Monday, November 14, 2011

In Which I Talk About The Meaning of Anti-Climactic

Most of you have been with me for awhile, so you're aware of what a long, long road my writing journey has been.

But I'm up for a recap :)

I started writing with the intent to be published roughly ten years ago. When I finished my first novel I looked into the process of getting "there" and discovered that writing the book was half the battle. Actually it was more like 1/8th the battle, in my case. I wrote a 2 1/2 page query (hooray for ignorance!) and fired that bad boy off. Fired as fast as the USPS fires things, at any rate. This was in the SASE days.

Amazingly, a few requests came in. I rejoiced, and sent of my unedited, non-polished novel and received the inevitable rejections shortly thereafter. Refusing to be daunted, I kept throwing trash into the wind. A couple of years later and a near miss with a scam I wrote another (very bad) novel and attempted querying that, without success.

Fate, in the form of my sister, stepped in and let me know there was an opening for a YA librarian in a public school. So I said, "Why not?" and quickly became immersed in the literature. This was right before Twilightgate and suddenly, YA was the place to be. I said to myself, "Hey, I know the market and the audience - why am I writing for adults?"

Good question. So I started writing for teens - and I love it. But that didn't mean I was any better at it, or knew what I was doing. I wrote my first YA novel, and racked up 130+ rejections. Yep, that many. At that point I said to myself, "OK, clearly I am doing something wrong." I got smart, joined excellent communities like AgentQuery Connect and QueryTracker, and found out that uh, yeah, I was definitely doing things wrong.

Short version - I wrote a new YA novel, polished and perfected the query with the help of some excellent people over at AQ and had eight full requests and two offers of representation within the first two rounds of query sending. Is it because I'm really awesome and talented? Maybe. But that doesn't mean a thing without agent research and query writing skills.

Hooray! I had an agent, Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary. That in itself was totally awesome. So what's the buzzkill? Submission process. In reality, my process was not horrible, but it wasn't the overnight success we all wish for either. I was out on subs from early spring to late fall, and every single editor rejection felt like I was being stabbed. In the kidneys. And you need those, by the way.

Don't get me wrong, I had polite, complimentary, detailed rejections. Which is what you want, as a writer; the reasons why you didn't make the cut. What killed me was that so many of the reasons were contradictory to what I'd heard the day before. And there were close shaves too, so I kind of felt like stabbing myself in the eyes. And you need those too, by the way.

We were on our third round and I was starting to wonder if Adriann might have suffered a serious judgement lapse in signing me when suddenly... we were roses. Interest, offers, auction. I still don't what happened, although I guess this is proof that subjectivity plays a major role at all levels. As detailed here, I slapped my laptop and said bad words when I got the email from Adriann.

And then? I couldn't tell anyone except family until the Publisher's Marketplace announcement. Dad was working. Mom wasn't answering her phone. Sister was at play practice. Boyfriend was at work. So I sat by myself for awhile at my kitchen table, and eventually got up and scooped the litter pan. Yes, really.

Eventually my sister picked up and I said I wanted to talk to her about something. I was going to drop off some library books in the book drop (it was night-time by now) and she was still in town. I told her I'd meet her in the parking lot to have a quick word. But then she decided that we should eat dinner - something I was not planning on or dressed for.

So I ended up setting in the ice cream parlor where I had my first job when I shared my news. My sister dropped her cracker in her chili and said, "How are you feeling?"

And I said, "Well, I'm setting here in pajama pants and a sweatshirt without any bra or underwear on, so really this is pretty much how I expected it to play out."

30 comments:

jmartinlibrary said...

Congratulations, BBC. I am so, so, SO PUMPED to here this happy ending! I'm all teary eyed just reading this! Hurray for perseverance!

Stephen L. Duncan said...

So, basically, you just landed on $1.00 after spinning publishing's Price is Right wheel. ;)

YOU WIN!

(So happy for you!)

Unknown said...

This post just PROVES you're a great writer! Kudos, my friend.

jessiebincr said...

Congrats!!!

And they sell chili at ice cream parlors where you live? Wow.

Marin said...

Look at you, about-to-be-famous author, eating chili in an ice cream parlor in central Ohio with no underwear on. Clearly you haven't let success go to your head. ;) I am SO psyched for you.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Jen -thanks! I know you know the trials of the journey!

SLD - thanks, mister. I feel more like I hit the WTF Just Happened To Me!??

Hey there Unknown! :)

Jess - yeah, we're all about seasonal diversity.

Marin - thanks, cous. What can I say? I'm a Renaissance woman. :)

Liza Martz & Friends said...

I love this story - right down to the jammies in the ice cream parlor!

Gennifer Albin said...

I'm laughing with you, I promise. Congrats!

Jen Daiker said...

I knew there was a reason I liked you... Eating chili, at an ice cream parlor, without proper attire. Yup, I officially love you in all your bra-lessness.

Congrats girl, you earned it!!

Escape Artist said...

I told you didn't I? I loved the idea then. I love it now!
It was only a matter of time! So happy for you! : )

Myrna Foster said...

Congratulations! :o)

Thanks for sharing your story. Sweatshirts are so much more comfy without the bra.

Kristin Lenz said...

Haha, thanks for sharing. I hear you, so many years, so much effort - congratulations! I hope you have a better celebration in the near future!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Happy day. And you spent part of it eating ice cream in sweats and no bra. Perfect.

cherie said...

Congrats!!! You are such an inspiration! I'm so happy for you :) <3

Jenilyn Tolley said...

Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your story with all the ups and downs and everything!

Bethany C. said...

The very best things in life take place without a bra.

dcamardo said...

You gotta plan something crazy for your release date. I think it should involve croquet, duct tape, and walkie talkies. Just throwing that out there.

layinda said...

Just found out - wow! Congratulations! :)

Lisa Dunick said...

Congrats! I've been lurking for a while now and enjoying your different blog features, but I'm so excited to hear that it worked out for you! And your story about the submission process gives me hope (however unrealistic that might be)!

Yvonne Osborne said...

I remember the SASE days. Boy, I sure spent a lot of money then, sending out the first 20-50 pages etc. etc.

As you were out on submission for a while, I wonder if your agent made any changes in the query, etc.? Or is it again just a matter of subjectivity? Guess I'll read your detailed "here". Are you still going to help with query letters? I plugged you in a post mentioning the fact so just wondering...

Congratulations to you again on all of this!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Liza - Thanks! And it's so fitting. I'm just not a glamorous cat.

Genn - Thanks so much, and thanks for the blog mention and being the Founding WrAHM :)

Jen - Awww... I'm blushing :) No wait, nevermind. Had facial capillaries removed awhile back.

EA - I *love* that you were right :) Thanks!

Myrna - Dude, *anything* is more comfy w/out the bra. Alas, I'm not one of those girls that gets to live the free life in public.

Kristin - Well, I ate a freezer-burnt fish sandwich the next day. Does that count?

Susan - It was perfect. Perfect and fitting.

Cherie - Thanks pretty lady. You know the struggle it's been.

Jenilyn - Always! I'm a sharer that way ;)

Bethany - AMEN!

Derrick - Have you been talking to my college roommate? That's eerily similar to her suggestion...

Layinda - Thanks so much! You've been with me for a long stretch of the journey.

Lisa - I thrive on unrealistic! Thanks for reading.

Yvonne - Great question! Actually, the query served it's purpose well. I don't know how much of it was used verbatim for pitching to editors, but I do know that the PM announcement *was* the query, nearly word for word. So my guess it wasn't tweaked much.

Tonya Kuper said...

SO, SO happy for you! Not the bra-less part, the book being published bit... : )

Jo-Ann said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing your journey as a writer. If I take anything away from this its the simple advice... dont give up.
Well done.

Kelly Bryson said...

Hey BBC- so excited for you. Thanks for the details and sharing some of the glamour! I won't tell what I'm wearing right now;)

Julie Musil said...

OMG, that last line made me laugh out loud. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I love hearing things like this!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Thanks ladies... well, it's all quite true. It might sound like a fairy tale, but someone in casting messed up and hired a realist for the lead role :)

Mindy said...

My experience is so close to yours it's downright scary. I started about 10 years ago as well. And my name is also Mindy. And tonight I'm finally signing a contract with a literary agent. It's been a long time coming. Congratulations selling your book - I hope I can say the same thing in a few months!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Hooray for Mindys!! Congrats on landing an agent, too!

Matt Sinclair said...

In all my busy-ness of the past several weeks, I can't recall if I've actually congratulated you for your wonderful accomplishment. I'm pretty sure I did, but I figure why not post it here too. I'm SO happy for you, and I'm looking forward to buying your first novel.

Mindy McGinnis said...

I look forward to you buying it too, Matt ;)