The View from Middle Spunk Creek

KISSING FROGS                                                               11th ed.


For a new author, the conventional publishing process is a long, slow, painful slog.

You write a book. Then you rewrite the book–several times. Then you have the book edited. Then you rewrite the book. Then you have the book proof read. Then you correct the book (and probably rewrite again).

FINALLY, maybe after a year or two or three, it’s ready.

Now the hard work begins.

You research agents you think might like your book, might want to be YOUR agent.  You pare your list down to 20 or 30.  You dig deeper and find that at least half of them are no longer looking for the kind of book you just wrote. But there is always hope that one of the remaining ones is just waiting for your submission. You send personalized query letters to the remaining handful, making sure to meet the unique submission requirements of each agent (none of them are the same).

You don’t hear back from most of them (pocket rejection) and those few you do hear from take six weeks to a year to painfully reject you.  It’s like kissing frogs to find a prince.

frog prince

But there are exceptions.

I finished The Reaper over the Thanksgiving weekend, vetted agents for the next week, and was in a day-long process of sending submissions. One of them went to Felicia Eth in Palo Alto, California. I sent her my submission at 4:19 p.m.  She rejected me at 4:37 p.m., before I’d completed sending my query to the next agent on the list.

Eighteen minutes.  May not be the world’s record, but it’s mine.

Listen, I can stand rejection. It’s part of being an author. It’s the death-by-a-thousand-silent-paper-cuts that is the agent query process that gets me. It leads one to wonder if your submission actually got read, or If you’re really a crummy writer (even if your most recent book gets 5-star reviews). And, for someone my age, the waiting around is not a good option. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

I’ve never met Felicia Eth in person, but I love her!!  She said, in her rejection email, that’s she’s trimming her list and cutting down on her projects. I don’t care. I’m going to submit every book I write to Ms. Eth.  No long wait. No silence. No painful, terse form-letter rejection. Just a kind and quick email: not going to work this time.

She is, from an author’s point of view, the gold standard.