That’s right. The big “P”. The act or process of preparing and issuing printed material for public distribution or sale. The authorial Grail.
I have been actively pursuing literary agent representation for various novels o’ mine since March of ’09. (2009, not 1909, though there have been times when it sure did feel like a century…) Does an author need an agent to make it in the biz? Not at all; plenty of authors who’ve done quite well for themselves without agents can tell you that. And there are also plenty of authors who love their fabulous agents to death. I want to be one of those.
Query letter feedback has ranged from the “Dear author, better luck elsewhere” form letter to more personal “Dear Danielle, this was really good and would probably make a great TV show, but…”-type responses. The latter was slightly more encouraging than the former, but rejection is rejection. So if anyone wants to pull out a violin to accompany me, I can easily launch into a sob story of disappointment, dashed hopes, demoralization and— No violins? Moving right along, then.
Over the past little-under-three years, I fell into a pattern of query, query, query, take a break to wait for replies and live life and feel a little sorry for myself over what those last few replies were, grit my teeth in a surge of confidence-slash-ironclad-resolve and query, query, query, take a break to write another, better, more immediately sellable novel, query, query, query for some other novel I’d had sitting around for a while, take another wait/live/self-pity break, query, query, query for that tidied up immediate seller, bash my head against a desk and wail because “‘immediate seller’, my eye!”… Okay, Lute, put the violin down. I’m not whining, here, I’m just giving the background.
“Mm-hmm,” he says, making the catgut weep.
Minstrels. Anyway. During my most recent break from agent querying, I started taking note of contests and online periodicals in the market for short stories. I don’t even remember what got me started – there was just a contest on a blog calling for vampire stories here, a magazine looking for fantasy there, and the next thing I knew, I was sending out shorts left and right, some previously written, some freshly made to order. I hoped and didn’t dare to hope, and wrote, and sent, and noted on Facebook, “Man, it seems like God’s just been dropping short-story submission opportunities into my lap, these past weeks. Wonder if I’ve got a morale boost on my horizon.”
As it turns out, I did.
Since the start of November (and following two rejections elsewhere), two of my short pieces have been accepted in two separate publications. (I pause to hyperventilate somewhere you won’t have to put up with all the squeals and excessive use of exclamation points.)
The other story – just shy of eleven times as long as the flash, and its equal in Deshipley-approved quality – is also due out in December in “A Cuppa and an Armchair”, a collaborative venture joining writers and the charity, Equipe. The anthology will be available in both e-book and paperback formats. (It’s a good cause and I’m in it, so whaddaya say? Christmas presents?)
I’ll not be receiving payment for either of these pieces, but at this point, publication is its own reward. I’m so excited, my brain has shut down and can only sporadically process how terribly excited I am. Goodness knows what I’ll be like when my novels start selling.
The moral of this writerly fable? The same thing you probably already knew: Keep writing, keep submitting, keep praying like mad, and don’t bash your head against a desk in frustration too hard, ‘cause then you won’t have enough brain cells to fully comprehend how excited you are once you get good news.
Or The Beginning.
One of those. (: