As many of you know, I’m “finished” writing the first novel (or novels, if you will). My friend-editor-manager-writing coach, John, and I have received some great initial feedback from friends, and I feel pretty confident that it is a story people will enjoy– and hopefully not just our friends.
We’d like to see it published.
The best way to go about this is to find a literary agent, so that’s where I’m beginning. I’ve purchased a few books about how to get one of these. It seems complicated, but apparently if the work is good, it’s not. The key is to get someone to read it to make that determination.
I have to write a query letter… and not just one. It seems every agent on my list has a different requirement for what they want. Some want one page with everything under the sun on it, some want three pages with the first three chapters of the novel. Writing this letter will likely be more difficult than writing the novel. (In truth, writing the novel wasn’t hard at all. It just sort of fell out of me.)
Once the letters are done, they get sent out via email or snail mail, depending on what each agent wants. Then the waiting begins. Most agents state that they respond to query letters within two to eight weeks. Either it’s something they want to read more of, or it’s not. We’re hoping for the first option, of course.
Some agents request exclusivity in reading any samples, so those will have to go out first. Then I can send out the bulk of the letters.
If they like it, they find an editor and publisher and then poof! The novel’s published. No, not really. But at this point, getting the literary agent is my focus, so until that happens, I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself.
Last night, John and I went out to eat with a literary agent who traditionally handles non-fiction. She had read the first chapter and really enjoyed it. It left her wanting to read more, which is the exact effect we want the first chapter to have on people. She was particularly curious to see if Nate and Emi ended up getting together.
Most people who have read the first chapter have given the same feedback. That’s the hook we want. So it would seem if we can get an agent to read the first chapter, maybe we’ll get our feet in the door.
The agent from last night has offered to read the manuscript, in all of it’s 356,000-worded glory. She may have flinched a bit when we told her the length. I explained that it was always intended to be one story, one book, but that when the characters wouldn’t stop talking to me, I just let it all come out until their story was told… and at that point, I knew it would be nearly impossible to publish at that length, so the idea came to cut it into three books. The way the story is told lends itself well to the idea of separate books, but to me, it’s not the ideal way to tell the story. It would need some tweaking if we go the route of a trilogy. I’m keeping an open mind.
She told us to forget about self-publishing at this point, which was good to hear. Self-publishing can be expensive and a dead-end. Most publishers won’t touch a book that’s been self-published, so we would only go that route as a last resort– and we’re very distanced from a last resort at this point. It’s just the beginning!
All-in-all, our meeting from last night was INCREDIBLE. She gave us a ton of good advice, and a literary agent is actually going to read the novel. That’s huge.
I’ll be updating this blog periodically as we make progress (or whenever I want, who am I kidding, I’m wordy).