Last Wednesday, I fell on my literary sword and emailed seven “high on the book chain” authors, requesting their opinion on why Up Close & Personal, the first in my new domestic suspense series, continues to flounder in a sea of literary agents. The next day, a few hours shy of Chanukah, I revisited my computer to find that four of these illustrious authors had agreed to take time from their busy lives to read a portion/the entirety of my newest manuscript!
It was crazy hard for me to silence my judgmental self, clear my mind, and work my query plan. I reminded myself I am not in physical danger; the worst thing these authors can say is no, it’s not good enough. If you’re like me, you’ve heard that phrase flung in your direction more than once in your lifetime, yet are still alive to tell your story!
You might ask how I could be so bold as to have requested the help of these authors. Even more astonishing, why they would have agreed to offer their help in the first place. Prior to COVID-19, I attended/ facilitated/presented on author panels held at writers conferences throughout the country. Over the years, I saved the business cards of authors whom I heard speak at these conferences. Thus, in the first paragraph of my query, I mentioned where and when we’d met. Perhaps this re-introduction motivated them to read further.
After the introduction paragraph, I took a deep breath, cast my fears and doubts aside, and dove in:
It is anathema for me to ask for a boot up, but given that 286,000 Americans to-date have died from COVID-19, fear of rejection shouldn’t be a stumbling block, right? So I ask you: Could you read a portion/the entirety of my newest manuscript Up Close & Personal, then share with me your “big ideas” feedback on how I can catapult the first of my new domestic suspense series into a literary agent’s lap?
(In the next paragraph, I inserted my two-sentence elevator pitch that described my story-line.)
My humility was authentic. These authors meet hundreds of people at writers conferences; odds are they wouldn’t remember little old me. I thought about what I could offer them in return, should they respond in the affirmative. Here’s what I wrote:
Should you accept, all I have to barter is a) acknowledging you when my book comes out, b) choosing one of your books to discuss at my monthly ZOOM book club, c) interviewing you during my ZOOM book club, and d) enabling you to experience a warm, fuzzy feeling that during these sicko times–and I don’t mean physical–you helped a fellow author overcome her feelings of vulnerability.
I finished my query by listing a deadline for feedback, no matter how little or how much they’d read by that time. The rest, as they say, is history. While I know not what the future hold is regarding Up Close & Personal, what I have learned about myself is that I possess the inner strength to work through my fear of rejection.
I hope that you, too, will brave the winds of self-judgment and fear of rejection, and just do it! Go for your goal, no matter what others may say. Sure, the person you’re reaching out to can shut you down, but you’ll never know unless you try. Trust me. It’s worth the effort….