Wow, I was away for longer than I expected. It’s so hard for me to get back into a routine once I’ve disrupted it! But I’m back, I really am.
So, to those of you who haven’t forgotten about me, thank you for your patience!
Things have kind of slowed down on my end, which is part of the reason that I haven’t been all that motivated to write a new post. But enough procrastinating, dammit! I promised to write about what it’s like to try to get a book published, and this is part of it. The long, painful wait between rejections and the little kernel of undying hope that keeps you looking forward to that next email.
I’ve received replies from most of the agents that I expected to receive replies from (some agents only respond to queries that interest them, so after four weeks or so if you haven’t heard back you can assume that’s a “thanks, but no thanks”). I sadly received a rejection from the NY agent that I had been crossing my fingers for, and even more sadly didn’t receive any feedback to go along with it. I think the sad reality is that most agents are so inundated with manuscripts that they don’t have time to provide feedback, unless it is a project they would consider representing if the author implemented the changes they suggest.
And I get the feeling, too, that many querying authors are not receptive to feedback when it is offered. I’ve heard stories from far too many agents who have offered suggestions and been lambasted for their efforts and seen websites dedicated to would-be authors’ complaints about agents rejections of their work. My feeling is that there are some bad apples out there ruining the experience for the rest of us. Probably a hundred years worth of bad apples that have turned the industry in the direction that it has grown.
So, I have made a decision. I want feedback. At this point I need to know if sending my MS out in its current state is just a waste of time. If there are major errors that I and my beta-readers have missed, I need to know. If there are some minor changes I can make to make my manuscript more saleable, I need to know. If there are major changes I need to make before the story works for a publisher, I need to know. Because I do not live in a major city, my access to writing groups and workshops is limited, which is where many writers receive feedback on their writing. So I only have one other choice:
I have decided to pay for a professional edit on my manuscript. Not just any editor, but from someone who works in the industry and has a particular interest in fantasy and science fiction (I’ll blab about who it is once the edit is done, and I have their permission to do so). And I’m really excited about it. Really excited and really nervous. But I know it will be good for me, even if I get bad news.
If I get good news, I think I’ll have to bust out the champagne!
So I will keep you posted on how this goes for me. It’s not a cheap process, and I know a lot of writers who say “Why bother, when you land an agent you get the editing for free!” and a lot of family members who say “Just be patient, it’s just a matter of finding the right agent”. But I think most writers who poo-poo professional editing have access to writer’s workshops (which also cost a lot of money) and other ways of getting some industry insight. And, while I love my family for their faith in me and my novel… patience is a slow death.
And a part of me thinks, why should an agent or publisher invest in me if I’m not willing to invest a little too. I believe in my story, and I believe that I have done as much as I can with the MS as I can without help. But that’s not to say that it can’t be better. This is a competitive industry, and in order to be noticed you have to be one of the best (in theory, don’t ask me to explain E.L. James or Stephanie Meyer)
Now, I should mention that within days of the rejection I received from my dream NY agent, I received a request for a partial from another NY agent who I had previously assumed just wasn’t interested. She is one of the first that I queried, and took over two months to get back to me. But when she did, she wanted to see more! And she had seen my entire synopsis (not just my query letter) when she asked to see the first 100 pages (which is double the size of the next largest partial I’ve sent out). So I’m feeling really good about that one. But I can’t just sit around and do nothing in the meantime, so I’m still going ahead with the edit. If she likes it, great! If not, then perhaps she’ll be interested in my more polished version. Either way, it’s not really a loss.
So what do you think? Anyone out there have good experiences with professional editors? Anyone with bad? Let me know in the comments.