Thursday, July 29, 2010

Flashback Friday: The Best of Both Worlds: Soothing the Query and Submission Angst!


Welcome to Week Fifteen of Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations. This week on Flashback Friday it's the *cues Miley* Best of Both Worlds!! Okay, maybe not. If you're suffering from querying or submission angst, there's a little something for both of you in Querying Through the Movies and the Soundtrack to Submission.

Ah, the “Q” word—the word that strikes fear and loathing into unagented writers everywhere. The dreaded query. Books are written about how to write the perfect one, agents blog about the right and wrong way, and writers spend hours and shed blood and tears in places like Query Letter Hell over in Share Your Work on Absolutewrite.

Well, this isn’t another “How To Post”….instead it’s a look at querying through some famous movie quotes. So cue the theme to Chariots of Fire as we take a stroll through film.

“May the Force Be With You”—Star Wars
Whatever your own personal beliefs are, you are going to have to cling to something to make it through the query game unscathed. Querying is not for the faint of heart, and it’s trying both emotionally and physically. You need a good support system of family and friends. Writing buddies are extremely helpful because of the old “been there, done that” adage.

“If You Build It, He Will Come”—Field of Dreams

You’ve written your literary masterpiece—toiled long hours, edited, revised, and reworked. And you’re ready to send it out into the world of agents and publishers. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written the next Gone with the Wind or Harry Potter. If your query letter doesn’t shine, your book is never going to see the light of day. So, it is the hope of every query writer that they will build the perfect query letter that will interest a dream agent.

“What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate”—Cool Hand Luke

You’ve just fired off ten to twenty of the query to end all queries. Now it’s time to sit back and field the massive requests. But then it happens. Your inbox represents tumbleweeds blowing in the wind. Yes, it is inevitable that some agents you query will be non-responders. So, no matter how many times you refresh your inbox, potentially giving yourself Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, it won’t matter. They will simply not reply. You must resign yourself to take a couple of deep breaths and step away from the computer.

“As God Is My Witness, I’ll Never Go Hungry Again!”—Gone With the Wind

After several rejections, it’s tempting to throw up your hands and say, “As God Is My Witness, I’ll Never QUERY Again!” However, you can’t do that. You gotta persevere and keep on keeping it on! You’ll never land an agent without querying, and you’ll never land a publishing deal without an agent—unless you call go small publishing route.

“Stay Classy, San Francisco”—Anchorman

Sometimes after receiving a rejection, it’s tempting to fire off a not so “classy” response to the agent. You know a real acid filled rant about why your literary masterpiece SHOULD have been for them. But you gotta take the higher road and listen to Ron Burgundy. Yep, that’s right, STAY CLASSY!

“We’re Not Worthy!”—Wayne’s World
Yeah, I’ll admit that it’s tempting to get a little
star struck when querying. From the uber-famous agents to the not so famous, we seem to forget that agents are people, too. Just remember that you are worthy and your work is worthy to query any agent out there!

So go forth and party on, er, query!!! And GOOD LUCK!!!

Part Deux: The Soundtrack to Submission
Anyone who has been querying or on submission knows it's not an easy process. While lamenting how I was firmly set in the 7th Ring of Hell the other night, I got to thinking about how we have playlists for our books. We sometimes even have the playlists of our lives--you know those songs that meant something to us during special times and places. Well, that got me thinking of if someone were to put together a compilation cd of all the songs that relate to the agonizing process.
Here's Part One of the Cd!

(1). AC/DC's Highway to Hell: Yeah, this might seem excessive, but seriously, it would be numero uno on my list of the Soundtrack to Submission. I spent nine months on the query train a chug, chug, chuggin’ along. I seriously couldn’t imagine anything could possibly be worse, but alas, it is. Maybe it’s what querying nine months did to me in the fact that submission feels like one more hellish crusade.

(2). Queen's Under Pressure: There’s a lot of pressure in the submission process. First, there’s a race to prove yourself. Gotta sell, gotta sell, gotta sell! The sooner the better---you wanna be that person on submission a week or less before having a preempt deal or going to auction. There’s also the pressure to prove yourself to your agent. They chose you out of hundreds—maybe even thousands—of eager beaver applicants. You wanna make them proud and make them realize they were visionaries when choosing you. So besides proving it to yourself and to your agent, you also want to prove yourself to all your family, friends, critique partners etc—all those people who have supported you, loved you, allowed you to go on acidic, demon possessed rants and still talked to you, etc. It’s a heck of a lot of pressure pressing down on you!

(3). Destiny's Child Survivor & (4). Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive: You need some songs to remind you that no matter how hard and how emotionally and physically crippling the submission process might be YOU WILL SURVIVE. Sometimes I just have to put on the headphones and let Beyonce remind me that I’m not going to give up because I’m a survivor!

(5). Eye of the Tiger &
(6). Gonna Fly Now:
It’s hard not to feel like a pumped up conquerer when you hear these two songs from the Rocky movies. Just hearing those trumpets in Gonna Fly Now gives you the image of Rocky Balboa working his ass off to get in shape for the big fight. I totally feel revived when I hear it, and somehow I do my own mental run up those stairs and end in a fist pump…well, not a Jersey Shore fist pump or anything like that, lol.

(7). Don’t Give Up, Never Give Up: I really love this Eagle Eye Cherry song. I first heard it in the Holes movie. It’s not just the jazzy beat of the song that I love; it’s also the lyrics. “All our dreams are gone with a loss of faith. We're still hanging on for another day. It's so hard to see that it's going to get better, and when will that be it's hard to say…..Don’t give up, never give up. We won’t stop giving all we’ve got.”

(8). Sitting in Limbo: I think this song just about sums up the most agonizing part of the submission process….the wait. When you’re querying, it’s like you hold the cards. You research the agents, you query them, and then you wait for their response. When going on submission, it’s completely taken out of your hands. Not only do you have to wait, but you have to wait on many other people to let you know what’s going on with your book. The whole song is great, but I especially love these lines:“Sitting here in Limbo waiting for the dice to roll. Yeah, now, sitting here in Limbo. Still got some time to search my soul. Meanwhile, they're putting up a resistance, but I know that my faith will lead me on."

(9). When the Going Gets Tough….the Tough Gets Going: Yes, the awesome 80’s beat from Billy Ocean. And it’s such a true one. To survive the submission process, you gotta be tough, and when things get really hard and you don’t think you can go on, you gotta just keep persevering.

(10). The Climb: I actually blogged about this song when I was querying. It meant a lot to me then, and it still does now. I like the idea that all the hardship of the querying and submission process will mean something in the long run. It's about keeping a dream alive even when you think it's impossible. As long as there's that little flame flickering within you, the dream can stay alive until it comes to fruition.

*******Psst, next Flashback Friday starts the Arcs of August Contest. Leave a comment on today's post, and you'll get an extra entry for the first ARC. Here's a hint: It's by a way cool author and deals with personal issues, hot guys....oh, and some angels and demons.************


J. L. Jackson said...

My favorite quote is "We're not worthy!" Classic.

Erinn said...

"Stay Classy!"
Really great advice. I've been reading a lot of negative blogs from agents who have been getting snarky comments from rejected writers.

Very awesome post!

Becca said...

"We're not worthy!" Good movie.
And it really is a Highway to Hell. Maybe I should play that song more often when I'm doing anything writing related.

Colleen said...

Great post! I would add Elton John's "I'm Still Standing" to the soundtrack mix. :0P

Horserider said...

Awesome post! My querying song is "Stand" by Rascal Flatts. It's also my "when life gets tough" song.

SM Schmidt said...

Another power ballad for the soundtrack mix is It's Amazing by Jem for this line alone "You're gonna work for it harder and harder"

Anonymous said...

I've felt this angst. You picked the perfect quotes.

Krista Ashe said...

Awesome suggestions Collen, Horserider, and can I call you Schmitty? I will put those on CD #2!!!

Isn't it funny we all have those "go to songs" to get us through. Someone needs to make like a 6 volume set of cd's so when we really get down, we can just pop on the inspiration over and over again!

Krista Ashe said...

Erin, it really is hard sometimes not to hit "REPLY"!! Even the most genteel and well mannered peeps can be tested after a long period of time, lol.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Awesome post!!