Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Never Give Up

“I love it!”

The words I’d been dreaming of for years – and years. Time and again I’d fantasize about how it would happen. Then one Thursday night – somewhere around midnight – I got home from having drinks with a few friends from a screenwriting class, opened my computer and OH MY GOSH, there it was in my in-box. Holly Root from the Waxman Literary Agency wanted to be my agent!

The road to Holly was by no means smooth. Rugged is more like it and now that I think about it I might even call it treacherous. Especially when I consider the bumps and bruises to my poor heart. It’s very difficult to have someone reject your baby - after all it’s an extension of you – and when the rejections start piling in one can’t help but to backslide into thinking “my writing isn’t good enough.”

The types of rejections were varied. Some were flat out mean - “Sorry, not my type.” Others were sort of mean – “I didn’t fall in love with the characters.” Still others were what I call positive rejections - “Great story, you have talent but I’m afraid I have to pass.” The latter is just a very nice way of saying - “You didn’t make the cut.” If the agent really thought that I was all that great she would have signed me.

But take heart.

Persistence and a belief in oneself will pay off in the end. Never give up. I'll say it once more because I know what I'm talking about - never, ever give up. I'm living proof! I saved all my rejection letters. I don’t know why, really. Maybe I hoped deep down that I would become one of those Dr. Seuss stories. He got rejected something like 85 times. There’s a great book called The Writer’s Book of Hope that outlines the bumpy road to publication of almost every well-known writer, including Stephen King and John Grisham. If you’re hope is waning, please order it now and keep the faith!

Personally, Agent Query ( worked very well for me. I could type in my genre and all the agents representing Women’s Fiction would pop up. Then, like Maureen, I made a spreadsheet to track my partials, fulls and the many, many rejections. In the end I ended up with more than one offer of representation and that certainly helped to rebuild my confidence. But Holly Root was the clear choice for me and I’m so happy that she is the champion on my side of the court. Like she did for Maureen, Holly submitted my book over a period of 7 months or so and never gave up until she made the sale. I remember a particularly funny email she sent that said something like “Someone is going to buy this book out of sheer fear at the sight of me with the top of my head in flames!!!!!!!!!” I love her sense of humor.

It’s easy to look back now at all the rejections and laugh. But there is nothing funny about it at all when your every waking moment is spent weary from wanting, waiting - and waiting even more.

See you next Wednesday!


Maureen Lipinski said...

No kidding--our paths are very similar! Holly is definitely Captain of the Cheerleading Squad! :)

With regards to the bumpy road, I feel like I'm always going to want "more." The next sale, an auction, a pre-empt, whatever.

But that's OK, because that's part of what drives me to keep forging ahead!

Jillian Cantor said...

How great that you were able to keep such a positive attitude and not give up. I know how hard it is, in the moment, to keep at it. And I agree about I loved that site!!!

Cary Brown said...

not sure if I am doing this correctly (my first blog comment), but wanted to commend all first time novelists for their tenacity and perseverance-- I have witnessed first-hand how hard Lisa has worked to get this book as good as it can be and THEN to get the it into the right hands. HATS OFF TO ALL OF YOU!!

Lesley Livingston said...

Just like in Galaxy Quest, right?
"Never give up! Never surrender!"
(says the resident geek)

Good on ya (and - again! - good on Holly!)

And - yeah - agentquery ROCKS!

Tracy Madison said...

Lisa--terrific post. I love your story! Thank you for sharing it!