For the last month I have been glued to my computer, looking for an agent to represent my third book, SLIPPING IN GREECE. To get an agent, I have to submit my manuscript for their approval. And to do that, I have to approach them with a query letter. And in that letter I am supposed to begin with a pitch. A pitch is this:
A handful of sentences that describes your novel. Think no more than seven? Eight? Nine sentences? It should be concise, well-written, and make them WANT it. I cannot describe how difficult it is to write a 95K story, then deconstruct it, compress it, decorate it, and present it. To what can I liken that process?
Imagine giving birth without any kind of pain management.
Imagine putting a fluffy pink bow on it.
Then imagine stuffing it back when you are done.
I have written more than one pitch since it is, apparently, impossible to get it right the first time. And the only way you know you have failed? You get a rejection letter. I have only had a few of those, ranging from a polite ‘not for us,’ to a ‘please, keep looking for an agent. You have talent.’
But not for writing a pitch, apparently. . .
So while waiting for a response from the other agents who have either a) lost it in a spam filter, or b) been buried alive under an avalanche of query letters, I have turned my efforts to researching publishing companies that do not require that you sell through an agent.
Allow me to share the experience. (Kind of like a friend of mine who bought a non-refundable tattoo service for her sister. She wanted her to get permanent eyebrows. Just so she can see how badly it hurt.)
First, I went to Barnes & Noble and looked through their books, specifically, the 2013, and 2014 WRITER’S MARKET. I made a quick list of the publishing companies that accept un-agented submissions. Then I went home and looked at the companies’ websites.
Several of these publishing companies are owned by religious organizations. Not only does the writer have to be a member of their Church, they have to write about people belonging to that religion. Is this profitable? How many people go online to search for mysteries involving Episcopalians? Or Mormons? And is that the protagonist, victim, murderer, or all three? Or can they make the villain a Baptist? One publisher’s website had a tab you could click on to get a free prayer. I had no idea they were supposed to cost money. Do they usually charge by the word? And is it like a pitch in a query letter?
One of my favorite websites belongs to Stoneslide Books. (http://stoneslidecorrective.com) And I am not being sarcastic, here. I really love it, especially their explanation of how they chose their name. Let me give you a taste of their site.
This is the bio of one of the founders, Jonathan Weisberg:
“Jonathan is a recipient of a silver shovel award, a ten-year service recognition certificate, and many confused glances. He lives in Connecticut with a wife who is much smarter than him, as well as two children who are also smarter than him.”
This is the bio of Mark Emile Boutin, one of their contributing Editors:
“Mark Boutin has learned to hold popular opinion in low esteem. He likes scotch with scotch in it, he votes, and favorite movies include Tango and Cash, Some Kind of Monster, The Inescapable Quest of the Venture Capitalist’s Road Show: First Tranche, and Scarface. He only wishes that the fence around his land were higher.”
And contributing Editor Erica Gingerich:
“. . . She writes. She edits. She translates. She occasionally does some radio and DJing. She does voice-overs and dubbing for German films, commercials, and documentaries. Sometimes she puts on her Propaganda Queen tiara and does PR. For a good cause, of course. She takes long walks in Alpine meadows with her husband, Tom, where they spend crisp, sunny afternoons in autumn, Erica spinning circles, pretending she is Julie Andrews. The hills are alive….”
But my favorite is their Rejection Generator:
“End the Pain of Rejection.
Rejection is a necessary and often painful part of the writing life. But your expectations can greatly affect your eventual experience.
We at The Stoneslide Corrective have generously developed an online Rejection Generator, through which you can send yourself some of the nastiest, dream-crushing rejection letters imaginable. After that, real rejection will be no more stinging than a glass of lemonade. Who else would do this for you?
Try the Rejection Generator.”
So I did. You get to chose your options: The Thumper, Tantalus’ Apple, Ego Shredder, The Southern Gentleman, Big Chakra Dosing Agent, and The Civil Gesture. Then you submit your email. In seconds you get a rejection letter in your inbox. I did all six of them. More than once.
Here is one of my favorites:
We regret that we cannot use your piece. We want to reassure you that we are respectful of all writers who take a chance and submit work. We have given the piece our utmost attention and read it carefully from beginning to end. That’s why we’re rejecting it.
I regret to say that we cannot use the piece you have submitted. There are many potential reasons for this: we are looking for very particular subject matter; we are overstocked right now; we were drunk when we read it. This is not a judgment of you. It does not mean you are a bad writer.
Of course, you probably are a bad writer. You’re probably so bad you can’t finish this sentence: “My mama wears _____.” The vast majority of people who think of themselves as writers are actually bad writers. They just don’t know it. Nonetheless, this one rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that you are bad. But you probably are.
And the odds are that you are immoral and lazy as well. We don’t mean to be harsh. We’re talking about the percentages here.
Of course, I will submit SLIPPING IN GREECE to them. Just for the privilege of getting another email.
Then there is Medallion Press who will be receiving a submission as well. (http://medallionmediagroup.com)
Here is an excerpt from the bio from Administrative Assistant Jeanne Chybik:
“(Read with an Irish accent) . . . This winter me hope is to finish decorating our Tudor bedroom addition, which includes a secret fireplace escape route leading down to an underground labyrinth guarded by David Bowie, that me intends to curl up next to and begin reading some great Medallion books.”
But my favorite, my FAVORITE, is Ali DeGray, the President of Medallion Media Group. Does her bio remind you of anyone?
“I believe that my interpretive dance at the local grocery store improves the lives of the strangers there. I also believe that Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis have never died, and will never die. When people question my irrational behavior, they are satisfied with the explanation, “Oh, I’m an artist.” Being vice president of Medallion Media has allowed me an avenue to boost other people’s goals while remaining unashamed of how weird I really am.”
YES! Rayvyn is the president of Medallion Media Group!
I just wish I could find the website that stated they enjoy pushing drunk friends into bonfires. Or something like that. Stoneslide Corrective? Probably.
Well, I will keep you apprised of my journey. . .
And just a thought before I go. I have had three offers from other publishing companies for me to submit my manuscript. Yes, its a journey, but I should arrive.
Just not sure where or in what. . .
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