Editor/Agent search and sales: be like the puncturevine

In my continued search for representation I’m researching the swiftly changing market and agents who represent my genres.  Part of that work is battling the dreaded rejection dragon.  It’s difficult to take a chance, knowing that the work of my heart may be rejected. 

 Watering my daisies this morning, I noticed more stubborn puncturevine weeds had grown beside the large pots.  Known for their punishing thorns, strong enough to puncture tires, dog’s paws and tender toes, they’re amazingly prolific.  This plant produced over fifty of those wicked thorns.

 The puncturevine is never welcome, but it has two redeeming traits that even in the face of my intense dislike of them, I must admire.

 They have a delicate yellow flower, a visual payback, albeit small, for the menacing claim they stake in flower gardens.  As I pulled this giant specimen this morning, though, it made me think of the submission process.  Here’s what the WEED does, and does very well.

It grows outward from the center to form a large star-like structure, its tentacles reaching out as far as a foot in all directions.  (Note its tenacity:  it reaches out in several directions, not just one.)

 Also, it doesn’t produce just one seed.  To beat nature’s odds and the gardener’s best efforts it produces many seeds.  These seeds are spiny and hard (note:  they’re hardy and enduring).  Their punishing spikes can penetrate skin and even those hardy rubber-covered work gloves, so unless you come specially equipped, you probably won’t pull them out.

So, despicable though they may be, they offered inspiration for me this morning. 

Be like the puncturevine with your submissions.  Send them out in many directions, and produce a thick, indestructible shell in the face of rejection letters.  Keep growing new networks, new possibilities, so if one avenue produces a rejection, you will have many other avenues open to you.

 There are many ways of visualizing success when sending proposals and submissions.  Some say if you throw enough mud on the side of the barn, eventually some of it will stick.  Jim Cole, one of my critique partners, says you have to collect many black marbles before you find the white one.  What visual do you use when making a pitch or sending submissions and proposals?



Filed under get published, success techniques, The Writing Life

6 responses to “Editor/Agent search and sales: be like the puncturevine

  1. This is a great analogy – I get these in my gardens too, and boy are they tenacious. I’m going to keep them in mind.

    When I pitch, I try to forget the pitch entirely, meaning that I approach the conversation as just that – a conversation with someone else who loves books and writing as much as I do, and an opportunity to spend a few minutes getting to know a new person in the industry. I give my pitch, but in my head, I’m there for the conversation, not the result – a lot like the weed, which is really there because it was a good place to be at the time.

    • redplume

      Susan, this is a great mindset with which to enter the pitch session. I present workshops on pitch sessions and I’m going to remember this one. It’s so much more effective than the “Just relax and be yourself” advice typically given.

  2. Loved the metaphor of the invasive vine. For me, I liken the submission process to buying a lottery ticket. The more you buy, the better your chances of winning. I always hope the odds are better, though, than the lottery odds. Thanks for sharing.

    • redplume

      I can see the lottery ticket metaphor, too, Joyce. The more lottery tickets you buy (the more marketable work you have to market and the more editors and agents you meet and query) the better your odds become. I’m wishing you much luck with your future proposals!

  3. Good timing on this post, Janet. I think there are a lot of us doing the agent search again. I wish you lots of luck.


    • redplume

      Thanks, Pat! I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying it was to work my way past all those thorny seeds and yank these punishing weeds out of my garden! I enjoyed your article about the farmer’s market and all those lovely flowers, BTW. Thanks for dropping by!

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