Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life After Submission Fail

I had an agent (and yes, it is past tense).  I wrote my first novel, edited and re-edited, did the whole query thing and got rejected many times. Then finally I had the wonderful moment when I landed an agent. I thought I'd crossed the hardest fence.

Boy, was I wrong.

I don't want to go into too many details. I could list excuses. Blame my agent. Blame the market. Blame the annoying editors for not seeing a good thing when it was stuck in front of their face. And yes, it could be one of those things, or a variety of those things, but I'm not here to talk about the whys. I want to talk a little about the what after.

Basically, after my book failed at the publishers, my agent and I parted ways. I felt a little like I'd run a marathon and tripped within sight of the finish line. I was so close. I had the agent. I even had a publisher at a great house ask me for edits. But in the end, it failed, and so did the partnership with my agent.

I had submission fail bad.

I should have worked on a new project when I was querying. I should have wrote on submission. Heck, I could have at least poured myself into a new project when my first book finally went to the great big trunk in the sky. But no. I rewrote the whole novel in 1st person. I sent it off to publishers that my agent missed. I entered random contests. My book was a crutch, and I wouldn't put it down.

I obsessed a lot.

And it is easy to say that one should write a new project right away when submitting another. Being where I've been, I can totally see that wisdom. But when I was there, in that moment, it is hard to see the wisdom of that statement. If you're stubborn, like me, then you might have to live the truth before you can see it.

So I am going to tell you, just like everyone else told me, to keep writing once you start querying. Keep writing when on submission. I even suggest for you to draft a new novel while you are editing the previous one. Don't get out of the habit of creating something new. It's grueling to get back on that writing horse once you've fallen off. I'm finally back on again. I've finally moved on.

How do I know I've moved on? Well, I got a query reply the other day, concerning the book that failed. She asked me to cut the word count dramatically, and then she'd have a look at it.

I told her no.

My old me would've jumped though those agent hoops. The new me just wants to move on. I have a great new story that is wanting to be told, and it's my job to make that happen.

Life after submission fail must go on.


  1. This post really touched me. Thanks for this.

  2. Kristal, thank you for your story. I tend to be stubborn, too. I'm grateful for you and Lindsay frequently pulling me into write-a-thons to write something new. If not for you, I might just edit, edit, edit a finished book without creating new worlds and new characters. You are an inspiration to your CPs. Oh, and I'm very excited about your new project! Onward and upward! ;-)

  3. It's great that you're willing to go on even after something you put your heart and soul into didn't work out; not everyone can, or is willing, to do that. I'm in the early stages of query submission for my novel so I have a long line of rejections ahead and it is discouraging, but I think worth it in the end. And I'll be doing NaNoWriMo so I'll have another novel sitting on my hard drive, waiting to be edited and, eventually, queried :)

  4. Wow...thanks for your honesty. I think we all have our eyes on the agent and don't even think of what might happen if it doesn't succeed.

  5. Thank you for sharing--and inspiring. "Don't get out of the habit of creating something new"--I'm going to post this over my computer!

  6. Wow...thanks for sharing your story. I think so many of us do think landing an agent is the golden ticket of the whole publishing journey...and it's not. I always try to keep working on something else...the way I see it, if my book does grasp the attention of an agent...it's nice to have the next project already started or maybe even first draft finished. Good luck! :)

  7. So, so true, Kristal. I was thinking of trying to squeeze in Nano if I finish my current draft. After my own submission fail, I know it would be easier to begin a new story when I'm in writing mode, rather than in revising mode, or (even worse!) waiting, chewing fingernails, and not writing mode.

    Probably won't happen, but not because I don't know better...

  8. Thank you for sharing this, Krystal! This entire writing/submission process takes so much out of us, and to see that you are moving on, even after getting so close (I can't imagine how frustrated you must have been!), is an inspiration.

    I think a lot of writers don't understand the concept of working on something new while waiting for agent responses, so you pointing out how important it is will be much appreciated by many, I'm sure!

    Here's to your future queries and submissions! *clink*


  9. wow! Thanks for sharing that. I'm glad you said no to going back when you knew it wasn't right. A lot to think about!

  10. Kristal, thank you so much for sharing what must've been really awful for you. Here's to the new you who had the courage to say NO!

    ~that rebel, Olivia

  11. Thank you for posting this. Getting an agent isn't the end of the publication journey. It's hard to move on from a story. After all, they're our babies.

  12. Yay to getting back on the horse, Kristal *hugs*

    You inspire me never to give up :)

  13. Thank you for sharing your experience. We tend to think once the deal is landed- the agent, or the publishing contract, or the book released-- that all is well. Sometimes things fail, sometimes the dream is delayed, anything can happen. You have the right attitude. I found this very inspiring. Plus you did it once, you can do it again!

  14. Wow. My day suddenly looks a LOT better.
    It sucks to be rejected. I'm instead hiding behind my computer. I'll probably have 8 books finished before I start sending out queries or land an agent and my head will be so mixed up I'll forget what I'm editing.

  15. Great advice to keep writing. It's what I tell everyone too...just keep writing.
    W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey

  16. Good for you. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  17. Thanks so much for sharing your story Kristal. I know I have in my head the magic "find me an agent" goal, and too often I subconsciously think that this is the be all and end all. It helps to be reminded that you still need to focus on life after finding an agent. And keeping on writing is such good advice to help you get over those speedbumps on the road to publication...

    Well done you for staying true to yourself and your writing goals!

  18. Wow, I'm not sure if I'm inspired or depressed. A bit of both, and that is the writer's life. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  19. I just came over on Karen G's recommendation.

    Thanks for sharing your story and reminding others how important it is to keep writing.

    I can why you said no - you were burned out. But I'm not at the point that I could imagine doing that. Good for you for moving on to new projects.

  20. What an emotional roller coaster you've been through! I think your advice to work on something new even before you finish editing is really good!

  21. Yeah, the caption says it all--when your best isn't good enough. Ugh, what a lousy feeling!

    Thanks for sharing your journey and how you overcame the roadblock.

    Congrats for pressing forward! You're an inspiration!


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