Tales in Publishing: A Never Giving up Story
Tales in Publishing:
A Never Giving up
Some much-needed background info for this tale, condensed: At 23, I attempted my first novel. And failed. I had written stories and screenplay-type manuscripts my entire life. When I tried to flesh out the description and create a narrative voice, I struggled. I tried again and again, but wasn't satisfied. I never finished them. Then, 3 years later, I went for it creating an ambitious 4 character 1st POV mythology-based YA paranormal romance. I finished a massive 120k manuscript. This I named Quiver.
After having 7 betas read it, a grad student editor go through it, I trimmed, added, and trimmed more. Then I queried. With my first attempt at a letter and go for an agent, I did fairly well. Out of 30 agents, I got 5 positive replies for the manuscript. The waiting killed me. 3 were interested, even my dream agency who only took on books that they could sell to movie studios and the Big-5 publishers. A dream come true!
Or so I thought. Agent #1 asked for a revise and resubmit, wanting me to change it to 1 POV which would take the entire mythological aspect out of it. I wanted readers to see into the minds of Greek gods. I passed. Agent #2 wanted me to cut to just the boy and girl POV's which would've lost me my crossover adult audience and simplified the novel into only being a love story. I passed. Agent #3 wanted it, spoke of how it would transition well onto the screen, and we had 3 conversations about it. I wanted this dream agency and everything seemed almost set in stone. And then disaster. The agency votes on projects. 3 agents were on board out of 6, and they drop a project if there's not a majority. The agent asked me to send again in a year. She was kind and sounded a bit angry she was losing me. I couldn't deal with that kind of let down again, so did not resubmit. Rejection is one thing all authors must get used to, but believing you hit it big to have it taken away...rough.
I queried about 40 more agents, I was ignored for the most part or rejected with standard forms. Then I had a child. There was barely enough time for writing over the next three years, so researching for an agent? Forget it. I tried to revise, to limit POVs believing that maybe the agents had been right. I hated any cuts. I put it aside, focused on other works.
Then I got a novella I wrote in a week published by entering a submission call. This same publisher accepted, via a Twitter pitching event, a full-length book I had written, revised, and edited in 4 months. I got a second novel picked up by a different publisher during another pitching event. This book I only wrote on and off for about a year, probably taking 5-6 months total on it. That's when I realized something. I was finding success when I didn't "overcook" my novels. I needed to be more confident in my initial writing and not over revise, not employ too many betas since I cannot filter their advice well, and not make major cuts agents suggested. For these published books, I had 2 betas, 2 drafts, 2 edits. Not suggesting this method for everyone, but I learned about myself as a writer, while I grew my resume.
Back to Quiver, my first completed novel. I reread the original version before anyone had a hand in it. Then I read the newest version; something in between them was my target. I made cuts, mostly of two of the POVs making the characters subordinate. This was taking a smidgen of agent #2's advice who said to drop them completely. I didn't get rid of them, but lessened their import, slightly. I went from the 118k it had been to 88k, then redeveloped areas totaling 93k.
My current publisher has a first right of refusal clause, which is common, so I submitted the manuscript thinking it would be amazing if they took it, but if not, I still had my query and some titles under my belt and could try elsewhere. I waited anxiously...for a day! My publishers wanted it and we signed immediately.
Thirteen years after the first words were written, I signed a contract to see them in print.
Hold onto your writing. I was sitting on 14 completed manuscripts. Once one was published, the dam holding me back was broken. I can only manage 2 novels a year with all of life's other obligations and another career, but I'm determined for these 14 to be in print one day. If all goes as planned, 9 so far will have homes. So authors, please hold onto your writing. If it isn't ready or not getting picked up, put it aside, work on something new, come back to it. Look for the flaws in your writing or your process. Learn to turn them into strengths. When you have improved your abilities, pull that writing back out. One day, someone will see the beauty in it. But no matter what they say, never give up.