When you’re going through something difficult, it’s always nice to have supportive friends who can relate, and that’s why I think it’s so important to connect with other querying authors. Let’s face it, our books are our babies and when they’re rejected, it hurts. Since it’s a necessary part of the publishing journey, I’ve found it’s best to make some friends and hold on tight for the emotion-filled ride.
The next querying author in the blog series, “People to Learn From in the Trenches” is Nina Fortmeyer. Nina was a visual artist until her author daughter suggested to do Nanowrimo together while away at college and missing home. That was over ten years ago. Nina became hooked and has been writing ever since.
J: What genre do you write in? Do you feel like your genre is harder to query than most?
N: I write magic realism/contemporary fantasy. One of the hardest things about that genre is figuring out how to classify it. Not all the agents are in agreement. And most of the ones looking for magic realism aren’t looking for adult novels. I wrote mine without knowing that.
J: I agree with you, adult magic realism is definitely a tricky genre with different classifications and very unique expectations.
J: How many manuscripts have you queried?
N: Three, not all in the same genre. My thriller got requests, but has marketing issues. I can see why nobody would pick it up. It’s about college sophomores. It’s not YA, and they aren’t really adults. I may try to rewrite it in a different venue. It has a good hook. I also wrote a novel that is too far out of the box for a debut novel. This leaves me pitching Pictures of Us, which may or may not be magic realism. Did I mention that I hate querying?
J: Haha. I don’t think anyone loves it. I have seen agents mention on Twitter how their should be a marketplace for college MC’s, but it hasn’t taken hold in the marketplace. Maybe in the future. Once YA didn’t exist. Perhaps one day New Adult will expand beyond romance. In the meantime, it can make querying that age group problematic.
J: What has been the best moment during your writing journey?
N: I asked a horror writer who I really respect about the small publisher she was writing for. I was trying to place my “too far out of the box” novel. Right away, she said “No, don’t do it. That story’s too special. It’s too good for (not going to name the publisher).” It was the boost I needed. I came to writing late, and to me, everyone looks more experienced and successful than me.
J: I love that. I’m so glad she loved your novel that much. Now I’m curious about it and want to read it!
J: What was the absolute worst moment?
N: I accidentally knocked over a glass of ice water on an agent I was planning to query. I was moderating her roundtable at Killer Nashville mystery writers convention. We ended the weekend on good terms anyway, but she didn’t take my novel.
J: Oh no! I bet that felt awful but I’m sure she understood.
J: Have you participated in any contests? Did participation help you as a writer?
N: I was a reader for the Claymore Dagger award for many years. Even though I don’t write murder and detective stories, which is mostly what that contest is for, it was tremendously helpful to gauge my own reactions as a slush reader. I tried PitchWars. Did not get in, but I won a few short crits. They really helped my query.
J: Wow. That’s neat. I definitely feel like critiquing other people’s work improves our own, for me it was interning at a literary agency for over a year.
J: What do you feel has been the hardest part about the writing journey?
N: Finding enough large blocks of alone time to give me the headspace to really create. I can edit in bits of time here and there. For drafting I need mental room, preferably alone. Also, I hate querying. I have to force myself to do it.
J: Yes. Time is always a big issue. I often wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.
J: What is your favorite resource, whether for craft or querying?
N: For craft, that would be my writers group. Their feedback is golden. For querying, MSWL Academy.
J: Here is a link to MSWL Academy for anyone who’s wondering what it is. It’s a great resource for querying writers.
J: Name one fellow querying author that has helped you and why.
N: Not sure if I can pick just one. I’m in the online group Mid May Writers, and the whole group has been very supportive of each other’s writing journeys. It’s nice to have a place I can take any question and somebody will try to answer. If anyone needs feedback, somebody will volunteer to read. I feel lucky.
J: Yay for Mid May Writers!
J: What is the best thing you’ve learned?
N: To be a better writer. Also, to have a thick skin. Rejection doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It means the agent doesn’t think they can sell your book, or simply isn’t a good fit.
J: Yes! Love this!
J: Anything else you want to share with fellow query trench authors?
N: Write because you love it. There are easier ways to make a living.
J: Ha! Isn’t that the truth! Thank you for your honesty, Nina. I’m sure many querying authors can relate.