Glad and sad, happy and crappy

14 Mar

My first agent workshop is now in the history books. I attended it yesterday morning, which would have been daunting on the first day of Daylight Savings Time if I weren’t so darned excited. I had no trouble getting up. (Just ask Galley, who got his full and proper walk before I left.) I went extremely high tech and extremely low tech: I took my iPad loaded with my query letter and my manuscript; and I had my trusty Moleskine notebook, the one that helped me capture memories from my trip to Italy, ready to receive notes. (I hate typing on the iPad—since I can’t feel a keypad, I make all kinds of mistakes.) Further armed with a latte, I was ready to learn learn learn. Sara Megibow of the Nelson Agency here in Denver taught me and 29 of my closest writing friends as much as she could about publishing in the time allotted. I know a bit about the business from having worked in it for ten years, but that was more than a decade ago and I wasn’t in the editorial department at Warner, so my information was tangential at best. Now, with the increasing popularity of e-books and the burgeoning self-publishing craze, the publishing world is changing quickly. Sara told us scary statistics like last year she signed nine authors and sold five of the nine manuscripts to a publisher. Those nine authors, mind you, were culled from an initial query-letter pool of 36,000. Eek! In other words, it hasn’t gotten any easier to get your book published. She spoke to us about elevator pitches, or a two-sentence description of your book, kind of like an expanded logline on a movie poster. We went around the room and spoke aloud our elevator pitches for our books, and she liked mine! She had no edits. I was overjoyed. I was glad and happy. Being a copywriter doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to write an elevator pitch, but still. But. Later we lined up to show her our work or whatever else we wanted to show her. One hopeful author told me Sara had requested the first 30 pages of her manuscript. When I got to the front of the line, I was practically trembling, and it wasn’t from the latte. I handed over my iPad and stared out the window, praying to the literary gods to smile upon me. Apparently, the literary gods had neglected to turn their clocks ahead and were still asleep. Instead of asking for my first 30 pages, or the whole manuscript, or dropping to the floor, hugging my knees and begging me to sign with her on the spot, she, um, told me she thought I started my story in the wrong spot. She was very nice about it, mind you. Lovely, really. But my book wasn’t wowing her. Her socks remained firmly in place. Sigh. There went my glad and happy. (I actually watched the poor things slink out of the room.) But, as I told a friend, at least she didn’t tell me I’m a talentless hack and should burn my manuscript. I’ve been obsessing over where to begin, now that I must take a fresh look at my book. The journey continues…

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