After several rewrites of Fastball Fari, I felt I had a product ready for the publisher. Next, I needed a literary agent. I struggled over the query letter, as most first-time authors will, trying to tailor my pitch to the interests of each particular agent. However, making a choice was difficult; Fari was fiction, but what “genre” or category did it fit into? Was it “sports fiction,” or “contemporary fiction?” Sports fiction was not well represented, but there were many agents working with non-fiction sports.
I thought the hardest part about getting a book published was writing the book. But I was wrong. The hardest part is trying to get anyone’s attention. I admit I never considered the “genre” of Fari while I wrote the book, or whether it could be easily categorized.
Back in those days, with no access to internet, I relied on snail mail in sending queries to prospective agents. I printed out letters and sent them off to the most likely agents, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for their answers.
The movement of mail from rural Costa Rica to destinations in the U.S. usually took around three weeks, and the return trip was just about as long. Sometimes, I’d wait two or three months for an answer, and every answer was a rejection, and most were form letters addressed to “Dear Author.”
Rejections in life, among our friends or family, can be a devastating experience. Rejections in the literary world are common, but still able to deliver a prick to the heart and mind. In my case, rejections led to doubts; maybe the book was no good, or maybe the query letter was no good, or maybe the agent didn’t like the story These doubts hit me especially hard because I lived in a social vacuum; there was no one to turn to for critical analysis or support.
In spite of the doubts, I felt Fastball Fari was a good story and deserved to see the light of day. I also knew that it needed more work and I continued with the rewrites. However, I see-sawed back and forth in my opinion of the book; sometimes I thought it was crap, sometimes I thought it was great. Many times I wondered if I suffered from a grand illusion.