I am honored to share today’s special guest blog post from Carolyn DiPasquale, author of the book Reckless Grace. Today she shares the lessons she learned sending queries to agents and publishers alike. I hope you enjoy today’s post and be sure to follow the author and pick up your copy of their book today!
Finding a publisher is a long, lonely process. I’d heard the rejection stories, so I knew this going in, but I never imagined how hard it would be in that actual space.
Hoping to sign with a major company, aka the “Big 5 Publishers,” I began by querying agents. I spent hours trying to craft cogent query letters that, in retrospect, I think always missed the mark for two reasons. One, I had trouble boiling down a broad, complex work like Reckless Grace into a few catchy lines. My cognizance of the power of that letter—it could make or break me—also froze me up, resulting in stilted text. I received pass after pass. But infinitely more painful than the Dear-John emails was the total lack of response from most Big-5 agents who couldn’t be bothered to even acknowledge receipt of, much less respond to, not just my query letter, but also my book proposal and sample chapters, a package that took from several weeks to several months to put together. Which made me repeatedly feel like the book I’d labored over for the last seven years was worth nothing.
But I didn’t give up because even if I couldn’t articulate it effectively in my queries, I believed in the importance of my project. It helped that my writer-friend, Elisabeth, was also shopping her manuscript among Big-5 agents without success. We commiserated with each other while reviewing one another’s letters and synopses, and this camaraderie lifted some of the gloom. I got so excited the few times she received “hits,” that is requests from agents to read her full manuscript; however, they ultimately passed. (Elisabeth still hasn’t found an agent after eight years.) As time went on, I understood that Big-5 agents favor celebrities and well-known writers. They accept very few new clients, sometimes only one percent!
Therefore, after a year without one bite, I moved on to smaller companies, called Indie (independent) publishers. Within weeks, I started getting hits. Both editors who read my full manuscript offered me contracts. Though thrilled at their interest, I felt I had to proceed cautiously; I’d invested too much time in writing Reckless Grace to release it without vetting these companies. After contacting authors who had used these publishers and hearing about their experiences, I had serious reservations and ultimately rejected both offers. I knew it was the right call, but I felt dejected and stuck. In the stifling July heat of 2020, I started writing query letters again. In August, I got another hit. Jay Gowen from WiDo Publishing requested my full manuscript and read Reckless Grace in three days, stunning me with a phone call. “I don’t usually telephone authors,” he said in a kind, professional voice, “but your manuscript absolutely slayed me.” I signed a contract the next day.
Fourteen-year-old Rachel guards a collection of secrets for ten years, journaling to vent her terror and loneliness.
Following Rachel’s fatal overdose years later, her mother, Carolyn DiPasquale, stumbles upon her daughter’s diaries. Shattered, she searches for answers, retracing her steps to figure out how parents and doctors missed three major mental illnesses.
What the single, working mother recalls is a far cry from what happens, as dramatically revealed in tandem chapters gleaned from Rachel’s journals. While the mother sprints from task to task, the daughter details the baffling emergence and frightening progression of bulimia, diabulimia, and borderline personality disorder; her eventual substance abuse; and heart-wrenching reasons for not seeking help.
Despite her loss, DiPasquale hopes her story lights a path for victims of mental illness while awakening all readers.
Publisher: E.L. Marker
Print length: 546 pages
About the Author:
Carolyn DiPasquale grew up in Franksville, Wisconsin, graduating from UW-Milwaukee with a double major in English and French. In 1983, she moved to Rhode Island where she raised three children while pursuing her Master’s in English at the University of Rhode Island. Over her career, she taught literature and composition at various New England colleges; worked as a technical writer at the Naval Underseas Warfare Center in Newport; and wrote winning grants as a volunteer for Turning Around Ministries, a Newport aftercare program for ex-offenders. She has been an active member of the Newport Round Table, a professional writing group (founded in 1995), since 2013.
DiPasquale currently lives in Richmond, Rhode Island where she has started working on a sequel to Reckless Grace. She has also ventured into writing children’s books. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and baking with healthy ingredients, hiking and trapshooting with her husband Phil, and volunteering at the New Hope Chapel food pantry in Carolina, Rhode Island.
Blog Tour Calendar
– Blog Tour Calendar
August 1st @ The Muffin
Join us at WOW! Women on Writing as we celebrate the launch of Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.
August 1st @ Mindy McGinnis
Join Mindy as she features a guest post by author Carolyn DiPasquale on the topic of how mental disorders travel in packs. Don’t miss this!
August 3rd @ Pages and Paws
Join Kristine as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. You don’t want to miss this powerful memoir!
August 8th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Join Anthony as he features Carolyn DiPasquale’s guest post about lessons learned from querying agents and publishers.
August 9th @ The Faerie Review
Join Lily as she features Carolyn DiPasquale and her memoir Reckless Grace.
August 10th @ Word Magic
Come by Fiona’s blog where she shares the author’s guest post about memoir writing. Don’t miss this important post if you are interested in this writing genre!
August 13th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Join Linda as she interviews Carolyn DiPasquale about her memoir Reckless Grace.
August 15th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra as she features Reckless Grace by Carolyn DiPasquale.
August 18th @ Pen and Prosper
Join Jennifer as she interviews Carolyn DiPasquale about her memoir Reckless Grace.
August 19th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy’s blog and read her review of Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. You don’t want to miss this touching memoir.
August 20th @ Choices
Join Madeline as she shares Carolyn DiPasquale’s guest post about whether women can age with grace.
August 22nd @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole’s blog as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s powerful memoir Reckless Grace.
August 24th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Join Anthony again as he reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s powerful memoir Reckless Grace.
August 28th @ Liberate and Lather
Join Angela as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace.
September 1st @ Peaches and Cream Pages
Join Kelly as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. You’ll definitely want to add this book to your reading list.
September 2nd @ Heidi Lynn’s Book Reviews.
Join Heidi Lynn as she features Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace.
September 3rd @ Kelly Sgroi’s Blog
Visit Kelly’s blog today and read the guest post written by Carolyn DiPasquale about how to make your writing sing. Feel inspired today!
September 4th @ Free to be Me
Join Leslie as she reviews Reckless Grace by Carolyn DiPasquale.