Thursday, April 1, 2010

Foolish Lessons By Theresa Shadrix

It seems almost typical of my life that April Fool’s Day rolls around and it’s my turn to blog! But, I’m not going to pull a prank or tell a foolish story. Instead I will share a few things I’ve learned about literary agents. Cause the fact I have one seems like a joke.

Lesson One: Agents are people too.
You have to believe in your agent as much as you want him to believe in you. I was signed with Credo Communications on the referral from a friend, who just happened to be a New York Times best-selling author. More importantly, my friend took the time to tell his agent about me and that he thought I would be a great author. Upon meeting my agent, David Sanford, I discovered that we shared a love of the written word and a mission to use our faith in our writing in a fresh, new way. Bottom line is that we understood each other as people, not just as writers.

Lesson Two: The earth doesn’t actually stop revolving after you have a contract with a literary agent.
After signing the contract with my literary agent, my kids and husband gave me high-fives and I might have even jumped up and down a little. Then, I spent quite a lot of time staring at a blank white page. There is something hypnotic about a blank page in Microsoft Word. I once fell asleep after staring too long and I dreamed my laptop talked to me. I only woke up because my legs were so hot from the heat of my laptop. I hate to admit that, for a brief moment, I thought a book about a talking laptop might be interesting.

I don’t even want to calculate the minutes I spent working on that first book proposal and all the brilliant ideas that I came up with during the process. But it seemed worth it all because I was convinced I would soon hold a book with MY NAME on the front cover in my hand. Which leads me to lesson three.

Lesson Three: Just because you think you are brilliant, doesn’t mean publishers do.
After the first rejection of my book proposal, I thought for sure the world would actually stop. I even heard a loud noise from outside my house and I knew it was the end of the world. I walked outside to see if the clouds had blackened and awaited earthquakes and worldwide pandemonium. Instead, I opened the door to see a septic tank truck driving by my house. I’m not sure it was the sign I was looking for.

That brilliant book proposal has had so many rejections now that it doesn’t even faze me. But, to be honest, I was about ready to give up the whole process. I even told my agent that it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if he dropped me. I told him that I think I lacked ambition and I was blessed to have a great job editing a Southern magazine with a literary heart. Then, out of the blue, I heard that a publisher wanted to know more about one of the ideas that I briefly wrote in that not-so-brilliant first book proposal.
So, believe it or not, today I’m going to start the process of writing the new book proposal. Why not? It's April Fool's Day and I've learned a few foolish lessons in this whole book proposal process. Since I'm not famous, I'm going to have to enter the world of publishing the old fashioned way...through prayer, endurance and, maybe, some intense staring.

Just for fun though, I think that I might work in a talking laptop, or even a septic tank repairman somewhere.

Theresa Shadrix is the managing editor of Longleaf Style magazine. Currently, she is represented by Credo Communications and has more ideas for book proposals than shoes in her closet.


Patrick Brian Miller said...

One of my favorite things about this blog is the humor! The inside looks at the publishing world are worth recommending. Plus, the variety of writers keeps it fresh. A good daily blog. It goes so well with my coffee that I would love to buy "A Good Blog Is Hard To Find" coffee cup, if there was one for sale.

Anonymous said...

There's a
lot of blogs out there on the Web, most of which don't entice one to go back regularly to read updates. What is missing from these on-line journals that would essentially make them 'good' blogs? Well, the answers in life usually come down to simplicities. So let's look at the problem like we were children. Children don't complicate life with miscellaneous information, and when they speak they tell you straight to the point exactly how they feel and think about a subject. First of all, we should ask the questions," Why do blogs exist? And what are they here for?" Well, in an ideal
world 'good' blogs would help people connect, sharing knowledge and feelings about issues in life. As they are journals written by individuals we would hope that they'd be readable and open to comment by all other people, not just a select group of friends. The key is speaking in a way that is understandable by the masses, get rid of acronyms and local slang that only few will comprehend. Keep the sentences grammatically simple and generally short and concise. Try to write in your blog
as often as possible because if people enjoy reading your thoughts and ideas they'll want to communicate or at least be filled in regularly on 'your world'. Ask questions, comment on other blogs of similar content, start communities with others you've never met, based on your interests. Keep focused; if your blog is about thoughts on war and peace, keep your thoughts on the latest movie and how hungry you are for somewhere else