Fill in the Blank: a) Determined, b) Frustrated, c) Naïve, d) Insane, e) All of the Above
In October, I finished my fourth novel, A Reasonable Price. It went to “beta readers” and experts for feedback. Each reader “loved” the story, and each of them had a few suggestions. So I edited the manuscript, then queried a handful of literary agents. While I waited, I edited more. Then I queried more. I celebrated Christmas. Then I edited more, and I queried more …. You get the picture. Still no agent offered to represent me.
Recently, I did a query letter webinar (through Writers’ Digest and The Book Doctors, two fantastic sources), and I hired a professional editor (also through Writers’ Digest) for my current novel. She made a few corrections, so I rewrote my query letter and queried more agents.
Bingo! One (brilliant) agent asked to read my manuscript. Hip hip hooray!
But still I wait.
After each of my previous novels, I immediately began my next novel. Contrary to what I hear from other people, I love the process of writing. Most writers say they hate to write, but they do it because they want to have written a book. In retrospect, I now consider my first three novels to be varying levels of embarrassment, although I can’t help but think they are salvageable if I ever choose to “fix” them. If I had stuck with any of them, I might have been able to make them work, but I have learned so much along the way that I always knew I could do better. I’ve kept going because I love the creative process.
But this one—A Reasonable Price—this will be my “debut” novel because I will stick with it until I find the right agent and the right editor and it is “traditionally” published. In fact, this past week, a Ph.D. professor of English from Ole Miss read my novel and called it “a masterwork!” with an “epic villain” and a “genuine hero” who “we root for” all the way to the end. The novel has “tension” and “conflict” throughout. His praise was so high it brought (happy) tears to my eyes, but I’ll stop there. One day, I hope, you will be able to judge my novel for yourself.
Meanwhile, I am chomping at the bit to begin my next novel. I’m dreaming up characters, both good and bad; I’m plotting and scheming and calculating their motivations and obstacles; I’m writing down key scenes and dialogue exchanges. But every time I grab my notepad to jot something down, I think to myself: No, don’t move on. Stick with this one! Send out more query letters!
And so, I do. And I remind myself that Kathryn Stockett sent out sixty-one query letters before the very wise agent Susan Ramer said “Yes!” to The Help. Sixty-one.
Sixty-one. Sixty-one. Sixty one.
Okay, I feel better now. This a) Determined writer will keep on keeping on. And may the force be with you, too.