The sweetest word for a writer – “the end”. I typed it today, and, honestly, the emotions that filled me were incredible. I felt joy, energy, and drive. I felt that if I could do that – write a book – I am capable of doing absolutely anything. And that wasn’t the first book I’ve written. Actually, that was the fourth one.
Today I’ve finished writing my book number four. Yes, that’s the title of the folder I store its drafts in: “Book Number Four”. The book is still nameless. Of course, every writer knows that finishing writing a story is just the beginning. “The end” is, in fact, the point from where the journey starts.
After rewriting “Neglected Merge” – my first book – almost completely, word by word, line by line (I didn’t change the story, only the form) and thoroughly editing “Tangle of Choices”, it became considerably easier to write in a way, so heavy editing isn’t required. But still, book number four will need to undergo at least four rounds of editing. And I don’t see those rounds as a burden. Not anymore. Besides, I’m excited to get back into query trenches (read that phrase on Twitter and loved it!) again.
I’m going to query my book number four, and I feel excited about it.
Well, I’m afraid to say it aloud, since I’d instantly be labelled as “defeatist”. This is exceedingly far from the truth, but I won’t argue. I am a realist, and besides, after a year spent in the “writing / publishing environment”, it would be rather eccentric – to say the least – to have great expectations.
P.L. Stuart, a Canadian author of high fantasy, writes in his blog: “The odds are, unfortunately, unless you are very well-connected in the traditionally publishing world, or have a ready-made audience, a lot of influence, or are already a “known” commodity in the trad publishing world (with previous big traditionally-published sales), it is very difficult (but not impossible of course) to get an agent, and a trad book deal. Traditional publishing houses are profit-driven. They are businesses, first, last, and always.”
And I agree with him.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try – I’m going to jump into those trenches again, and it says a lot. I’m just saying that probably it’s not the best way to start querying having your hopes too high.
I certainly wasn’t that smart when I had sent my first query. Like so many before me, I was awestruck by the very fact: I have written a book and now, the world would get a chance to see it. With trembling hands and fluttering heart, on 2 January 2019, I sent my first query.
On 3 January 2019, I received my first rejection.
It was a form letter, without any additional feedback. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel discouraged. Quite the opposite, I was overjoyed. Those top-notch literary guys from New York actually got my letter and even replied!
I won’t pretend that after that, it became a routine. My heart still made those hopeful leaps, and my hopes still rocketed through the ceiling with every batch of query letters that I sent. And those few letters that contained encouraging words and some praise made me cry.
Alas, I soon discovered that querying an adult fantasy book, which can’t be classified clearly due to the non-existence of familiar creatures (vampires, werewolves, elves, goblins, etc.) and total lack of knowledge about the genre (the most terrifying question in those query submission forms: List three books that are similar to yours? I still get goosebumps when I think about it) is not a kind of torture you can prolong forever.
Seventy query letters later, after going through the lists of literary agents on various websites, and even downgrading to searching for agents and literary agencies using Google, I gave up. And just then, my husband told me that he’d been reading about this self-publishing on Amazon option, and why don’t we try it.
I’ve decided to query my book number four so I could be certain that I’ve done everything that I could. It might sound strange, but for me, the result isn’t as important as knowing that I haven’t taken any shortcuts. That book is a contemporary young adult coming-of-age story with a slight touch of magical realism. Due to that touch possibly complicating the classification process again, I had allowed myself a weakness to dwell on maybe omitting it altogether. But then I’d steeled myself against the odds of “gate-keepers” rules. A contemporary young adult novel might sound better for the market, but the story would lose its heart if I removed those parts from it. And that’s the last thing that I want.
Well, dear Diary, wish me luck. It’ll be a different experience this time, with querying. And who knows, maybe it will be me who will tweet one day: “I received a full manuscript request!” And then: “I have signed a contract with a literary agency!”
A writer can dream, right?