I hate Twitter.
For real. It’s honestly just the worst.
But after all the forums and blog posts and books on writing, I came to realize I had to join Twitter. Apparently it was life or death for a writer.
So I joined Twitter.
And, okay, maybe it wasn’t life or death. But it did help. Even if I still hate it.
No, I haven’t yet crossed that magical bridge where suddenly someone wants to publish my stuff. But there is a very large writing community on Twitter. And, if you find the right people, it can make you realize you aren’t alone on this journey. Like, there are others out there fretting and cussing and obsessively refreshing their inboxes. Because there are.
And there are contests. Lord, are there contests. Every time you turn around, there are pitch contests and mentor contests and contests for people who write fantasy or science fiction or romance or a combination of the three.
On a whim, I entered one of these contests. It was called Author Mentor Match. Open to YA and MG (that’s Young Adult and Middle Grade to you non-literary peeps) writers, you submit a query letter and writing sample to a mentor or two of your choice in hopes of impressing a published or on-submission author enough that he or she will take you under their wing, if you will, and guide you along this publishing journey. The chances are slim. Hundreds of submissions for perhaps a dozen mentors. I clicked submit, not expecting much in return.
And, surprise surprise, I did not get in.
BUT (and this is a big but, y’all) two days later, I received a lovely email from one of the mentors I submitted to, telling me how much she enjoyed my sample. She said that, although it was a tough decision, she’d already selected her top two and mine simply didn’t make the cut. She did, however, encourage me to keep writing and told me if she’d been able to take on a third mentee, she would have selected me in a heartbeat. After hearing rejection for so many years, simply hearing from another author that my stuff was GOOD (not contest-winning good, obviously, but still GOOD) was like a breath of fresh air. Never had losing energized me so much. I wrote back, thanking her for her kind words, for taking the time to send me her kind words, and for even considering little old me.
And then–guys, this is where it gets good–she emailed me back to tell me that she had contacted the organizers of the event, asking to take on a third mentee. They had agreed, and she formally extended an invitation to join the Author Mentor Match program.
I. Was. Floored.
I am now working closely with a writer who has crossed that magical publishing bridge, who has emerged from the slush pile victoriously, agent in hand. Not only do I now have an ally in this whole painful, confusing process, I now have a FRIEND. A friend who believes in my writing, believes in my manuscript, and believes in me. She even told me my story gave her “feels.” IT GAVE HER FEELS. To me, that’s even better than someone saying they loved it. We have gone through several rounds of edits together, and she’s even helped me write a killer query along with compiling a list of agents I should consider.
I’ve queried eight people from her list. So far, I’ve gotten two rejections. And they were painful. I felt like #AMM was the start of something, like my mentor would have the magic touch and make me rise from the slush pile like a phoenix. But no. My mentor is amazing and lovely and supportive…but she is also human. She can give me the tools and lead me in the right direction, but she cannot make an agent sign me.
But that’s okay. Because she has given me something much more valuable. She has given me HOPE. And, after years in the querying trenches getting pummeled by rejection, hope was not something I ever thought I’d have again.
And so here we are. I am still in querying hell. I am still crying out from the slush pile “READ ME! READ ME!” But my optimism has returned. I WILL do this. Not if, but when.
And all because I finally listened to someone smarter than me and joined Twitter.