Monday, March 26, 2007

If I Were a Man, I Never Would've Gotten Any Action

Because in my 20's, I had a real problem with asking for what I wanted.
I remember the very first query letter I wrote to Harlequin Silhouette. I was almost apologizing for wasting their time in asking them to consider my book. Admittedly, it wasn't a great book but you think after all the nights and lunch hours I spent on that thing that I would've been a better advocate than that.
As time wore on, I wanted to be published so badly that it became my life purpose to sell Hot Tamara. Maybe I was tired of rejection, or just getting ornery as I approached my thirties. Whatever the case, I began thinking about why I should be published as opposed to why I shouldn't. When I wrote that fateful query letter to Harper Collins, I shook my moneymaker, baby. I was damn proud of that story. Having reread the letter recently, there's a chutzpah to it even though the book had already been rejected by ten agents.
The thing is, when you finally climb up into the realm of publishing, you have to keep on asking for what you want. You have to risk that someone will tell you no, which then requires that you do some fancy footwork to change their mind, or maneuver around them. Even though I consider myself to be moderately ballsy, I still squirm just a little bit when I ask my agent to do something on my behalf, or my readers to buy my next book.
When I hesitate, I remember that no one else will do it for me ... unless of course, I ask them to.


Erica Orloff said...

Wonderful post, Mary. I tend to be very modest. I have no problem "going for it" in terms of working myself to the bone--but being "pushy" to people? Makes me feel so uncomfortable--and yet I know you have to really sell yourself. No one else will do it for you. Your agent will watch out for you, but the real selling of YOU . . . only you are in that driver's seat. Inspiring post!

Louise said...

I can totally relate to this, Mary. Not only am I better at asking for and going after what I want without apology, I'm also more confident in my abilities. I used to have this little voice in the back of my head telling me that maybe I had no talent, maybe I was just a fraud and sooner or later everyone would figure it out... blah, blah, blah. THat voice rarely comes around anymore, and I really don't miss it!

Weez (who is FINALLY back in California)

Mary Castillo said...

Erica, you don't know what a relief it is to hear that we're in the same boat! :-)

Hey Weez: I can't imagine you anything but fearless! Glad to hear you're back!


Louise said...

Me? Fearless? Bah! I must be a good actress. :)

Bethany said...

Hear, hear! Honestly, energy and excitement can lead to great things. Especially when it can be *read* in a query and your book. Who says charisma can't get you what you want? :-)

Nadine Dajani said...

I used to be so shy about telling people I've written a book that I had a tendency to downplay it a lot... to the point where I'd actually end up making it sound bad! Thankfully I got a grip - you fake upbeatness a few times and guess what - you start believing the hype!

Maybe one day I'll manage to convince myself that I really am a writer, not pretending to be one...

Mary Castillo said...

Hey Bethany! It's good to "see" you again. I think we're creatures of instinct and energy. So when you've got it, flaunt it.

Nadine?!?! Shame on you! You are an author and a damn good one, too!


Nadine Dajani said...

Ha ha!

Haven't you noticed it's like that in all areas of life though? Probably not for everyone but for A LOT of people. I remember when I got my first "serious" office job and just walked around wondering what the heck I was doing, in awe of people who slammed fists on tables during meetings and threw opinions around like they were kings of the world. Since then I've pretty much figured out that they're either:

A) Extremely talented in the art of bullsh*t, or,

B) Actually believe they know what they're talking about and that it makes sense.

(Ahem... Monsieur Bush, anyone?)

That's why some personalities just don't move up the ladder... Unfortunately, a lot of times, it's not the message but the delivery. I've even read that one of the reasons women don't do well raising capital from venture capitalist companies is that they don't project the same confidence as their full-of-baloney-and-grand-promises male counterparts.

As for writing, it always seems like I'm telling myself I just need to hit the next milestone for it to feel real. First it was the RWA contests, then the agent, then the editor... I don't mind that though. Remember your post on "The Secret"? I'm the opposite - I thrive on negative thinking. It makes me work harder, and makes the reward that much sweeter.
Hey, whatever works, right?