Wednesday, August 02, 2006


My last post was about the professional rejections I receive as an agent, so I think it's only fair to note that I actually do send my own writing out to magazines. I face the same slushing and rejection process that everyone else does (with one notable exception), and none of my fiction has been published to date. One of these days I'm going to write a novel, but don't look for it any time soon... I write at the pace of glaciers moving.

Currently, I have a story at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, which has been sitting there since September 9, 2005. Yes, September 9th, people, because Scott Card wanted to read it himself (since I attended his Boot Camp) and he never had any time. Now, Scott has turned the magazine's editorial duties over to Edmund Schubert, who is a fine fellow. I know that Edmund is reading the whole backlog of submissions, so I am eagerly awaiting my rejection from him any day.

It's one of my current obsessions. In between work-related tasks and and phone calls to people, I constantly check my Gmail account--all I've been getting is the frequent flier specials for various airlines. I feel so loved. Yet, even though I know that I'm most likely going to get rejected, I can't stop myself from checking because there's always the chance that a happy e-mail will show up...

So to distract myself, I've been indulging my other current obsession, which is listening to The Killers' new single, "When You Were Young". It's an awesome song that channels their glam-punk sound, and mixes it with Springsteen-esque tones. I adore it. It's been playing in the background all day, over and over. If you go to AOL Music, you can check it out; be forewarned that their bitrate isn't very high.


Jodi Meadows said...

Heee. I'm an obsessive gmail checker, too. The notifier and having the window open always so I can see that little (1) if I get something--that just isn't enough! I have to refresh. Just in case I get a happy email in that one minute period where the website and notifier aren't obsessively checking. You never know!

And *!!!* September 9? Maybe you'll get to celebrate your one year anniversary. You could send an e-card!

*refreshes gmail*

gabe said...

I'm only obsessive if I am expecting an email. If I have been corresponding with someone and I am waiting on their response then I tend to get all antsy. When it's a submission, though, I have developed a 'set it and forget it' attitude. Thanks Ron Popeil!

James Dashner said...

Wow, I thought I was the only psycho-email-checker-maniac-person. Man, it's always great to hear other people are just as obsessive as me.

Did you guys see that Dean Koontz interview on the fish bowl thingy? He said he resisted and resisted the internet and email, but finally got it eight months ago. He also said he writes six or seven days a week, ten hours a day. Interesting guy.

Jenny, trust me, we feel your pain on the email checking. You're not alone!!!!!! (But you are psycho, just like the rest of us)

We'll all cross our fingers for you to get that story published with Card. Of course, you already have been published by him, so you should feel grand.

Scott Washburn said...

Rejections can be hard, but there are things that are much worse than rejections. What, you ask? Well, having your hopes built up and then dashed. Not false, pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking hopes, but real, reasonable, this-can-really-happen hopes. When it comes to those, I’m an expert.

While I was writing my first novel I happened to meet an up and coming author. That was about seven years ago and this guy is now one of the hottest authors in the SF&F scene. Go to any bookstore and you’ll find a whole shelf of his books. He’s got 40+ in print and he’s under contract for at least 20 more with major publishers. Anyway, for some reason he took an interest in me and asked (he asked me) to read my newly finished SF novel. He read it and said to me: “Scott, you can get this published. It’s as good at most of the stuff out there today. I’ll send it to my own publisher.” Well, I was flabbergasted. Not only did I have an important endorsement, but I’d bypassed the slush pile—and all before I had my first rejection slip. I was on Cloud 9. Of course, I realized it might still be a while before the publisher got around to looking at it, but that was okay. I was already working on my next novel. Well, a year went by and there was no word, but I’d finished up novels 2 and 3 (all of them separate, no sequels here). I asked my friend if he’d take a look at them and he agreed. He thought the second one was even better than the first and he immediately asked the publisher to read that one instead and he agreed. The third one he felt had some problems, but he said that when (not if, when) his publisher bought my other novel(s) he would make a pitch for us to do a collaborative series based on my third novel. I couldn’t believe it. A real good chance of making my first sale and then an offer to do a collaboration with a major author. A whole career ready and waiting.

But, as I’m sure you know, none of that ever happened. Despite my friend’s expectation (and influence) the publisher did not buy my novels and there was no collaboration. It was a hard blow, but that wasn’t even the end of it. My friend continued to try and help me out and about a year later he met a publisher at a con and got him interested in my work. Now this was not a major publisher, but still respectable. You can find their books on the shelves of your local Barnes & Noble. So he read one of my novels and wonder of wonders, he wanted to buy it. Great! Fantastic! A foot in the door at last which could lead to bigger things. Just one little catch, they were having a small cash-flow problem and couldn’t make me a hard offer for a few months. Okay, I can wait. As it happened, this same novel had been at Tor for a year and I was asked to withdraw it from there so there would be no simultaneous submission problems. I did so and then waited. And waited and waited. It’s years later now and no offer ever materialized. Another dashed hope.

And not the last one. Two years ago another author friend got his own agent to read one of my novels and she agreed to take me on as a client. This was great, no more slush piles! Many new publishers who had been closed to the unagented were now available. And this was a big time agent, too. She was president of an old and venerable New York literary agency which has big clients and even represents the estates of some very famous dead authors. But my agent didn’t really know SF&F all that well… So, she circulates my novel to all of four publishers and after getting several ‘we really like this and five years ago we would have bought it, but now it doesn’t fit our marketing strategy’ responses she decided that my work wasn’t right for the current market and she wasn’t going to try and sell any of my seven finished novels until the market changed or I wrote something “different”. So, the third big hit.

Now I’m back to the slush pile route, trying to sell my novels on my own. But rejection slips seem like nothing compared to the other stuff I’ve had happen to me. When I get one I just laugh: “A Rejection? Is this the worst you can do? Ha! I’ve had far worse!”