Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day 309 of 365: Toning Down the Naivete

So now that M#3 is finally finished, sent to my loyal first readers (aka my husband and my best friend), I'm back in the saddle with my first and second manuscripts. I've been a good chunk of yesterday tearing through my query letter for M#1 (which, at this point, has been torn up and pieced together and rewritten and torn up so many times that I probably wouldn't even recognize the first draft anymore). I got to beef up my "Writing Credentials" section and I changed up the wording in the synopsis for easily the 50th time. I sent out one query today. My goal is to do a slow-and-steady one-or-two-queries-at-a-time pace for M#1. Spray and pray is just a bad idea for using guns, peeing in the woods, and querying agents.

I remember when I sent out my first query. My writing credits were abysmal -- short stories and poems in my university's literary magazine and that was it -- but I kept pressing forward because I believe that an agent would be so enamoured with my story that they'd look past that whole "completely unpublished" part.

On a scale of "One" to "Gullible is Written on the Ceiling", how naïve is that statement?

It's an ugly truth that, unless you are Stephanie-Meyer-possibly-made-a-deal-with-dark-forces levels of fortunate, a "good story" is just not good enough. There's a reason why most authors these days are also TV writers or comedians or celebrities in general. You essentially have to have a ready-made audience before anyone will take a "risk" in getting your work out to an audience.

It's a fun Catch-22: they won't look at, let alone publish, your work unless you have built an audience, and it's hard to built an audience if you're not ever published.

So, this time around, the naivete has been taken down a notch or eight. I no longer think in terms of, "When I get a book deal..." (and, yes, I actually thought like that for a bit). I recognize that how "good" of a story is doesn't really matter much in the grand scheme of things, as disheartening as that can be.

And I also recognize that my credentials are still paltry (or poultry) compared to other people my age and in my exact same situation. But hey, we all have to start somewhere.

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