Writing Posts

You Could Call Me Stubborn (And You’d Be Right)

Last week, I received my first rejection over Artemis Smith and the Virtuous Marriage Quest.

I won’t lie.

That sucked.

Granted, it was different from any rejection I’d received before. I’d only queried my first trilogy, The Destiny of the Dragon, before this book, and I probably received around thirty rejections total, before I stopped querying it and decided to start working on something else. Most of those rejections were silent, though I got a few form rejections, too. One, however, that particularly sticks out to me, the agent included a line about how they hoped that, even though this book wasn’t for them, I continued to query and search for the right agent who was, which was really sweet and absolutely encouraging (obviously, since I still remember it to this day).

Yet this request was an exclusive full request, meaning the agent wanted to read it and have a chance to respond with their decision before I queried anywhere else. I was over the moon. My first request ever and a full, at that!

It’s not surprising that I cried for a little bit, after receiving that rejection.

But I also wasn’t surprised as to why it was rejected.

I wrote a book that’s the first in a quintet about an unpublished writer, Artemis Smith, whose service dog, Ruff Mutt, gets terminal cancer. Artemis, at a loss of what to do to help save his dog, meets a magician named Jack Kitsune, who offers him a deal. If Artemis agrees to enter into a fairy tale story Jack has the magic to create, he and Ruff Mutt will become characters within that story, successfully pausing Ruff Mutt’s cancer until they return to the real world. Yet there’s a catch: in order to ever return, Artemis must somehow fix the tropes within the fairy tale that Jack’s placed him in–a feat he’s never been able to do with his own writing, which has been rejected countless times for being riddled with tropes. If he fails to do so, Artemis and Ruff Mutt will be stuck in the fairy tale forever.

To save Ruff Mutt’s life, Artemis agrees and they enter the story, thus beginning their adventure.

As you can see, it’s a…quirky premise, for sure. I’ve always been concerned about that. And even though I’ve gone through rounds of edits, including beta readers, and received a lot of positive responses, I worried about how this book would sell, as an fairy tale inside an urban fantasy, being the start of a series, from a debut writer.

And right now, there isn’t a market for that kind of book.

Which is why, in this instance, it got rejected by my dream agent.

It isn’t the first time a professional in writing mentioned to me they worried about this book’s marketability (only the second time, sure, but still). A totally valid reason for it to get rejected and a really great reminder to me, as a querying writer, of exactly how many elements go into querying and factor the book’s chance of getting represented (most of which, outside of writing the book, are out of my control).

It’s so easy to forget that publishing is a business. There are so many things agents have to consider: market trends, audiences, what editors are wanting, other books currently coming out and how they compare to the books they are pitching, timing, on top of so many other elements I’m either forgetting or don’t understand. Agents can’t just represent books they like. And I was so excited that this agent liked my book. The story excited them and they loved my writing. No agent has ever told me that.

I was ecstatic to read that.

But sometimes, that’s not enough.

Because a book also needs to have the potential to sell.

And right now, mine doesn’t.

Which left me with a really big question.

What do I do now?

Well, after receiving that email, I cried (because that’s what I do with any emotional situation, let’s be honest). And then I worked out, because I was bummed out and I needed those happy endorphins to be released. I showered.

And then?

I went back to my laptop and opened up book two in Artemis’s quintet, Artemis Smith and the Steam Powered Fallacy, and then met my word count goal for the day.

person calligraphy GIF

You might be wondering why I did that. Why would I continue working on the sequel of a book that might never sell because the basic premise is just so quirky that it might not ever be plausibly marketable? You might wonder “why”even harder when I admit that I still plan to write the entire quintet.

There’s quite a few reasons, actually.

One, is I absolutely love this story. I love Artemis and Ruff Mutt. I love the adventures they are going on. I love the main narrative they will experience. I love the basic plot of each book, which I have already mapped out. Even if every agent told me it could never be published, I’d still write this story out until completion, editing each book to the best of my ability. Because I want to find out what happens. I want to see the ending. I want to see how the story morphs and evolves and changes as I continue to write it, because already, just writing the first book and the first 35,000 words of the second, it has changed and grown in ways I never imagined, when I first sat down to write this tale.

Because, first and foremost, this story is for me.

Two, just because it’s been rejected once, doesn’t mean it always will be. Perhaps the market will change a year from now and everyone will want more urban fantasy. Perhaps I’ll query an agent with more contacts in that genre or one who has an idea they are excited about with how to market this series. Hell, perhaps I’ll query again and no one will like it, so I’ll decide to self-publish it on my own, simply because I want people to have the chance to read it. It may just be the hopeless romantic in me, but this story’s fate is long but decided.

Three, I’m just too plain stubborn to quit writing. And right now, this is the story I want to write. And I refuse to let one hiccup stop me from chasing my dream.

So I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to continue writing Artemis. I plan to work with an editor on book one, to make sure there aren’t any other major issues that might prevent an agent from liking the book, so Artemis has the greatest chance of winning their heart like he has mine. I’m going to continue writing the series. I’m ahead of my writing goal to have at least 80,000 words written of book two by March 31st and I plan to meet that deadline. I know there’s another stand alone fantasy I want to write this year, too, so that’ll give me a break from Artemis, but I have no plans of stopping his story.

Right now, my priority is to keep up my writing consistency and then finish a draft of book two, before going back and looking at how to elevate book one even more, if I can. Then, I’ll query it more widely, as I work on my new book. I’m even considering editing the trilogy I first wrote, to see if I can make that trope riddled series even potentially marketable (though that’s much more doubtful than this one).

I’m not sure how I’m going to achieve my dream of being published, of being read and, hopefully, writing stories that readers will enjoy. But I do know one thing for certain: I can’t achieve it if I give up now, or after any hiccup that comes up.

So that’s the last thing I’m going to do.


16 thoughts on “You Could Call Me Stubborn (And You’d Be Right)”

  1. Oh wow such a bummer on a full request (tears are appropriate)! Please never stop being stubborn about writing. I need author buddies like you to stick it out with me. You’ve got this!

    1. Honestly, tears are how I usually respond to most things, so that wasn’t surprising for me. But trust me, Hannah, I have no plans on stopping and having your support along the way is a part of that. ❤ You got this!

  2. Can I just say how inspiring you are? That you gave yourself time to feel sad and bummed and upset, and then you got back in the saddle and started writing again almost immediately? I don’t think I could bounce back that quickly, ever. I know the hurt doesn’t go away, but I so admire your resilience, and your determination, and your stubbornness – which is definitely a virtue for us writers 🙂 I can’t wait to see what new adventures Artemis and Ruff Mutt go on, and no matter what happens publishing-wise, like you said, it’s your story and it’s one to be proud of. And we’ll be here cheering you on every step of the way! ❤

    1. Meredith!! ❤ ❤ It was ironic, because I was in the middle of writing when I got that email and was still roughly 1,000 words away from reaching my word count goal and it was strictly my stubbornness that helped me meet it, that afternoon.

      Thank you so much for your kind words and your support. I'm so lucky to have you in my writing group and as one of my greatest support systems! ❤

  3. I’m a puddle of internal feelings after reading this. It’s devastating and inspiring. I’m so jealous of your stubbornness. I’d probably sleep or binge on Netflix for a week if that happened to me.

    1. Hey, it was meant to be inspiring, so I’m glad you feel that, too!

      Honestly, a year ago, I’d do just that (and hell, I have done that). But my dreams don’t have time for me to wallow in self-pity. They take work to achieve and the only person that can put in that work is me, ya know? ❤

  4. *Hug* Sorry to hear about the rejection. It’s always a bit of a set back no matter how nice they are about it. We just have to keep going, right? 🙂
    I would so read this though! I really love the premise 🙂 You should check out #PitMad on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/brendadrake/status/966046573225537536)
    Tweet a few lines for your story under the hashtag on the day (the next one’s 8th March) and any agents interested in hearing more like the tweet 🙂 I’ve seen some people have a lot of success with it!
    I’m probably going to self publish because I won’t have to worry about trends so much!

    1. Yeah, it’s always a bummer, but what I’ve realized, too, is that it’s also hard for an agent to reject a book they like, because of things like the market, so it goes both ways, you know?

      Aww, well maybe after I edit it again, I might hit you up for a beta read (or just a for-fun read). 🙂 Thank you!!

      I’ve heard of #PitMad! I may have to join this year, just for shits and grin. I’ve definitely considered self-publishing, but my heart is set on traditionally publishing, for the moment, so I am going to keep working on that before I switch. 🙂

      1. Exactly! Even if an agent loves a book, they have to be confident they can get a deal with a publishing house (and those are overwhelmed with submissions!)

        Aww that would be awesome 🙂 I’ve never betaed before but I’d be happy to try!

        That’s cool 🙂 Traditional publishing offers a wealth of support, and it’s awesome how much goes into publishing a manuscript. I decided on self publishing after doing work experience at Penguin in London. I didn’t like the amount of control I’d have to give up, how competitive it is, or how trends focused. I’m confident my ideas are good (most of the time!) but they definitely ain’t trendy xD

      2. Yep, you nailed that on the head.

        I’ll definitely keep you posted. 🙂 It’ll prolly be a while, just FYI.

        I can totally understand and respect that!! So, have you self-published already, or is that the route you want to go once you finish one of your books?

      3. Thanks 🙂 And no worries, I know that feeling well. My own stories are taking me forever!

        I’ve never self-published before, (The only full length story I’ve ever finished is about 70000 words of fanfiction!) but I think it’s the best method for me 🙂 I’ve worked in a team marketing and launching a new product before. It was fun, and I think I’d enjoy doing that for my own books even more!

      4. Hey, even if it was fanfiction, that’s still an impressive amount to finish! And I’m glad you’ve figured out what’s the best method for you and are chasing after that. You know I wish you the best of luck with your stories!

  5. When you get this published or self publish I’m sooooo buying it because I LOVED it and I can’t wait to read the rest! I believe in this book too – and I just think of Harry Potter. Someone will take a chance on Arty and RM and then everyone will LOVE it like me!

    1. Beth, you’re the absolute best. Thank you so, so much. ❤ You know you'll know whenever my books are out in the world, one way or the other (and you'll probably want to read the acknowledgements section, too).

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