Form Rejections

Hello, hello!  Last Thursday, I sent out a few of the queries I was talking about in my last post.  Friday morning, I woke up to a form rejection from one of the companies that declare a no from one agent is a no from all of them.  They didn’t even take the time to personalize it with my name or the title of my “material,”  and the signature wasn’t from the agent I addressed my query to, but instead from an associate agent.  It had been sent at 8:04 in the morning.  I thought my first agent rejection would be devastating, that it would be so much harder to take than all of the other writerly rejections I’ve received.  I was wrong.  A form rejection that basic was pretty much the best first agent rejection I could have asked for.

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Cute animal memes help.

First, I suppose I should explain what a form rejection is for people who might not be sure.  It’s basically a vague letter turning you down.  Most of the ones I’ve gotten have an “it’s not you, it’s us” vibe.  They start with a firm no, usually followed up by explaining that your story doesn’t mesh with what they’re looking for, and ending with something along the lines of “feel free to submit to us in the future.”  Most of them are polite enough to include your name and the title of your story, at least in the realm of magazine/ezine rejections (not sure about agent rejections yet).

What do form rejections mean to me?  Honestly, they tend to be an indication that my story didn’t even make it out of the slush pile, that it probably didn’t even make it to human eyes (and I might be entirely wrong, but it’s what I like to think).  The places I submit to get hundreds of submissions a week.  There’s no way they can read each piece and give them the attention they deserve.  Slush readers weed through the ever-expanding piles and do their best to pick pieces the editors will enjoy or grab names that will bring in more readers.  I’m guessing a similar process occurs in the agencies.  I might not appreciate the whole process, but I understand it.  As writers, rejection is a part of the game and we can’t question each one we get.

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Okay, but only for a little while, then back to work.

So, yeah.  A barebones form rejection from an associate agent was exactly the kind of rejection I needed.  It doesn’t mean that Garnets and Guardians is unwanted trash.  It doesn’t reflect on my writing in any way.  It simply means the agency wasn’t hooked by my query, if they even read it at all.  And that’s okay.  I’m more worried about when the rejections get personal, because then I’ll know it’s my fault.  I might start getting really discouraged at that point.  Until then, I’ll just keep writing and submitting and collecting my rejections.  That’s all I can do.

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Don’t let the rejections get you down!

How do you feel about form rejections?  If they get you down, do you have any kind of ritual to help improve your mood again?  Feel free to share any thoughts, stories, questions, or whatever here or on my social media pages!

The Agent Search

Howdy, howdy!  How’s everyone’s spring (or autumn, depending on your hemisphere) going so far?  I’ve been wrapping up my winter by searching for agents and researching how to write queries and synopses.  In graduate school, they told us things like “make sure you have a finished, polished product (for fiction at least) before you query agents” and a few signs of questionable agents (ones who charge reading fees or want more than 15ish%, 20% at the most, etc.).  But nobody really explains how to find reputable agents or how to go about querying them.

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When I first opened my browser to begin the research.

Google searches proved to be overwhelming at first.  They provided a plethora of information and no indication of where to begin, so I admit I panicked and sent a few emails out pleading for help.  That would be my first bit of advice: don’t be afraid to ask more experienced people for help.  Even if they can’t help you personally, chances are they know people who can.  While I waited for responses, I read through SFWA’s literary agents advice page, which is wonderful at telling you how to recognize questionable agents (it’s far more detailed than anything I learned in school).  I realize it’s a science fiction and fantasy group, but a lot of the advice here probably applies across the literary agent spectrum.  They also have pages about editors and publishers and other things that are super useful.

There are a number of publications (Writer’s Market comes to mind most readily) you can buy (some even come as Kindle books) or check out at the library that offer lists of current agents and agencies if you prefer more traditional research methods.  I didn’t want to spend money or visit the library this early in my searches, so I started at the Association of Authors’ Representatives website.  My only problem with this website is that it doesn’t group agents by agency, so it’s difficult to keep track of who works where which is really important since most agencies don’t want you to query more than one of their agents at a time (some agencies even say that a no from one of their agents is a no from all of them).  Then, someone sent me this post which groups science fiction and fantasy agents by agencies, and it gave me a solid starting point for my search (it was a life saver).  It’s a little old, though, so be sure to check out the agency websites and do your research as to who’s accepting what.

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There’s no magical way around the research.

That’s my second bit of advice: do your due diligence.  This is my baby that I’m about to shop around.  I’m going to make sure, to the best of my ability, that I’m not getting mixed up with someone who’s trying to take advantage of me and my work.  If you’re not sure how legit someone is, ask around.  Also, I’m making sure the agents are a good fit for me.  Don’t just randomly submit to people and hope it works out.  Go through their bios and websites to make sure they represent what you write and if they’re actually open to new clients.  And always check out the submission guidelines.  I look at it this way, if I’m wasting their time by submitting something they don’t represent or not following their guidelines, I’m wasting my time.

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Be wary!  We all have gut feelings.  Trust them if they say something is off.

Anyway, I’ve compiled a list of agents (I still have many more to look into).  I didn’t stop looking just because I found one who sounds like a perfect fit (she might not be interested in my story after all).  I will keep looking at different agents until I get ready to send out the first batch of queries (simultaneous submissions to different agencies are expected), then I’ll look for a new batch in case no one bites.  That’s all we can do.

The Show That Prepared Me For Life

Hello, hello!  I’ve been binge watching Sailor Moon Crystal the past couple of days and it got me thinking about how I would cope with life today if I hadn’t watched the original Sailor Moon growing up.  It’s one of those shows that prepared me for everything going on in the world today.  We all have a show like that.  Whether it was Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus or X-Men or Batman or whatever you watched as a kid, we all have a show that has stuck with us and been a major influence on who we are today.  For me, that was Sailor Moon.  How could a magical girl anime prepare me for the turbulence of today, you ask?  Stick with me for a minute and I shall do my best to explain.

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One of my favorite pictures of all the Senshi.

Aside from a bunch of women kicking ass and taking names with the occasional backup from Tuxedo Kamen, this show was amazing for many other reasons.  Yeah, there was the obvious message that love and friendship can help you conquer any evil, including the evil that lurks within each of us (after all, if Small Lady can become Black Lady and Saturn can become Mistress 9, none of us can claim to be 100% good).  It reminds us that, ultimately, hatred and superiority complexes will fail.  It might take longer than we want, but as long as people don’t give up, good will eventually win.  We just have to believe in each other.

There are also more subtle messages that apply today more than ever.  There was the whole Uranus/Neptune relationship that the U.S. dub tried to pass off as them being cousins (everyone I knew saw through that charade and, honestly, the whole cousin storyline just made a beautiful relationship kind of creepy).  Not to mention Zoisite’s obsession with Kunzite in the original anime (again, no one I knew believed Zoisite was a woman in the dub).  Then came the Sailor Starlights arc where men transformed into women and back again (pretty sure they just cross-dressed in the manga, but I’m talking about the anime where they were biologically males until they transformed).  Early exposure to this kind of stuff wasn’t traumatizing.  If anything, it helped give me an open mind.

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The Starlights.  I wanted those boots, though.  That’s all I cared about as a kid.

The story arc that hit closest to home for me and, in all honesty, is probably the reason Sailor Moon stuck with me so much, was Sailor Saturn’s story.  She was a sickly kid and an outcast, but she had the power to destroy worlds.  It was the first time I remember seeing someone who had physical difficulties (granted, they were nothing like my own) who could be the hero (or the villain if she had chosen that path).  She proved that you didn’t have to be athletic or even normal to be powerful or even accepted by people.  For a kid like me, that was the best message I could have received.  If she could help destroy evil, I could put up with whatever life threw my way.

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The whole purple outfit didn’t hurt my love of Saturn either.

So yeah, Sailor Moon definitely helped shape who I was back then and who I am now.  It taught me about the power of women, the power of friendship, how to recognize evil, how to accept others for who they are, and how to accept myself.  What show helped turn you into who you are?

Screen Vs. Paper

Hello, hello!  How is everyone’s March going?  Are we all ready for spring?  Personally, I’m definitely ready to sit outside and write or read.  The only problem with writing outside is that I use my computer (and its battery sucks), so I only get about two hours if I’m lucky before it has to be plugged back in.  Which brings me to today’s topic: screen vs. paper.  It’s a subjective topic.  Some people work better when typing and others feel more productive with a pen in their hand.  I’m kind of stuck in the middle on this one.

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They both have benefits and drawbacks.

I tend to be a screen person.  Why?  Simply because it’s easier for me.  Whether I’m using my backscratcher to hit the keys or the on-screen keyboard, I can type much faster than I can write.  It’s not that I feel more productive (though technically I am) or creative when I’m on the computer, it’s just a matter of time management and the independence it gives me to work on whatever I want without having to worry about asking someone (namely Dad) for more paper or a different binder or whatever when I want to change projects.  For me, the computer makes life easier, so it’s what I use.

What most people don’t know is that I actually enjoy using a pen and paper.  I’ve always loved notebooks and journals and the like.  I used to have tons of them, but they mostly stayed empty.  It takes me twice as long as the slowest writer you know to even sign my name.  The paper has to be placed a certain way.  Sometimes, I have to write upside down.  I can’t move my arms much, so even something as simple as writing by hand becomes a big production.  But still, I like the feel of a pen in hand and my hand coming away covered in ink or graphite from rubbing across the page (left-handed people will understand).  Plus, I like being able to doodle in the margins when I’m stuck on something.

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The struggle is real.

So, like I said, I’m stuck in the middle.  I love the idea of writing by hand, but it’s not a feasible every day thing for me, so I usually go with typing.  I can definitely see where some people might have trouble focusing on a computer (that Internet button is so damn alluring).  I can also understand why some people find paper to be impractical (there’s just no easy way to erase a sentence and add a paragraph in its place without making a seeming mess of the paper).  I guess I’m lucky that I can enjoy working both ways, even if I mainly stick to the screen.

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The lure of the Interwebz has its downsides: judgmental squirrels.

I guess it’s all about finding what works for you.  Are you a screen or paper person?  This question isn’t limited to writers.  Even artists have the option of working on the computer or in more traditional mediums.  So, what do you prefer?  Or maybe you like using both in your process.  As always, feel free to share your thoughts here or on my social media sites!

Until next time!

Being Organized: Overrated Or No?

 

Howdy, howdy!  I was recently going through my manuscripts and free writes when I realized that I’m totally unorganized.  It’s all jammed into the same folder on my laptop, except for my main project (that gets its own folder with subfolders and the whole nine yards).  This is really unusual for me.  I don’t like having to scroll through a bunch of stuff to find what I want, let alone having to open multiple files to find the correct version.  That’s just not me.  Yet here I am, sifting through a mess.  It’s weird and uncomfortable, but for some reason, I kind of like it.

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I really am.

Walking into my room, you might not think I’m as organized as I actually like to be.  My desk is a complete mess.  My CDs are no longer alphabetized by band, then chronologically by release date.  There’s no real rhyme or reason to my closets/drawers.  Why?  Because I can’t organize everything myself.  I know my Dad would sit down and organize everything if I asked him to, but I’m not going to waste his time with my quirks.  I know basically where everything is, so I’m not too worried about it.  My computer, however, has folders with subfolders arranged by whatever works.  I’ve gotten a little lax when it comes to organizing my pictures, I admit, but everything else has its own little place.  Usually.  My manuscripts turned out to be a mess I didn’t realize was piling up.

I was looking for a specific story, but I couldn’t remember what I called it and whether it was in its own document or bundled together in one of my free write documents.  I ended up going through three different folders (because apparently I wrote it as an undergrad and never moved it into the current manuscripts folder).  Normally, this would frustrate me to no end.  But I ended up finding a bunch of incomplete ideas that I had totally forgotten about.  Apparently, I have a lot more ideas for novels and short stories than I realized.  A lot of it was useless and stupid, but there were some gems hidden in the muck.

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Weirdly true.

I can admit that it was fun taking the time to look through files I wouldn’t have otherwise given a second glance.  Being super organized means you’re occasionally going to overlook the small stuff.  Most of the time, I’m okay with that.  But I think I might just leave my manuscript folder a little messy.  That way, I’ll be able to take the time to look at those mystery documents once in a while.  But I’m definitely going to take a day or two to get my pictures back in order.  I’m not ready to let loose that much.

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A messy folder is the equivalent of letting my hair down, but keeping it tightly braided.

So, I guess I’m trying to say that I can see the benefits of being a little disorganized.  I probably won’t ever be the type of person who’s comfortable not knowing where everything is, but I can deal with it.  What about you?  Are you super organized or do you like disorder?