Friday, March 9, 2012

Querying a Dead Horse

Writing an entire book is no easy task.  Many people aspire to do it, believing they have some great idea to share with the world.  Then something happens.  This something is called 'life'.  For first time writers, nobody is paying you to believe in the power of your dreams.  So you have to get a job, or two in my case.  While you shouldn't be sitting around waiting for that moment of inspiration, you can't make yourself sit down and write when there's nothing inspiring or motivating you - anybody can read right through the crap you end up outputting.  You're motivated by nothing more than a whim, the thought of perhaps someday this can be greatness.  You may even be right.  For many of us, however, you're not.  And if you're being honest with yourself, you know you're not.

But against adversity, issues of finding time in the midst of life's many responsibilities, you finished that damned book.  Your chest swells with pride and all you want - more than anything- is for somebody to read it.  For this alone, you should feel proud.  Crap or not, you did the unthinkable and beat the odds.

Now comes the hard part - getting it published.  Revise reread rinse recycle repeat.  Polish it until the pope himself would be proud to lay his holy lips upon the lettering.  Now welcome to sit-and-waits-ville - Population: You... and many many others.

I have several friends who have spent years going back and forth with agents, publishers and editors.  I, myself, have been playing the game for the past year.  I KNEW I would get published.  I had to.  I'm a good writer.

Here's the problem:  I hate my book.

Perhaps 'hate' is too strong a word.  I spent six years toying with the idea.  Four years went into writing and perfecting it.  One year of revisions.  This was my first book - my first love - and I can't get anybody outside of my beta-reading group to read it.  But if I'm being honest with myself, I don't want to read it again either.

You see, my manuscript was the first in a series - one with a strong mythology and a lot of work put into world building.  But even as I was finishing up, I no longer cared for it.  Over the years, we'd grown apart.  Being the first in a series meant that I would have to continue telling the same story.  Not only that, I would have my name tied to it.

Doors wasn't a bad book by any stretch of the word.  It was a decent book.  Something I could probably self-publish and sell a few thousand copies of.  But that's not what I'm looking for.  I don't want to be a 'decent' writer - I, like many others, strive for greatness.

With a full arsenal of much better ideas floating around in my head, I finally came to the conclusion that I need to scrap it.  It didn't really hit me until I received rejections from Brooks Sherman and Sarah LaPolla.  These are both amazing agents that I follow semi-religiously and have a lot of respect for.  They were both charmed by my writing, but didn't love the concept.  I had to agree.

It's hard to let years of work slip through the cracks.  Painful as well.  But I can't let myself see this as a loss. Four years of writing is some damned good practice.  All of my research and world-building can be translated to other projects.

I'm nearly 30k words into my next story - one that excites me like the honeymoon period of a new relationship.  The characters are solid.  The story is intriguing.  The pacing is fast and hard-hitting.  Even reading it over again brings about a charge I'd long since lost with Doors.

So to all of those who rejected me, especially to Brooks and Sarah, I'd like to offer a very honest and heart-felt, "Thank You."  I feel like you've given me years of my life back that could have easily been wasted on pouring over words in a story that I'd already fallen out of love with.

Let this be my word of advice to fellow writers looking for representation:  If you have something you truly believe in, then fight until you've exhausted all options, then fight some more.  But if you have doubts, please don't marry yourself to an idea that you've lost faith in.  Cutting your losses now will save years of heart-ache later.


  1. They say you have to let go, and I am glad you feel like you can do that with confidence, cuz it's hard as hell.

    I wish you luck with the new one and I can't wait to read it!

  2. I'm having that same conversation regarding Phoenix. I'm seriously thinking about self-publishing, if anything, just to get it out there.

    I agree with Chrissy, I'm glad you can be so confident in moving on. Maybe I'm too stubborn for my own good.

    1. I for one greatly enjoyed Phoenix. It had some slower moments, but the story itself was greatness. If you ever want me to look over any revisions, there's no need to wait for the next beta session, just ask. I'd save self-pub for a last resort.