Three months ago today, I signed with the ever-fabulous Tina Wexler. It seems like we’ve been working together much longer than that, and yet every day I still get the feeling that I won The Agent Lottery. I’ve never publicly documented my publication journey, but it is long. I essentially queried for four very long years before I signed with Tina in August, so I’m splitting this post into two parts.
2006: I decide to buckle down with this I Want to Be Published thing. I enroll in a 6-week writing course for motivation (the only other writing class I’d taken besides the last semester of my senior year in college, so I was NERVOUS to say the least) and decide to participate in NaNoWriMo. Also for motivation, but mostly to prove to myself that I could finish a book. (I’m a fast writer – naturally the next step is to attempt a novel in 30 days.) Oh, and this book? It’s an adult book because I hadn’t read YA since I was a teen myself and had no idea it was a THING.
2007: Revise NaNoWriMo book. Spend crazy amounts of time researching agent blogs, author blogs, writing forums, and query tips – basically everything I could find since I knew nothing about what happens in the publishing process after you write the book. I didn’t even know any other writers or published authors at the time. I find there is a whole undiscovered world of YA fiction out there and decide to change my manuscript to YA. This turns out to be much easier than I anticipated, as it would explain the countless hours I’d spent fawning over My So-Called Life, Felicity, Dawson’s Creek, Daria, [insert name of virtually any teen show with high levels of angst and an emo soundtrack to boot] etc. Send revised manuscript to friends to critique. Revise again and send out way too early*. Move to Chicago from LA shortly after starting the query process. Receive lots of requests but realize too late that manuscript isn’t ready.
*I queried Tina with this novel! Rejection upon query and am I ever glad for it. You’re never seeing that book, Tina. For reals.
2008: Receive an offer from last agent queried. Joy ensues, as do irrational dreams of being published by my 30th birthday, which was just a year away. Start working on other YA projects, as I am HOOKED at this point.
2009: Six months after signing with first agent, we decide to part ways due to incompatibility. I am sad but overall relieved. Gut feelings? Listen to ’em. I sent out around 10 queries for the second novel I’d completed at that point, but I knew it wasn’t high-concept enough and although I had a request or two, none resulted in an offer. I keep writing and begin a book about abduction I’d been wanting to write for years but wasn’t sure how to start.
2010: After multiple false starts, I am almost finished with the first draft of abduction book and feeling good about it. And then I see a blog feature about a debut book that shares almost THE EXACT SAME PLOT as mine. I know this happens all the time, that no idea is new, but I am devastated. I love this book so much and feel like it could be The One for me. I threaten to quit writing (not true). Then I threaten to quit working on this book forever (also not true). I send out pathetic, defeated emails, absorb kind words from multiple friends, and decide to work on something new, which I start on Memorial Day weekend. I finish the first draft of Manuscript 3 on Labor Day weekend. Revisions, critiques, and more revisions occur. This book feels different – I can’t put my finger on it, but I know something significant in my writing has changed.
I will post part two tomorrow so stay tuned for more angst – er, details. And a [SPOILER ALERT] happy conclusion to the saga!