When I sold LITTLE GALE GUMBO, it wasn’t the first time I’d had one of my manuscripts go out on submission. Two years before my agent sent the manuscript out, I was working with another agent on another women’s fiction project. Oh, it was a whirlwind of excitement! We spent a few weeks on edits and within a month of accepting the email offer to represent the novel, we were out on submission.
The responses came in fast and furious. No offers right away, but the rejections were kind—some even including suggestions! I was encouraged, so was my agent.
More rejections arrived, but I remained encouraged. After all, I had waited 15 years for this—surely I couldn’t get this close and not get all the way, right?!
Well…my optimism sagged. A last-ditch round of submissions yielded no offers. And as bad as that was, the news got bleaker. My agent felt the project had run its course, and so had our partnership.
I believe they call that a double whammy.
And while our parting was utterly cordial (and not entirely unexpected—the agent had made it clear they were representing the work, not me) I was crushed all the same.
After 15 years of writing and submitting, I’d come so close. Too close, darn it! Sure, I’d worked manuscripts to death before, but they’d never come as close as this one had and I wasn’t ready to put it away. No, ma’am. So for the next week, I put that poor, tired thing through its paces ONE MORE TIME. I returned to my spreadsheet of agents and I compiled a new list, for my new manuscript.
Oh, sure. I knew the rules. The whole once-it’s-been-seen-by-editors-its-dead-in-the-water rule, but I knew rules in publishing were made to be broken. After all, the agent hadn’t tried every editor on the planet, right? Surely there were one or two who’d been on vacation or maternity leave or on their lunch break when that initial mass emailing had gone out? And what about the excellent suggestions that had come back from a few agents—and wasn’t there even one kind woman who’d offered to give the book a second look if I addressed her concerns? I’d be a fool to not at least try, right?
At the end of that week, I took a hard look at that new list of agents, that new manuscript, and I had my Joe Buck You-know-what-you’ve-gotta-do-Cowboy moment. I put it all away and I started something new.
I left it and I didn’t look back.
Well, not until this post, I suppose.
And leaving it was the best thing I could have done.
But I think Kenny really says it best when he says: Now every gambler knows that the secret to surviving, is knowing what to throw away, and knowing what to keep.
Actually, I think it sounds better coming from the man himself:
And guess what?!
Today is a special giveaway–because I had the joy of meeting fellow Deb Eleanor Brown last Friday, I want to share some of the love. I will send one lucky commenter a copy of THE WEIRD SISTERS signed by Eleanor! Just leave a comment to be entered to win!
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