Month: March 2020

How I landed an agent/Part One

Never in my life did I believe that I’d be blessed to get an agent. I tried for fourteen years. That’s really hanging in with thinking positively. I want to share my journey with you with my different stages.

I’ve completed my first fictional The Rusty Years; The Remembrance of Being Young. It will have a sequel with Book Two being The Rusty Years; Secrets Revealed. It’s about a ninety-two-year-old woman who looks back on her younger years during the Great Depression. She wants answers on why she lost her true love and had to make a hard, painful decision to keep their baby or give it up for adoption. He had no idea of her pregnancy when she leaves Chatham, Massachusetts for Manhattan, NY. It was the 1930s and being pregnant and single during those years left a black mark on a woman. 

As we all know being authors, I did editing so many times until I was crossed-eyed.  I’m surprised my fingers still work. I decided it was time to end the book, and if it needed more editing, which I’m sure it would, I’d let an editor, an agent or publisher help me. I started to send queries to tons of publishers and agents. Yes, I too can wallpaper my room with the rejection letters. 

After six months or longer, I had an agency A.M. Heath from London request the whole manuscript. It’s been close to six weeks and no reply. Hopefully, no reply is better than a rejection. I’m used to their emails, “Great story but not for us. Don’t give up another publisher or agency may want it, etc.” I have to sit back and hold my breath for their decision. 

Meanwhile, I took two of my books offline to republish under a different title. I was scared to death to make the move and call Amazon to do so. Especially, What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict because I LOVED the book cover. This was my first Narrative Non-Fiction. 

We will never know if we don’t take a chance. One of the co-founders of our group Authors Without Borders always says when we meet, “You just never know.” That’s a true statement. I truly believed, and still do, doors open when you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right person. You can be book signing with five or fewer attendees and that one person can be at your event to get you where you need to be to help you.

In-between querying for my fictional, I searched agents and publishers to help me “republish” the addiction book to get into schools and educational programs. 

It’s written by thirty-four alcoholics and drug users from the USA and Canada telling their stories on what works and doesn’t for them in recovery. It needs a home with a publisher that will help me get it into the health system. I researched to find out why some substance abusers recover and put their lives together while others die from this horrible, worldwide problem. After losing my husband and daughter from their addictions, I wanted to know what I could have done differently. What are doctors, counselors, family members, and society doing wrong? What can we change? To get the answers, I had to go directly to the source; the substance abusers themselves. I needed to get into their mindset.

It’s not easy for publishers wanting to republish a book unless you’re selling tons. Agents are uncomfortable with being able to find someone wanting to take it over. I kept at it. Yes, it gets depressing. 

I wrote to agent, Nancy Rosenfeld, from AAABooks Unlimited of Illinois and got her attention. Hoping, and I mean hoping, to deliver a good hook, I started out giving my background and profile. I’m lucky through the years building my platform. When I got to all the information laid out for her, my first line was, “This may sound like a crazy request but do you republish book?” 

Signing a contract wasn’t something I jumped right into with excitement and with blinders on, which I would have done in my early years of writing. We had at least four months of talking and debating on services. Years ago, I never would have thought an author could disagree with an agent and keep their interest. She loved the topic and had checked my background online. I watched her website for growth all those months to make my mind us if she was the one. Remember one important thing if you are faced with deciding on an agent. “They work for you!?” I’m lucky, Nancy had been impressed. 

I will continue my story with my next blogging. 

Alberta

*** How did I build my platform with one book? In 2006, I published my first A Healing Heart; A Spiritual Renewal, later republished with Riverhaven Books to A Spiritual Renewal: A Journey to Medjugorje. Around ten years later, I listened, and still do, to Steven Harrison, who gives talks and workshops by registering with him online. He got my attention by wanting to tell the listeners the difference with a poor and rich author.

Here’s what he said. “A poor author is someone who is content with just getting book signings, or with luck, getting the book on the shelves of bookstores. A rich author is one who says, ‘What else can I do with my talent?’” I started by a request of a library director, asking me to teach a workshop when my book got published on how I did it. I had twenty-eight attendees and my knees shook. I now teach three different workshops for writers. 

A year after Lori died, I went to Gosnold Rehabilitation Center where she had gone twice, and gave a talk about “The Effects of Alcoholism on the Whole Family.” I accomplished that after I had a breakdown crying in the counselor’s office from the emotions of being where Lori had been. I pushed myself after asking God to help me get through this engagement.

I joined three other authors and we co-founded Authors Without Borders (www.awb6.com). I became a producer, director, and co-host to the NBTV-95 Cable TV show in New Bedford, MA. I’ve written for seven years for The Cape Cod Today Blog. I appear on cable show, radio stations, blog radio, I write for newspaper. That’s a rich author.

It took me 14 years with all this to hook an agent. I have no idea how this will turn out, but I truly want you to follow my steps and learn what I’m experiencing and if it was worth it. 

Alberta

A thought you’d enjoy this read sent to me.

Hi Bookfoxers,

I’m going to be real with you.

I’ve experienced an enormous amount of rejection. Not the “I’ve been rejected 10 times” type of rejection. Not the “I’ve been rejected 100 times” type of rejection. No, I’m talking four-figures worth of rejection. Anybody who is anybody has said no to me.

As of today, I’ve gotten 1781 rejections for my writing. Yep, that’s 1781 times that someone has read my work and said, “Nope, this isn’t good enough.” 

I don’t like to share that. Because I feel like as an author and teacher and editor, I have to project this aura of invincibility: “Look at me! I’ve figured out how to do this! I’ve published books and won big contests and I am the greatest!”

But the truth is that for every contest I’ve won, I’ve racked up hundreds of other rejections. For every book I’ve published, I’ve gotten many, many emails from publishers saying, “You’re not good enough.”

And I guarantee that I’m not alone. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you about their failures as well.

But you shouldn’t just suffer under the weight of rejection — you can learn from it! 

Here are 6 things that I’ve learned from amassing an Everest-sized pile of rejections:

  1. Just because one publisher/agent doesn’t like your story doesn’t mean anything. It might be right for someone else. Taste is a huge factor in stories, and you just need to find the right tastemaker.
  2. You are not a unique snowflake for piling up thousands of rejections. You are merely living the writing life. If you think you’re abnormal, you’ll beat yourself up, but if you think of this as the normal course of becoming a writer, you’ll endure it with fortitude.
  3. Don’t get gun shy because you get a rejection. Revise it, then send it out to 10 more places. It’s natural to avoid things that hurt, but the solution is not to stop submitting, but stop allowing the rejections to hurt you. Armor-clad your writing confidence.
  4. Your self-worth does not depend on acceptances. Not even your worth as a writer depends on acceptances. You’re a writer because you write, and your writing will, in the proper time, find its way to the right readers.
  5. You can’t avoid rejection by self-publishing. Yes, you won’t be rejected by agents or publishers, but you will struggle to find readers, and get rejected in the marketing process (with attempts to get book reviews!) and get bad reviews sometimes. Every writer has to have a system to deal with rejection, not just those seeking traditional publication.
  6. Sometimes rejection tells you that you are writing the wrong thing. Maybe you need to switch genres, maybe you need to write something shorter or longer. Don’t keep pounding your head against the wall — pivot and try something a little different.

Never rejecting myself,

John Matthew Fox

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John Matthew Fox, Children’s Books and Short Stories