It’s been one year since I finished my first draft.
I didn’t even realize it until Facebook reminded me, to be honest. I’ll chalk that up to being so engrossed in querying and writing the second book. But more likely, it was because I was building a settlement on Fallout4. Priorities, I know.
When I wrote that last sentence last year, I thought I knew what was in store for me. While I wasn’t wrong in my assumptions, some things certainly didn’t happen the way I envisioned. Some for the better, some not-so-much.
What followed that last line was months of revisions, revisions again, and REVISIONS AGAIN. Test readers. Incredible feedback. Worry. Anxiety. Countless hours of hard work and an occasional tantrum. And that was just getting the final draft ready.
My test readers were wonderful. The feedback I received was more incredible than I could have ever dreamed of. With their suggestions and opinions, along with those of my right-hand-man, husband/editor, I finally finished the fourth (and final) draft of my manuscript.
Then…came the tantrums. The hair-pulling. The head-desking. SO MUCH SWEARING. I thought the writing part was the hardest part. I was wrong. I thought the query letter-writing was going to be scary and difficult. Again, wrong.
I can honestly say now, after spending months doing it, that writing a synopsis for agents is the single-most awful thing I have ever experienced during this whole novel-writing process. Never in my life have I been so frustrated, so ready to throw in the towel. Cramming almost 170-thousand words worth of story into a synopsis was downright torture.
Synopses come in all shapes and sizes, and each and every one of them nearly caused me to smash my laptop. I started with what would become my “long” synopsis. It topped out just under five pages. Not many agents want one that long, but it was a place to start. And let me tell you, it was bare bones. It was so frustrating to have to get every important plot point in without making it too long.
Then came the “short.” If I didn’t already have short hair, I would have pulled any long locks out over this one. Condensing my five-page synopsis into two was downright impossible. I chopped. I slashed. I cried a few times. I PLAYED A LOT OF FALLOUT TO EASE MY VIOLENT RAGE. When I was finished, husband/editor and I agreed that it was the absolute shortest it could possibly be without sacrificing any more plot–which I already had done. It pained me to see my story smashed into *shhhh* two-and-a-quarter pages. I literally could not cut anything else, or I risked not being able to tell an already truncated story properly. Do I wish I could make it longer? Hell yes. Can I? Not really. So, I made peace with my short synopsis and called it finished.
We won’t speak of the agent who wanted a 2-paragraph synopsis. I didn’t even try. I did, however, swear a lot at the thought of attempting such a feat. It took me months to get it down to just over two pages. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that two paragraphs was never, EVER going to happen.
After those dastardly pages were written, I focused on the letters. They were, surprisingly, not as intimidating as I had expected. Many months before, I had drafted a rough template and it was very helpful in crafting the final, personalized letters. My research took me a few weeks, and afterwards I was armed with a long list of potential agents. My original deadline for first letter wasn’t achievable at the time, but after I extended it two weeks, I made it with a day to spare. The rest of the letters went out within a month.
I’m done sending them now, and have been waiting.
So far, there have been no takers. As of today, I have twenty-three rejections. And you know what? I’m one-hundred percent okay with it. Not bummed in the least. Not discouraged. Not willing to give up. It only takes one “YES.”
But what if that “YES” doesn’t come?
I’m okay with that, too. Self-publishing is always an option. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified of landing an agent. I’m scared of what an outside editor may want to do with my book. I’m scared of being under possible deadline for the second and third volumes. I’m scared of losing control over my pride and joy. Self-publishing would give me absolute control over everything–but also leave me with an incredible burden.
I’d have to do all my own marketing. Make a website. Set up sales. If I use Amazon, they at least cover me with a nice link and easy ordering. (But they also take a big chunk as commission.) I’d have to shell out money for art, a cover, marketing materials if I want to hawk my book locally and at conventions. But…I’d be in control of everything.
Maybe it’s my personal Kobayashi Maru.
If I get an agent, I lose control over a lot of things. If I self-publish, I open myself up to a whole host of new trials and potential problems.
So, for now, I wait. When all the rejections have come in, or the deadlines for such have passed and I don’t have any bites, then I think on the next step. I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself, (even though it’s fucking hard).
Book Two is very much underway and plugging along nicely. Some characters are cooperating, some are not. I’ve had a lot of days where I’m pissed at certain someones and ignore their chapters to work with those who are willing to be written. I have absolutely no timetable on completion of the first draft. Sometime next year would be ideal, but we’ll see how the summer goes with my louder-than-loud, clingy child!
2018 is almost upon us. Will it be the year I get an agent? Will it be the year a publisher prints my book? Will it be the year where I self-publish? Who knows? Until then, I keep on charging forward. One way or another, I will see my book in print, on my bookshelves.
And it’ll be so cool.