Saturday, September 11, 2010

Learning to Query at a Little League Game by Terry Burns

I went to a little league tournament over the weekend to watch my grandson play. As I watched the drama unfold on an elemental level I realized I was learning some things about the query process as well.

The first game they fought it out with my grandson pitching, but then had a bad inning with some fielding errors plus a pitch that hung up on him and a big old boy parked it up somewhere up around Cleveland. They just couldn't make that deficit up but only lost by a couple of runs. Then because of a horrendous scheduling problem they had to go directly to another field where they played probably the strongest team in the tourney. Tired, and having already used their strongest pitchers they served as batting practice for this talented and well coached team. It was ugly, and they were demoralized by the end of the first inning and couldn't get it back together.

The following day they still weren't showing much, then one of their lead-off batters put one over the fence. Suddenly they were alive again, fought like tigers and took the game. In the 4th game they had to again face a team who had already beaten them but this time fought them to a standstill and only lost by one run. No shame in that.

Like that team losing their enthusiasm after a hard loss a writer may hit that same wall with a mailbox full of rejections. A rejection is one person's opinion. All it means is a project does not fit the markets the editor or agent is trying to find something for right at that point in time. Of course, too many rejections may mean the project may need to be revisited particularly if some good input has been received along the way. It can also mean we are trying to take a minor league work into the major leagues.

It's like when the team ran into that really good ball club. They didn't have a chance, but I would have liked to see them try that one with their top pitchers and fresh players. They probably would still be over-matched, but would have had a shot at it. We can see that in writing too where a writer who has had success in small presses hit the big houses going up against stronger writers and where the editors want so much stronger stories. Have to come with our best pitching and our strongest game to play in that league. Average won't get it.

That's the way it works for a writer too. Continuing to stay in the game, one solid hit can give us what we need to keep going, even when it gets tougher. We kept telling Preston, "Don't swing at just anything, wait for a good pitch." That's it, isn't it? Don't swing at every market, but pick our pitch, make sure it's a good possibility, then swing with our best shot.

No telling what a guy can learn at a little league game.


Jeanette Levellie said...

What an excellent analogy, Terry. I especially like your run-down of what rejections may mean. Very encouraging--thanks!

Angela Breidenbach said...

I agree that receiving rejection is tough. But those rejections are exactly what made my book sell in the end. I did get some great feedback. Rewrote the book with a lot more flair and character. Now Gems of Wisdom comes out March 2011. Tamela believed in the project and kept working with me to present it in the best possible manner.

But just to give other authors some encouragement... Gems of Wisdom took 13 rejections before it found a home and now that same book is creating a huge buzz in the speaking world. 13 is my lucky number :-)

Thank you to all those who rejected it when it needed time to grow into what it is today! I'd like to encourage other authors to set aside the rejections for a few weeks and go back with an eye for picking the good "pitch" coming at you. Pick the ball that connects with your bat. Then go for that home run!

Angie Breidenbach