|Photo: Dev Asangbam|
THE STING OF DISAPPOINTMENT
A couple of months ago, I hoped that a literary agent would fall in love with one of my favorite manu-scripts, Lacey's Red Umbrella. She didn't. But she said, "It was a beautiful story. You're on the right track, and very close and nearly 100% there."
She suggested to have the manuscript critiqued by a woman named Amanda. Amanda's pricing was reasonable. I wanted to follow the agent's advice by having a critique and I wanted to resubmit to her, but I had to find a different manuscript to be critiqued. The agent had already considered the original and a revision of Lacey's Red Umbrella. In most cases, an agent will only look at a manuscript two times. So, the problem was, I had three completed manuscripts that I liked and couldn't decide which one to send for a critique.
I contacted Amanda to tell her of my interest in her critique services and explained my dilemma. She kindly offered to read all three stories. She would choose the one she thought was the strongest. In her opinion, Amanda thought And Still, Cassie Believes had the most potential.
About a week later, Amanda emailed me the critique. To the side of each and every line, she made comments and suggestions. She explained what to remove to allow the art to illustrate, what to add to clarify, how to advance the plot and simplify the text, where to add transitions, and how to give the ending a twist. OMG, Amanda was thorough and she had amazing ideas. As I incorporated many of her suggestions, I emailed her several times to be sure the story was heading in the right direction.
In the end, the voice of the manuscript stayed intact. The story become even more whimsical with just the right amount of tension.
After I put the final touches on the manuscript and read it out loud to be sure it flowed, I decided to contact the agent. I thanked her for putting me in touch with Amanda and mentioned how much Amanda really enjoyed the story about Cassie. Then I added that I'd love to share this manuscript with her when she reopened for submissions.
Here's what I was hoping for: that the agent would say she'd be interested in seeing And Still, Cassie Believes right here and now (wishful thinking) or (more realistically) when she would be ready to receive submissions. But she wrote, "Isn't she the best? I'm so happy to hear this."
Talk about a let-down. I was so disappointed. Wasn't she the least bit curious to read a manuscript that had been critiqued by a person she had highly recommended? Hadn't she seen from my last manuscript that my writing is nearly where she expects it to be? Couldn't she have shown some interest? Been a little kinder? How depressing.
So, how do I move forward? I decided to push this agent's name further down on my submission list and use the sting of disappointment forge on.
I had Lacey critiqued by a published writer. Afterward, I tightened the piece and it has been submitted to a handful of agents. It has also been entered in an international picture book contest.
As for Cassie, it is being submitted to agents and to a publisher of children's literature. The story will be presented on a Twitter pitch event. I love this manuscript and believe whole-heartedly in it. Like Lacey, Cassie is a beautiful story—and after a revision, it is 100% there.
✌ and ♥