Monday, December 3, 2012

Guest Post: "This Book Will Never Sell" by JB Lynn

“This Book Will Never Sell”

Now I don’t know about you, but I have that exact thought every time I write a book. (I think it multiple times every single day.)

Then again, if you’re like me, you must believe in a corner of your heart, that it WILL sell, because why else would you put yourself through the torture that is Pursuit of Publication?

When you query an agent, it feels like “not a fit for my list” really means “this book will never sell”. But that’s not what it means because an agent would never say that, right?  Right??


A number of years ago, I had that very thing happen to me.

Now I don’t know about you, but the idea of doing a face-to-face pitch with a literary agent is wayyyyy worse than sending an anonymous query letter. I panic. I get tongue-tied. I babble like a stream during a Spring thaw.

Still, I’m a believer in putting yourself out there in pursuit of your dreams. (If you ask me, it’s a pretty stupid belief.) Following this belief had led me to pitching to agents at conferences. (Yes, it has always been just about as miserable as I imagine it will be.)

Now for the most part, agents are nice people. They love books. They try not to let their eyes glaze over as they listen to poorly-delivered pitch after poorly-delivered pitch. They scribble notes (which may very well be their shopping lists). They drink caffeinated beverages. They suck on lozenges. They use a lot of hand sanitizer.

They smile. They’re polite. They tend to be encouraging, even while they’re rejecting you.

Or, like the agent I pitched to, they look you dead in the eye and say, “This book will never sell.”

She didn’t say she couldn’t sell it. She said it would never sell. To my face.

Once I got over my shock/outrage/depression, I mentally thanked her because she did the best possible thing possible for me. She pissed me off.

I landed another agent (who I later left) with that book and I rewrote it for two different publishing companies before I got that “yes” I’d been pursuing.  Every time I thought I couldn’t take another “no” I remembered how much I wanted to prove that agent wrong and I pushed a little further. THE FIRST VICTIM was published by Carina Press….and no, I didn’t thank the “This book will never sell” agent in my acknowledgments, but I was tempted.

What’s the worst thing you’ve heard as you pursue publication?

She is a compulsive reader, a runner (of sorts), an enthusiastic cook (who doesn't get the appeal of the Food Network), and someone who has an irresistible urge to eavesdrop at all times.
JB has a great love of her husband, dogs, coffee, purple ink, spiral notebooks, running gear, hot showers, and '80s music. Given enough time, all of these things will eventually show up in her books.

Edited to Add:  We didn't plan this but just for kicks this morning, I got a wild idea.  Comment and be entered to win either a hardcopy of Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman - the first book in JB's series - or any one of her Kindle ebooks.  (U.S. only on the ebooks, I think.  They don't let you send those things to other countries - damn them.  And U.S. or Canada only on the hardcopy.  I'm not made of money. :wink:)  Any comment before next Monday's post goes up - one comment per person. 


  1. OMG! I will never complain about my generic "Not for me" rejection letters, again! Wow, to come back from that face-to-face (just plain old mean) rejection takes a lot of courage, JB - good for you. I'm afraid I would still be whimpering in the corner! They say you need thick skin!

    So glad you came back fighting - and congrats on proving that agent wrong :)

  2. There's so many hurdles! And they keep changing. I'm glad you persevered. Congrats to your success!

  3. Thanks, Janet. It was tough to take but I got my revenge. ;-)

  4. That just goes to show that one should never piss off a writer, J.B. *wink* I'm so glad you proved her wrong. In the process, you proved you had what it takes to persevere to become a career author. I'm afraid I would have taken the low road and written that agent (with the name changed just enough to keep me from getting sued) into a book. But I'm all about the revenge and junk. LOL

    I had an editor I'd submitted to tell me I didn't know what I was talking about on how a character would do his job (he was a JAGC officer in the Army) and she wasn't going to read it until I fixed the character. Yeah...about that...I'm married to an attorney who was an Army JAGC officer at the time. My expert beat whatever the heck she was thinking she knew (I later found out she was relying on the movie "A Few Good Men" for her "expertise." Uhm...two words: HOLLYWOOD and Navy/USMC. Okay, that was three words.

  5. lbdiamond -- I often wear a bracelet that says PERSEVERE when I'm writing. It's the only sure path to success. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Silver -- LOL, believe me, I was tempted to write her into a book just so that I could kill her off. ;-)

    OMG your JAGC story is terrific. It's funny the things we all believe we're experts in just because we've seen a movie or read a book about it. I hope you persevered and found it a home.

  7. It might sound cliche, but I had an agent tell me, "Every no gets you closer to that yes." That has always stuck with me. And I've heard a lot of no's. ;-)

  8. I agree, Liz. And have had a lot of no's myself. :-)

  9. I'm terrible at pitches. So I was thankful for the space and time that querying provided!

  10. I love this story! I know what you mean though - sometimes getting pissed is the very best motivation.

  11. Thank you all for stopping by today. And thanks so much to JB for agreeing to be the very first guest poster on The Guide. =oD

    Keep those comments coming, folks. And make sure you click into the 'Follower' section to add your name to the list of Survivors!

  12. Natalie -- Thank you!

    Lydia -- I'd rather send out 100 queries than pitch once.

    Alexia -- Thanks. Whatever motivates you, right?

  13. The winner of the contest has been contacted and I'll post the name as soon as they accept her prize. Thank you all for stopping by and commenting. Look for more guest posts and contests in the future. =oD


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