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What's Your Magic Number?

Everyone has a magic number because everyone gets rejected. This magic number equates to the number of times an author was rejected before they got someone who believed in them enough to give them a chance.


J.K. Rowling's magic number was 12 for Harry Potter.

Alex Haley's magic number was 200 for Roots.

Madeleine L'Engle's magic number was 26 for A Wrinkle in Time.

Kathryn Stockett's magic number was 61 for The Help.

Stephanie Myers magic number was 14 for Twilight.

Nicholas Sparks's magic number was 24 for The Notebook.

Margaret Mitchell's magic number was 38 for Gone with the Wind.

Jack Canfield's magic number was 140 for Chicken Soup for the Soul.


In addition the Da Vinci Code, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Princess Diaries and The Diary of Anne Frank authors all suffered through years of rejection.


Each author on this list of bestsellers has sold millions of books. Think if any of these authors had allowed rejections and negativity to roll them back down the hill, admitting defeat, we wouldn't have these stories which in some cases are American classics.


Every writer knows the road to publishing is an uphill battle filled with rejection. But I am here to tell you (even without a contract yet) that the hill gets less steep and even flattens out in some spots if you keep on trekking up. Sometimes you see a home on the side of the hill, sometimes you make a home on the side of the hill, sometimes the hill plateaus and you have to figure out another way to get up it. Eventually if you keep trying you will make it to the top.


In 2013, I queried a book that got about 50 form rejections. I knew something was wrong with the way the story was unfolding on the pages because I received the same sort of feedback from beta readers and contests judges. This is where my novel plateaued. However after hiring a new editor, I got my work critiqued and went back to the drawing board with the book improving my writing through constant practice and reading. After a huge rewrite, this book is now being re-edited. I think my biggest mistake was querying when neither the book nor I was ready.


Since April 2014, I have been querying a YA dystopian series told from a male perspective called Golden Dreg Boy. I took time to edit the book myself, revise and work with a freelance editor in order to polish my work. It is not perfect, but I think it's good enough to garner a deal. What has reaffirmed my belief in my book/writing are my beta readers, contest feedback and the more personal lines in the rejection letters I have gotten. This is where I have seen a few homes on the side of the hill but none has been right for me. A couple positive lines I received rom agents for Golden Dreg Boy pretty much said my story was interesting but not for them: "I think you have an interesting story here, I didn't quite fall in love with it in the way that I need to in order to take it on." AND "While I think that your idea is very interesting, unfortunately I could not connect with the material in the way that I need to in order to take it on." This is about as positive as querying responses get unless you are asked to submit a partial, full or a revise. Therefore I'm still going to trek up that hill until I find a home for my book. Update: It is now on swoonreads.com, a MacMillan crowdsourcing publishing platform so I am crossing my fingers on this new endeavor.

In 2015, I am also close to querying three more novels vastly different from Golden Dreg Boy, one is going to be revised and resubmitted to an agent per request in about 6 months. Another I had edited and am now revising again. And the last I am being coached on (hands on editing) and will be done revising in a few months. So you see after my first book failed to impress I went back to the drawing board and continued to work that book and write other books. It is a fact that is not always your first book that sells.


Final Thoughts  to Remember When Querying:
1. When making changes to your novel to ready it for querying, don't listen to everything, listen to your gut and what you think will make the story better. Some suggestions may be contradictory so decide what works for you. This is a frustrating and looming process so do it until you can't do it anymore and are happy enough with what you have.


2. Obtaining an agent is very subjective, process. What one agent likes (just like readers) another agent will hate/dislike. I think 99% of obtaining an agent is about finding the right fit. It takes three factors for an agent to give you a chance:


♥ They like your story enough to represent you.
♥ It's a good fit and doesn't conflict with their existing project list.
♥ They see potential in the project and author. Some agents will ask for heavy revisions in rare cases where they really connect with the story.


3. All you need is 1 yes! Forget all the naysayers...let the rejection letters pile up, print them out (since it's mostly emailed rejections now), put them in a bag and place the bag in your closet or under your bed like Meg Cabot (author of Princess Diaries series who received 3 years of rejection letters) until it becomes so heavy you're unable to lift it. Recycle it, or keep it when you find the right fit. If that's not motivation...I don't know what is.


4. The alternative to finding an agent is self-publishing or small press publishing which is becoming more commonmany have championed this road too.


Keep your eyes on the prize and remember if you are an author and want to be published, there is a magic number for everyone. Don't give up!

References: http://www.literaryrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/

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