Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Handle Close Calls #IWSG



Welcome, Insecure Writer's Support Group friends!

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

An agent or editor replies to your submission, saying, "We love the story, but..." or "We love your characters, but..." or "We love your writing, but..." or "We came close to saying yes, but..."

You hyperventilate and want to shout, "If you like this, this and this, WHY ARE YOU SAYING NO?"

*bang head on wall*

*take a deep breath*

*pick drywall chunks and paint chips off forehead*

If you've been at this writing thing for a while, you've probably had some close calls. And if you haven't had any yet, you will.

I've had close calls. At first I was frustrated, thinking OMG, I can't believe how close I was. I sulked because my "almost" became a "no, thanks." But then a lightbulb snapped on over my head and I realized, OMG, I just had a close call!

It's all about attitude. How can close calls work in our favor? How can we handle them without frustration? Here are my thoughts:

  • Recognize close calls as signs you're on the right path. Your work is getting read. It's been noticed. Something about it sparked interest. No, it wasn't right for a particular agent or editor, but that doesn't mean it's not good. A close call reminds you that your manuscript has merit. You just haven't found the right love match yet.
  • Use close calls to fuel your dedication. Were you feeling defeated before your close call? Did the close call make you feel worse? Please, please turn that around. Use the close call as motivation to dig back in and keep sending out your work. Repeat after me: it came close, it came close, it came close. You have no idea how close you really are. Seriously. Need more rah rah? Check out my post, Don't Quit at the One Yard Line.
  • Use close calls as opportunities to sharpen your submission. If the agent or editor gave you specific reasons why they said no, hooray! Consider using those notes to beef up your query, pitch, or manuscript. Tired of reading your own story? Set it aside, read a great book, then come back to your manuscript with fresh eyes and perspective. You'll fall in love with it all over again. 
One agent, editor, or contest will not break your book. However, one agent, editor or contest can make your book. If we let close calls get us down, and stop sending out the work, how will we ever know what could've been?

Remember: it came close, it came close, it came close.

Have you had close calls yet? Did they frustrate you or inspire you? If you're published, how many close calls did you have before you got the call?




40 comments:

  1. Sigh, I haven't had a close call yet, but I love what you write here about it all being in the attitude. You are so right.

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    1. Karen, your close call will definitely come!

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  2. So, so true, Julie! Attitude. Once you (anyone) get over the AUGH!! of a close call, look closer at that call. See what is good in it. See where your strong points are and know that agent/publisher/whatever just wasn't for you.

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    1. Sheri, so true. Maybe they're even blessings in disguise :)

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  3. Great attitude! That just means you are really close to a yes.

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    1. Alex, that's definitely the way to look at it! Can I just say thanks for starting this wonderful group? It's awesome.

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  4. Definitely the right attitude! Agents, etc. are VERY selective when it comes to fit, story potential, etc. And they aren't always right, and they do not always represent what ALL agents feel.

    If you're getting close calls, chances are you're onto something good, because people who are very picky are finding things they really like about your writing. Don't cut bait, keep fishing. :)

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    1. Keep fishing!!! Excellent advice, EJ

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  5. Ugh, close calls. So close, and yet, so far! Those are really great tips, though. Thanks for the silver lining!!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. So close....so far...tough position to be in sometimes, but hey, it's progress!

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  6. I swear being on the cusp is a lot harder than not being close at all, LOL... But you're right. We *have* to look at the positive. I have to speak to myself all the time. "At least I've made it this far. There is *some* merit to my story." And I think it's authors who have this attitude who *do* make it. I swear we have the same brain sometimes, Julie! I love your posts! :D

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  7. Yes I've had a few 'near misses' and at the time those rejections can be worse than the regular ones but, like you say, take them as a good sign. A sign you are on the right track and the next one might just be a YES! Visiting as part of IWSG today.

    Suzanne
    IWSG co-host

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    1. Suzanne, thanks so much for co-hosting IWSG!! Yes, sometimes the near misses are tougher than flat out rejections. But we soldier on :)

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  8. Great tips for dealing with this. I had a close call early in the process of working on my first book and it has fueled me to keep on. Thanks for inspiring us.

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    1. Natalie, that's AWESOME! Let's you know you've totally got what it takes.

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  9. Thanks for the motivation and tips!

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    1. Fida, it's my pleasure. Thank YOU for the visit!

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  10. It would definitely help if they would specify why they said no; I don't blame you for feeling frustrated. I just got a rejection letter yesterday; they said they were impressed and encouraged me to submit another story, but they didn't say why they rejected the first one. But I didn't mind too much; it took me a long time just to get the courage to send my work out.

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    1. Courage...totally! Good for you getting that nice rejection! Keep going, you're on your way to that yes.

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  11. With the book I just sold I had the same experience. My problem was my opening pages. I won editor critiques and kept getting critiques until I found someone who finally saw the problem. The first big even was distanced by adding someone in between the MC and the danger. Bringing the first major problem closer to the mc and adding some sensory details made a difference. I'm not sure I would have got an agent otherwise.

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    1. Beth...look where you are now?? All that dogged perseverance has paid off :)

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  12. However, one agent, editor or contest can make your book.

    Or a very savvy author who takes ownership can also make their own book.

    Just a thought.

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    1. YES! Absolutely, Donna! Excellent point. Thank you.

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  13. I had a very close call and you're right - after you get over the devastation (with a little bit of chocolate), you can look at it as a highlight!

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    1. Jemi, I totally agree...chocolate and a bit of time is a great way to gain perspective about close calls.

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  14. Oh yeah. I've had lots of close calls. They're disappointing but I always find them hopeful because it means I'm getting closer.

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    1. And now....YOU'RE THERE! Soooo excited for you!

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  15. Attitude matters. You've certainly hit the nail on the head with this post.

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    1. M.J., attitude is everything, isn't it? Thanks so much for your kind words.

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  16. It came close!!! The most important thing is do not give up. You never know if it's that very next meeting that is the magical one. Love this post!!!

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    1. So true, Karlene. We just never know, so we'd better not give up!

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  17. Right on, Julie. I also love it when I receive comments about why the sub didn't work. I use those to my very best advantage.

    Super post. I'm glad to be back to blogging after some time off.

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  18. I've had three queries subs with encouraging words. I'd just been about to say, "Not yet," but yeah, those comments fueled me for weeks. Just the hope they gave me that "someday."

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  19. Hahahaha you know I have!! LOL You're so right! It's all in the attitude. But friends and chocolate do help too. ;D

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  20. yep, in my own profession (translating books) I've contacted probably about 60 publishers before I got my first gig :) And even today, with 30 books behind me, at least 90% will reject you because they value only connections. This requires lots of personal strength.

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  21. At the moment one of my promotional author has received a request for a full, and she is completely unmotivated to send it in. So yes, after getting numerous Rs, we take the set back and sit back.

    Great post.

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  22. One - yes. One - yes. One - yes. My new mantra.

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  23. It's important to never give up, C.S Lewis was rejected 800 times before he was published with Narnia.

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  24. Oh do I ever know about close calls and rejection. But I simply can't stop.

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