Monday, July 12, 2010

Promising Hints

It turns out the information I was given about my hotel was wrong -- there IS free internet available. However, it is slow, and I am not spending much time in my room, so I apologize for not reading enough of your blogs right now.

I have sent a dozen query letters so far for The Shard. I haven't heard from half of the agents yet. I received two partial requests, and as of today both of them were rejections. The first I knew would be rejected, as Nathan never takes on books of my kind. The second I had bigger hopes for, but no go. On the positive side, the rejection was personalized and offers some tantalizing hope. Since I don't know what the agent would think about sharing, I won't give the name.

Two agents at the agency read the fifty pages that I provided. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

"We both came really close on this manuscript - lots and lots to love about it! Unfortunately, we're both a pass on representation as it just wasn't quite 100% right for us."

It was nice for a busy agent to take the time to say this. I am not given a specific reason, and that is fine. My guess is that my one big fear is true -- I have many standard Tolkienesque tropes in my book, and I imagine this turns off agents. I intended for the story to be this way. I present things initially to appear like a pure Tolkienesque high fantasy, and only deep into the book do I turn most of the tropes on their heads. I took a writerly satisfaction in imagining readers drawing early conclusions only to have to reassess things later. The problem is that agents never read far enough to realize what I am doing.

I suppose I just need to keep writing the prequel, where the whole thing turns into science fiction. Then there would be no question as to whether my fantasy novel was simply derivative.

Budapest is as awesome as I remembered, though it is scorching hot right now. Not as hot as my native Arizona, but my body has been away from Arizona for so long that it is acclimated to other weather. I walked so much the past two days, that even though I am used to a lot of walking I still have blisters on my heels.

22 comments:

  1. Hey, that's still hopeful! That kind of interest and response is good - you're closer to a yes.
    Don't worry about the style of your book - I for one definitely want to read it!!

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  2. You're too kind, Alex. Thanks!

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  3. What a positive rejection! You're close.

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  4. The next time I lop the head off a troll I shall think of you.

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  5. Love it when "cliches" are turned on their head! Looking forward to your book, and I'm wondering if you've considered Print On Demand self-publishing.

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  6. Wow! You're getting a lot of interest! Hang in there man!!!

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  7. First--sorry about the blisters. Every step becomes an ordeal once they appear.

    Second--Congrats on the partial requests! If finding your agent is like getting married, then that's the equivalent of being asked out on a date, right? And the full request would be engagement? hahaha...just amusing myself.

    Third--I gotta say I enjoy leading readers to faulty conclusions, knowing full well I'm going to turn things topsy turvy later on. I'm curious whether I'd be able to pick up on that in your MS or not. I don't read a whole lot of SF/fantasy, so you might just pull the wool over my eyes.

    Enjoy your travels!

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  8. The problem is that agents never read far enough to see what I'm doing.

    Isn't that the worst. How many times have I said this to myself, "if only they would get to part x they would see it". Ugh!

    I'm glad you're having a good time. Glad you've got some access.

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  9. Good luck on the ones you haven't heard from--that is promising to have positive feedback on a partial. Seems to me it means you just need to send more queries out--you'll find someone willing to read more.

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  10. Sounds like a great concept. Staying tuned.

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  11. Ted, got good news for you and your book today at my blog!

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  12. Thanks, Alex, that's terrific news! I can use all the great critting I can get to make my book better.

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  13. So Nathan rejected but said you were very close also? Or that was two agents at the other agency?

    Either way I think that's good. Getting that kind of personalized feedback is rare.

    Do you layout the Sci-Fi twist in the query? I have found in my own work that that can be dangerous if you don't deliver within the partial that an agent asks for. You may have the right idea with the prequel. I can't wait to here what the 50 page crit looks like!

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  14. I don't touch on the sci-fi in my query since I made this book stand alone as fantasy (with only sublte hints about the sci-fi).

    No, Nathan gave me no feedback on mine. These were two agents at the same agency. I had queried the more junior agent, and she read it and passed it on to her boss to read.

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  15. Must be very cool to travel across Europe. Hopefully the family will be bale to do this in a year or so once the kids get a little older. I submitted to Nathan too and received his rejection letter about five minutes later LOL!

    Stephen Tremp

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  16. Okay, Ted---Alex says you are the victim! erm... winner... but I don't see an email for you, so if you wouldn't mind emailing ME...

    hartjohnson23 (at) gmail.com

    (Congrats!)

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  17. Hey, best of luck on the rest of those queries, Ted. Partial requests mean you're on the right track.

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  18. Hey, that was an awesome rejection, as far as rejections go! To be told that there was 'lots and lots' to love in your pages is an incredible thing, so congratulations and I hope the other queries yield better results!

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  19. Thank you, Sangu and Kevin and everyone else!

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  20. I like to follow writer’s blogs as I feel I learn from each one. I have a book of Communion devotionals at the printers which I authored, although I don’t consider myself an accomplished writer. I am a follower on your blog and invite you to follow mine as well…and please leave a comment when and if you visit.

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  21. Ted,

    I am impressed by the personal response from the agents. I have sent to a much larger number of agents and never gotten feedback like that, so I'd take it as a good sign.

    Mandy Hubbard (a YA agent) tweeted last night about a friend of hers who finally got an agent on his 94th query, and his book was bought by Simon & Schuster 6 weeks later.

    Encouragement from me to you, my friend!

    Cyndi

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  22. Thank you, Cyndi. I know from your experiences on Nathan's blog and on Authonomy that you are talented and will get there!

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