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View Full Version : Well, that's that...and not what I expected...



MsJudy
11-01-2009, 09:00 PM
For almost a year now, I've been querying my early MG fantasy TOADFLAX. I've gotten mostly rejections but enough interest and kind comments to keep hoping. In fact, I've been debating whether most of the rejections were because of the length--under 30K--and whether I should think about a complete rewrite at some point to try to double the length.

Well, no more. Yesterday I got a very kind rejection from a very good agent, who liked the tone and voice of the sample pages but...

Oh, the but. He told me of another book, recently published. Vivian VandeVelde's THREE GOOD DEEDS.

My premise: A boy steals an apple from someone who turns out to be a witch. In punishment, she turns him into a raccoon.

VandeVelde's premise: A boy insults someone who turns out to be a witch. In punishment, she turns him into a goose.

Seriously. No way I'm getting TOADFLAX published now. Not gonna happen.

Looking on the bright side: Obviously, I had a totally marketable premise. And if I did it once, I can do it again. Plus I really enjoyed writing the book, worked with a very good writing coach to do it and learned A LOT. Enough to make everything else I write that much better. And I am deep in revisions on my boy-and-his-dog story, feeling very good about it, and I recently figured out an approach to revise another of my stories. So I'm already moving on, and had begun to let go of TOADFLAX anyway.

But still. This is actually the second time I've worked for a year or more on a book idea, only to find out that someone else has beaten me to the punch. *sigh*

Trying hard not to get paranoid....

TrixieLox
11-01-2009, 09:12 PM
Did you do research beforehand to make sure nothing had been brought or published with same premise? If so, you did all you could and anyway, plenty of similar books are published each year. If yours is totally different in tone etc you might be ok but yeah, if similar tone, then you still struggle to get an agent with it. At least it shows you know what the market wants.

Shadow_Ferret
11-01-2009, 09:16 PM
There are very few original ideas. Its execution that matters. Have you read that book? Because there are a lot of books that have similar premises, but its what each author does with that premise that makes them unique.

kellion92
11-01-2009, 09:58 PM
I agree that the similarity isn't a kiss of death. It's a classic premise from fairy tales and myth, so it's all about the execution...

kuatolives
11-02-2009, 12:06 AM
Sucks, but I'll do you three better:

A book I wrote a couple of years ago was about a mortgage meltdown.
Guess what happened?

Another book I wrote was about the levies in New Orleans breaking. Guess what happened?

Back in 2000 I'd written a book about a building in New York about to collapse, not the World Trade Centre and not by terrorists, but it didn't make any difference. Guess what happened?

That's three full 100k plus novels, forever trunked for no other reason that real life will no longer allow them.

Just move on and write a better book, as the saying around here goes.

MsJudy
11-02-2009, 09:36 AM
Just move on and write a better book, as the saying around here goes.

already on it!

MsJudy
11-02-2009, 09:38 AM
There are very few original ideas. Its execution that matters. Have you read that book? Because there are a lot of books that have similar premises, but its what each author does with that premise that makes them unique.

I've got it on call from the library. I'll be focusing on my next two books anyway. If one or the other of those sells, then maybe I'll take a look at TF and see if there's a fresh approach I could take to it. A way to make it strikingly different from the one already on the shelves...

Phaeal
11-02-2009, 10:30 PM
Sucks, but I'll do you three better:

A book I wrote a couple of years ago was about a mortgage meltdown.
Guess what happened?

Another book I wrote was about the levies in New Orleans breaking. Guess what happened?

Back in 2000 I'd written a book about a building in New York about to collapse, not the World Trade Centre and not by terrorists, but it didn't make any difference. Guess what happened?

That's three full 100k plus novels, forever trunked for no other reason that real life will no longer allow them.

Just move on and write a better book, as the saying around here goes.

Obviously you are WRITING THESE EVENTS INTO EXISTENCE! Stop writing bad things at once, or Homeland Security will be on your doorstep.

Smish
11-02-2009, 10:37 PM
Hang in there, Judy! You're a great writer. If you ever have any doubts about that, I'm happy to remind you. :)

MsJudy
11-03-2009, 06:40 AM
kuatolives: perhaps you should quit calling yourself a novelist and go into business as a psychic? they make more money, don't they?

jclarkdawe
11-09-2009, 01:40 AM
I wouldn't let this agent be the kiss of death, unless that's what you want. THREE GOOD DEEDS was published in October, 2007, and if TOADFLAX were to be published, it wouldn't be until 2011 probably, giving you a three and a half year gap. I'll admit it was a well reviewed book, but look at all the TWILIGHT knockoffs. It's hard to do, but it is possible.

Personally I'd keep sending it out via email (no cost) until I ran out of agents.

Can't comment on the length, because I don't know your genre well enough.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

MsJudy
11-09-2009, 09:02 AM
Jim, you make a good point. And only one agent so far has mentioned TGD, though others may have done a form rejection because it was too close.

For now, I'll focus on the boy-and-his-dog, and then I have another book started that I really want to dive into. Two, actually. So I think I'll just shelve TF for now, and if and when one of these other books lands me an agent, I'll bring it out and ask him/her what they advise. Otherwise, I may just make myself crazy!

Arkie
11-11-2009, 05:07 PM
I've been sending queries the past two years on three novels with no luck, so I decided to query a short story to a national magazine that publishes short fiction. Instead of sending an answer to my query (well, I guess they did in sort of a way), they sent a request for a donation to help keep the magazine afloat.

Renee Collins
11-11-2009, 11:23 PM
For what it's worth, I think a boy turning into a raccoon sounds much cooler than a boy turning into a goose. Seriously. Plus, your title is better. :)

Nateskate
11-12-2009, 01:50 AM
For almost a year now, I've been querying my early MG fantasy TOADFLAX. I've gotten mostly rejections but enough interest and kind comments to keep hoping. In fact, I've been debating whether most of the rejections were because of the length--under 30K--and whether I should think about a complete rewrite at some point to try to double the length.

Well, no more. Yesterday I got a very kind rejection from a very good agent, who liked the tone and voice of the sample pages but...

Oh, the but. He told me of another book, recently published. Vivian VandeVelde's THREE GOOD DEEDS.

My premise: A boy steals an apple from someone who turns out to be a witch. In punishment, she turns him into a raccoon.

VandeVelde's premise: A boy insults someone who turns out to be a witch. In punishment, she turns him into a goose.

Seriously. No way I'm getting TOADFLAX published now. Not gonna happen.

Looking on the bright side: Obviously, I had a totally marketable premise. And if I did it once, I can do it again. Plus I really enjoyed writing the book, worked with a very good writing coach to do it and learned A LOT. Enough to make everything else I write that much better. And I am deep in revisions on my boy-and-his-dog story, feeling very good about it, and I recently figured out an approach to revise another of my stories. So I'm already moving on, and had begun to let go of TOADFLAX anyway.

But still. This is actually the second time I've worked for a year or more on a book idea, only to find out that someone else has beaten me to the punch. *sigh*

Trying hard not to get paranoid....

Change the boy to a girl, and the witch to a red-eyed Belkin with a variety of powers.

J. M. Hunter
11-13-2009, 05:25 AM
Sucks, but I'll do you three better:

A book I wrote a couple of years ago was about a mortgage meltdown.
Guess what happened?

Another book I wrote was about the levies in New Orleans breaking. Guess what happened?

Back in 2000 I'd written a book about a building in New York about to collapse, not the World Trade Centre and not by terrorists, but it didn't make any difference. Guess what happened?

That's three full 100k plus novels, forever trunked for no other reason that real life will no longer allow them.

Just move on and write a better book, as the saying around here goes.

If I were you, I'd write a book about a guy who got fabulously wealthy writing multiple bestsellers. Oh yeah, and I'd name him Kuat Olives.

Bushdoctor
11-14-2009, 04:55 AM
I saw an author on Sky Arts today and she said she was not a good story teller, but she is a good stylist. What she does is she takes plots from other books and creates her own work

Juneluv12
11-14-2009, 08:31 AM
I agree with Jim...I don't think it's the kiss of death at all. An obstacle maybe--but not stick a fork in it cuz it's done kinda things.

If you've had positive feedback, then keep on trying. At the same time, keep on writing new stuff.

And best of luck to you. It sounds like a really cool story!

Jamesaritchie
11-14-2009, 08:55 PM
Never abandon a book simply because another book uses the same premise. If you do, pretty much every book you ever write will be abandoned because someone, somewhere, has almost certainly already published a similar book.

Really, does that agent think Vivian VandeVelde is the first writer to use this theme and plot? If so, that's an agent you definitely do not want.

Cricket18
11-14-2009, 11:59 PM
I agree w/ some of the others. Can't you just tweak it a bit? Can't the witch be a disgruntled warlock? There are lots of magical creatures other than witches.

And a raccoon is much different than a goose.

Recently, an agent told me she had another book similar to mine. Both paranormal, both set in MN, and both w/ a 16 year old female protag. Still, the story itself was different.

And another agent just signed me. :) So I seriously wouldn't give up at this point. Tweak? Maybe. Give up? Never.

batsofchaos
11-18-2009, 10:18 AM
If you've got other projects you want to focus on, I'd say let TOADFLAX sit for a while. Come back to it with fresh eyes in a while, perhaps after finishing your current projects or after one of them, and see what you're thinking about it. If you still like it, start sending it out again. If not, rewrite it and send it on out. Jim is right, the time gap hardly matters now, and it certainly won't given even more time.

MsJudy
11-19-2009, 06:05 AM
Thanks everybody for continuing to encourage me! Enough agents have passed on it and I have another project close enough to finished that TF is on the shelf for now...but you folks have convinced me it doesn't have to stay there forever.

MumblingSage
11-20-2009, 08:49 PM
Sucks, but I'll do you three better:

A book I wrote a couple of years ago was about a mortgage meltdown.
Guess what happened?

Another book I wrote was about the levies in New Orleans breaking. Guess what happened?

Back in 2000 I'd written a book about a building in New York about to collapse, not the World Trade Centre and not by terrorists, but it didn't make any difference. Guess what happened?

That's three full 100k plus novels, forever trunked for no other reason that real life will no longer allow them.

Just move on and write a better book, as the saying around here goes.

Have you considered getting a different job? Such as, writing horoscopes?

MsJudy
11-29-2009, 09:03 PM
I am now halfway through reading the "other" book. I'm enjoying it, actually. It's charming.

It is the most interesting experience. It's like we were given the same assignment for a writing class, and came up with our own versions of answering the same questions. Things like, how does a character communicate when he's in an animal form? For some of the questions, we came up with very similar solutions, and for others we were quite different.

Some of her solutions are much more neat and tidy than mine were, and I see how I could have gotten to the point a bit more efficiently. In other instances, I like my own solutions much better.

So even though it's a bit discouraging, overall it's an interesting learning experience. It proves that I had a marketable idea, and that my execution of it wasn't too far off the mark. And if I can do that once, I can do it again!