Whoo Hoo! Go, Failure!

You won’t ever succeed until you have continually failed.

This was the advice I was given about sending out my queries for Dragonfly Prince. Isn’t it encouraging? It’s no wonder I’ve been hitting disillusionment hard. I think it’s also because I’ve been reading fine print. Stuff like,

“In publishing your book, it is necessary, to the extent that any rights apply, that you waive any and all foreseeable inconveniences to Filmore Paukits Publishing, Inc., including but not limited to digital rights, moral rights, your right to any specific point of view, your right to any values you might hold dear, your right to think, your right to breathe, etc., where at all advantageous to the marketing philosophies of our company.”

I realize that the point of a Grant of Rights has to do with advertising. Specifically, it allows marketing to present my book in a way that’s considered the most appealing. Still, it has me thinking about the rights I might be asked to give up. I want to have a say in what the cover illustrates. I want to know my work retains the spirit I wrote it in. I want to have the ability to keep someone from editing out an aspect that, to me, is crucial to the story, replacing analytical content with sensational nihility that I’ll regret until my dying day. I’m not talking about editing; I am concerned about bias and censoring. It’s wrong to take an artist’s work and conform it to current views – which change – and stymie the author’s true views – which should remain the author’s prerogative to change.

I think publishers nowadays are squeamish. And they should be. It’s a tough market. No book company wants to make decisions right now that might negatively impact its reputation. That’s why a good literary agent is important. If I’m going to make the effort of catching a publishing company’s attention, I want to do it well and efficiently, while being aware of what I’m getting into.

I’ve sent out four queries. Yes, four. When I find an agent that piques my interest, I read everything I can find about her. (Yes, four ‘hers.’) I make a list of her literary interests, quirks and good qualities. I read over her book deals. I weigh in the things I don’t care for. I ask myself, “Do I think I could work with this agent? Is she too (I go through many adjectives here)?” I’m basically investing in a relationship before I’ve composed the letter! I have to stop kidding myself. This is called finding any excuse to drag my feet. I can’t become callous to rejection if I don’t make the effort to be rejected!

I think the beauty of this whole endeavor is: I’m living in a time when there isn’t any avenue of book publishing that I can’t explore on my own. I need to give this agent search my best effort and be patient. At this point the only thing that’s holding me back is me.

Author: Rilla Z

I'm a scribbler. I'm genuine. My topics of interest are: this world, the worlds inside my head, and the world to come. Oh, and cups of tea. Yes, I write about my cups of tea.

7 thoughts on “Whoo Hoo! Go, Failure!”

  1. Been there, done that. Still doing it, actually — letting me hold myself back with excuses and lack of drive, that is. The whole shebang. The whole kit & caboodle. Every excuse I can tell myself and halfway believe. Depression makes a great excuse, plus makes me not care when I use it as one. Maybe I would have developed it sooner had I only known its vast possibilities.

    Back in the last millennium when I was young, optimistic, and goal-oriented (and didn’t have a smidgen of depression — didn’t have a clue about it), I proudly collected rejections (after recovering to some degree from being totally bummed about each one) for short fiction and later from agents and book publishers. Curiously, last night as I was sorting through some old stuff I found a little notebook from back then that I had long since forgotten even existed, documenting probably a majority of my submissions over a dozen years or more. Thinking about this now as I write this comment, I realize what my next post on my own blog must be about. That little notebook. Thank you for that. I really must overcome my tendency to be oblivious to good blog ideas, even when they slap me in the face.

    Anyway, I’m really running off at the keyboard. I don’t know that I can offer any advice that would be helpful or that you haven’t already heard. But I say take pride in your rejections. Each one is a step in a long journey that also includes your successes, and there’s not much use in trying to figure out how to avoid the steps that will make you want to drag your feet, and only take the ones that will make you hop, skip, and jump for joy — because you can’t tell which steps are which until you take them.

    I don’t think I’ve ever thrown away a single rejection, by the way. And now I realize my next goal is to find that big, over-stuffed envelope, wherever I have it packed away, and count them all. Another blog post, maybe.


  2. Rejections are tough. But they’re also a rite of passage, I think. And they make success all the sweeter when it finally happens. And it’s also comforting for me to remember that today there are so many viable options for publishing. Much as I want that agent-press-physical book deal, I know I can e-publish if it doesn’t happen.

    Good luck with the queries!


  3. Hopefully a good agent will help you retain the rights that are most important to you; they’re meant to help us navigate those potential pitfalls we might otherwise stumble blindly into, or so I hear. So, when you thrill one of them to the core of their being with your work (and you will, someday, and hopefully sooner than you think) be sure to state clearly any fears you have about certain types of modifications to your work or about giving away exclusive access to any and all rights. In the meantime, try to remember that delays are valuable time to hone and polish your work and the craft in general. Your final outputs will be better because of it.


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