I tend to dread checking my email these days. It’s usually not very uplifting, to say the least. For example, today I got rejected by two of the most highly-regarded and most queried agents in the business. Not exactly a shock. What did I expect, exactly?
I remember law school classmates of mine saying they applied to Harvard Law School, even though they knew their chances of acceptance were probably at about .005%, just to say they did and so they could frame the rejection letter in their office later. After all, it would have the Harvard seal. Seriously?!
I’ve never been that masochistic. Well, until maybe now, because in spite of the ridiculous odds, I queried these two agents.
For what, exactly? So years from now, when I’m a NYT Bestselling Author keynoting at the amazing DFW Writer’s Conference, I can tell a room full of aspiring writers (much as James Rollins did to me a few weeks ago) not to give up their dream, because after all, I was once rejected by Agent X and Agent Y? (Maybe I should print out their rejection emails and frame them?)
I don’t know. Whatever my reasons were, it’s over now and I move on.
Sixteen years ago when I was applying to law school, I realized that Harvard was not an option for me (That D in Organic Chemistry II will haunt me forever, LOL!). There were 178 other law schools in the United States, though, and just because my degree wouldn’t come from Harvard didn’t mean that I couldn’t be successful.
The same holds true for agents and for writing.
Anyway, where was I?
That’s right. Email is depressing. Really depressing.
Not always, though. Amidst the junk and the “I’m sorry, this project doesn’t sound right for me, but keep trying,” I got something else a few days ago.
I was contacted by Grub Street Reads telling me they enjoyed my novel, After Ten, and wanted to offer me their endorsement.
I was pretty skeptical at first. Who are these people? What does this mean? More importantly, what does it cost me? Was it just some fly-by-night operation that offered everyone a meaningless ‘endorsement’ for the right price?
I checked out their website and quickly decided this was something I wanted to be a part of. The Grub Street Reads Endorsement is an honor I am pleased to have bestowed upon my book, and not just because it’s not costing me anything.
I agree that standards are needed in indie publishing and that there are some sub-quality works being produced. So how does an avid reader with a Kindle or Nook in their hands and money to spend know what is a quality book and what isn’t?
Sure, they can look at reviews, but everyone knows those aren’t always accurate. We all have friends/family who can post a glowing review for us if we ask nice or bribe them.
They can look at Amazon’s rankings, but it’s quickly becoming clear that Amazon changes their algorithms as often as some people change their underwear, or at least their bed sheets.
So I welcome Grub Street Reads into the mix with a well thought out evaluation process. Their criteria? Plot, Characters, Pace, Accuracy, Grammar/Layout and Overall Assessment.
All relevant criteria for a book.
Is it potentially subjective? Sure. So are those Amazon reviews, as well as those agent rejections. It’s a subjective world and a subjective business. Still, I was very encouraged to learn that they don’t slap their endorsement on just anything, and that less than half of the books they consider actually receive an endorsement.
A far better acceptance ratio than Agent X and Agent Y, sure, but discriminating enough that it means something. And, of course, I like that they came to me and offered this endorsement after reading my book, as opposed to me soliciting it.
With my confidence taking a real beating these days and that fabulous DFWCON momentum threatening to slip away with each “Thank you for your query, but this project does not seem right for me” email that I receive, it’s very nice to be reminded that some people do enjoy my work, even if Agent X and Agent Y do not.
Please see the Press/Publicity section of this site for the full press release on the endorsement and visit www.grubstreetreads.com for more information about their criteria and more endorsed indie reads.