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You Gotta Be In It To Win It

May 8, 2012

In the spirit of last week’s inspirational posts, and thanks to my LDStorymakers conference-high (I said conference high; I got with the program.), I have one last bit of inspirational wisdom to share.

So, you gotta be in it to win it. Why is Michelle talking about the Lottery?

Wait, is Michelle saying that I have a greater chance of winning the lottery than I do of getting published??

Wait, why is Michelle talking in the third person???

Oh yeah, she does that when she’s exhausted. But it’s really annoying. Totally. Ok, switch it up. Done. (I don’t know for sure, but that may have been a conversation between two Michelles talking to themselves in the third person(s?), also known as the 6th people).

Ehneewayyy, I (Michelle) don’t know the exact odds, but I’m going to guess that it’s not true. You know, that thing about it being harder to get published than to win the lottery. Maybe close, but not quite true.

But the point—yes, believe it or not there is a point—is that with both of them, you gotta be in it to win it.

So where is this coming from? Well, as I said, I just got home from LDStorymakers conference (which was awesome, thanks for having me) and I requested a bunch of material from people I met there—in pitches, in the hallways, on the elevators, and so on.

But get this: my conference experience has been that less than half the people I request material from will actually send it.

WHAT?!?!?!

But, but…but I’m dying to get a request to send a partial to an agent.

I know you are. But still, less than half the people will actually send me the material I requested.

In fact, let me tell you the sad tale of Jessie.

Jessie sat at my table at dinner on Friday night and said, “I’m pitching to you tomorrow.” I said, “Great! Looking forward to it.”

Jessie and I then proceeded to have (what I thought was) a really great time at dinner with one of my clients, Kasie West, sitting between us and a bunch of other conference attendees at our table.

We laughed, we told stories, etc. etc.

Saturday arrives, pitches are going fast and furious, and my timekeeper comes in to tell me that the next person canceled and I have a break.

It just so happens that the person right before had given an excellent pitch and I’d rushed her out. So I said call her back if you can catch her. And we spoke for 10 more minutes. (Brief aside: please note, I didn’t instantly jump at the chance for that 10 minute break although I do value my break time. I’m there to meet writers and I’m excited to do so.)

But later I looked more closely at the name of the person who had stood me up and—you guessed it—it was Jessie.

Holy crap, I thought. I guess she really didn’t like me!!

So later, I saw Jessie with Kasie and some of the others. “What happened???” I cried.

Actually, that’s a total lie. I didn’t do that.

I whispered to Kasie that Jessie had stood me up. I said I wondered what happened. Kasie gave me a look like I know we’re all totally ridiculous but we’re authors and we can’t help ourselves and said that Jessie thought she had offended me the night before.

Um, can we say totally stunned??

Without bothering with the details (I know, totally unlike me but this story is getting kind of long), I will say that I confronted Jessie (keep in mind it was the end of the conference and I was kind of exhausted, and I might have yelled a little bit) and told her she was COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS!!!!!

We’d had a great time at dinner. Because I didn’t 100% agree with her on one comment she thought I was offended?? She’s a lawyer for goodness sake. She argues with people for a living. And we didn’t even argue.

Just cut out the ridiculousness, people. Please.

What is the worst that can happen? I won’t like your book and won’t represent you. But if you never tell me about it, then you’ll never know. If you never send it to me, you’ll never know.

Only you can decide if you believe in yourself and your writing enough to honestly, actively pursue publication. But if that’s the path you’re taking, then don’t let stupid stuff stand in your way.

Agents WANT new clients. Agents want AMAZING new clients. Maybe that’s you. Maybe not. But if you don’t send your manuscript out when an agent requests it, then you’ll never know if that amazing new client could have been you.

Don’t stand in your own way.

You gotta be in it to win it.

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35 Comments
  1. This is hilarious. Writers are silly.

  2. I always think that every chance taken is potential in motion and I LOVE that feeling. And the rejection increases your chances of learning to get it closer to right. Go for it…always!

  3. tbronley permalink

    Wow! I had thought I’d offended an agent I pitched to once. So instead of worrying about what she was thinking I went into my pitch and apologized if I had been rude.
    Amazingly enough, she didn’t think I was rude for going up and introducing myself, somewhat interrupting her conversation with another agent. She was surprised more people didn’t speak to her, actually.
    Thanks for coming out to LDStorymakers. Didn’t get to meet you, but I appreciated the comments you gave with the panels you were on.

  4. I was at a RWA chapter retreat a couple of weekends ago and one of the agents was telling us that the woman sitting next to her on the plane pulled out a manuscript. What are the odds? Agent gets excited, asks “is that a manuscript?” And the lady stuffs it back into her bag. Whhuuttt? Pure crazy! 🙂

  5. I’m sick that there was an opening I didn’t know about. I was on the waiting list for you for ages and was hoping and yes, even praying, that something would open up so I could meet with you. Stupid, stupid Jessie. She wasted what could have been MY pitch session!

    Anyway, thanks for being at the conference and would love an opportunity to pitch to you for ten minutes. I think there’s a place for the manuscript I’m working on and felt like you were the best option there for it. I figured I’d just add mine to your slush pile when I get it finished, but if you want to know more about it sooner than later, I’d love a chance to talk to you about it.

    I definitely want to be in it!

  6. Tim Barzyk permalink

    I can not even IMAGINE going to a conference and cancelling an appointment with an agent! Especially (at the risk of brown-nosing) someone like YOU, and ESPECIALLY if there’s some precedent, like dinner the night before! AAARRRGGHHH! What the fudge!?

    Rest assured, I would never do that. I hope no serious writer with an eye towards publication would.

  7. All I wish is that I were actually at LDS Storymakers. Sounds like an AMAZING conference. A couple of my crits were there and they were talking it up like crazy. I would love to get a chance to pitch something to you or any agent that I happened to have dinner with. *dreams*

  8. I would LOVE to send you a manuscript to fill in for those 50% of crazies out there. Let me know. 😉 It involves superheroes. Just sayin’.

  9. HALF?!?!? This stuns me.

    Writers are funny people.

  10. Erin Apelu permalink

    LDStorymakers was awesome. I had an incredible time pitching to you (lucky for me I was #2 on your first day of pitches–before you were worn out. And lucky you requested material from both my MS–lots and lots of screaming on this end!!). I too know Jessie. I ran into her Friday night and heard the reason she was nervous. Never found out what happened after that. I’m sorry for both of you. So what happened when you confronted her?

    • Erin Apelu permalink

      Oh, and no worries– I WILL be sending both my MS to you!! I’m a woman of my word.

  11. We are crazy, insecure, irrational people sometimes. This is how we can write emotions so well in our books. Because we feel them all to a very large degree. 🙂 I love Jessie. I think you properly yelled at her and now humiliated her. I have a feeling she won’t repeat this mistake. Ha. Jessie (in case you’re reading) you are not only fun but gorgeous. Own it. 🙂

  12. helamangallery permalink

    I just subscribed to you blog and this is the first post I’ve read—let me just say that it’s excellent!

    Thanks for sharing, and keep it coming.

  13. I second-third-fourth what Kasie said about writers being irrational. Not that Michelle would know A THING about how my irrationality manifests.

  14. I know writers aren’t supposed to be scared to pitch to agents, but dang – it’s a scary thing! I pitched to another agent (umm…sorry?) and I almost didn’t go because I was afraid I’d pass out…but I went. Jessie should have, too.

  15. Glad you were there at Storymakers! (No, I didn’t get brave enough to introduce myself. I babbled on Twitter instead. Sigh.) Really enjoyed the slush pile and agent/editor panels on Saturday. Hope you find some amazing gems among the submissions that come in from your pitch sessions!

  16. Ditto Kasie. 🙂 What fools these mortals be, right? (Especially insecure, nervous authors.) As I said on Twitter, you make a good point about going for it. The worst that can happen is the agent will say no. If you never try, you’ll never know.

    • P.S. To clarify in case this got misinterpreted (because I’ve been afraid all evening that it could be), I wasn’t saying Jessie is a fool. I don’t think she is at all. I think she’s a lovely, beautiful person and I am so glad she’s sending her submission in (yay, Jessie!). I (sort of) quoted Shakespeare because we all make mistakes–we are all fools at sometime or another–but in this case, I was doing it in reference to the 50% who let their fear or insecurities keep them from a great opportunity. And I include myself in the teasing, because I, like all of us, definitely have to deal with my own fears and insecurities, especially when it comes to writing. I have acted the fool on many occassions. So, good for you Jessie and I truly hope Michelle LOVES your book! 🙂 And like Michelle said, be in it to win it everyone–but not at the expense of someone else.

  17. Aurelia Blue permalink

    I too am dissapointed that a slot went unfilled in the AMAZING CHANCE OF A LIFETIME to pitch to YOUR AWESOMESAUCYNESS. I wasn’t there. But I have a great paranormal romance of a book and as soon as you open your agency to submissions again: I am THERE. That said, dear sweet Jessie, you really, really, LIKE REALLY, need to OWN it. Who cares if they don’t like you?! A professional doesn’t need to like you if you’re willing to work hard. And if you’ve committed to a conference and made the trip, I’m willilng to bet you’re a hard worker. I’m betting good writerly intuition that you’re book is really good. Shop that baby ’til you drop! INVEST in YOU, and others will too. ❤

  18. Jessie,
    Have I shamed you into submitting yet?? 😉

    You gotta be in it to win it.

    xo,
    Michelle

  19. Wow, a private email would have sufficed! But I get it. And believe me, I’m in it to win it. Consider me shamed. I guess I should have mentioned that my story is about a girl serial killer who knows the law. Maybe you would have appreciated this B-Word lawyer not showing up to freak you out, argue, or offend. 🙂 My submission will be on its way.

    • Awesome. Can’t wait to read it. 🙂

    • Aurelia Blue permalink

      YAY, JESSIE!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Sorry I’m belated in posting this, just now read it. But good for you, girl! Good for you! 🙂

  20. Yay Jessie, way to own it like a ROCK STAR!! (Or something…) I was so glad to read this response. 🙂 Anyway, you go girl! If Michelle does end up offering, this is going to make for one heck of a “how I get my agent” story!

  21. Erin Apelu permalink

    Jessie!
    I agree with Kasie, you ARE GORGEOUS! Way to show Michelle 😉 . I can vouch for your writing, it totally rocks!

  22. Anonymous permalink

    A private email would have been far more appropriate than publicly shaming a potential author and name-dropping.

    • Jessie now has a much more captive audience with an agent than she would have had. I know I’d be happy to weather a public shaming to have an agent begging me for a manuscript. I doubt Jessie is complaining.

      • Anonymous permalink

        Totally no disrespect meant by my comment! I hope it works out for all parties.

  23. tbronley permalink

    I gotta say, it sounds like Michelle was looking for this woman and was excited to read her work. If an agent went after me like this, I’d be sorry for missing an opportunity and grateful for having the attention for another one.

  24. Really sad that I missed this conference. I didn’t even know about it, though I live in Lehi, like 20 minutes from Provo. I just moved to Utah from Nashville, had a baby, and finished two novels that I’m ready to pitch. The catch is that I just got back into the swing of looking around for agents on Monday (I didn’t even realize there was such a flourishing community of writers here, like an idiot, and I’ve been looking for one!). Anyway, maybe you’ll attend next year and I’ll be on top of things and be there too!

    I think I grasp entirely how Jessie felt. I vacillate between loving my work and hating it. I’ll get on a high where I think everyone will love it and see how awesome it is, and I get ready to submit. Then I re-read and suddenly detest what I’ve written and I begin to rewrite. I see where Jessie’s coming from and I can see myself being too nervous or scared to follow-through. But I hope I don’t, if that day ever comes.

  25. Okay fine, so I lurked. But I did retweet!

  26. Great story and comments… I’m finding that I have too much crap… too many manuscripts in the drawer – http://www.editorialdepartment.com/blog/item/the-book-in-the-drawer – just gotta get it done:)

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