I just sent my 200th submission YTD. Felt like this:
The nonfiction blog run by Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction published a my craft essay: Small Miracles: Sweet-Talking Short Pieces from Your Full-Length Manuscript.
I found a plump and marvelous list that I am using myself. I would be happy to share the wealth, but for once, I’m going to be a little grabby: you have to follow this blog or follow me on Facebook at: Alle C. Hall, Writer:
Rejections: 108 (38 for As Far as You Can Go)
Good Rejections: 29
I feel like Amber Ruffin: “You guys! It has been crazy!” Since my mid-February YTD, I have:
- more than doubled my submission rate;
- almost quadrupled my rejection rate—hit 100 for the year!
- almost doubled my number of “good” rejections;
- published an additional piece and have one in the pipeline for summer;
- was interviewed twice: one on a podcast and once, traditionally;
- read on a different podcast the piece that placed as a finalist for The Lascaux Prize; and
- was nominated for the 2021 Best Small Fictions anthology.
I credit the tsunamic uptick to my fourth attempt to find an agent: 2001, 2005, 2019, and now. In 1996, Nothing like querying agents for binging in those rejections. In 2001, I’d missed the Oprah-Book-Club-about-child-abuse spirit of the 1990s. In 2005, there was very little appetite for books about child abuse—although I did get as close as I may ever to a book/movie deal. I tucked my wee hopes and the manuscript into a drawer and raised a couple of kids. Then: the advent of #Me,Too. A zeitgeist!
Now, while my previous efforts had not landed me an agent, all three yielded a good response. About 35% asked to see the full manuscript. With the 2019 attempt, my response rate was zero.
Before sending out in 2019, I re-freshed and re-wrote, wherein I flipped around couple of chapters. Lacking the original opening (Trigger Warnings all over the place, but you can’t say this isn’t eye-catching), the new new opening was dry.
Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit. You can say a lot of things about my writing, but “dry” is not generally one of them.
I re-re-arranged—in the process, missing my zeitgeist—and this past winter, was ready to launch. I started with a sample group. You see, once an agent rejects a manuscript, they don’t want to see it again. Unless they do, but in such an instance, they will Let. You. Know. If Launch #4 hit another goose-egg, I was not gonna miss my shot with potential agents.
I got the bounce I needed. I credit my outstanding editor, L.S. King. Also, my resume had improved: I’d placed as a finalist for an impressive prize, gotten into a significant magazine, and FINALLY realized that I a ready-made blurb by none other than Dale Peck—some stuff he wrote related to the short story of mine that he published.
Receiving my bounce, I hit the bricks: I found a concise user-friendly list of more than 500 literary agents** and am chewing my way through it. In the two weeks since April began: sixty-one queries resulting in five requests for the full manuscript. I will literally try every appropriate agent on this list until I win the jackpot—or tuck my wee hopes and 230 pages into a drawer and try again when the zeitgeist allows.
**Follow this blog and I will avail you of the link. Current subscribers, alert me in the comments and I will send it.