I'd Give Them to You If I Had Them
I hadn't heard about the New Leaf drama until this post because I stopped being active on Twitter when it went all funky.
Kate, in your professional experience, do you think that this situation is really so outrageous? Or, is it something that looks really bad because of how it got amplified on Twitter?
I guess just from my general experience in life, it seems like one of those things that kind of just happens. An employee and their employer had an unexpected falling out and the employer can't absorb all the employee's clients. Totally sucks. But ... [insert Kate's little shoulder shrug here]
Or is this a bigger breach of contract somehow? Anomalous in the industry?
To me the most powerful line in this was in parentheses: No is always a choice.
It's a conundrum. I'm a working screenwriter (right now, a striking one) in the union (I have an agent for features, but not for novels), I've written and published under pen names successfully, and the past few years of finding a lit agent for my new novel have been hellish for my manager and me. The behavior of many is nonsensical and confounding. Even Hollywood makes more sense. I'm in several author groups with a mix of many kinds of authors (some very successful), and the stories are all very much the same. Mostly awful. And the querying process makes little sense.
I did a thread on it here: https://twitter.com/writerjoshjames/status/1658528293396643840
Kate, Your post is not just being sent into the Ethernet, and I salute your 'Nothing I or anyone else can give you info-wise will smooth all the bumps/reveal all The Secrets' to successful publishing.
Every time I see a headline like '8 ways to beat the negatives and become the successful, published author you want to be,' I move on. Your putting that out (sorry, can't give ONE all-inclusive set of stuff to do) means something to the legions - or should mean - you can LEARN from what others have done or tried, but publishing is not an 8 lane highway at any point.
Kate! Two questions a) have you read Yellowface? b) so interested in your views on the topic of success in publishing, of course no one knows the formula as you say but what about those books that have already been *decided* they are going to to be successful in advance - i.e big advance, big marketing budget vs all the other 'normal' books xoxo
This post is exceptional, and points up that famous quote by William Goldman: "No one knows anything." It's true. With all of the know how, experience, money, and talent Hollywood has to throw at projects, it still turns out plenty of box office duds. And then some unknown first-timer on a shoestring budget comes out of nowhere and makes something cool that catches fire. There's no rhyme or reason. On exactly Kate's topic, I'd like to share a book called "How I Got Published: Famous Authors Tell You in Their Own Words." It's instructive, encouraging, and inspiring, but it also points up an inescapable fact of life that governs ALL successes (not just in the arts), and that's the uncontrollable factor of plain old dumb luck. Hate to say it, but to be a success in this (or any other) endeavor you'll need a little of it. Sit next to the right person at a writer's conference, or discover that your third-cousin twice-removed's ex-boyfriend is married to an agent. The good news is that--just like coin flips--if you just keep at it you WILL get lucky some day! "Chance favors the prepared mind," as they say, and also "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
I'm somehow left feeling like I picked the right time to take this career seriously. If things were more stable, I might be looking for all kinds of correlations and magic bullets, caring way more about my social media audience etc. than I should. The fact that publishing is such a wreck right now, so convoluted for everyone involved makes it... easier to be patient, I guess. Somehow. Easier to believe that the only valuable thing I can do is learn to write the best story I can. To do that with one eye on this crazy industry, learning, seeing if it settles down, trying to make myself ready for when the time is right. Maybe the time will never be "right". But it certainly feels like speed is *not* of the essence right now, and I can work with that. I can even be grateful for it. Thank you for helping me ease into that feeling, Kate.
Oof. I desperately needed to read this. I’ve had 100 agents ghost, form reject, or offer kind, encouraging rejections for my memoir. Most said, it’s great but it’s not the right time. All this to say, I had the wind taken out of my sails. But reading this piece has been incredibly encouraging and has made me realize that it’s not that I totally suck lol, it’s just that this is really freaking hard. So, thank you.
Thank you, Kate. [BIG Heart symbol]
"This is probably the least helpful post in the world!" No. This post was, for me, a balm to my bleeding heart. I am in the midst of querying and getting rejections--which my rational self knows is part of the process 100% expected it and accepts it as part of the journey--BUT even though I try to be sanguine about each new rejection, I don't succeed. Initially, I go, "Okay. To be expected. Moving on," but then my writer self cries out, "Why?" "What did I do wrong?" "What do I need to do I'm not doing?" "How can I fix this before sending out anymore queries?"
And I have, after only five rejections, rewritten my query letter and gotten it critiqued again, and I've gotten an extensive synopsis critique--and I've gotten another rejection letter. I set a goal of querying 100 agents, and I'm going to try to stick to that so that, if I don't get an agent, at least I will have tried.
Nevertheless, the not knowing why my submission is being rejected (have I done something wrong, has the book's premise just not landed in the right agent's computer yet, or whatever), leaves me feeling helpless and desolate. Your post reinforced what my rational mind knows: stuff happens. It's not fun, sometimes it's not fair, and I may never know the why.
But your post is an incredible consolation to me because a) you gave voice to my experience and b) it's obvious you get it. And that's why this post is the best post I've read in ages. It's healing to know somebody understands. X O X O
Hi, Kate. Great read. The how to read an agency agreement link appears to be print only. Will you ever put it in for your substack subscribers or is it the property of the publisher? Given the lack of accessibility and it's the right URL, maybe remove it as a link or let your audience know upfront it's behind a problematic paywall?
There are steps that will guarantee success. KateL Please write if you want to talk.