Hey guys! I've decided to start the new year with a positive note since I ended last year's with a rant. I'm three weeks late, but I'm here now. That ought to count for something, right? ;)
So you’ve finished your MS. It’s sparkly clean and free of embarrassing grammatical errors and shunning clichés. Congratulations!
There are a hundred options from here regarding the next step: agents vs. no agent, self-publishing vs. traditional, and each of those options can go another hundred ways. BUT before you get into that, I’d like you to think about one thing. Wait to submit.
“Wait?” you ask. “If I wait, then…well, I’ll have to wait. I need to get my awesome, world-changing story to the masses now!”
Umm, not so much, guys. I’m not saying your story isn’t awesome or world-changing, I’m simply suggesting you let the thing steep a while. We all look at our creation like it’s our child: beautiful, perfect, and destined to be loved by all. The literary world is full of little monsters floating around due to the neglect of undisciplined parents. And dang it, you’re not going to be one of them! Right?
“So, you expect me to just sit on my hands and do nothing?” you ask. Of course not! Be productive! If you have a series, work on the sequel. If not, create another world to live in for a while. Read! Reading is an excellent tool for showing you what works and what not to do. Look at more than the basics of the story. Find writing similar to your own and study it. *Please be sure it’s good writing ;) Speaking from experience, good writing isn’t necessarily a story that sells. Stephenie Meyer is an enormous success, and she has a lot of good stuff in her books. She’s an accomplished story-teller, but her writing itself isn’t necessarily the best example of “good” writing. (No offense. I love the Twilight saga in my own way ;)
Consider this as well, if you send out a story that isn’t truly polished and great, you’re missing the opportunity you might’ve had otherwise. I can’t tell you how many agents I’ve missed out on simply because my query letter sucked! I’d like to have those opportunities back. Even now, I look at the version of my MS I sent to agents the first go round and cringe with embarrassment. It was horrible, guys! At the time though, I was certain it was amazing. I didn’t have the experience under my belt that I have now. Even with that whole eighteen months of growth, I don’t know as much as I will in another eighteen…but I’m growing.
I’m not saying don’t submit at all, you grow with feedback. Unfortunately, you don’t get any more feedback from 99% of agents than a “send more” or “no thanks.” This isn’t particularly helpful in my opinion. If you do choose to submit, please do it in spurts. Shoot out ten letters and wait. *Don’t tinker with your MS. You haven’t learned anything more yet. ;)
The thing I’m trying to stress is that I don’t want any of you to get burnt out on a great story because you’re helplessly editing and submitting. I feel that way now about my first story. It’s a series and to be honest, the second book (writing wise) is ten times better. The thing is, I’m tired of working on book one. I’ve gone through it more times than I can count. I’ve been *reworking* it for a year! It’s getting old now ;) I want to move on.
So, I do. I’m continuing with the sequel. The writing is much smoother and easier. I find it needs substantially less editing as I go, because I actually know what to look for and fix. I try and take book one in bites and do a little every day, however, I take breaks to leave it alone. It’s hard to be objective about your own writing. It’s even more difficult when you unthinkingly skim the words because you’ve gone over it a thousand times.
Take breaks, guys! I promise you, it’s more helpful than harmful. In a year’s time, you’ll look back and have more insight and understanding. I know you love your world and the characters in it. I just want them to have the best chance possible. :)
Keep writing. Don’t give up. And grow.