February 6, 2011

Looking for Mr. or Ms. Right

Filed under: Backstory — jenny @ 10:24 pm

For some reason, I feel compelled to keep the backstory coming. In part because I actually have readers asking for it–and how amazing does *that* feel. But also because a crossroads is coming. I can sense it. One way or another, something is going to happen.

It might be a triumphant victory. Or a quiet acceptance that I have to face another path. Maybe a leap into a great unknown.

But either way, whatever way, I want you guys to know what got me to this point before I get to it. If that makes any sense.

So there I am, dropped by my agent, a novel that almost sold to Knopf (so it had to be decent, right? Decent enough that I didn’t want to give up on it), in the game now for long enough that I have a bit of Concorde fallacy going…

No, that’s not it. None of those are the reasons why, after I’d all but demanded my husband take a day off of work so I could both panic, and stew in the juices of being dumped, I brushed myself off and kept going.

It’s because I love this. I love writing stories. Novels. I love it with a passion, and I want to find readers who will love it, too.

You know that haze you acquire after you’ve been dumped? Everything takes on a sort of not-quite-real aura?

The first thing I remember doing in that hazy time is reaching out to my friend, author Debra Galant, who had recently read my novel. Debra had a good friend who was a literary agent. Maybe she’d be willing to take a look?

Authors are some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met, and oh, did Debbie extend herself for me. She called up her friend. She told her she’d been riveted by my novel.

So of course the agent was excited to see it. It was all going to be OK. I breathed a faint sigh of relief. I let my husband go back to work.

What came next, and at least it was in a blessedly short amount of time by industry standards, was my biggest blow yet. In kind-considering-what-she-really-felt words the agent told me, I’m not surprised your agent hasn’t sold this yet. Sure, it’s good. But it isn’t great.

We need an awful lot of self-delusion to survive in this business.

I deluded. I got up. I did *not* demand that my husband come home from work. I brushed myself off…again.

And I did two things. I majorly revised the good-but-not-great novel, which indeed was flawed–that’s why the team at Knopf had ultimately passed. And I signed up for New York Writers Workshop Pitch conference.

This experience, in addition to being the most exciting, American Idol moment yet of my pre-career, not only refreshed my battered ego (all three editors I pitched to were interested), while a little later leading me to a teaching spot I still feel grateful for every night…

It also led me to my next agent.

Ms. Right.


  1. Keep the backstory coming! :) And you can have a triumphant victory several different ways, you know.:)

    Comment by Judy — February 6, 2011 @ 11:05 pm

  2. Great backstory. I love it (at the same time as I hate it because it moves me to tears!). I’ve never made it as far in the biz as you have, yet I can identify–because I’ve had rejections so bad all I could do was yell in the direction of my husband, and pass out for the night. lol.

    “a crossroads is coming. I can sense it. One way or another, something is going to happen.”

    SCREEEEEEEEEEEAM. I am waiting with you, Jenny. Biting your nails for ya.

    Comment by Savvy — February 7, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  3. I signed up for that conference, too, for last spring! I got really sick and had total laryngitis, so it was obviously out of the question. I still have a credit for the conference, and I’m considering a writing competition where I would offer it as a first-place prize. So, obviously, I’d love to hear more about the experience.

    Keep it comin’, Jenny!


    Comment by Jody — February 9, 2011 @ 9:08 am

  4. Jody, that would be one heckuva prize! Wow. You wouldn’t want to go with the project you were just signed for? I now teach at that conference, and would be happy to share my thoughts. It’s quite a trip to go to.

    More backstory soon! Thanks so much for reading!

    Comment by jenny — February 9, 2011 @ 9:43 am

  5. Jenny, it’s clear you’re on the brink. Though, given the ebook revolution you might want to consider whether to hang on to your rights! What to do? I’m in a bit of a similar quandary at the moment with my backlist books.

    Comment by Geraldine Evans — February 10, 2011 @ 7:37 am

  6. Geraldine, thanks for visiting Suspense Your Disbelief! I don’t know if I’m on *that* brink–the traditional route one–but if I’m not, then it’ll have to be some other brink. Because of what you say. I’ve struggled with whether I’m aiming for a route that 5 years from now won’t even necessarily be “the” way to go–because of exactly the revolution you cite. But my sense is that when indie authors do extremely well, the goal is to then have the majors take an interest. This isn’t true for those who have been traditionally published and then turned to independent avenues–people like JA Konrath. And others, like Karen McQuestion, opted to stay indie or go with Amazon’s print arm. So you’re right–more and more people are achieving success without the majors. I don’t have a choice at this point, but if I do, I still feel like a publisher that puts out some of my favorite authors in the world must be the right place to be. No?

    Again, thanks for coming by and getting me to put my thoughts into words!

    Comment by jenny — February 10, 2011 @ 9:02 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress