I told myself at the beginning of the year I would do more posts on this blog about the journey from starting my first novel OF FATES CONVERGED to (god willing) getting it published, but I don’t think I’ve really kept that promise. Actually the most effort I’ve put into this space since the beginning of the year is the SPN vs Buffy posts, which have been pretty great, but are not in the spirit what I had originally started this blog for. And I still haven’t even finished those, as I’m up to S9 of SPN.
And they have gotten more hits that anything else I’ve posted though, so…
But I digress.
So where are we at right now with the books and the publishing and all that?
FATES has been edited down once again after I lost a months worth of changes – including a complete rewrite of the first and 37th chapters – by saving the wrong file over in Dropbox. A truly boneheaded move by yours truly right there and one I tried desperately to undo, but to no avail. I’m generally not one who is quick to anger, but I nearly flipped the flip out once I realized what I had done.
This happened on a Monday morning too – it’s a good thing I had a 30 minute drive to work to compose myself, or I might have had to call in sick that day. But everything worked out in the end – I was able to redo most of those edits from memory (or a close enough facsimile) and probably caught stuff I missed the first go round. At the end of it all FATES was new and improved – the first chapter was much snappier and displayed more of two of the main characters’ relationship – an important thread that’s woven through the entire novel. Plus I think the new opening line a real winner:
Shadows danced flicker-form across the walls of Alexia Anarita’s bedroom. The slender black figures of heroes and of monsters and of gods leapt from tawny paper and formed across knotted wood in a lantern’s amber afterglow.
I was also able to cut the novel down to a more manageable (and hopefully publishable) 120,000 words – down from 160,000 after the last edit (and that from the original 180,000). This was the toughest thing to do, but I found a place where there is the conclusion of a major plot thread, the death of a character and the surviving ones heading off to a new destination that I thought would serve as a good ending. All this cutting was done without sacrificing any serious plot, which I thought was pretty awesome. It’s not as grand of a cliffhanger as my original one, and might be a bit abrupt, but I think it works. I figure even if an agent thinks the story ends too early I can always be like – Hey I’ve got 60,000 unused words here ready to go, let find a new ending. Plus, I’ve got about half of OF AMBITIONS UNBOUND already to go when that time comes too.
So with this shiny new manuscript I began querying again about a month ago. You may remember I sent out a few queries after pitching to some agents at Writers Digest Conference East last year. I got two pretty quick rejection and one request for a partial that I never heard back from – over a year ago. That agent seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth since then – I hope she’s okay! But that was the 180,000 behemoth FATES once was – a manuscript I soon realized was not ready for prime time and would be the subject of many many more rejections if I sent more before putting it through serious edits. I sent out seven queries since I restarted the process.
You’ve all been in the trenches, my friends, I don’t need to tell you about the abject terror of sending off that first letter.
Rereading it for the one hundred billionth time, knowing somehow, somewhere there is still another typo lingering there you can’t and won’t catch.
Your cursor hovering over the ‘Send’ button as you’re asking yourself if this is the right agent, if the MS is really ready, and if it is the right agent what will happen if they say no.
Your one chance gone forever.
Okay, I’m being a little over dramatic, but querying is stressful and putting yourself out there after all the work that’s gone into your MS, knowing that nine out of ten times the person who’s receiving it just ins’t going to love it as much as you do, is not something easily done. But that’s the nature of the business and if you want to get yourself published in the traditional fashion, it’s just something your going to have to be willing to endure.
So far I’ve gotten two rejections back in fairly short order. I wasn’t too broken up about them, however. These two agents were kinda on the periphery of representing FATES’ genre, but they seemed pretty cool from their web presence, so I figured why not? Of the other five still out there, three of them are what I would consider ‘Dream Agents’ – the ones I think FATES would be absolutely perfect for based on everything I’ve read about them online.
Rejections from these three would be pretty devastating.
But even then, there’s still more agents to query – I’ve got a list for over 100 of them on Query Tracker and I’m not going to shelve FATES until I’ve contacted everyone of them. And there’s more novels to write too. I’m working through a second draft of LUMINOSITY OF BLACK right now and I’ll be starting OVERDARK for Camp NaNo next week. Even if FATES doesn’t get picked up by someone, I have faith that one of these will eventually.
The rejections will be tough and they will hurt, but it’s all part of the process. There will be ups and there will be downs, but even the lowest of lows will be worth it for the staggering heights of that one day when the manuscript you’ve put so much of yourself into becomes a real book. I’ve seen it happen to so many of my friends in the writing community and it is without a doubt the greatest of elations.
It’s worth it.
All of it.
As writers must carry on, we must fight through the pain and the disappointment.
We must perceiver.