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Partials

I have had requests for partials from three different agents over the last few weeks. Huzzah! Hooray! Huge news! Exciting, and overwhelming, and stress inducing, and, and, and, and…

A million thoughts swim though my head: How mistakes are in there I didn’t catch? Should I have paid an editor? What if they hate it? Is 50 pages enough? Did I do enough to hook a reader into wanting more? These sort of things eat at me, makes me doubt myself, and doubt my work, and if I really let it get to me I’d freeze. I’d never finish. I would never have gotten a requests for partials. I’d never be done.

There’s a quote from Voltaire I strive to live by, “perfect is the enemy of done.” It’s 100% true. I could keep working on that sentence, that paragraph, that chapter. I could work it and rework it and then I’d have another sentence, paragraph or chapter to work and rework. it becomes cyclical. I can’t tell you how many times I have written and re-written parts of my manuscript and – if I’m being honest about it – I didn’t improve anything.

Eventually you need to get your work out there. Circulate it, let it be what it is. Not everyone will love it, but if no one sees your creation you’ve robbed them of the chance to love it.

Three partials: I count that as a win.

Reduction

My first rounds of submissions were to agents who took only query letters and accepted them over email. (I discovered agents usingquerytracker.com and agentquery.com – both of which are excellent resources.) There’s a lot of agents in the market that will take queries this way, but a greater number of agents want a lot more things – items beyond the query letter – cheif among them is the synopsis.

So I spent a better part of my weekend working on the synopses for Coal Belly. Synopses. Not one but two of them, a long one which was about 2000 words and 10 pages double spaced and a much shorter one which is 2 pages single spaced and around 800 words. The challenge of taking 130k words and reducing them to 2000 words was difficult, however, the smaller one, stripping it down even further to 2 pages was one of the more difficult things I have done in this whole process. Stripping away the flourishes and focusing on the structure, but still trying to maintain pace and hooking the reader. Tough.

I learned a lot.

Now… to send it out.

Rejections

Sent out another wave of query letters a few days ago. Some egregious number, something like forty-five. That brings the total count (according to my handy query spreadsheet) up to eighty-five query letters sent. Eighty-five. Wow. Eighty-five people reading my words and debating whether or not they want to represent me.

Okay that’s not totally true. Technically it’s not eighty-five anymore. I have received twenty-four rejections.

Twenty-four.

Seems like a lot, hell, feels like a lot, but from what I read it’s fairly typical. I’ve seen authors, talk about forty rejections, sometimes fifty, and I know I’ll be there. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the rejected.

It happens. I do my best not to take it personally and I move on. I’ll keep sending out the letters, I’ll keep opening my email, and I’ll keep reading the rejections.

I would forever be a manuscript-ist and never a novelist if I didn’t put my work out in the marketplace. Eventually someone will be interested, and eventually I’ll published.

I know it.

Besides, I promised myself I’m going to buy myself something nice if I can get to 100 rejections.

A terrible writer.

Confession: I am a terrible writer. I never did well in english class in high school or college, I have a difficult time understanding where the damn semicolon is supposed to go, and I often type weather when I mean whether. It’s rough. I feel sorry for my future editors.

None of this stops me. I will keep writing, and my skills will improve. I have no plans to stop. My next manuscript will be stronger than the next, and the one after that? Well it’ll be even better. I can’t stop. The thing is I love being a storyteller. I love plot. I enjoy creating great characters and constructing believable worlds.

So while I struggle along with my poor keyboard skills and my worse grammer, I won’t stop writing. I’m going to keep it up. Forever. I want to tell these stories, I want to build these worlds, I want to explore these characters, I want to entertain.