Guest post by Kiersten White
Stage One: Denial
This can’t be happening to me! Novel is so good! I was supposed to get an agent within days of sending out that first query! There must be some sort of mistake–it’s already been three weeks. Sure, everyone else has to go through a long, drawn-out querying process, but not me! There’s going to be a request for a full in my inbox RIGHT NOW, I just know it.
Stage Two: Anger
What?!? [Insert Author Name Here] got an agent on her first try! And my book is at least as good as hers! And WHY won’t anyone get back to me? I personalized and everything! Don’t they understand I’m checking my email every twenty minutes? I HATE THIS! QUERYING IS THE WORST THING EVER! JUST READ MY FREAKING BOOK ALREADY!
Stage Three: Bargaining
Okay. It’s okay. If I can just get a request for a full, if an agent will just read the whole thing, I’ll be happy. No matter what, I’ll be happy then.
No? A partial. Just read a partial, I swear then I’ll be happy, I won’t complain or freak out or want to give up. Just a partial?
No? Just respond. Anything. Just respond, and I’ll be okay, really, I promise. Just a response? Please?
Stage Four: Depression
It’s been three weeks. This is it. No one is going to want Novel. They’ll never read it, so they’ll never know how much fun it is, how well-written it is, how much potential I have as a writer. I’ll never get an agent, which means I’ll never get published, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I suck. I suck, I suck, I suck I suck I suck. And the worst part is that I don’t suck, but it doesn’t matter, because no one will ever know. I’m never going to be an author. It’s over. I’m going to bed. And I’m not getting up again.
Stage Five: Acceptance
Well, it is what it is. I’ve put in the work, I’ll keep at it, and I know I’ll be published someday. Maybe an agent will fall in love with Novel. Maybe not. It’s more luck than anything else at this point, and I can accept that. Either way, I’ll keep writing, and someday, someone will represent me. In the meantime, I’ve got this shiny new idea over here just begging to be written…
Of course, eventually you will make it out of this cycle. But that leads us to the stages of agented submission grief and there’s like 87 of them. One step at a time, right?
Nice, funny and not funny at the same time.
Mira, this post was actually inspired by a conversation with my friend Natalie (you'll remember her from the first paragraph contest and her wonderful Ninjas). We were commiserating and I started joking that querying was like the five stages of grief. In fact, Natalie suggested the idea for Bargaining, so kudos to her!
I queried off and on for a year with a middle grade project (that I now realize was, well, boring) and then for three months with a YA novel. And now I'm in my second round of agented submissions, and baby, it's a BLAST.
Like most of you have said–it kind of doesn't end, it just takes on different forms : )
Still, (and Laura, I'm talking to you!) don't give up!
Isn't it great though that as writers we have this communal pool of emotions we can all relate to?
At least Nathan's rejections are a little more personal than the rest.
Thanks for this post…makes me feel much better to know I'm not alone.
Fabulous job. Succinct, humorous, and factually accurate.
I love it.
This is absolutely true! It also goes well with writing. The beginning author thinks everything they write is like, gold or something. Great cycle!
"Isn't it great though that as writers we have this communal pool of emotions we can all relate to?"
Yes, it totally is. It's also totally cool that we have blogs where we can share it all.
Laura Martone says
Well said, Kiersten and Steph – it IS great that we have a communal pool of emotions we can all relate to… and blogs to unload (I mean, share) said emotions.
Speaking of unloading… I apologize for doing that today. Kiersten's parenthetical note made me blush a little… But I appreciate all the encouraging words – I have no intention of giving up! – and I just hope that I can do the same for everyone else here – whenever the need to unload arises. 🙂
Kierstan, cool – what are you loving the most about agented submissions? Um, what are agented submissions? Is that a dumb question? Is that where agents submit things to publishers? Because my mind went somewhere else entirely.
Good luck with your current projects! Your blog rocks by the way. Very funny.
This post is so true. Glad you got all the stages of grief down. 😉
funny but true! And I checked my email more often than every 20mins the first several hours. It was sad. Very, very sad.
Laura, don't be embarrassed! Rejections stink. That's all there is to it.
Mira, yes, by agented submissions I just mean that I have a book out on sub right now. The best thing about it is even though the editor rejections hurt even more (though we've just started this submission and have yet to hear from anyone, so I am free to wildly daydream that each and every editor is going to want to buy my book), you've still got your fabulous, supportive agent in your corner who believes in your book just as much as you do.
And thank you : ) Always glad to entertain.
Kiersten, that's wonderful, and does sound like total fun.
I hope when your book is accepted you let us know when it's coming out. I love YA, and I would read it.
Jeez, way to plug me Kierst! You're the best.
Also, this post is genius. So true. So funny. I have quite the awesome friend, I do, I do.
Mira, if/when Paranormalcy sells, I will sing it from the rooftops : )
No, Natalie, I have the coolest friends!
Laura Martone says
Kiersten, you're so right. Rejections do stink… but, looked at the right way, they can also inspire you to revisit the work in question and make it even better than you thought possible – at least, that's what I'm currently striving for… heck, that's probably what all of us here strive for.
And, Mira, honestly, girl. I just got back from a "power walk" (not to be confused with a power lunch) in the woods, and I was tired and winded and thirsty, so I got myself some water and sat down to see what I'd missed on the blog… and when I read "Kierstan, cool – what are you loving the most about agented submissions? Um, what are agented submissions?", I very nearly spit my water out all over my laptop. Just thought you should know. ;O
Interesting, but what I experienced was a bit different:
Stage one: I wrote a story and loved it! I sent it out as soon as it was finished.
Stage two: I was rejected and wondered why. Getting rejected did not bother me; not knowing why did.
Stage three: I started reading textbooks on writing and agents’ and editors’ blogs and attended writers’ conferences, and found the answer to my WHY! I cannot believe that I thought anyone would publish those stories!
Stage four: I am revising, applying what I learned and using the help of a freelance editor that I met in a writers’ conference.
Stage five: I’ll let you know what happens…
Lady Glamis says
WONDERFUL, Kiersten! You are so absolutely brilliant. One. Step. At. A. Time. 🙂
Other Lisa says
I'm having to use a proxy to read these posts so not a lot of time to read comments or comment, but just wanted to say I am really enjoying the guest pieces! And when I get on the other side of the Great Firewall I plan to read in detail.
Classic commiseration! Kiersten, this post should be required reading for every about-to-query author. It would prevent much needless angst, I'm sure. And sister, I am with you on the heavy chocolate. You won't even gain weight if you just cut out most other food.
And in my experience, the steps never end. Here are numbers 93 and 204 that I have recently discovered:
93: You walk into Half Price Books and find a pile of your first book selling for $3 less than the publisher is currently charging you for author copies.
204: Your royalty check from a formerly reliable mid-size publisher is now two months overdue and the publisher tells you they are in -gulp – "disarray."
I've just accepted that publishing today is never an easy ride. But if you love to write, it's still worth the endless trip.
The hard part is to make yourself stop asking, Daddy are we there yet?
Laura – 🙂
Maybe I was in the denial stage. Actually Kiersten, I think you may have done a terrible thing to me. I'm starting to wonder what stage I'm in now all the time.
Can I also take a second to mention that was pretty cool that Nathan finally got access and posted all the way from South America. On his vacation, too.
Been there, and this is totally, completely, 100% true. Though I must confess sometimes I hover back and forth between stages two and four…
Such a fun thing, this writing business.
As ever, you are truly awesome.
I shall bear all of this in mind over the coming months, especially the bit about going to bed and never getting up again.
Maya / מיה says
I love this!! Well done!! Nathan, I love your posts, but this week is AWESOME. 🙂 Maybe we can do this again some time?
This is great.
Wow. I'm not the only one who feels like this. This makes me feel better. Thank You.
Lydia Sharp says
Thank you so much for this. It gave me a much-needed laugh, and it's nice to know I'm not alone.
So true! 🙂
Word Verification: unrest
That was hilarious. Been there. But what I think is worse is what I like to call "literary agent purgatory". I've had one agent who has had my book for 3 years now (she's just read a revision) and she is on my second book. She "LOVES my writing" but has not signed me. We're not exclusive so I also have the same first manuscript with another agent who told me she couldn't stop thinking about it weeks after she'd read it and she too is reading my second manuscript. But she too will not sign me as a client. (We're also not exclusive). I've heard that my work is "compelling and gripping" and "a home run" but I have NO AGENT!!!! Only agents who would like to sit on my book for literally years without giving me a yes or no answer. Even after extensive revisions they still can't decide. Sometimes I just want to scream CRAP OR GET OFF THE POT PEOPLE.
But hey, I'm on the right track I guess.
Julia Weston says
I really needed this today. 🙂 Thank you
I loved this post, and I needed the spirit lift today. I'm in stage five for my first book, stage four for my second – it's a realy really good book if someone would just take a look, I swear it; [see how desperate we writers can get] and still hovering around stage three for my third. At least I've never gone back to stage one, and I've learned there's no point in anger or in comparing myself to author X.
Anyway, I'm writing a fourth now, and the next round of queries will begin. Why I don't know, unless maybe I just don't want the cycle to ever end.
Beth Terrell says
What a perfect description of the rejection-assimilation process. Great post. Thank you for putting it so well.
Amber Argyle-Smith says
Oh, heavens! I do know all about agent submission hell. Yes I do.
sue laybourn says
Brilliant and absolutely true, every last word of it.
I could've written this myself if I wasn't wrapped up in working on shiny new idea. 😀
This is so true! Great post!
Very funny and oh, so true!
Wow. This is really scary because it describes me exactly. As a matter of fact, have you been watching me and reading my thoughts?
I'm actually going to print this and tack it to my wall. Good stuff.
I love it. This is so absolutely true. It's encouraging to know that we're not alone in this insanity!