W. P. Johnson

The Road To Publication Part V, or How I Wasted Three/Four Years Of My Life

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2017 at 8:04 pm


I recently received a rejection by an agent I was given a referral for. This particular agent was very generous with his time and gave me his thoughts on my work. The pitch was solid, the writing was good, however he did not feel confident in being able to sell the material, as he does not typically represent fantasy. It was bitter sweet, sweet because I feel like, once again, I am on the right track, bitter because I am tired of writing query emails. In addition to his own inadequacy in representing fantasy, he felt the mainstream market was not quite friendly to my genre and tone, which was gritty, dark, weird, a bit hard to place I suppose. His opinion is that another agent more familiar with my kind of work would fare better in finding a home for it and he was kind enough to give me a specific referral, one which I promptly queried today. Afterwards I hunted for some more names, tweaked the pitch again. One of the items this aforementioned agent mentioned was that it would not be wise to not speak on how many pitches have been sent, but anyone reading this blog knows it’s been a project I’ve been trying to sell for quite some time and an agent only has to a dig a little to see how far this journey has taken me (with titles such as the one of this particular entry to add to the pile of evidence). But why hide the truth? I believe an agent’s pass with the caveat that it was “not for them” is made with sincerity and that this also suggests that there is an agent out there for whom this book is a perfect fit. I just have yet find that person.

I digress. I was not upset by the rejection because to be honest, I did not think he’d bite. In fact, I predicted the very thing he did, which was to say no, give me his thoughts and advice, and suggest an agent I would be wise to query. My wife was probably more upset than I was, which is understandable, as we often don’t fully grasp the approach a person has with a process like this. What can I say? I’ve been doing this for so long; writing, submitting, editing, getting rejected. Rejection has become a part of the “process”, almost as much as the act of writing itself. At the end of the day, I rolled my sleeves up, got back to work, and continued writing.

Which brings me to new projects! My novella Dream Dress will be available soonish as a self published novel to be sold at conventions as soon as I have cover art for it. In addition to that, as soon as I get the go-ahead from the publisher, I’ll be able to announce more concrete details about the short story collection Eight Eyes, which features Dream Dress among seven other stories about a drug called “silk”. I’m also nearly finished a first draft of a script version of Dream Dress, which I’m really enjoying and may try my hand at a few more film ideas before tackling the next book, which I’ve also started broadly outlining. I don’t have a title for the new book, but it’s a mix of The Exorcist meets A Visit From The Goon Squad, giving a panoramic view of a boy who is plagued by demonic possession, and my own personal meditation on faith, how we gain it, lose it, and what it means under different circumstances and for different people. It’s also got a rural vibe to it, which is closer to my upbringing having grown up in Pennsyltucky.

As for A Song For John? Recently I skimmed the pages, curious about this narrative I hadn’t really looked at it since this past December. Time makes a stranger of old work. All I could think was- this is a story I still believe in. This isn’t to say it couldn’t be better, or that I would resist any notes or suggestions from an agent or an editor. But all I could think was- don’t give up on this. It’s worth fighting for, it’s worth pitching, it’s worth querying again and again and again. And maybe it isn’t “mainstream”, but I know in my heart it’s a story that will resonate with people and it’s a story an agent is waiting for. So, you won’t see me shelving it any time soon, you won’t see me giving up. Not after I worked so hard to make it shine as much as it now does. As I said in my last entry- what’s a dozen passes? I’ll keep going until it’s a thousand. After all, I wouldn’t want my office chair to have been nearly destroyed for nothing.

Until then, here’s to being scary.


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