Saturday, January 3, 2009

My Big Sur Rollercoaster Ride (Part Two)

First off, Happy New Year everyone! Hope it's been a great one so far. Everyone get a chance to read Part One? Good.

So, where was I? Ah yes, dinner on Saturday night. Well, I ended up sitting at the same table as the aforementioned Editor again (I swear I wasn't stalking him; on Saturday night he actually approached ME as we were walking into the banquet room). We had another great dinner, and when I started talking with the people next to me about what I write, The Editor piped in from a couple seats down and said, "and he writes it very well." Well how about that? That little comment from him gave me the confidence to eventually ask the ultimate question. I'll get to that in a bit.

As dinner wore on, the subject of Agent MS, who I've submitted a partial to, came up, and The Editor mentioned that he was good friends with him. More good news, right? After hearing that, a little seed planted itself in my mind about how I might maximize the potential of the weekend. But it was a seed that would only blossom if watered with some courage.

After dinner, there was a fantastic Q & A with all of the editors that were in attendance. They talked about publishing/submitting in general, the absolute necessity of an agent, and the state of the children's book industry in this economy. Good news, folks: while every other division of the publishing industry might be hurting horribly, the children's sector is perfectly fine. They said that history has shown that children's books have never suffered too harshly, even in a recession/depression, because children always need to read. So the editors are all absolutely still acquiring, and the agents are all absolutely still looking for new authors.

Okay, back to my little seed. Let me preface this with why I was slightly nervous: When we were in our second critique group with The Editor, one of the members asked that if we worked REALLY hard and revised our work, could we maybe submit to him? He answered with a flat, "Absolutely not," that was sorta joking-but-serious, then said bye and walked out of the room without another word. I talked to him later about that and he felt kinda bad about it, but I actually thought it was quite hilarious. But you can see that he's not afraid to say no, and how that might make me nervous. Now, while sitting at dinner, I thought what better way to give my book a little nudge towards success than a couple approving words from a major editor. So after a couple quick self-pep talks, I approached The Editor and said, "I was wondering, and feel free to say absolutely not, but if I could maybe get your stamp of approval to send a quick update email to Agent MS saying that you enjoyed my material."

He replied instantly with an, "Absolutely! Tell him I enjoyed it and am interested in it, and you can tell him that I told you to say it."

So there you have it; I obviously got on the computer right away and emailed Agent MS with the update. I still haven't heard back from him, but I know he's very busy and I've gotten used to waiting. But NOW, even if I do get a rejection this time, I'll be able to include in my query that The Editor has expressed interest in my manuscript. Talk about your Ace in the Hole for getting something read.

The next day we had our final critique group. At that point my weekend had been made and I didn't really care how this one went, but it actually went really well, and added a very nice little extra positive spin to coast into that final section of the insane rollercoaster that was my Big Sur Weekend. It sure made the next week in Disney World a lot sweeter.

(P.S., Sorry it took so long for Part Two; I've been in Colorado since the day after Christmas without access to a computer. Sheesh, I feel like I'm always apologizing for taking too long to post things; maybe I need to be more disciplined.)


Graeme Stone said...

Tyler that sounds great. I was totally in suspense, wondering if maybe you'd gotten stuck in Underground Disney or something. More and more, I'm hearing/learning that conferences are where there is a is where doors are opened, not where contracts are signed. Writers,editors, and agents love to socialize, get out of their ruts and offices. But it sounds like you got a lot out of it, and you’re charming without strong-arming which is the way to work it. I can’t wait to hear what happens next, and have begun submitting work myself. Congrats on going and going through the process. I don’t think it’s ever easy to show your work, but if you leave it in a drawer, who will see it?

Tyler said...

It's funny, showing my work to people has never been difficult for me. When I wrote the first draft of my first novel, I let several of my friends read it before I'd even read a page. Heck, I was proud of it! Then I went back to rewrite and saw how godawful it was, and was like, "NOOO!!! Please, I'm a better writer than that!"

Of course, it's a completely different story having a big name professional read it, but I think we all read enough to know what we like, and if we really, truly like our book, then someone else has got to. Right??

But yes, conferences/workshops are invaluable. I haven't gone to a single one where I haven't come away with being in an exponentially better position towards becoming published than I was prior to the conference.

Graeme Stone said...

So are you writing?
Houston, we need a status report.