A Debut Author’s Target Practice

target pracice

If you’re a writer like me, and you are trying to get published like I was (and am, because there are always more books to write and sell), then you know that publishing comes, free of charge, with a barrel full of waiting and disappointments.

But while we’re waiting, and even while we’re waiting to be disappointed, we must get on with our lives.  So I did.

One day while THE GLASS WIVES was out on submission with editors, even though I knew I might hear from my agent that day, I headed to Target. What better way to pass the time than to look at dog beds, towels, socks, shampoo, and depending on the store, fresh veggies? Truly! It’s all my divergent dreams within the same four walls (nail polish, lawn art, small, colorful appliances, and hot popcorn), which serve as a procrastinator’s writer’s best coping mechanism.

So there I was, walking the aisles of one of my Target stores (I have three), and my phone rang like I knew it would the way you know that you’ll find the missing ingredient in your cabinet as soon as you buy a new one pound bag. I stopped in the middle of the decorative/throw pillow aisle, off to one side, and answered.

Bad news. An editor had passed on the book. Along with the no came comments that were inconsistent with other things we’d heard from interested and non-interested editors. Was this editor the ONE who was right? Or was this editor the ONE who was wrong? The fact that authors know in their heads that acquisitions are subjective has no bearing on the emotional upheaval that comes with someone telling you your work isn’t good enough for them.

My agent and I chatted.  There were kind words and consolation.  We were sallying forth. I hung up the phone, checked my list, checked the time, checked around me—and burst into tears.

I wasn’t simply teary. It was rejection waterworks. Unstoppable. Unconscionable. Unbelievable. Then I started coughing to mask the crying. I mean, coughing up a lung is much more preferrable to crying hysterically when you’re in Target. My literary life passed before my eyes, lost in the cotton and silk, embroidery and tassels.  I couldn’t see a future amidst the fluff.

I don’t remember what was in my cart (no throw pillows, they now give me nightmares) but know I went straight for the check out and drove home.  Lesson learned. When waiting for a call from your agent, my best advice is to renege on your responsibilities and stay the hell home. Or at least carry tissues so you don’t have to open the rolls of Charmin and say, “Oh, it’s allergies, really,” to every shopping, staring stranger.

Needless to say, not long after my “unfortunate Target incident,” that same novel sold to the right editor at the right publishing house—Brenda Copeland at St. Martin’s Press.

And on May 14th, THE GLASS WIVES will be available, DRUMROLL PLEASE…in Target stores.

Bullseye. 

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33 thoughts on “A Debut Author’s Target Practice

  1. Isn’t it amazing how those calls just floor you? I remember when my ‘good call’ came through. I was sitting in a bar with an Aussie friend who couldn’t read my face. How many Camparis we drank afterwards!! Xcat

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  2. So uplifting to know that we aren’t alone! Waiting and hoping, hoping and waiting only to receive a rejection always feels lonely–thanks for reminding me to stay the course!

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  3. This job of writing is terrifying and exciting. Such highs and lows. Since I don’t have an agent, I thought once I landed one it would be clear sailing. I forgot that now both you and the agents may have big disappointments ahead before you reach your goal. Exhausting .

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  4. Should my day(s) of waiting come, I shall heed your advice and avoid Target at all costs. Maybe I’ll go thrifting (because there I’m surrounded by all kinds of crazies). You are going to have such a high walking into Target and seeing YOUR book on the shelves…congrats!

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  5. The worst rejections I’ve received were the ones that never spoke–the editors who never answered my agent’s query. I realize emails get lost in the slush of others, but to feel that insignificant is hard. I get that none of us is perfect. I’ve had agents write me–the acquisitions editor–to ask if I’ve made a decision for a client, and I’ve wanted to crawl in a hole. Other things had gotten in the way of my answer, and they deserved the courtesy of a reply. (Now I have someone who helps keep those in order so I don’t miss a query.) From my perspective as an author, I rarely shed tears over rejections; I’ve seen too many years of them. As you said, Amy, it only takes one editor who likes our work, one who says yes.

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  6. Oh, yes, Normandie’s word: insignificant. I don’t feel that way anymore, although I still get rejections, but I can still remember that particular hollowness. Good post, Amy, but I may never feel the same way about Target (or throw pillows) again.

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    • Hollowness: another good word, Liz. With two books releasing soon, my prayer is that I don’t crumble if someone posts a review that contains the word “horrible” or, even worse, “boring.”

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  7. Well, that’s a much healthier response than any of mine were to rejections, Amy–mine generally involved watching REALLY BAD MUSICALS and eating, like, entire boxes of chocolate, usually washed down with wine…Congratulations on staying the distance. That’s what writing is really about, huh?

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  8. What a great story. I bet there will be droves of writers today hanging out in Target and Wal-Mart with their cell phones ready hoping it will ring with good news. Can’t wait to read GLASS WIVES!

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  9. I adore stories like these! I had my rejection-related public crying incident in the parking lot of Petco. And I love Target–I used to stalk my book when it was there. *ah, memories* LOL I can’t wait to see your book on the shelves!!! :)

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  10. Thank you for the honesty in this post!

    It’s a long, hard process, and I’m so happy for the outcome for you.

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  11. I LOVE your story and it gives me hope for what I know is coming. My agent just sent query letters to editors at pub houses and we’re “waiting”. She told me two requested to look at the ms and now if I let myself think about it, my stomach curls.
    Congrats to you, Amy.
    Patti

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  12. Oh, I love this story! What a wonderful turn of events. I have a similar moment of bursting into tears as I was walking into the outlet mall the first time I went on submission. There was no call or anything, just silence and my anxiety running free (my agent rarely shared the no’s with me unless I asked or unless she felt the feedback was something I should hear, because she felt in general it’s not good for the writer’s morale). Both times I was on submission, the question of will my novel sell was always in the back of my mind, in every quiet moment, every phone alert, every time it rang. And the ONE time, that by some miracle, I wasn’t thinking about it…that’s when I got good news. So you’re right. While we’re waiting, we have to keep living life.

    So excited for you Amy! May 14 is so close!

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  13. Amy, thanks for sharing such a true and realistic experience. We have all been there or are going to be. You are reminding us to hang in there and keep at the writing, the believing and the relationships building that is all part of the prize at the end!!

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  14. I am just reiterating some of the other ladies here. I really liked reading this story and it’s kind of like “take that” or “so there” since your book will now be sold in Target! Congrats!

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  15. Amy – This was an awesome post! I’m sure every single writer can relate and I sometimes ask myself why I’m putting myself through the torture chamber spending so many hours, effort, blood-sweat-and-tears into writing just to be knocked down by agents (editors, whatever) and it is always reassuring to know I’m not alone – and that success comes to those who keep trying! :)

    (I was going to post this as a recommendation for reading on the WFWA e mail circuit – it’s great encouragement for us “newbies”) :)

    *Jill Hannah Anderson *

    http://www.JillHannahAnderson.com http://www.jillhannahanderson.blogspot.co m http://www.Facebook.com/JillHannahAnderson * * * *

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  16. Congratulations on your book. I love writing, your blog makes it sound like something attainable. Ok I appreciate through some blood, sweat and tears I’m. Anyhow, again congratulations. I look forward to the read.

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