Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When dreams die a slow, painful death, get an awkward hug from a rock star

Recently, Candyland went through the literary ringer. Literally. Hehe. That was clever. I'm only opening up about it now to give you an example of WHAT NOT TO EFFING DO.

In July, after a series of near agent collisions (a couple were VERY interested for a hot minute), I got *the* call. You know what I'm referring to (if you don't, you're lucky not to know the torture that is waiting for said call to finally happen). It was FANFREAKINTASTIC. This agent adored my writing. S/he gushed, really. I was shocked that anyone would see all the things I'd only dreamed of them seeing. It lasted over an hour. We clicked, bonded, fell in love.

But s/he had some ideas. And I was okay with that.

Long story short, revision notes were promised, and it was decided I would shoo other wooing agents away, because someone else was totally into me...I thought. He/she agreed it'd be best to put everyone on notice I had an interested party, even though s/he had not officially offered. Whatever, that didn't bother me. I was stoked on the pending notes to make my story better. Because that's all it's ever about: telling a story that resonates with people in the right way. Mine had (has) a lot of flaws, I know, but s/he said s/he was in love with my writing, not the story, so I felt anything was possible.

And now here we are. I'm not writing this to piss and moan, or complain about his/her decisions (or lack thereof) in what's been happening, because the details don't matter [to you]. What does matter is that you take everything I did, and do the effing opposite. As I fumble around in the dark to find the pieces of my dreams that, I feel, have been shattered, here are some tips for the query warriors...from someone who's been in the trenches a long damn time.

~Never put all your eggos in one toaster. Even if you have stars in your eyes and truly BELIEVE this agent is the one, resist giving in to the temptation. It will only bring heartache if said agent doesn't follow through, and then your options have disappeared.

~If you finally get *the* call, remember that YOU are in charge. Don't let said agent make you believe otherwise. The goal is to get your book sold. Listen hard to every word said and reject false promises and/lofty expectations you, or said agent may tell you.

~Keep querying. This is SOSOSO important. Unless you've received and accepted an official offer, don't stop doing what you're already doing. Trust me.

~Keep writing. This seems so obvious, but let me tell you, I've now realized I wasted 2+ months of sulking, when I should have been writing the next bestseller. Sure, I've dabbled in other WIPs, but I could have transferred ALL that energy into something relevant. Something that means something. Instead, I've spent more time wondering, wishing, praying, crying, and hating the process when in fact, I should have appreciated the ride.

~Be gracious. I can't stress this enough. Even now, as I sit, still wondering about said agent's notes and how much better they could have made my story, if I were to hear from him/her today with a big fat NO, I'd still be grateful. I now know what it feels like, from one phone call, to feel valuable and important. Even if I never feel that way again, I will always remember the way s/he made me feel that day when I truly felt like DREAMS DO COME TRUE.

So, friends, while you're out querying and blogging and all that shizz today, tell me, have you made a rookie querying mistake (even if you're an old pro) like falling head over heels for someone who's just not that into you? How did you deal? What was your comfort food? Should I seek out Brady for a long and awkward hug?

Candyland, the dreamer. OUT.


salarsenッ said...

Rookie mistakes...hell yes. I've only taken that query merry-go-round once. Still getting my feet wet, but I'm closer than yesterday. LOL. Your attitude rocks!

Chin up and eyes glued to the prize, I always say.

Linda G. said...

*Hug* I know I'm not Brady, but I figure hugs aren't one to a customer, so you can gather up a bunch, right?

Hang in there. The right agent WILL come into your life. In the meantime, pat yourself on the back for being a class act. :)

Vicki Rocho said...

That sucks, but sounds like you learned from it so that puts you in a WAY better position for the next call.

Robin Lucas said...

So sorry to hear about that. It sucks. I know it does. (trust me)
Many years ago (8 to be exact), I was a rookie with lofty dreams and a great PB about the Iraq war (when it first began).

I called (yes, I called) an editor at Harper Collins (no lie) and told her about my story. She gushed and begged me to send it directly to her.

Long story short, she told me she loved it, but wanted me to change some things. (stupid me) I misinterpreted what she said and completely changed the story and sent her a bunch of crap.

To sum it up, I never heard from her again. It took me 7 years to fully recover to where I am now writing again.

It sucks, but trust me (again), you will NEVER make the same mistake twice.


Creepy Query Girl said...

Um...we all know I have! That really stinks they left you hanging like that- have you had any news at all? I mean, it was a couple months ago but maybe they just haven't gotten to it yet. In any case, congrats on getting that far- it means you do have something special and I'm sure you'll get there! thank you for sharing your story. i know in your shoes I probably would have done the same thing.

Melissa Gill said...

Why does it have to be so effin' hard? I swear this is the craziest business ever.

Thanks so much for sharing your story. Those are great lessons. I never would have dreamed you could get so close, and still have it fall through. Are you sure he hasn't just lost track of time?

These agents seem to work on like Mars time or something. To them two months is nothing, to us, two months is an eternity.

Good luck though and hang in there.

Justine Dell said...

Oh, man. I put on my sad face for you. :-(

That's great advice, though. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, but it will one day.

Cinderalla said so! Er...or was is Sleeping Beauty?


Patty Blount said...

Ick, this BITES! So sorry you had to endure this but very grateful you posted it for us to learn from.

Sending a hug even though, as Linda said, I'm not Brady!

Kelly Breakey said...

It could have been worse.

You could have signed with this mega agent and got the offer of a life time and then been hit by a bus.

Too Soon?

Feel better soon.

JW said...

Thanks for you sharing your lessons learned, they will help me out when I get there, I am sure. I already had it in my head I would seek out as many people possible until I found a perfect fit, but then what do we do when the perfect fit goes sour.. yikes! That sucks! Keep believing and dreaming!! Good things your way, Janelle

Jared Larson said...

That would be rough. So sorry. I made the rookie mistake of querying too soon out of excitement for my dream agent. MS just wasn't quite ready, but I was blinded and am now scraping away the eye boggies so I can see again. Almost there.

Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss candace! i like how you could share out stuff like that. stuff that hurts. i got pretty bothered by when you said "I now know what it feels like, from one phone call, to feel valuable and important. Even if I never feel that way again." wow i cant think my candyland friend could say that cause you should feel valuable and important every day for all you do to share stuff about yourself to help others and neat causes like joy 2 the world and now that walk to help people not kill themself and i could think of a zillion more things why youre valuable and important. for me you give me lots of support and lots of laughs and make me feel good. youre just a real important part of my life. so its not about what didnt happen for you its about who you are and youre the best! you just gotta keep dreaming and one day your dreams are gonna come true.
...lots of love and BIG HUGS from lenny

Carolyn V. said...

Oh Candace, I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I think it's great advice to us writers. Thanks for posting such difficult info. ((hugs))

Anne said...

Ah poo. I was wondering about your situation in the shower this morning.

No, these are not related but apparently it's the only time my brain works.

I'm stuck in "not hearing back from a single freakin person" mode

I guess I'll have to start writing something new.

aspiring_x said...

not snatching candyland up as his/her client= biggest mistake of his/her effing career. that's all i have to say.

Kelly said...

I didn't know that saga, Candace. You will find the right agent for you! (I hope to do the same!)
My rookie mistake was submitting too early (I started writing picture books and sent them to publishers about four years ago too early!). And once I accidentally sent a book of stamps with a submission and they sent it back with a sticky note that said "We thought you'd want these" and the rejection letter! :)

LTM said...

omg omg omg. You just blew my mind. Did you just tell me you got THE CALL and then it didn't happen?

I feel nauseous. For both of us.

Yes. You need a very long, very awkward hug from Brady--STAT!

I don't think I'd come out from under the desk for many many days after that. ((super big hugs)) ugh.

damn the electric fence.

Would it make you feel even a tiny bit better if I say I gave you an award on my blog? Just for being cool?

:o\ Sugar?

Colene Murphy said...

Amazing advice, thank you for it and for what you went through to get it.

I'm sorry that things didn't work out and you got so down. But you seem like such a pleasant, bounce-back, optimistic person I know something better will come along for you!

Crystal Cook said...

That totally sucks. I'm so sad for you. But thanks for all the good advice :) And good luck, good luck, good luck for the next time :)

Matthew Rush said...

Wait. So you still haven't heard back? So you got the notes we talked about back then, made the changes and re-submitted and still haven't heard? That is a little odd. But it still doesn't mean anything for sure.

Still, you make several good points here. Great advice for young (or dumb) writers. Yes I made rookie mistakes. Here is one.

PK Hrezo said...

I think we all make mistakes along the path to publication. I cringe at some I've made... but it's a learning process.
It seems really unprofessional that the agent left you hanging. What's up with that? Sounds like you're better off without him/her anyway. And you know now you have a good story... just keep pressing forward and keep your chin up. Thanks for the heads up ... I'll remember to keep querying until the papers are signed!!

Jeff King said...

I hope it all will work out, and thx for the sound advice...

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yes, I did - big-time. I queried much too early the first time, with an MS a good critique partner would have called me on. Since then, I started blogging, scored an awesome CP, and changed a 3,000 word PB into a 12,000 word chapter book.

You are sharing some important info here, Candace. Thanks!!! :-)

Jennie Bailey said...

This is what I love so much about the community - everyone sharing so we can keep others from making our mistakes. Sorry that you had to go through this, but thank you so much for sharing with others! You rock!!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I hear ya, sister. The rookie road is a bumpy one. Go awkwardly hug Brady.

Riv Re said...

Oh, Candace :( ((hugs unawkwardly))

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm so sorry that happened to you. You were nice to share your pain and give us a warning without cutting the agent to shreds.

I hope the next time you get the call will be THE time.

Anonymous said...

That's pretty terrible, but it is good to hear some stories from that side and to learn from people who have been there. I guess it's like dating sorta. Have lots of guys interested, or has many as you can get LOL just in case you get dumped

Anonymous said...

I can't believe they left you hanging like that. It's completely unprofessional and cruel.

It'll happen for you. I know everybody says that after hearing a story like this and it can mean less than a grain of salt, but I feel it. Good things come to people who are open, honest, and hilarious, as you are. Plus, the blurb alone for your YA contemporary sounds like something I'd love to read. Hold tight.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Candaaaaccceee...(((hug))) Thanks for sharing with us. That's one thing about the blogging community is we all share and maybe something we learn helps someone else along the way.

Elana Johnson said...

Oh, girl, I'm so sorry. I know exactly how this feels -- EXACTLY. And it's not good. It sucks. Big time. But you are a great writer, and a great person, and you will find your success.


Talei said...

Aw, I hope you get THE call next time too. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us all. Thats pretty brave lady!!

When you have some time, please pop over to mine, I have a little award for you. ;)

Buffy Andrews said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing your story and for giving us great advice. You've made a lot of people wiser today by doing so. Keep writing. Keep believing. I've made every mistake there is to make and then some. I continue to learn every day, and I'm trying to enjoy the process as much as I can. That doesn't mean some days I don't feel like giving up. I'm human. I get frustrated and angry and just plain tired. But I believe in my work too much to give up. We all just need to find agents who believe in our work as much as we do. Good luck to all of your blog readers. And thanks again for sharing today. Blessings, Buffy

Samantha Vérant said...

Agents are not angels. I have a friend who is thinking of leaving his/her agent he/she/it (might be a dog or a cat, which would explain the lack of response) now. So sorry this happened to you with this ONE person. You've got a good attitude. Time to move on.

And mistakes? Yeah, I made a doozy with an MG manuscript. Agent had full. I got comments back (late) from BETA reader who had an agent. I liked changes, made them. Then I emailed said agent who had the MS asking if I could send him a revise. You know if it hadn't started reading it. Talked too much in the letter too. Received a message, which if translated, was go to f'ing hell. What did I learn?