Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Insecure Writers... May Edition

Can’t believe the whole A-Z challenge thing is over. I’ll be reflecting on that next week. But for now I’m here to talk about my insecurities. I think every post I do is about my insecurities, but I suppose this in the one-time per month I have a permission from a support group to post about it.

Yes, it's the brainchild of Alex J Cavanaugh - a monthly look at all the things that writers stress over. Click to learn more.

For me, possibly my biggest insecurity, or at least the one I try my best to actively avoid, is rejection. During the heat of the A-Z challenge I got dinged with a couple of rejections from stories I’d submitted. One was my sci fi novel that I’ve been shopping around so long that I’m afraid it’s no longer relevant. Well, relevant might not be the right word, but already  rendered all but impossible as a contemporary tale. I did go through the thing last year and give everyone iPhones to make it feel more modern. But that sort of thing is a Band-Aid, not a fix. So after another year or so I’ll either have to really rewrite it – which I might have to do anyway – or give it a firm date and call it a historical science fiction piece.

I’m going to give it one more go with the traditional track before I give up and throw the thing up as a self-published work and move on. Regardless, I think I’ll need a new query letter. My previous ones were targeting editors, and my new ones will be targeted at (sigh) super agents.

So, I can say goodbye to this gem:

“Dear Editor,

My novel, The Blutonian Death Egg, has been compared to such made up works as, The Man Who Forgot That He Couldn’t Remember, and the classic, White Elephants and Pink Whales: One Man’s Descent into Nicorette Addiction.

James Coastsman is a know-nothing, lazy, unmotivated, borderline sociopathic loner that gets forced into becoming an astronaut because he’s also me! And I’m awesome and should totally get to be an astronaut. So, while I’m he’s astronauting, he saves the world, kinda, gets the girl, and fights the establishment that is jealous of him.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to call this POS at least as good as some of the crappier SF being published currently, I mean, did you read <title redacted>? What a crapfest that was. So it isn’t like you’re throwing out winners right and left. I mean, c’mon.”

I know, who could reject that? My new query will probably be something along the lines of:

Dear Agent,

My previous attempts at submitting directly to publishing houses have met with some crushing rejections, despite a terrific query letter.

I’m coming to you because I’ve been led to believe that you can actually get me a book deal, please do so now. I’ll be honest with you, I read a book published at a major house by one of your clients and I found that book incredibly mediocre. He was a first time novelist, so I’m pretty sure that you can get some otherwise unremarkable stuff noticed. I can’t imagine how bad it was before it had several rounds of rewrites and professional editing. I may not be capable of producing award winning fiction, but I can at least whip up something as good as <name redacted> has.

My book? Well, my completed manuscript is something about a slacker that goes into space because I needed him to for the story. Think Dumb and Dumber meets Apollo 13… Also, there may be government conspiracies… I’m not sure because I’ve got so many plot holes that I can’t recall what is on purpose and what is the result of sloppy planning. I’m not big on plotting anyway. I doubt any readers will get past the first couple of chapters so I’ve not put a lot of effort into a satisfying ending. Just slap a good looking cover on it and we’re gold!


Wow. No matter how many times I read it I start to think I’ve got a sure fired best seller on my hands. Surely no one would reject that.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

First good laugh of the morning!
I think you can tweak it to be contemporary again. Just think of a new angle on the shuttle part. Maybe it's privately owned instead? But don't give up on that story because it's one of the best I've ever read.

Brinda said...

Thanks for the grin. Are you only targeting the large publishers? If not, I've seen several calls for submissions for sci-fi from the smaller ones.

Deborah Walker said...

Oh, man. *laughs* that is so funny. I'd buy it.

Tonja said...

Thanks - I sincerely needed a laugh this morning. Have you considered writing comedies? Like Kurt Vonnegut-ish funny or like Hitchhiker's Guide kind of sci-fi funny?

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

bwhahahahaaaaaa! it takes skillz to write queries that... unique. :)

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

You should read this post by Neil Vogler and then go get your own preemptive rejection letters

Bob Milne said...

Okay, now that's funny - great way to blow off some steam. Assuming they get past you bashing their stable of authors (LOL), that synopsis would guarantee at least a glance at the manuscript for me.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

You're so funny. Don't give up Rusty. But whatever you decide, I'll be buying your novel. I can't wait to read it :)

M.J. Fifield said...

I love those letters. I think I've actually written those letters.

Don't give up... you're a fantastic writer.

Kela McClelland said...

That's the best query I've read-really great job :p

Don't give up on your book, whatever way you go-I'll be looking for it. :)

Jay Noel said...

You crack me up.

I loved White Elephans and Pink Whales. My favorite part was when he went from Nicorette addiction to sniffing nail polish remover.

Rejection is tough, but you got some thick skin. Looking forward to reading your work either way.

Briane P said...

I'm not crazy about posts about writing, so this Insecure thing is tough on me. (I'm supposed to talk about me in the comments, right?)

But this post was GREAT. I think it would be incredibly hilarious to send letters out like that. YOU wouldn't want to do it, because you want to be a real writer. But someone like me... now, maybe I could do something like that.

Wouldn't be the first time I stole an idea from you. (see also: Pineapple, Stupid.)

S. L. Hennessy said...

Ah yes, another fellow rejectee. I'm definitely in the same boat with you. Mind if I hijack your query, because at this point, it pretty much sums up my feelings. I read some of these books published by publishing houses that rejected me and think, really? You think I'm worse than this?

I'm beginning to really loath this process.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Your giving iPhones to your characters struck a chord with me. I have a short story about a missing teenager - I recently added Facebook to the story, because what's the first thing kids do, they post stuff on their Facebook accounts.

I'm not sure it made too much difference, but it made me feel better.

I hope your fantastic query lands a great agent!

Andrew Leon said...

Actually, if I received that first query letter, I'd get back in touch with you. The query is genius all on its own, and I would want to know what else the author had.

Cindy said...


Anyway, sometimes self-publishing can lead to a contract with a good publisher. It happened to one of my friends recently because..the book sells and it's well written.

The Golden Eagle said...

Those are awesome. And having the audacity to submit a query like that has got to count for something.

Phạm Minh Tâm said...

( Thank blog for you great - )

Donna Hole said...

You may have missed a "don't" in there somewhere. This was funny dude. I'm feeling this way with my own query for the women's fiction.

On a serious note though - I have enjoyed your writing. If you decide you'd like a fresh set of eyes on the ms I can offer some feedback, or a full critique.

You also might want to query some small print publishers like Double Dragon publishing before self publishing.

I know how frustrating querying can be - I haven't sent one out in a about a year.


Allison said...

haha. Those are great queries! I hope you do not give up on a book that you love.

Allison (Geek Banter)

lizy-expat-writer said...

Hee-hee!That's always assuming you intended to be funny? Awful if this was a serious blog and 20 people before me fell about laughing.

Lynda R Young said...

It's a gem!
The scary thing is, if you sent it an agent might think you're serious... Then again, it might backfire and the agent will sign you up ;)

nutschell said...

Ah yes the sour smell of rejection. Querying is the process I dislike the most--but it is a necessary evil:)
Happy weekend!