Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Success by Blitz?

The question comes up now and then on kid-lit chat boards— when is it right to follow-up on a reply from an agent or editor, when the reply was a rejection?
 
It’s simpler than simple: when the rejection included an invitation to submit again, either a revision or other work. And then, ONLY if you made the revision per the suggestions, or the other work is at least as (or even more) right for this house or agency.
All other follow-ups are not welcome.
 
My agent has had to close her doors to unsolicited subs because people "followed-up," when not specifically invited to, with a barrage of "more work from me, since you were so nice" variation.
 

I confess that I’ve been guilty of this, with some too-nice editors, when I was a newbie. My excuse was that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Specifically, I’ve never seen a slush-pile in person. They are so high they could hold the second story up like pillars, pushing up against the ceiling. I’ve never opened my Email to have a thousand emails pour in.

But that was then, and I’ve learned. By the time I started approaching agents, I knew better. No one got a follow-up unless they asked.
 
There are stories of success, in the uber-competitive professions, that involve unbridled blitzing. But, for the most part, these are urban legends. Mostly such have succeeded in closing the gates to self and others.
 
 
 
I know it’s hard to get in the door. If it were easy, everyone would have their starring role in a movie and their published novel. It’s hard, and discouraging, and if only…
 

 
Here’s the deal: life is better spent perfecting the craft, and following the golden rule. Worldly success may or may not follow, but one’s contribution to the general pot would have been good, regardless.
Save your wits—do not blitz
 

 

9 comments:

  1. I saw the office of a book editor at Newsweek back in the day--it was filled with manuscripts with just a path to the desk! :O

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  2. "Here’s the deal: life is better spent perfecting the craft, and following the golden rule. Worldly success may or may not follow, but one’s contribution to the general pot would have been good, regardless."

    Amen!
    Vijaya

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  3. An agent said recently she opened her inbox after a weekend with her mom and there were 800 messages in there!!!

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  4. Wise advice. Thanks, Mirka.

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  5. When I had opens submissions at Leap last summer, I got quite a few follow-ups. The ones I didn't mind were the "Thank you for your feedback on my work. I know your time is valuable and you didn't have to offer it." The ones I hated were the "What do you suggest I do to fix this?" and the "Can I send you something else?" I think a brief thank-you is okay, though not necessary.

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  6. Haha! That's a great mantra. And advice. Glad you put it out there.

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  7. Oh yes, I think many new writers (and haven't we all started out as these) follow-up because their enthusiasm leads them to. Sometimes it isn't that they are thoughtless but more that they assume it'd look better if they hadn't "given up trying."

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  8. Barely able to deal with my own inbox, I can't imagine how it would be to constantly have hundreds of submissions waiting for my consideration.

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