Why failure is the new triumph
I've related bits of this story before, but I'm going to get it all down in one place. While I was at WFC in Madison this year, I found myself standing next to Joshua Bilmes at a party. Joshua is one of the best agents in the sf/f game. I, on the other hand, am a desperate noob who had been drinking. Conversation ensued, a conversation that started with us discussing the Borders and Whole Foods next to one another in Wheaton (I worked at one, and frequent the other) and ended with Joshua saying something along the lines of "Sure, go ahead and send me the first three chapters. And this is the cover letter than pretty much writes itself." Gladly, it was, because I pretty much suck at cover letters.
So when I got home I sent out the first three chapters, summary and cover letter. Eight weeks later Joshua requested the rest of the manuscript. I was happy. Yes, I think happy pretty much covers it. When I sent out the manuscript I didn't honestly expect him to buy it. My highest goal was to open a dialogue with Joshua Bilmes. And that's exactly what I've done.
I got my rejection letter Friday. It was the most exquisite rejection letter I've ever gotten. It was three pages, single spaced, and started with something like "I'm sure you'll have an author signing at Borders, after-party to follow at Whole Foods. Just not with this book." It went on to describe everything that worked about the book, and everything that didn't. He suggested some reading (an out of print book that I've ordered) and made it extremely clear that he was very interested in my next manuscript. So there you go. Next manuscript.
So, this is going to screw up my stated goals for the year, because all of those goals involved writing a lot of short stories to make a name for myself and attract the attention of an agent. I have the attention of one of the best, and it would be silly of me to not capitalize on that. I have several stories out there right now, and they will probably be the last ones I write for many, many months. By pure chance I have all of next week off. I'm going to spend this week brainstorming the novel. I start writing next week.