after it)

• When using a dialogue tag, use a comma, not a period, at the end of the quote: "I love you," she said. <--don't cap. the "she"

• When breaking your character's speech into several paragraphs: "Quote. (new para) "Quote."
--> no " on end until IT ends

• Don't cap a continuing quote: "Hey there," he said, "want to go to the mall?" Cap new: "Hi," he said. "Want to go to the mall?"

• With commas, a lot of the time, it comes down to style. There are certain places that require it grammatically, but a lot are optional

  • for ex: with commas, a lot of the time it comes down to style. ;) 

• affect=verb (replace with the word "influence" to check), effect=noun (replace with the word "result" to check) - MOST of the time. Here are some weird times this isn't true.

And last but not least: epically cool grammar site:

Happy writing!!
Natalie M. Fischer

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


As you probably surmised from my query letters, I got a lot of rejections. In fact, I think I'd racked in close to 200 by the time I stopped submitting. But I kept going.

Why? How? Why in the WORLD did I keep paying $.24 (I think it was up to $.33 by the time I stopped) for MORE PAIN?

Because of the stories that inspired me to keep going. To never give up.

The first one I tacked to my wall was a flyer my mom brought home, which was actually supposed to be some sort of advertisement to go to church. It told the story of Theodore Geisel, the poor children's writer who sent his manuscript, THE HOUSE ON MULBERRY STREET, to 24 publishers, and was rejected by each and every one. He was on his way home to burn his manuscript and give up writing for good when he ran into an old friend of his, who had become an editor at a publishing house. A name change later and THE CAT IN THE HAT was born.

God works in mysterious ways, the flyer told me.

Yeah, and so does publishing.

My second inspiration came from a rejection letter, via email from the Intellectual Property Management Group:

Putting Rejection into Perspective

If your manuscript gets rejected, consider the company
you are in when you get rejected by an agent or
publisher who lacks the foresight to see just how
great your work may be. The following list is compiled
from Michael Larsen's book, "Literary Agents."

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck was returned fourteen
times, but it went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead was rejected
twelve times.

Patrick Dennis said of his autobiographical novel
Auntie Mame, "It circulated for five years through the
halls of fifteen publishers and finally ended up with
Vanguard Press, which, as you can see, is rather deep
into the alphabet." This illustrates why using the
alphabet may be a logical but ineffective way to find
the best agent or editor.

Twenty publishers felt that Richard Bach's Jonathan
Livingston Seagull was for the birds.

The first title of Catch-22 was Catch-18, but Simon
and Schuster planned to publish it during the same
season that Doubleday was bringing out Mila 18 by Leon
Uris. When Doubleday complained, Joseph Heller changed
the title. Why 22? Because Simon and Schuster was the
22nd publisher to read it. Catch-22 has become part of
the language and has sold more than 10 million copies.

Mary Higgins Clark was rejected forty times before
selling her first story. One editor wrote: "Your story
is light, slight, and trite." More than 30 million
copies of her books are now in print.

Before he wrote Roots, Alex Haley had received 200

Robert Persig's classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle
Maintenance, couldn't get started at 121 houses.

John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was
declined by fifteen publishers and some thirty agents.
His novels have more than 60 million copies in print.

Thirty-three publishers couldn't digest Chicken Soup
for the Soul, compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark
Victor Hansen, before it became a huge best-seller and
spawned a series.

The Baltimore Sun hailed Naked in Deccan as "a
classic" after it had been rejected over seven years
by 375 publishers.

Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected twenty-four times.
The sales of his children's books have soared to 100

Louis L'Amour received 200 rejections before he sold
his first novel. During the last forty years, Bantam
has shipped nearly 200 million of his 112 books,
making him their biggest selling author.

If you visit the House of Happy Walls, Jack London's
beautiful estate in Sonoma County, north San
Francisco, you will see some of the 600 rejection
slips that London received before selling his first
story. If you want to know how much easier it is to
make it as a writer now than it was in London's time,
read his wonderful autobiographical novel, Martin
Eden. Your sufferings will pale compared to what poor
Martin endured.

British writer John Creasy received 774 rejections
before selling his first story. He went on to write
564 books, using fourteen names.

Eight years after his novel Steps won the National
Book Award, Jerzy Kosinski permitted a writer to
change his name and the title and send a manuscript of
the novel to thirteen agents and fourteen publishers
to test the plight of new writers. They all rejected
it, including Random House, which had published it.

Every no gets you closer to yes ...


These were the little things that kept me sane, that kept me hoping even after 200 tries. As an agent, they STILL keep me going, STILL keep me sane.

We ALL know those OTHER stories, the ones where some mom in the middle of nowhere dreams up a bestseller, writes it in a month and sells it for six figures after practically NO rejection. The ones that every author seems to think are the norm.

But I want to take a moment to celebrate the TRUE inspirations; the Mandy Hubbards and Stephen Kings of the world, the ones who show that hard work and perseverance really do pay off.

So tell me - what is your story? Your inspiration?

(psst...need more? You can read a whole other version of this here!)