Last week I officially started sending out queries for my epic fantasy novel Under the Darkened Moon. I started by selecting five literary agents and sent them all queries. I followed their submission guidelines and sent what they requested, whether it was just a query, a query plus a synopsis, or a query plus a synopsis plus sample pages.
A couple days later I got my first official rejection. It was a rejection based only on a query letter and a synopsis and not the actual story itself, but a rejection none-the-less. Now I am looking at my set of next five lit agents to send letters to. (more…)
Yesterday, something wonderful happened. I completed the manuscript for Under the Darkened Moon.
It’s been a wonderful journey, considering that it is the first novel I have been able to completed in darn near twenty years of attempting to write a novel. I’ve gone through a whole range of emotions from joy (at having done it), to sorrow (at realizing my characters, my children, are all grown up), to fear (at realizing that now the hard part begins as I search for an agent and publisher).
The whole experience of writing this story began last year on July 18th and has spanned, officially, 517 days (44,668,800 seconds) of my life. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve spent over 2,000 hours either directly working on this story or thinking about it. That’s a lot of time.
Every day I get asked the same question, “Why are you still editing that novel of yours?”
I don’t think the answer is that complicated. I simply want to produce a quality story in the end. And, while I and others who have read Under the Darkened Moon think that the story is good, I personally don’t think it is good enough quite yet. Although, I do think it is quickly getting there.
For me, there is no rush. I’ve been writing off and on for over twenty years. My very first novel, which I started back in high school, had three years invested into it and never got even half way done. For Under the Darkened Moon, I opened the file (started writing the story) on June 18th of last year. It is now October, nearly November a year later. I could have pushed this work out there six months ago, at least according to some opinions, but certainly not my own. As one person in my review group said, “It’s already better than 95% of what is self-published on Amazon and other sites like that.” (more…)
Last month, as you all know, I wrote about my thoughts concering Harper Voyager opening itself up for direct submissions until October 14th. I could have easily hit that deadline and had Under the Darkened Moon edited and formatted. And for a few weeks I was seriously contemplating doing just that and submitting my novel for consideration.
However, after much thought, I have decided not to take advantage of the opportunity. Yes, even thought his opportunity may not come around again to directly submit to Harper Voyager. Some people might think that it is foolish for me pass up any opportunity. But, as I have learned in my life, just because opportunities present themselves does not mean all should be jumped at. I’ve had my fair share of opportunities that I took simply because they were opportunities and have been left holding the proverbial bag. (more…)
It was kind of exciting when I heard that Harper Voyager was opening itself up for direct submissions for its e-book publishing department. Harper Voyager, the Sci-Fi & Fantasy imprint of HarperCollins, is looking for, according to its site, submissions to fill an apparently gaping void in publication schedules of ebooks.
“Currently, we are looking to acquire enough content to release a new Harper Voyager digital title each month,” the company announced. How many months however is a mystery. It could be a year, two years, or a couple of months. No one knows how many books they are looking to acquire. Even so, expect Harper Voyager to get flooded by authors with big dreams when they open up the submission process on October 1st. The submission period ends October 14th.
However, my initial excitement has been kind of tempered since reading this. What follows are my thoughts as I have worked through whether or not Under the Darkened Moon, if polished in time, might in fact get submitted. (more…)
We all love to turn to inspirational advice when we feel like we just cannot go on down our chosen path. One of the most common such pieces of advice is that quitters never win, and winners never quit. It sounds real great! It pumps you up! It gives you the motivation to plow ahead!
The truth is that inspirational phrases like this are half truths. Yes, quitters never win because they give up before they do so. And yes, winners never have quit because they have won. But there is an important caveat to this old saying that is missing. That caveat is that by not quitting doesn’t mean you will win. (more…)
Ok, so I have been thinking about my “plan” for moving forward as I seek to get my work published. My wife and I are currently on Chapter 13 of the live read edit for Under the Darkened Moon, and I have given myself a deadline of the end of September to have it, and the edits that come from it, done. Boom, put it to bed. It will be, by that point, as polished as it is going to get without the cost of professional editing.*
I am going to start the process of querying literary agents at that point. I will be doing batches of 10 at a time and give each batch two or three weeks to reply before I send out the next round. Some agents, I realize, don’t work that fast, but I figure it will give some nice overlap moving forward. Oh, and BTW, if you are a literary agent and would like to see my work before I start querying, then by all means drop me a line to get at the top of the list! I love it when people show initiative! It’s a trait that I highly admire in people! (more…)
So, I have been picking the brains of friends of mine who are authors or are/were in the publication field (literary agents, editors, etc). I have been doing this because I see a lot of people compiling lists about why manuscripts get rejected. I read these lists because I want to give myself the best shot I can at getting published.
But what I seem to be finding is that a lot of those lists are really bunk, or at least these lists are subjective and often contradict one another. Don’t start your story too fast. Don’t start your story too slow. Too much description. Not enough description. Too many characters. Too few characters. Too much dialogue. Not enough dialogue.
Many writers jump, head first, at the first offer for representation they receive from a literary agent. It is an understandable reaction. Most authors get beat down by many rejections before someone shows an interest in their work. Therefore, when someone tells them they think them can sell the author’s labor of love, the author is too happy to think about anything else once the good news arrives. Yet repeatedly, I hear horror stories from authors that did not look before they took the leap and signed a contract with a literary agent.
Just like with any other endeavor, it is very important that you, as a writer, interview your perspective agent just as the perspective agent is giving you scrutiny. I have mentioned this a couple of times to other writers I know and the general response has been shock that I would even suggest it. I don’t know why. I think it is only logical, especially considering the many horror stories I have heard from other authors about how bad either their current or former literary agent was.
I do not know about you, but I do not want to experience the following:
• Signing with an agent who does not return my phone calls for up to six months.
• Having an agent who repeatedly “looses” my manuscript.
• Landing an agent who insists on meeting with me face-to-face multiple times a year, and, worse, that I come to see her in New York, spending oodles of money on plane tickets when she has yet to sell my manuscript and secure at least an advance for it.
• Having an agent who repeatedly sends me emails intended for another client, discussing confidential contract and project information and then quickly having to send another saying, “OOPS! Ignore that!”
• Signing with an agent who constantly calls me “John” rather than my real name.
• Signing with an agent who feels the need to send me every humorous spam email he receives, which is upwards of twenty a day
• Landing an agent who argues with me over the clearly detailed commission she is supposed to receive based on our contract, complaining that it was a typo, and that she is really entitled to twice as much.
• Having an agent who does not send out commission checks until months after they are received or not at all until gently reminded to do so.
• Signing with an agent who pitches my novel to an imprint that has never published a Fantasy novel in its entire existence and has no interest in ever printing such things.
• Having an agent who tells me what my next novel “must” be about because XYZ publishing house is looking for yet another cheesy vampire tale to sell to teens and preteens and who then gets into a shouting match with me when I say no.
• An agent who insists on calling me at 2:00AM because he is a night owl, another author he represents is also a night owl and he just wants to see how things are going with me and when he can expect my next manuscript.
Yes, these are all real stories other authors have shared with me. And yes, most, if not all of them could have avoided these problems if they would have done some do diligence about who they were signing to represent them.
Just finished up what I consider to by my first polishing edit for Under the Darkened Moon, my first actually completed novel. Things went well.
To say that I am 100% pleased with it would be saying too much. I’m 98% pleased though and I think that is pretty good for someone that is as big a perfectionist as I am.
As one of my friends told me, no novel is ever 100% perfect so don’t fret the last few percents.
Next up is going to be a live read edit. My wife is going to actually read aloud the words so I can hear them from someone else’s mouth rather than my own. This will hopefully help catch any final awkward sentences, missed commas, etc that my brain is simply auto correcting for when I read aloud because I know what is supposed to be there even if it is not there.
Hopefully, this edit will commence in the next few weeks. If we do one chapter a day it will take slightly more than a month to complete.
It was July 18th of last year that I embarked on the ambitious project to write a novel. Looks like it will be a little more than a year from then that it will be ready to be submitted, and likely rejected many times, to publishers and literary agents. Keeping my fingers crossed that it isn’t too painful. My review groups have all given it high praise, sometimes too high of praise if you ask me, but high praise none-the-less. I guess it is almost time to find out whether or not people with the power to get books published feel the same way.