Being anonymous is one thing. Staying anonymous is quite another. Yet the woman behind the blog, Miss Snark’s First Victim, has managed to successfully stay behind the curtain. All the while sharing her energetic personality with readers, as well as offering ample opportunities for writers to get their work in front of a prestigious contingent of literary agents.
Known as Authoress, this woman not only has an amazing touch with the aspiring writer community, but is well-versed in the world of writing, being an author herself. Fascinated by her ability to not only write, but run an amazingly successful blog, I knew I had to track down this great lady and learn about her writing journey.
Gracious as always (although still remaining anonymous) Authoress took up the challenge and agreed to answer my questions…
Amy: When did you first begin seriously writing with the intent of wanting to be published?
Authoress: I self-published a non-fiction book in 2002. At the time, I considered myself an essayist, and believed (truly!) that I could never write a novel. Everything changed when I sat down and wrote my first (horrible) novel, a YA fantasy. That was in 2003. From the first word, I knew I wanted to be a published novelist.
Amy: When did you complete your first manuscript?
Authoress: Some time in 2004.
Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before one garnered agent interest?
Authoress: What’s really interesting is that this first, horrible novel actually received 2 partial requests! Clearly I’d done a better job on the query than I had on the novel. I finally realized that my first novel was not publishable, and began querying my second novel (an MG fantasy). I received requests for partials and my very first request for a full, so there were some heady moments during Novel 2′s journey! But ultimately, it wasn’t strong enough, either. In truth, I was still honing my craft, and in looking back, I can clearly see why the MG fantasy didn’t land me an agent. By the time I queried Josh, I was on my fourth completed novel. And that was the winner!
Amy: How laborious/frustrating was the query process for you?
Authoress: At first, it had its normal ups and downs (and obsessive email checking, of course!), but it got really difficult toward the end. The YA dystopian that Josh fell in love with had gotten many requests and two revise-and-resubmits that all ended in rejection, and I was beginning to despair of ever landing an agent. People kept telling me, “It’s always the hardest right before your big break comes, so hang in there!” It was hard to believe that, but it turns out they were right.
Amy: If one manuscript was continuing to get rejected, how did you know it was time to move on to a new project?
Authoress: Well, I was always working on the next story, so after a while, when my rejections had piled up and the agents left on my list had dwindled to almost none, it was easy to shift gears and query the next novel.
Amy: If you had bites on previous manuscripts, and then was ultimately turned down by agents, what kept you pressing forward?
Authoress: You know, I’ve just had this carved-in-stone vision for my writing career, and quitting would have meant giving that up. Even when I was ready to walk away–and I was seriously considering it, even as Josh was reading my manuscript–I ultimately knew I could never do it. I’m just not the walk-away type.
Amy: Can you give us a short summary of your call with your agent, Josh Getzler?
Authoress: Short? *grin* Actually, Josh had mentioned in an email that he felt like he was already my agent, so it was clear that our call was going to be a confirmation of that. A sort of “let’s-make-this-official”. It was a cold day right before Christmas, and I took the call in our upstairs TV room, wearing a chunky, brown sweater and my gray Jodimitts (you all know what Jodimitts are, right?). As Josh talked, I furiously scribbled down everything he said. And I smiled a lot.
The truth is, I absolutely hate phones. So that made me all the more nervous for this initial phone call. Now, of course, my scheduled calls with Josh don’t make me twitch anymore. He’s wonderful and warm and real over the phone, so it’s not the heart-stopping event it used to be. But, yeah. That first call was scary not so much because it was Josh, but because it was…a phone.
Amy: Your blog, “Miss Snark’s First Victim” has numerous success stories. But for every success, there are many who still can’t get an agent to bite. What is your advice for those writers who continue to struggle with rejection?
Authoress: I know you have heard it so many times that you probably want to drop-kick the next person who says it. But here it is, anyway: DON’T GIVE UP. Rejection is hard. I’m not going to pretend it didn’t come close to crushing me sometimes. But it’s imperative that you learn–hard and fast–that rejection of your work is not rejection of you. That you have within yourself the ability to take the bad and use it to create GOOD. In other words–keep growing as a writer. Never stop. Never say, “This is the best I can do, so screw it.” Because…the best you can do today is not the best you will be able to do tomorrow. This is a journey, and we’ve got to be willing to keep traveling until we reach our destination.
Also? You’re not alone. Don’t sit in your warm, little hole licking your wounds. Come on out and commiserate. We’ll stroke your hair and hug you for a little while, but then we’ll kick you in the behind and tell you to get back to work. Because that’s what it’s going to take.
And you can do it!
AUTHORESS WRITES MG AND YA FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. SHE HAS AN ADORING HUSBAND AND A STASH OF ORGANIC CHOCOLATE THAT KEEPS DISAPPEARING. (THE CHOCOLATE, NOT THE ADORING HUSBAND.) SHE IS ALSO A CLASSICAL PIANIST, A TRAINED SOPRANO, AND AN UNABASHED FOODIE.