Was it totally naive of me to think that I’d be published by now? Probably. I started writing my book five years ago and there still isn’t a physical copy of my completed, edited draft to show for it. I think I’ve submitted about twenty query letters or more and have only heard back from three literary agencies, which were all rejections. And I’m just going to go out on a limb here and assume those other seventeen that I didn’t hear back from are rejections too.
I can now admit that I submitted query letters way too early. I wasn’t even to the point where I should have started querying. There are still so many rounds of editing left. I still need people to critique my writing, the story, figure out if the story even makes sense, do more brainstorming, change the story from new adult to young adult, the list continues to go on and so does my writing journey.
Without my total naive assumption that I was ready for an editor, I wouldn’t have gotten some of the best advice yet. And without the feedback from one publisher that took the time to let me know where I needed to improve, I wouldn’t be ready to refocus my story and the outcome I want for the future of my book. They aren’t kidding when they say it takes many, many, many rewrites before you finally come to your completed manuscript.
I’m continuing to learn that you may think you’re finished, but you’re really really not! I was so happy when some agencies asked for my complete manuscript instead of just the first three chapters. Those are the ones I never heard back from so who knows if they even read passed the first three chapters. I’m learning that it’s always best to ask others to read your writing before you let an agency or even an editor see your work. So I guess you need a full and complete edit before you even get an editor? I have so much to learn still and I’m just now realizing that.
The point is, after I heard I needed to change a lot before I started querying again, I kind of pushed the idea of even getting published at all out of my head. I wasn’t ready to face more rejection, but then I remembered that there were so many times when I worked better when I had others around me to help and support me.
Some people hated group projects in school, but I liked them. I remember thinking that I was the one who ended up doing most of the work, but when I started to feel like the pressure was all on me to complete a project, I stopped and asked my group for their feedback. I think writing a book can be looked at in the same way. I can write a story and make characters relatable as best as I can, but my final draft won’t just be a one woman effort. I’ll need feedback and I’ll need people to be upfront and let me know what’s working and what’s not.
It’s weird to think that I feel obligated to the characters of my story to get the story published. That’s really the reason I decided to dive back into this journey during the early hours of this morning. When you’ve already spent five years with characters you’ve created, it feels like you owe it to them to be heard because really, they’re just an extension of yourself.