Jennifer Hillier

The method to my madness

Jan 12, 2010 | Uncategorized

There’s a method to reading emails from agents, editors and publishers, and I’ve come to master it quite well.
Here’s what I do when the special email address I set up specifically for submissions has
(1) New Email:
My heart immediately does a thing.  Sort of like a lurch, but not quite as painful.
I swallow.
I click on it.
I deliberately blur my gaze.  My eyes pass over the body of the email as fast as possible. All I want to accomplish during this first read-through is to immediately find those words (or short phrases) that scream REJECTION!  The rest is all fluff.
A few examples of REJECTION words are:
I’m sorry…



… must pass…

… not right…

… best of luck…
If any of these words are in the body of the email ANYWHERE, it’s a rejection.  Every stinking time.
I feel another pang.  It last about three seconds, and then I start breathing again.
I focus my gaze.
Then my lips press together in annoyance/dismay/frustration/impatience, and I sit back, try to relax, and read the blasted email in full.
But if I don’t see those words – and if, in fact, I see words like:
… would like…
Please send…
then it’s not a rejection.  It’s a request.  But it doesn’t happen nearly as much (and that’s understating at its finest).
My last batch of queries was sent out in November, so I haven’t had to do the blurry gaze thing much in the last few weeks.  But now that I’m gearing up for the next round, it’s time to get cross-eyed once again.
I took a good hard look at my query letter for Creep last night and made a few minor changes.  Essentially, though, I’m still pleased with it. I think it’s good enough to go another round, and frankly, I wouldn’t know what to change.  And I plan to target my agents better this time around.
I’m also curious to know whether having a tiny little publication credit—which I didn’t have a few months ago—along with a membership to ITW (International Thriller Writers Association) will make any difference. I’m guessing my revised bio won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but hey, it’s a small improvement.  At least it shows I’m trying to be taken seriously.
My number one goal this year?  And yeah, forget whatever crap I spewed in my new year’s resolution blog post last week.  My number one goal this year is not to obsess.  About anything.  Because obsession doesn’t help.  It just drains my energy.  This past weekend I spent a few minutes playing around with a weird little story I’ve been submitting on and off for the past year.  I sent it to a couple of different places without really thinking too hard about it, and what d’ya know, I got an acceptance!  On the other hand, I almost drove myself insane last year over Creep queries.  And do I have an agent?  No.  Not even close.  So what’s the point of all that control? It’s time to unclench my fists, relax my jaw, and focus on the writing.  Que sera, sera.
To misquote Joseph Campbell:  If I follow my bliss, publication will come.