Most of you have been with me for awhile, so you’re aware of what a long, long road my writing journey has been.
But I’m up for a recap 🙂
I started writing with the intent to be published roughly ten years ago. When I finished my first novel I looked into the process of getting “there” and discovered that writing the book was half the battle. Actually it was more like 1/8th the battle, in my case. I wrote a 2 1/2 page query (hooray for ignorance!) and fired that bad boy off. Fired as fast as the USPS fires things, at any rate. This was in the SASE days.
Amazingly, a few requests came in. I rejoiced, and sent of my unedited, non-polished novel and received the inevitable rejections shortly thereafter. Refusing to be daunted, I kept throwing trash into the wind. A couple of years later and a near miss with a scam I wrote another (very bad) novel and attempted querying that, without success.
Fate, in the form of my sister, stepped in and let me know there was an opening for a YA librarian in a public school. So I said, “Why not?” and quickly became immersed in the literature. This was right before Twilightgate and suddenly, YA was the place to be. I said to myself, “Hey, I know the market and the audience – why am I writing for adults?”
Good question. So I started writing for teens – and I love it. But that didn’t mean I was any better at it, or knew what I was doing. I wrote my first YA novel, and racked up 130+ rejections. Yep, that many. At that point I said to myself, “OK, clearly I am doing something wrong.” I got smart, joined excellent communities like AgentQuery Connect and QueryTracker, and found out that uh, yeah, I was definitely doing things wrong.
Short version – I wrote a new YA novel, polished and perfected the query with the help of some excellent people over at AQ and had eight full requests and two offers of representation within the first two rounds of query sending. Is it because I’m really awesome and talented? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean a thing without agent research and query writing skills.
Hooray! I had an agent, Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary. That in itself was totally awesome. So what’s the buzzkill? Submission process. In reality, my process was not horrible, but it wasn’t the overnight success we all wish for either. I was out on subs from early spring to late fall, and every single editor rejection felt like I was being stabbed. In the kidneys. And you need those, by the way.
Don’t get me wrong, I had polite, complimentary, detailed rejections. Which is what you want, as a writer; the reasons why you didn’t make the cut. What killed me was that so many of the reasons were contradictory to what I’d heard the day before. And there were close shaves too, so I kind of felt like stabbing myself in the eyes. And you need those too, by the way.
We were on our third round and I was starting to wonder if Adriann might have suffered a serious judgement lapse in signing me when suddenly… we were roses. Interest, offers, auction. I still don’t what happened, although I guess this is proof that subjectivity plays a major role at all levels. As detailed here, I slapped my laptop and said bad words when I got the email from Adriann.
And then? I couldn’t tell anyone except family until the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement. Dad was working. Mom wasn’t answering her phone. Sister was at play practice. Boyfriend was at work. So I sat by myself for awhile at my kitchen table, and eventually got up and scooped the litter pan. Yes, really.
Eventually my sister picked up and I said I wanted to talk to her about something. I was going to drop off some library books in the book drop (it was night-time by now) and she was still in town. I told her I’d meet her in the parking lot to have a quick word. But then she decided that we should eat dinner – something I was not planning on or dressed for.
So I ended up setting in the ice cream parlor where I had my first job when I shared my news. My sister dropped her cracker in her chili and said, “How are you feeling?”
And I said, “Well, I’m setting here in pajama pants and a sweatshirt without any bra or underwear on, so really this is pretty much how I expected it to play out.”