A little novel excitement – short-lived

I was on two panels last weekend at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference – one on memoirs and the other on building a platform. After getting much kudos I was feeling pretty good, so good that I jumped at the chance to present a short pitch to a literary agent about my novel. I had a synopsis with me and I knew my story cold, so why not?

A woman with blonde hair that is tied in a braid, wears a dark blue with yellow baseball jersey, gray pants with yellow side stripe, black socks and cleats, brown gloves on her right hand, sends her left leg back to balance her body, while throwing a fast ball

When it was my turn I told the agent about my book. He smiled and told me to tell my story without a lot of details. When I finished, he nodded his head and said, “I like it.” He then asked me to send him a synopsis by email. He didn’t want the hard copy I had with me.

I was stoked.

When I got home I decided to rewrite my synopsis. And thanks to Jane Friedman I found a wonderful resource: How to Write a 1-page Synopsis by Sooz. The outline was easy to follow. And in most cases I was able to use some of the synopsis I had already written.

I also wrote a cover/query letter that included a recap of my meeting with the agent to refresh his memory. I wrote: “We met last Saturday for a few minutes at the West Coast Writers Conference. After you listened to a short description of my literary fiction book, you said you liked it, and asked for a synopsis. So here I am with a synopsis attached. I truly hope you still like it.”

I also included background information about my novel, information about my writing experience and successes, and a big thank you for meeting with me. I hoped he’d also look at my platform links that always follow my signature on my emails, giving him evidence I wasn’t some fly-by-night writer.

The next morning I reread both my documents, tweaked them a bit, and asked my husband – who is an excellent reviewer and editor – to read them. About a half hour later he came into my office saying he had been prepared to mark up my pages with his red pen, but found nothing to correct. He also said he learned a lot more about my novel after reading my synopsis. That response stoked me all the more. I decided then and there to send my material off to the agent right away. What did I have to lose?

A few hours later I got a response. It said, “Not for me-thanks anyway.”

There was a big thud, and then I thought, the query games have just begun. For those of you who know me, know I won’t let one rejection stop me. After all, I wrote 68 query letters before I found a publisher for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.

I chalk this one up to practice. This was my first in-person pitch, and I thought it went very well – at least up to the big thud.

I’m also reading The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz. The second agreement is to not to take anything personally. With that, I know the agent’s rejection has nothing to do with me or my book or my writing but everything to do with the agent and his agenda.

Please read The Four Agreements. It’s enlightening and freeing.

The Four

 

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