Being Liked

Posted: March 29, 2017 in Writing
Tags: , ,


It’s nice to be liked.  I can say this without ego, because for quite awhile, now, I have been persisting without likes.

Aside from the general low-level anxiety that comes with little or no acknowledgement for one’s work over time, I also have been experiencing some confusion.  When we started querying my daughter’s and my novel in early 2015, we immediately began entering pitch contests.  Our very first #PitMad, we received several likes, including one from a small publisher.  As you will have guessed, none of these resulted in the sale of our book, but that’s hardly the point. The point is, we were utter novices at pitching, and yet in our very first contest we interested several agents/publishers.

That never happened again.  Our first pitch (all four versions, in fact) were horrible.  We hadn’t even properly identified the stakes or what were the key parts of the plot to pitch.  And yet we got 3-4 likes.  Later we sought and received advice on our pitches, on how to query, and most-importantly, how to actually improve our manuscript so that identifying the stakes and key plot points were much easier.  And yet, as we improved our manuscript and our presentation to agents, we received fewer requests.  In particular, #PitMad seemed to forsake us altogether.

I’m not bitter about it, not especially.  But I am curious, because I want to succeed. I want to crack the formula that leads to success — the sale of our book.  I see others manage it, and they are almost universally younger than I am.  And that implies to a thoughtless observer that they are less experienced, and therefor less deserving. This is the sludge that builds up in one’s motivational “engine.” I know our manuscript is better than before (and I am improving it still, as I have notes for still more important revisions), yet my confidence going forward is not where it should be.

Last week, during the most recent #PitMad, our latest pitch got liked. And just like that, I felt my confidence rushing back.

It’s a little pathetic, isn’t it?

  1. Ivuoma Okoro says:

    Not pathetic at all. It’s amazing the difference a little encouragement can make and how quickly feelings come and go. On one hand, it’s a bummer that a good feeling like encouragement, but, on the other, a crappy feeling like discouragement can dissipate just as quickly. Part of the magic of life, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ivuoma Okoro says:

    a good feeling like encouragement can be ushered in with just one like* (typo :P)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. alioherring says:

    Hi John,

    I’m no longer working for a literary agency, but I can tell you after a couple of contests, you start to see the same pitches – and if not the same pitches, obviously very similar ones to those you’ve already liked. Or considered at least.

    I’m a writer myself, and I can tell you that my first attempt at a novel garnered a little literary agency attention itself at first, but never saw any major play. My best advice is to keep writing. Write something new. You will get better at what you do. Sure, keep pitching the thing you are passionate about. But put it down for a while too. Come back to it. And write something new. And then pitch that. And then write something else that’s new. And pitch that. Very few writers are successful after their first attempt. You see a lot that find success after three or four. Just keep writing. You are a good writer. I do remember your work.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Bobbie says:

    John, it sounds like writing isn’t fun for you anymore.

    The difficult truth may be that perhaps it’s time to put this series in the drawer and start on something new. Several successful writers I’ve encountered have more than one “desk drawer book”. It seems very common: I think Robert Beatty (the Serafina series) said he had eight books. The important thing is not to keep working on the same book for the rest of your life. You can always come back to this series once you have something else to query. How can I say this? I had to shelve my three-novel series and move on. I won’t tell you how many years and how many re-writes I spent on them. The important thing is, I learned a lot. I am working on something much better now.

    Meanwhile, have you ever heard of Shawn Coyne and the Story Grid Podcast? Shawn is an agent that wants to educate writers on how to get published. How great is that? An agent that will tell you what an agent wants to see in detail! You can follow Tim Grahl as he writes his book and Shawn critiques it and offers suggestions. I wish I’d had something like his podcast a long time ago. I’m grateful that I have it now! The thing is, it’s great and it’s free, (or you can contribute or buy the book).

    Don’t let frustration over success ruin your enjoyment of writing. Start a new journey.

    Best wishes to you in all your endeavors,

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You are already braver than you give yourself credit for John. Coming into this, we writers know how competitive it is and yet the passion drives us to try. We have something to say! We want to make our mark! Why won’t anyone recognize it?! I feel ya. It may take a herculean effort some days/weeks/months to CONTINUE trying to be brave. It takes balls to pitch your raw, bleeding soul to strangers that could make or break your future. In the very bleakest of times, at least remember how it felt when you hit that submit button to #PitMad. Remember how it felt to finish another draft. Remember how good it felt to talk about your book with people who listened. YOU DID IT. There are thousands out there who will never be as brave as you and they’ll miss out on their dream. Give yourself credit for coming as far as you have. After all, it’s about the journey right? Great job my friend 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sandra Coopersmith says:

    John, I haven’t seen the revised versions of your book but I remember when I read the first version I was impressed and thought it had a lot of potential. I’m delighted your latest pitch got liked and that your confidence is returning — as it should! You tell a captivating story and hopefully it’s something you will be able to share with the public. I was under the impression from a much earlier entry that you had an agent interested in your work, so I’m hoping that agent will be able to help you make some progress with potential publishers. All the best to you!


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