Publishing is a bruising business. As regular readers know, I parted ways oh-so-amicably with my agent earlier this year. She was awesome, but didn’t seem to love the direction of my writing, and although it scared me to bits I set off into the uncharted waters of trying to find a new one.
Querying is hard, and takes time. Common wisdom suggests that you only query about five to ten agents at a time so that if you don’t see results you can course correct without having burned through your whole list of dream agents. I began this process in the late spring, near my birthday. Agents take notoriously long (usually about two months to get you a “no” or “send me more”), and so the summer flashed by with me having reached a little over a dozen. I made myself send “revenge queries” for every rejection. I got a couple of bites for the full manuscript. Even as we speak, I have one agent who said she’d read a rewrite of a novel I haven’t been able to bring myself to take on, and one who hasn’t said yay or nay at all yet.
Waiting is hard, and rejection is salty wound stuff, so as I got back from vacation and the school year started, I laid off the “revenge queries.” It wasn’t a conscious decision, but one made to maximize my chances… I wouldn’t query until I edited the fantasy novel with the agent’s suggestions. That way, I could not just send it to her, but also send the updated one when I went out to other agents. But the edits wouldn’t come. I told myself I’d take a long weekend in a cabin somewhere on my own to jump start the process, but that just hasn’t happened yet.
It was in this state of suspended animation that a health issue I’ve been having for a while flared up into the sometimes-intolerable. My belly issues, which developed around the time I published my first novel, grew into other symptoms, including hand pain that sometimes makes typing hard. My frustration and helplessness in the face of that made being productive during the fall difficult, and this led to little spasms of despair.
But life is good, and I refuse to be the person who wallows. (Well, I’m an excellent wallower, actually, but I only let myself do it in fits and starts, then I have to kick my own butt into some kind of gear). So it was in this state of mind that I started writing last week… a new contemporary realism novel.
For those of you keeping score at home that is:
- The “Quinn” novel, set in the same world as SECRET SIDE. (done, 60K).
- The “Lina” novel. (10K in).
- The “Sea Glass” novel, about a taboo relationship. (30K in).
- The “Dystopian” novel. (27K in)
- The “Clone” novel. (done, 80K)
- The “Fantasy” novel. (done, 80K)
- The new contemporary realism novel (currently at 6K but gaining lots of ground).
Yes, I’ve written nearly 300,000 words since my last book got published and zero of them have been published.
I have multiple thoughts on this.
The good ones:
- Getting an agent is the hardest part, and agents are super-fixated (as they should be) on what they can sell. This is a bottleneck which will be resolved once I do get an agent and said agent starts selling my stuff again.
- Parting ways with my agent was brave and will lead to me finding my champion.
- Part of finding an agent means leading with ONE project, and I’ve only queried a handful of agents with each of the two completed projects, so the novel that my next agent will love may not have been shown to anyone yet.
- Lots of really successful novelists have “drawer” novels.
- Just because they haven’t sold yet, it doesn’t mean any of these books listed above are my “drawer” novels. They’re just unsold as of now.
- I am not worse than every single thing I see getting published out there.
- I am among the most stubborn people you will ever meet, and I know I will never, ever give up.
The bad ones:
- I am a talentless fraud.
Yes, that one little one has the power to knock all the “good” feelings on their ass with alarming regularity. But they kick back, and the fight continues.
I am so grateful for those of you who read regularly, and feel a responsibility to you. Your emails and encouragement mean a lot to me. Part of that “fraud” feeling is because you’ve believed in me, and I am taking so long to deliver again. I am sorry. Please know that it is what I think about most, telling stories, and earning your faith in me. Thank you for that gift you give me on a regular basis.
And stay tuned. Because this stubborn chick is still at it.