September Stats… and a Q4U

What a month! More queries than ever before, but amazingly, I’m keeping up with them. If you’ve sent me an email query and I haven’t responded, that means I don’t have it, so please try again. If you’ve sent a hardcopy via U.S. mail (in which case you’re probably not reading my blog), I haven’t responded. Those are stacked up awaiting my attention.

In addition to the regular queries through mail and email, I was pitched approximately 30 new projects during my meetings at ACFW. So this month’s stats include those numbers.

If you’ve sent me a partial or proposal, this is where I’m behind. It may still take me some time to get back to you. I apologize for the delay, but that’s just the way it is. Be sure to let me know if you get another agent or receive a publisher offer on your own.

Now for the September Stats:
(keep in mind there is a small margin of error here… hard to keep exact counts!)

Submissions received in September: 616

Queries unanswered in my inbox: ZERO as of now (but that will change in a matter of moments, I’m sure.)

Partials & fulls I requested: around 20 (That’s about 3%, so you can see why I said the 15% rate of partials requested from writers I met at ACFW was fairly high.)

Book deals announced on Publishers Marketplace: 2

The number of queries this month has really got me thinking. I’m continually impressed with how many people not only write books, but pursue publication. I know how hard it is to write a book… and still, so many of you out there are doing it, day in and day out, on top of your jobs and families, for little or no pay… wow. What a testatment to… something. The human spirit wanting to connect with others maybe? And getting published is even harder than writing a book, it seems. Yet so many of us persist. How amazing.

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising to me. I, too, persist. It’s hard to find just the right books amongst all the writers I meet through queries and conferences. Yet I keep searching, always hoping that the next one will be something I can fall in love with.

We are all in this together… those of us who love books and writing and reading. Let’s not let the difficulties and the long odds get us down. Let’s keep doing what we do. I still love it!

Q4U

(Today’s question posed by Rosslyn Elliot.)

In publishing as in all aspects of life, it takes effort and mental discipline to keep a positive attitude toward one’s work and one’s peers. I’d like to hear from other readers what we all do to remain upbeat and wholesome in our thinking. Your comments might be useful for any of us who are experiencing a period of discouragement.

Readers?

I’d love to hear your response. Have a good weekend!

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

32 Comments

  1. Marian on October 4, 2008 at 10:17 AM

    >Whenever I feel down or discouraged, I read stories (or sometimes watch films) about people who faced rejection and difficulty and hardship, but who had the courage of their convictions and didn’t give up. My favorite novel for this job is “The Fountainhead” – after half an hour with that, I’m ready to write again.

    I also listen to music like Mariah Carey’s “Hero”, just for the lyric, “Lord knows, dreams are hard to follow. But don’t let anyone tear them away”. Corny, but it helps.



  2. Pam Halter on October 4, 2008 at 8:10 AM

    >What helps me to keep going is by rereading my manuscript from time to time – the whole thing – and I see parts that make me smile, chuckle and cry. Many times I don’t even remember writing some of it. But it encourages me to keep going.

    To help me stay “wholesome” I remember WHY I’m writing for the middle grade age group. To give them something good to read and occupy their time, tell a good story and maybe encourage some who are feeling bad about themselves. Maybe they’ll be inspired by my main character and her trials, decisions and strength and think to themselves that they can hang in there, too.

    A little schmultzy, yes, but there it is.



  3. Merrie Destefano on October 3, 2008 at 11:45 PM

    >Rosslyn,
    We all need periods of refreshment. Time away from our work. I know some people say that you should write every day, but I don’t agree.

    You may need a season of rest, or you may have just begun a journey that you aren’t aware of.

    Every time I put my writing down and walk away, I am a stronger writer when I return. My words are more fresh, my vision stronger, my desire more implicit.

    You may need a fallow season, a long winter’s nap, a time to curl up on our Father’s lap and listen to His sweet whisper.

    I find my greatest encouragement comes from knowing that I am doing what God wants me to do. Whether I become a published novelist or not. Writing is one of my callings and it brings me joy.

    And I believe that my times of insecurity and discouragement make my next book better than the last. Through my pain, I am somehow connecting to the human condition that unites us all.

    I am inadequate for the task at hand. But that will not stop me from the joy of the task.



  4. Timothy Fish on October 3, 2008 at 9:10 PM

    >Anonymous 6:57,

    I wasn’t into GI Joe, but in the first grade when we had Show and Tell, I wouldn’t show anything, but I would get up and tell stories. Mostly about men who came out of the tree roots down at out creek. Looking back, I’m sure the teacher must have been absolutely thrilled with some of my stories, but the other kids seemed to enjoy them.



  5. Holly on October 3, 2008 at 9:03 PM

    >Because I love words, and because writing is like playing in sunshine.
    Because I love God and because I love to “tell the story of unseen things above.”
    Because I want to work while it is still day.
    Because the work itself is a reward and a blessing.
    Because success is a matter of opinion.



  6. Anonymous on October 3, 2008 at 7:57 PM

    >Well for myself I can’t say it is calling, I think it is more a part of my childhood that refuses to die.

    You know the part that used to sit in the sandbox and make up stories why GI Joe was killing some dude.



  7. Anne L.B. on October 3, 2008 at 6:42 PM

    >Even at high altitude, valleys seem low next to the peaks.

    I choose to look at the cup as half full. I choose to be grateful for what is, not for what is not.

    I choose to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” both in the land that is plentiful and when I walk through the wilderness.

    I walk by faith and I believe He will work ALL things for good because of my great love for Him.



  8. Timothy Fish on October 3, 2008 at 5:32 PM

    >“When you hit the Dark Night of the Soul, in writing or in Life, just hold on, for that one more minute.”

    Ah, but in writing, when we reach that Dark Night of the Soul and contemplate that all is lost and there is no way for us to accomplish our goal, that is when the A story and the B story come together and the protagonist’s love interest helps him to find that second wind and a new way of doing things for that final push to the end, where he will either succeed spectacularly or go down in a flaming ball of fire. I wonder how many of us are simply persevering when we need to be picking up our towels and pushing with vigor for that happy ending.



  9. Ed J. Horton on October 3, 2008 at 5:08 PM

    >I’d like to share some thoughts in response to Mike’s questions, “Why do some persist and others give up? I mean, what is it about some people that drives them to keep on with something?”

    I’ll give two reasons why I persevere at writing and seeking publication. But, first, let me say that I do sometimes become discouraged. I’m in one of those doldrums now where my manuscripts metaphorically teeter on the edge of a dumpster.

    First, I’m not a type-A personality, extrovert, or even very people-oriented. But I do have a passion to share spiritual truth, sometimes written to the body of Christ and other times to non-Christian, unchurched, God-might-exist thinking folks.

    Second, I need positive strokes to my ego. Frankly, all my life I’ve struggled with low self-esteem, thinking I have no talents or special gifts. Writing has provided the boost I needed, giving me a sense of accomplishment.

    Although I may step away from manuscript writing for a time, I cannot give up. To do that would be to fail God and myself.



  10. Andrew on October 3, 2008 at 4:02 PM

    >It’s kind of like sobriety, when you don’t take that drink THIS minute.

    Decide to be upbeat for this next minute. Decide for purity in thought and action for the next minute.

    When you hit the Dark Night of the Soul, in writing or in Life, just hold on, for that one more minute.



  11. christa on October 3, 2008 at 4:01 PM

    >Upbeat AND wholesome? Hmm. At the same time?
    In the past almost 18 years, there are days I find a trail of socks littering the floor, a mangled mess of dishes and glasses in the sink, and a snarky attitude when I’m just not up for it.

    We’re still married. I love him, God placed us in one another’s path…for better or worse…

    all just like my writing journey



  12. Mindy Obenhaus on October 3, 2008 at 1:09 PM

    >Remaining upbeat and wholesome in today’s world is tough. At the start of every day I have to pray that God will guard my heart, my mind, and my tongue, what goes in and what comes out. If left to my own devices…well, those who know me are probably shuddering at the thought:-)



  13. Chatty Kelly on October 3, 2008 at 12:59 PM

    >Have you ever read a book and didn’t like it? Perhaps even not enough to finish it? Yet someone somewhere did like it enough to publish it and it is selling. I remind myself that everyone has different tastes, and a rejection doesn’t mean bad work – it means different taste. (if can mean bad work too – – )BUT we’re talking about positive attitude here.

    I just sold an article that had been rejected 3 times before. But I finally found the right venue. So hooray.

    Everyone – Keep plugging! And find a honest mentor who can tell you “keep plugging this one” or “needs more work.”



  14. elaine @ peace for the journey on October 3, 2008 at 11:49 AM

    >Not long ago, God urged me toward an “intentional pause”–a time of walking away from the computer and my writing in order to solely tend to my faith journey by spending time with Him in his Word.

    As the Apostle Paul wrote, I made the decision to “press in” so that I could press on. Brother Lawrence would call it “Practicing the Presence of God.”

    Whatever the “language,” for me it’s all about keeping to Jesus and the the road of faith. I took that time, and now the fog has cleared tremendously. He has reaffirmed in me my giftings and his grace for this journey.

    Sometimes, we all need to find the strength to be quiet before God (to be as nothing before man)so as to hear our Father’s applause above our noisy attempts at notoriety.

    At the end of the day … at the end of this life … no other road matters. None. It’s our sacred privilege to pause with God. Perhaps some of you might need to allow yourself the freedom to do so.

    There is strength and peace to be found in the silence. Mighty strength–mind and heart kind of strength.

    Be still and grow. Be still and know that you are the penchant of our Father’s heart.

    peace~elaine



  15. Kat Harris on October 3, 2008 at 11:27 AM

    >Rosslyn,

    There’s a line in a song I love that says: “To live and die it seems, is a waste without a dream…”

    Everyone goes through times where the light in their tunnel of dreams seems far away, but if you don’t continue pursuing it you’ll never achieve it.

    To stop pursuing the dreams you desire is a waste of breath, of time, of talent and passion with which God has blessed you.



  16. Ed Eubanks on October 3, 2008 at 11:22 AM

    >In agreement with what a few other commenters have said, I persist because of a sense of calling. Not everyone sees it that way, and I’m not judging their reasons for writing or persisting. But it is calling for me.

    I am called to be a pastor– and there are lots of ways that has been affirmed. When ministry is great, it’s easy; when days are tougher, my sense of calling drives me forward. Likewise, it is so for my writing.

    I believe deeply that the things I write about and speak about are Kingdom-building things; that they are one of the ways that God has uniquely equipped me to serve Him and His church. They are consistent with Scripture, and others in the church and Kingdom have affirmed and confirmed how God is using me in this way.

    That amounts to a calling– and that is enough to compel me to continue and persist. It helps that I enjoy it very much, and that it has created for me opportunities to learn interesting things and meet interesting people. But the reason I do it is my calling to the work.



  17. lynnrush on October 3, 2008 at 10:11 AM

    >Wow, what statistics, Rachelle. Holy Moly!

    I’m known for being annoyingly happy and encouraging in my small group and accountability group. It’s a God thing.

    When He laid this desire to write on my heart, I said, “Ok, God, you drive the car.” I think that’s why I’m able to withstand the tough aspects of the biz. I get timely compliments on my work (usually followed by a tough critique I get from my crit groups)…but I take it one day at a time, one novel at a time and I’m constantly awed that God continues to fill my mind with stories.

    So, I type and type and trust in HIM that the outcome will glorify HIM and not ME.



  18. JC Lamont on October 3, 2008 at 9:45 AM

    >Why don’t I give up? Becuase it’s not my job to defeat the giant, only to walk onto the battlefield.



  19. Lea Ann McCombs on October 3, 2008 at 9:24 AM

    >As I am going through a particularly discouraging time right now with my first novel not selling yet–even WITH a fantastic agent!–I find it helps to constantly remind myself how much initial failure is a part of EVERY success story.

    My favorite book of all time, Gone With the Wind, was rejected 15 times before it found a publisher!

    I am reading Debbie Macomber’s book, Knit Together, which is the story of her writing journey. It took her 7 years of trying to finally get published and now look at her! I recommend it if you’re struggling with your own journey.

    Other writer’s stories of sruggled help me so much and I am determined to do the same one day with I can look back and empathize!



  20. Jessica on October 3, 2008 at 9:17 AM

    >I persist because I want to stay home and make money and I want to do what I love, hoping it will entertain and change people.
    But if I don’t get published I know that I’ll never stop writing. It seems like God put this outlet in me since I’ve been writing in some way since 1st grade.
    But when I get down, wondering if there’s anything even remotely interesting/creative/good about my writing, I’ll pull out comments people have given me. Compliments.
    There’s nothing like someone writing WOW or ROFL on my manuscript to perk the dream and hope of my heart.
    🙂
    Never underestimate the power of a compliment.
    Sow sincere praise in others lives. It does wonders for the soul!



  21. Kim Kasch on October 3, 2008 at 9:07 AM

    >My Mom used to say, “God must really love me.”

    We were very poor, with 12 people living in one small house.

    I’d look around the run-down house and ask the question, “Why do you say that?”

    “Because he gave me so many healthy children,” she’d smile.

    I always remember that.



  22. Marcie Gribbin on October 3, 2008 at 8:54 AM

    >And He is faithful even when we make a bazillion spelling errors in our blogger comments!! LOL! Sorry!



  23. Inspire on October 3, 2008 at 8:34 AM

    >I agree with Marcie. It all boils down to one word. ‘Trust’, and another — giving.

    We have to put our work into His hands, day in and day out, trusting that whatever His will is that is what is best.

    Giving — What can you do with your writing other than writing a novel and seeking publication? How about writing a monthly newsletter to help aspiring writers? I started writing Stepping Stones for Writers five years ago, starting out as an e-newsletter and now it’s a website that has gained popularity that promotes writers and includes helpful articles and links, etc. It’s been a joy for me to help promote and encourage others.

    So trusting God with my career and giving in whatever capacity I can has helped me stay upbeat and wholesome in my thinking. I falter at times, but the things I do to help others brings me back.

    ‘Give and it shall be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.’

    In Biblical times, when flour was measured out in the marketplace, they would press it down, then shake it, then fill the container again to overflowing.

    Sorry for the long post.



  24. JennyB on October 3, 2008 at 8:19 AM

    >It’s hard to be patient. I religiously check my email for news but I am also so grateful that my proposal is at least in that stack of things to be read.

    What keeps me going as a writer? My answer comes in a recent favorite quote:”We do not write in order to be understood, we write in order to understand.” – C. Day-Lewis. I keep writing, not for the big book deal, but as a way to sort out, sort through, re-frame and rejoice what goes on inside.



  25. Rosslyn Elliott on October 3, 2008 at 8:17 AM

    >Most of the time, I want to be published for good reasons. Every now and then, though, a much more worldly and self-centered thought will flash into my head about what it might be like to be published. I try to keep my guard up against this kind of desire–to be always very aware of what kind of fantasies are trying to take up residence. In general, I find that staying resolutely focused on the present task is the best way to avoid mental temptations. The act of writing itself is wholesome in its effect on me, so if I’m working, I can think about my novel instead of how I might be “validated” in my own eyes or in the eyes of others by a publishing contract. As others have mentioned, that sense of validation from worldly achievement is illusory, ever-vanishing over the horizon as we pursue it.
    C.S. Lewis writes in The Screwtape Letters that it’s very important for a demon not to let a human being experience a true pleasure–taking a walk in the sunlight, reading a good book. Those true pleasures are emanations of God’s goodness to us, and when we experience them, the scales fall from our eyes and we see what really matters in life. When I feel beseiged by tempting or discouraging thoughts, I turn back to those simple, true pleasures. I may put on my favorite CD and have a cup of tea. I may take a nature walk. And I’ll write, just because I take true pleasure in today’s writing.



  26. Marcie Gribbin on October 3, 2008 at 8:14 AM

    >3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phillipians 1:3-6

    “Here’s the thing,” as TV’s Monk would say. For those of us seeking to make even a miniscule difference for Christ in someone’s life–including our own– with our writing, this passage is encouarging.

    God is faithful, and when our hearts are willing to mold to His will, He is faithful to complete the work He has placed in us. His completed work may not be what we imagined, it may not be publication. It may be making a difference in other writer’s lives, building hope in them, encouraging them, teaching them. To think that being published is the ultimate “completion” is just wrong, though it is a worthy goal.

    But we can have confidence that God will use our efforts to make some difference– some way, some how. He is faithful to complete us, but we must be faithful to work hard at the gift He’s given.

    And so, we’ll keep on keepin’ on, and remain confident in Him.



  27. Cecelia Dowdy on October 3, 2008 at 8:13 AM

    >I can relate to what Timothy is saying, especially the part about being in the room full of people. During my pre-pubbed days, I used daydream about sitting at a table at my booksigning, people coming up to me to buy my books. I used to practice my signature sot that when I got published, I’d have this perfected, polished-looking signature.

    I did get discouraged, but fellowshipping with other writers, going to conferences, and learning the craft really helped me to stay focused on pursuing my goal. I just kept my rejections in a folder (still do). I chalk the rejections up to being learning experiences, or perhaps an opportunity to submit to another publisher or agent.



  28. Timothy Fish on October 3, 2008 at 7:40 AM

    >I have a dream, that someday I will stand before a room full of people at a writer’s conference and they will eagerly seek my help in reaching their goal of writing book for publication. Will that ever happen? God knows. But it doesn’t hurt to dream and someday, when I have a reasonably popular book as my platform, it just might happen. Having a bigger goal helps to make the problems along the way more manageable.

    Suppose an author writes a book and her goal is to get it published. She sends it out and receives rejection after rejection. She will find it difficult to continue because it becomes apparent that she will not reach her goal. But what if her goal is to write several books and have them published? Now when she receives many rejection letters, she can chalk it up to a learning experience and chuck the manuscript. One rejected manuscript isn’t going to kill the dream.



  29. Catherine West on October 3, 2008 at 7:40 AM

    >’mental discipline’ …. hmm … never heard of it.
    :0)
    Since this post makes me once again SO thankful to actually have an agent, I have to say I’m really blessed to be in a position to hopefully encourage others. For me, not giving up was and is possible because of the amazing network of author friends, (both published and still trying to get there), that I belong to. Without that group, American Christian Fiction Writers, I probably would have given up a long time ago. I know I repeat myself a lot on this point, but it’s so important. You HAVE to have a network of like-minded individuals you support you, encourage you, teach you, and pray for you.
    Above all, you have to be teachable.
    Keeping a positive attitude is not always easy, especially when we have to deal with rejection. Having people to talk to that have been there before can be really helpful. The other point I always stress when questions like this are asked is this: know that you are called to write.
    And I mean called by God. It is not enough to want to be a writer, or want to be published. For me at least, I want to be very sure that what I spend my time on is part of God’s plan for my life. Because I believe it is, I am able to stay positive, taking the good with the bad and pressing on, believing that one day all things will work together for good, as He promises.
    Hope that helps someone!



  30. Myowne on October 3, 2008 at 7:03 AM

    >I am one of the 616 (yikes!!! – thanks Rachelle for even looking at it) that sent a proposal. The truth is I got a bit discouraged when I couldn’t sell Rachelle on my book, but I have been sending stuff out for so long (and sometimes not) that for me the connection – the chance to have someone even look at my stuff (resulting in a yes or no) is the part that makes my job as a writer what it is. It’s hard to explain but you just keep pushing and writing and sending and writing and pushing because if you love it, you do it whether you have a bestseller or you just have a manuscript in its embryonic stage. You do it because it matters; writing the words matters. Sending it off for perusal by an editor or an agent matters. Rejection matters too because if you really know like I do that your words have to get out there, you work harder, write better, and seek the connections God has for you in a more deliberate fashion. And in the end (when you get an affirmative response – I have gotten a couple), you realize the work has been worth it.



  31. Mike Dellosso on October 3, 2008 at 5:49 AM

    >Here’s a philosophical question regarding writer’s and persistence: Why do some persist and others give up? I mean, what is it about some people that drives them to keep on with something? Why are some satisfied to go to work, come home and plop down in front of the TV all evening and others are not satisifed with that, they have to be doing something, moving forward, accomplishing, driving themselves ever upward and onward? Is it personality alone? Or is it something more?

    Just something I’ve been thinking about . . .



  32. Gwen Stewart on October 3, 2008 at 3:36 AM

    >Rachelle, is 616 a typo? You meant 316. Right? Yikes. You are one busy woman.

    Rosslyn, as much as I would love to put on a smiley Christian face and give an easy answer to your great question, I can’t do it. I claim my weaknesses so Christ’s power may rest on me—my favorite Bible verse.

    I can’t hide my unwholesomeness from God, much as I would love to. So I own it in prayer. I pray for other writers and myself; if I feel inadequate compared to another writer, I make sure to pray for the other writer. Letting go afterward is the real struggle. I continue to feel almost crippling remorse even after asking for forgiveness—‘If I were a better Christian, I wouldn’t feel that way in the first place’—which I think, rationally, is only partly true. We do become more like Him. We do not become perfect.

    That said, here it is in all its weakness: in my regular and writing life I feel yucky emotions sometimes. I own up to them, plead for forgiveness and know I have it because it’s God’s promise no matter how I feel, get up before dawn every morning and keep putting words on my computer screen though it often hurts just to think of it. Putting words down in the face of struggle is upbeat. Asking for the thorn to be removed, hearing that maybe it won’t be and being willing to go on in Christ’s power is Biblically wholesome. That’s not a sunshine answer, I guess. Such is life in a fallen world, in my humble opinion.



I love words.

I love books and publishing and talking incessantly about them.

I love authors and all the intricacies of managing a writing life.

I sell. I negotiate. I coach. I brainstorm.

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