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Will you marry me?

dad at his second job--he once made one of these for his girlfriend

“We’re going to get married,” dad said.

“Sure. But you’re going to have to show me the marriage certificate,” I said.

He laughed. “You don’t believe me?”

“Didn’t you buy her a ring like five years ago?”

“That was a nice ring. It was on sale. We got a real good deal.”

“Yeah, Dad. You just send me a postcard.”

Dad had been asking his girlfriend to marry him since at least 1986. This conversation took place in 1995. In 1997 I got the postcard and the photocopy of the marriage certificate. They’re still married.

I sent out another query letter last week. This agent had liked my first novel. She liked the first 50 pages enough to ask for the entire manuscript. She ended up passing, but her letter was kind and encouraging. So, I decided to query her about my second novel. Maybe this time I’ll be attractive enough.

Unlike my dad, who for all his flaws has never had a wandering eye, I’ve got to look at others. Eventually someone will say yes. Right?

Are you querying any agents? How do you go about the process? Have you given yourself a timeline–if no one says yes by such-and-such date, I’m going to back to my day job. How often have you been rejected? How much rejection can you take?

13 thoughts on “Will you marry me?

  1. Although I’m not looking for agents, I am looking for a publisher. I set a vague, multi-phase deadline for quitting, First, I’ll quit (or slow down) if I have to get a day job. Second, if this second book goes nowhere. Third, the end of 2010. So depending on how I feel if any of these happens, It’ll be time to hang it up. Not hang up writing, won’t ever do that, but hang up the pursuit of writing for profit. Hm, maybe I should give up the expectation of profit right now.

  2. All great questions, I think. I’m not querying for agents yet. I’m not done editing and revising my manuscript yet. That’s got to be milestone number one. Then I’ll start querying. How much rejection can I take? I don’t know; I guess I’ll find out.

    Deadlines? I can’t impose them; life has been too unstable, too shifting beneath my feet, for me to try and solidify even a short-term future. I have one project I’ve accepted and have to get that moving. But until that’s finished I don’t have the ability to work with my fiction. And I have to go back to a day job whether I want to or not, so there’s that (and so far, that’s easier said than done).

    I’ll write about all these things on my blog when — or IF — they ever come to pass, but I think you’ve brought some great food for thought to the banquet.

    • I found that the rejection wasn’t as hard as I thought. Not that it is fun, and several rejections in a row can be rough, but it didn’t derail me either. Good luck!

  3. Oh, I’m so bad about querying (meaning, I don’t do enough of it). While I don’t have a specific target, I find that getting a fairly small number of rejections is usually enough for me to stop submitting a piece. It doesn’t particularly discourage me to get to that point; I just put whatever-it-is aside and move on. Dumb, huh?

    I guess the upside here is that I’ll probably keep writing forever, and go right on taking No for an answer (which actually sounds a bit pathetic, now that I put it that way).

    • Hard to say if that is dumb–my dumb meter is broken. It is not pathetic–if for no other reason than I’m not going to call myself pathetic too.

      Hey, a new year is coming. Maybe try submitting more then.

  4. I’ve only sent out twenty query letters, although none recently, since I’m back to revisions.
    I’d like to say for the record that getting a rejection only means that one person didn’t like your idea. Getting rejections should never make you stop submitting a piece, but if you see a trend in comments, take that into account for your own revision.

    Of the twenty queries I’ve sent out, three of the agents were interested enough to ask for partials, then went on to ask for the entire ms. All three ended up passing, but gave me really excellent feedback on next steps. I posted all the rejections on a wall in my workspace, and it’s glorious.

    I heard a quote at a writers’ conference that I must share: “If you’re not getting rejections, you’re not really trying to get published.”

  5. Yes. Query someone else. Yes, someone will say yes.

    No I am not querying anyone. But Yes I do have a schedule for myself, and that is that this year I will make it my business to publish. 2010 is my year of publishing, which is a huge thing for me, because I’ve only ever dabbled my toes before and run away when I get a very nice no thank you.

    It’s because I’m a bok! bok! chicken and inside, I don’t think I’m worth it.

    Well, I’ve had enough of the the rubbery chicken and I think it’s time to really start cooking. I’m going to stick to my guns no matter how many rejections. I will revise the plan at the end of 2010 and see what the year has brought.

    There, that’s my plan. To start planning. And DOing. That’s the different part.

  6. I think the querying has to be the hardest part of writing. It must be something like a first dance, where the girls all line up against the wall, hoping a boy asks them to dance. *shudder*

    Agents are like the gatekeepers of a writer’s self-esteem. And I don’t think that’s a good thing.

    • It might be more like a first dance where you have to stand in a spotlight, list your best qualities, and wait for some boy to step forward and take your hand.

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