Spam Folders

I started querying last August. I spent days researching agents. I tried to only contact the ones that had worked with Authors I’d read and loved. I started with the books that I thought were comparable to my manuscript. I carefully crafted the query. I adjusted each one to cater to each agent, as their websites noted. I only found 6.

Just typing that makes me feel silly. 6 is not nearly enough to feel accomplished or thorough, but there it is. I emailed and submitted the forms with the first few pages of my manuscript.

I never heard a word.

In February, I decided to contact one of the six a second time. Adding to the research, I found 12 more that I considered close matches.

Within 24 hours, I received a response from the agent I contacted twice. The manuscript didn’t speak to her, she was going to pass. Oh and my original email was in her SPAM folder.

Pesky Spam Folders.

My first reaction was celebration. My first response! Somebody read the first few pages of my manuscript and considered it. I knew there were plenty more rejections coming my way. This is what society teaches writers. Prepare to fail. Prepare to wait until you are almost ready to quit and then wait some more.

Prepare to be unwanted.

Within the next few weeks. I waited for more rejections. I waited for more passes. It has only been a month, I told myself. Maybe, the queries are stacked up in their inboxes and it is taking time. Maybe, there are some really good manuscripts in there, from authors who have 1.2 million followers on tiktok. I can’t compete with them.

Maybe, mine has just been gobbled up by the Spam Folders.

That’s probably my fault. I must have sounded too spammy. I must have been trash from the first word. The A.I. that lives in Gmail knows me better than I know myself. I am rubbish. This whole book is rubbish.

This is easy to convince myself of, that I am unworthy and at best, less than desirable. I don’t need critics or reviews to tell me how imperfect I am. I certainly don’t need agents to decline or ghost me. This narrative is practically the Disney movie that raised me.

Instead, this is what I’m going to do.

As many authors have done so before me, I’m going to do this thing myself. I’m researching my self-publishing options. I’m hiring my own editor. Then I’m going to tell people about the book I wrote. I’m going to order my own copies, one by one if I have to. And I will walk the streets of my locality, stacks of books in tow, selling to strangers on the street. Actually, that sounds fun. I may do that. Should I get a bicycle with a basket?

There is this small fleeting chance that one of the agents I’ve emailed will get back to me. I’ll never kill that part of me that thinks wonderful surprises are around the corner. I’m just not going to wait. I’m not going to use the excuse of acquiring #100rejections to procrastinate what I think is the scariest alternative of all: representing myself.

It’ll probably end in missteps and pitfalls–at worst flames. Or maybe I’ll be gobbled up by a self sentient Spam Folder who secretly loved my words all along–wanted them for itself.

Poor spam folders. Maybe all they really want are words that came from the heart, poured into binary code, just for them.

Perhaps I have more in common with Spam Folders that I thought.

All this to say. I’m going to do this. I’m going to publish “They Won’t Apologize for the Mess.” If the Spam Folder can reach out for what someone else has told it to wait for, than I can too.

P.S. I really do need to invest in Grammarly or some equivalent. This went out to my subscribers just riddled with typos. Y’all are good for putting up with it.


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