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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

New Book Update: Celebrate the “Best of Luck” Letters

Long ago I called them “rejection letters;” more recently I called them “letters of declination” – as in “We decline the opportunity to represent your fiction;” now I call them “best of luck letters” – as in “I wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.”

What you call these letters from agents and editors makes a big difference in your resilience and persistence.

When an agent takes the time to mention specifically why my novel isn’t a good fit for them, it’s easier to hear the encouragement in “keep trying” and the “best of luck in your search for representation” wishes in the final line.

I’m making a conscious choice to focus on the good luck agents wish me. The more queries I send out, the more good luck they send my way and, more importantly, the more opportunities I create to find an agent who is a good fit.

I’m able to make this choice thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda.

My Fall Epiphany

Claudia and I saw Hamilton in mid-September. I listened to the sound track nearly every day for a month after that until it hit me: I need to be more Hamilton, less Burr!

I shared this revelation with Claudia, explaining, “One of the first things Burr says to Hamilton is ‘Talk less, smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.’

“Burr’s big solo is ‘Wait for It’ about how he’s willing to wait for love. But Hamilton takes risks, he doesn’t care if he’s rejected, he just keeps going after what he wants. I’ve been just waiting for this one agent to respond. I need to send more queries.”

That I needed to send more queries was not an epiphany – I know the standard wisdom about querying.

The epiphany was in recognizing how very willing I was to ‘wait for it’.

Claudia asked me why I was waiting, if there was something I was resisting. I didn’t want rejection, of course. She sensed there was something more than that at play.

Reluctantly, I recalled that the last advice I’d gotten from an agent in an online class was to refine my logline. My recollection was reluctant because the logline had me stumped. For years.

In mid-October, powered by Lin-Manuel and Claudia, I pushed myself to look yet again for a logline for my novel. I re-read the advice about loglines, read sample loglines, drafted, scratched out, revised, started over and over, until…

I finally found one!

Stubbornly self-sufficient Peregrine Bird wants be left alone to distill Essence – whisky that intensifies sexual pleasure and creates telepathic bonds – but when her only child is detained by a military torture squad she must decide if her loyalty is to her daughter or to her mother and grandmothers, or to the sentient planet Path Herself.

The first week of November, I sent out three queries. The next week I sent four. The third week of November, I sent one and closed the office for the holiday.

The queries are paying off already. On Black Friday, I got my first “Best of Luck letter.” Thank you, Anne Tibbets, for your prompt and encouraging reply.

This week, more Hamilton. I’m shooting for five queries this week. I heard the lyric, “I am not throwing away my shot” in my head as wrote this post and as I sent three of this week’s queries. I’m certain I’ll keep hearing it as I prepare and send the next two.

I am not waiting. I’ll keep shooting for more “Best of Luck letters” until I find an agent who doesn’t need to wish me luck because we’re a fit.

I’m curious. Please comment about what you call letters from agents and editors, what you do to remind yourself you’re not throwing away your shot, and/or what music or other art forms keep you motivated and moving.

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2 Comments on “New Book Update: Celebrate the “Best of Luck” Letters”

  1. ayalah67 November 27, 2018 at 8:19 am #

    so awesome. 😀😀😀😀


    • rosannebane November 27, 2018 at 9:47 am #

      Thank you ayalah67. I assume you mean the post in general, but if you meant my new logline, Yippee!


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