Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Another Indirect Success Story!

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. 


  1. Awwww! That's one of the sweetest success stories I've seen here. Congratulations on your new baby and new agent! Continued success...

  2. I love the Self Esteem Booster doc. I do something similar, but I've never taken it to that level! Maybe I should...

  3. I love this. What a great story, and it's very encouraging.

    Congrats on the agent and the new baby. Baby boys are the best!

  4. Congrats on both of your "babies"!

  5. Woohoo! This is a terrific story, which makes sense, because you had a terrific entry in the Baker's Dozen. Many congratulations!

  6. I'm so glad you entered! How long before it starts to get annoying when I say, "I told you so!"?

  7. Congratulations!!

    I love that you went back and re-read the positive comments to encourage yourself. Often times we focus on what's not working, but it's also important to think about the positives.

  8. Congratulations, Beth. And a Self-Esteem Booster doc is such a great idea.

  9. Congratulations on the new baby and your success! I remember that entry. It was awesome! I can't wait to see it on a shelf someday.

  10. Congratulations, Beth!

    I love your SEB doc idea and reading about your experience.

    The timing twist is SO cool!

    All the best to you and your babies!

  11. Thank you everyone! More fodder for that SEB document. :) The idea for a positive-feedback file came from Veronica Rossi, by the way, in one of her YA Muses blog posts.

    And KC Held - yes, you told me so! And it won't ever get annoying.

  12. What a wonderful, encouraging success story! Thank you for sharing.

  13. You got this Beth :) I can't wait to see your world in print and on a shelf!