Lessons Learned – Part 1
“It’s Not as Easy as You Think”
Twenty years ago, snippets of a story started swirling in my head. I jotted them down and kept asking myself what happens next. On and off, I worked on my little story until I knew the characters intimately. I thought about these characters all the time. About five years after I had started, I had a complete story. My first novel was done. I set it aside to rest. I needed a break from my story.
A few months later I read my novel. My excitement melted away as I realized that it was horrible. There were holes in the plot, cliche scenes and bad transitions. It didn’t work. But I loved my characters. I knew they had a story worthy of telling and was not willing to give up on them. A couple of months later, I decided to started all over. I tore my novel apart and re-wrote everything. This too took a number of years to complete. But finally, I finished.
I began the query process, convinced that it would only be a short time before I landed an agent and soon after that my book would be in bookstores all over the country. Except, it didn’t happen. I started getting rejection letters. In fact, all the queries I sent were rejected. There is an old adage that if you continue to have the same issue with people over and over, maybe you are the problem. Once again, I re-read my novel with a critic’s eye … and I found it lacking. Back to the drawing board.
I took some time and re-wrote my entire novel. I studied writing magazines and updated my query letter. Then I started the query process again. This time I actually got some interest. Several agents asked for partials (the opening chapters of the book) to read. Alas, those too ended up being rejected. But I felt really good about my novel. Several people who liked the paranormal genre test read my novel and the feedback was very positive.
I decided that if I truly believed in my book, I needed to self publish. So I released Blood Adversaries as an e-book through Amazon Kindle. E-books are great. They are easy to obtain and convenient. Storage is not a problem. But book signings are a little difficult with e-books. When I went to my writer’s guild meetings, I couldn’t help being a little envious of my fellow authors who had print versions of their books they could actually hold in their hands. At a book festival I attended, I learned about Create Space. It wasn’t long before I had a print version of Blood Adversaries available.
My takeaways from this process?
- Writing a novel is both art and skill. You can be a gifted writer but you still need to take time to learn the writing process.
- You have to be critical of your own work. You can love your story but to make it publishable you have to be willing to make changes to improve your novel –changes that sometimes alters your original characters and story lines.
- Rejection is not terminal. If you put your work out to the public, some people will love it, some people will be ambiguous and some will hate it. You have to be confident in your own work (and yourself) to face rejection and keep on going.
- Where there is a will, there is a way. Today more than ever you can get your work published. Research the options and know what you are paying for. At Create Space, I was able to use their templates to upload my manuscript. I edited my own work and designed my own cover. The only costs I had were the printed proofs I purchased.