We’ve all heard the stories about big, bestselling authors being rejected by a gazillion houses before getting published. I have one of my own to share. Many years ago, I received a compelling and well-written query letter from a fellow
Andrew had been writing fiction for many years, and had even queried the agency long before my arrival. I requested his manuscript, and signed it up, then proceeded to shop it around to publishers with no success. That first book was charming and funny, but not quite what publishers were looking for at that time. His next novel, a quiet mystery set on a college campus, was also well done and engaging, but I faced resistance again from publishers, for different reasons this time. All the while, we were learning what A.J. needed to do to turn his talent into a saleable manuscript. Bigger and more commercial were two things that I felt his fiction needed to be, ambiguous as that can sound to an author, and eventually A.J. came back to me with a terrific thriller called The Mask of Atreus. This was around the time that Dan Brown had published The DaVinci Code, and though A.J. hadn’t read the book before he wrote Mask, there were some similarities in style and tone, and in pulling historical facts into contemporary fiction.
I had put a paragraph about the book into our agency newsletter before I submitted the manuscript, and it caught the eye of our subagent in
A.J. recently signed a 2-book deal with Tor for a new fantasy series which will come out in 2009 and 2010, and we are working on his next thriller now, which uses his Shakespearean background to weave an intriguing, commercial thriller.
Years after I’d signed A.J. up as a client, I found a query letter he’d sent to the agency back in the early 90s. There was a hand-written note on the bottom saying that he was a good writer but it wasn’t the right manuscript. I’m glad that I was able to discover A.J. again so many years later and work with him to develop the right project for him at the right time. A talented author getting the right kind of guidance can find success, even if it takes time, effort, and lots of rejection to get there.