I did something naughty recently.
Remember how I said there were only eleven books after The Sovereign Flame and The Grimm Kin? Well, my muse and I went a little crazy (nothing new there). See, I was working on the finer details of my outlines for the next few books, and more and more ideas kept coming.
Long story short: I’ve added to the list.
If you look at it in terms of a television series, The AEON Files now has two “seasons” worth of mysteries. The first season still contains the original seventeen books. The second currently consists of nine, with more most likely to be added. That’s a total of twenty-six books. Add in the two Tainted Soul halves, and I have twenty-eight.
Add in the nine for Dragon Diaries, the four for Mars Chronicles, and the two for Tomes of Rishai, and I’m looking at a total of forty-three books for my writing career (so far).
Perhaps the hardest thing about all this is the amount of work that gets put into sending out query letters. First you have to find an agent or publisher that accepts your genre, then you have to research the company/agent to learn if they are even open to submissions and what their requirements are. And then you have to format your letter for each person you write.
In my opinion, writing a query requires a different type of preparation than writing a novel. There’s also a different mindset. After all, I’m sending out my hard work to people I don’t even know in hopes of getting them interested in backing me and my ideas.
Just believing your work is good enough to send out takes a lot of confidence. And the waiting for a response — should any actually come — is like waiting to find out the results of a medical exam.
But all this is pittance compared to dealing with the rejection.
While waiting month after month for a response is agitating, finally hearing back only to read the words “… don’t think you’d be a good fit…” or “… at this time, I regret that I must pass…” and even “Not for me” is really disheartening.
I have received enough rejection letters to wallpaper my apartment, so I like to think that I’ve seen every type of form rejection letter that’s out there. Yet, I continue to send out query after query.
Well, the obvious reason is because I’m really stubborn. I’m also not going to give up on my life’s dream simply because someone said no or that they didn’t like it. That’s like expecting everyone to like strawberry-rhubarb pie just because you do. It’s not possible (PS, I can’t stand strawberry-rhubarb pie).
But here’s a few things that I’ve learned over the years that might interest you (especially if you’re a writer in the querying stage yourself):
- 95% of agents accept unsolicited *slush
- 66% of those agents read slush several times per week
- 35% of those agents say that more than half of their active list comes from the slush pile
Source: Rachel Stout, Literary Agent
This gives me the confidence that even if I don’t receive a response, there’s still a pretty good chance that my query is being read. As long as it’s being read, there’s still hope.
More facts about rejections:
- William Golding was rejected 20 times before Lord of the Flies was published
- Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times
- Gertrude Stein submitted poems for 22 years before finally having one published
- The author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, was told to stick to teaching when she got rejected
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig was rejected a whopping 121 times before it was published
- Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, was told he didn’t know how to use the English language
- Frank Herbert’s Dune (a personal favorite of mine) received 23 rejections
- JK Rowling was told to stick to her day job while Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was being rejected 12 times
- Even Steven King’s Carrie was rejected – 30 times
As for my own books:
- Dragon Diaries: Ascension has been rejected 223 times
- no one wants to risk publishing a 135,000 words on an unknown author
- The Demon Within has been rejected 12 times
Anne McCaffrey, author of the Dragonriders of Pern and The Ship Who Sang once told me: “Keep sending it out until someone sends you a check.” And that’s precisely what I’ll keep doing.
If you are a writer yourself, I hope you keep trying.
*slush is the term used to describe the piles of unsolicited query letters or manuscripts sent either directly to the publisher or literary agent by authors