Since I was very young it has been my dream to write professionally, well actually it became a “dream” when I got out of college and realized, to my surprise, you cannot fall ass backward into a writing career. Who knew?!
Over the years, I have had many works in progress, but never dedicated myself to finishing them. Finally, thanks to a promise I made, I completed a manuscript (and of course have others in various stages). Once I made the choice to finish it, I discovered how incredibly difficult this is to do.
I never realized how much goes into a manuscript. It’s a ton of work! When people say “I completed a manuscript” some may think you wrote a bunch of words, ran it through spell check, and then voila you have a book. I wish! (and if that is what they did, they aren’t really a writer!)
It goes more like this: You come up with this fantastic plot, spend months trying to get your ideas on paper, go back, realize you want to change almost everything, you edit, edit some more, take things out, stress over your edits, add things back in, edit again.. you get the picture. When you finally have a completed manuscript you realize your work has just begun.
Now begins the query process. Sometimes I think the query was harder to write than the actual novel. How are you supposed to sell your book and yourself in one page… especially if you are previously unpublished. It’s not easy. This may be the only thing between your novel and an agent/publisher. One little piece of paper can earn you a reject or, if you are lucky, a request to see more. Of course this is only if the editor/agent actually gets around to reading it. They get tons of these every day, how is yours supposed to stand out?? After you have a near heart attack over your query you get to work on the synopsis- summarize your novel from start to finish (in one page) and don’t forget the hook! This might just be even more challenging than the query.
So now, you have poured your blood, sweat and tears into a query and synopsis, so you research agents, genres, formatting, word counts, publishers, etc. and finally feel ready to send out those queries. (btw most publishers will not accept unagented material, thankfully there are a few smaller ones out there that will, but you always have to be on the look out for the scams)
The hardest thing ever is hitting that send button. I kind of imagine it like the little devil and angel sitting on your shoulders. Angel- “Just send it, you worked hard. Be proud of your work. Never know until you try.” Devil- “You’ve only edited this 20x you should probably run through it once more. There is maybe a 5% chance you will ever get published, do you really want to sit around reading form rejects?” Ahhh! Thankfully the angel won out and I clicked send.
Then, I discovered there is something even scarier… getting a request for a full!
It is the most exciting yet stressful thing! First, you are thrilled someone liked your query, synopsis, and first 10 pages enough to want to read the whole thing (not just a partial, but the whole thing!), then it occurs to you, what if they hate it? You took a marketable idea for a novel and ruined it with crappy writing and not enough editing. It’s a constant battle- thrilled you even got this far and terrified that they are sitting around wanting those 3 hours of their of life back that were spent reading your novel.
In the end, reject, contract, or anything in between, I will take it. So many exceptional authors out there never get their break. They sit stuck in the world of slush piles and form rejects. It is a huge honor to have a full requested, it is an amazing accomplishment and it’s good enough for me (for now). It gives me the motivation to keep going, improve my writing skills and hope that one day I can call myself a published author.