This is another spin-off success from one of our Baker's Dozen authors (#45, The Black City, for anyone who wants to go back and snoop). In her own words:
A friend and longtime follower of Authoress’s blog persuaded me to enter the Baker’s Dozen contest. She had a lot more faith in my book than I had, because I’d already written two manuscripts that went nowhere. I gave myself pep talks to combat the pessimism, but my hopes weren’t high. The day of the auction, I planned to settle my pregnant self into bed and eat copious amounts of chocolate while clicking “refresh” continuously for hours. Imagine my surprise when, much like Tracy Holczer’s success story, the auction was over before I got home from taking my daughter to school!
Once the one-week exclusive was up, I sent out a few queries. Two writer friends referred me to their agents, and there were other requests through the Baker’s Dozen. Many agents requested fulls, and I was thrilled, but with each successive rejection I began to get discouraged.
What I did about the rejection blues:
1. Even if the agent only wrote two vague lines about what wasn’t working, I thought long and hard about those two lines, and wondered what I could do to improve my story.
2. (And this is very important!) When I felt too discouraged to go on, I’d go back to my entry page in the auction and read the comments. They weren’t unanimously flattering, but they were unanimously encouraging. Eventually I copied and pasted everyone’s comments into a “SEB” (Self-Esteem Booster) document.
A few months passed. I revised based on the feedback from my initial queries. I got a revise & resubmit request from an agent. I revised once more, and queried again.
Then I had a baby. A few days later, I received a full request from Brandi Bowles, with Foundry Literary + Media. I’d added her to my agent list two years before, after reading an amazing interview of her on another blog.
I (mostly) forgot about the full request. I thought of querying more agents, but in the new baby haze, with my three-year-old running around the house, there really wasn’t time. Choosing agents, verifying submission guidelines, all of that seemed like too much.
My baby was only two months old when Brandi wrote back, raving about my book and outlining some basic revisions she had in mind. We spoke on the phone the next day, and I loved her ideas for my book. Most of all, I loved her enthusiasm!
Here’s the twist: my baby is a boy, and my entry was the one where all the baby boys die. I never could have written this book after having my son!
Oh, and I put Brandi’s acceptance email into my SEB document, right below the encouragement I received from this community.