I am sorry.

CW/TW: racism, transphobia

I’m not sorry that I was caught. I’m sorry that I ever said such violent, racist, horrible things.

On 9/20, old Tweets of mine resurfaced in which I expressed racist sentiments, including one where I questioned the legality of a Mexican man working in my dorm building when I was a freshman in college.

These Tweets are not okay. I never should have posted them. I never should have thought these things.

Many say that youth isn’t an excuse. That’s true. I shouldn’t say that I was young and naive, even though I was.

The most recent Tweets came from 2014. That’s six years ago, and two years before I joined my agency. I didn’t stop posting offensive things because I became an intern or an agent. I stopped posting them because I learned how wrong my ideology was, and I learned how to change and grow and be better.

I grew up in a white town surrounded by people saying and doing racist things. For some, this is the life they never leave. This is how white supremacists are grown and fostered. I am lucky, because I went off to college, and I realized that the small world I grew up in is not reflective of the real world.

I learned on accident. I won’t say that I went to college trying to better myself. When I transferred to UConn, I was placed into a class on Feminism. I had no idea what Feminism was, really, when I started. I remember making naive comments, but my professor was patient and guided me to a better understanding of what Feminism means and why it is important. From there, I started taking more classes on Feminism because I realized my world view was small and I needed to grow it.

I also took a class on Arab culture and history. It was another class I was put into as a mid-year transfer, and it’s one I am grateful to have taken, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

My education was filled with courses on different cultures and people. I took sociology and psychology classes because I have a strong desire to learn and grow. Those are my two buzz words right now. I have learned and I have grown since those Tweets were posted.

Some have said that they also grew up in a white town and they never spread such hatred. Not everyone has the same lived experience. I did spew hateful, racist things. I shared inside jokes with friends that were insensitive and awful. I didn’t care about the people I was hurting. I am ashamed of that fact.

I am truly sorry that I hurt people with my words and actions. Reading those Tweets, I know that the girl who said such horrible things is not the same girl writing this apology now. I know that she is still a part of me, but she is a person I have worked hard over the last few years to change. I do not want to be that person anymore. I am not that person anymore.

I am going to continue to learn and grow. It will take a lot to prove that I care about people and that I do not maintain the ideologies I once expressed in such a vile manner. I do not expect, nor do I ask for, forgiveness. I ask for the chance to learn and grow and do better as a person.

Over the last few years, I have tried to show my love and support for the LGBT+ community, the BLM movement, and other groups. I know that my Tweets have hurt and disappointed the people who trusted me to amplify marginalized voices. I hope that I can continue to use my voice in the way I have for the last few years, and show that though I was racist in the past, I have changed since then, and I am going to continue to change for the future.

As for the questions about why I never addressed my past racism before being called out, my answer is that I didn’t remember. I know that is a cop out answer, but it is the truth. Reading those Tweets, I have no recollection of those horrible, racist things I felt and Tweeted. I know they exist because I see them, but I do not remember being the person who posted them. I never thought to clean my Twitter history because I didn’t remember having one. I have over 190k Tweets since I joined the website in 2009. If I were to read back to the beginning, I know I wouldn’t recognize that person, and I am proud of the fact that I have grown and changed so much in 11 years. I will continue to put in the work, as I have promised, to ensure I never regress back to the version of me willing to post vile things on a public forum, or even privately.

On the subject of transphobia, homophobia, and anti-LGBT+ rhetoric, I deeply regret the Tweet which used a transphobic slur. It was a quote from the movie The Social Network, but that does not excuse my posting it on my public Twitter account. I have been a proud supporter of the LGBT+ community and I am terribly sorry that my actions have hurt my friends and family in the community, as well as countless others.

There is also a Tweet in which I use the N-word. I should not have done that, and I have never used it aloud or in writing since. I know now in a way I didn’t when I was younger that this word should have never left my lips, and I am sorry to all who were hurt upon seeing this Tweet on my feed.

All I can say is that I will continue to try. I know it is not enough. I cannot change the past. All I can do is work on myself for the future.

Tia Mele

When Should Authors Start Submitting Their Manuscripts?

This isn’t an answer anyone is going to like, but it’s the truth: only the author knows when the book is ready to submit.

I will say this, don’t ever send a query on a first draft. You should revise at least once (ideally a couple times) before you start submitting. Remember, this is likely your only chance with that agent for this project, and you want to make sure you’re achieving the best first impression you can. If your book is full of grammar and spelling errors, disorganized, has extensive plot holes, and generally reads like a first draft, you’re going to ruin your chance with an agent.

My recommendation is always to set your book aside for a couple of months after you finish it. Start working on something else, give yourself a break, start creating your submission list, do anything else you want in that time, but do not touch that manuscript. Then, come back to it with fresh eyes and start revising. That distance will help immensely, I promise.

You can also have others take a look at the manuscript. Writing groups and critique partners are great for getting an extra set of eyes on your work. Of course, take their feedback with a grain of salt. Make sure you’re staying true to your vision for the story. You want to take the feedback that will enhance your book, but remember it is your book.

Basically, you should go as far with the manuscript as you can go before you have submitted it. Once you reach the point where you feel like you have done what you can and it’s ready, then you can start submitting your work. Like I said, only the author knows when that point is reached. 

This post was recommended by @alexandrazlazar. Thanks for the recommendation, and please continue to send blog suggestions on Twitter!

xoxo Tia

If you like what I talk about on my blog, consider buying me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/tiarosemele

What Does Agenting/Publishing Look Like During Covid-19?

Agents are definitely still taking on clients right now! This is a crazy, strange time we’re living in, but agents are carrying on business as (almost) usual. Of course, some agents are closed to queries right now. Check agency websites as well as agents’ social media to be sure they’re still open to submissions. Many – including me! – are. Keep in mind that many agents are adjusting to this new time, so response times may be slower than before, but we’re doing the best we can!

On the publishing side of things, a lot of editors have emailed to assure me and other agents that things are carrying on the same as before. Acquisitions meetings are being held over video chat, but that’s the only difference. Many editors and publishing houses are eager to continue buying books. The reason for this is likely because of how far ahead publishing looks. If they don’t buy books now, then they won’t have new releases in 2022/2023, which would cause a domino effect of issues. 

I will say that some smaller publishers (and even some of the bigger ones!) are slowing down, furloughing or letting go employees, reducing advances, and doing other things to adapt to the current climate. However, as I mentioned, the books acquired now are going to come out two to three years from now. If publishers don’t acquire, then they’re setting up for issues down the road. They’re doing their best to keep the acquisitions going, and making the necessary adjustments as they go. 

This post was recommended by @bethfehlbaum. Thank you for the recommendation, and keep sending suggestions on Twitter!

xoxo Tia

If you like what I talk about on my blog, consider buying me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/tiarosemele

Negotiating Manuscript Changes

When it comes to changes to your manuscript, it’s ultimately your decision to make them or not. I’m a very editorial agent, so I’m going to make extensive recommendations. I usually do this when I offer representation so the author knows what my expectations are for a revision.

However, revisions are a conversation. If an agent says that x needs to be changed but you think that would hurt the integrity of your story, you can explain why. We’ll try to work with you to enhance that point so you can keep it in. I’m always open to discussing potential revisions. 

I think the only real red flags agents will have are racist/sexist/offensive issues. If there is something that needs to be changed because it will alienate or offend a group of people, I expect that change to be made, and I won’t budge on it. Of course, getting sensitivity reads is important, and any recommendations they make have to be followed as well.

Other than that, agents know that the book is yours. We don’t want to change your vision for the book, but we want to make it the best book it can be. If you don’t like an agent’s editorial vision, then they likely aren’t the right agent for you. That’s why it’s important to talk about revisions before you sign with an agent!

This post was recommended by @leslie_goodreid. Thanks for the recommendation, and please keep sending me blog post ideas on Twitter!

xoxo Tia

If you like what I talk about on my blog, consider buying me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/tiarosemele

Is A Non-Form Rejection Better Than a Form Rejection?

I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, but I think one can be more helpful. A rejection that is personalized with feedback will give you something to consider as you continue to revise and tune your project. Of course, take that feedback with a grain of salt, because it might be personal to the agent. This means that what the agent said might not be an inherent flaw in the manuscript, but just something they personally didn’t like. Agenting is extremely subjective, so that is something to always consider when looking at feedback in a rejection.

That being said, a form rejection isn’t a knock on your writing. Remember that agents are (in general) not paid for reading and responding to queries. We’re doing this on our own time in hopes that we find projects we can sell and earn money in the future. Some of us can’t spend the time to give personal feedback on every single query we receive. It would take up hours of our time that we can’t afford to give up without pay. I know form rejections can be discouraging, but sometimes they are necessary from our side. We don’t like using form rejections, but we have to in order to keep focus on our clients and working to build ourselves as agents.

This post was recommended by @chaddurling. Thank you for the recommendation and keep suggesting blog ideas on Twitter!

xoxo Tia

If you like what I talk about on my blog, consider buying me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/tiarosemele