It happened again. This time I am not sure what I am supposed to do. Do you recall that crazy story when I emailed my query to twenty agents pitching my unfinished novel? One agent rejected, one wanted to see the first chapter and no one else answered, remember? So, I am back to the same nightmare. Two days ago I received a request from another agent. This time it is not just the first chapter, but five!
When I opened that email and read it, I was excited. I was very proud of my story and my query. My story is good enough to attract attention! My query rocks! Then I realized that I DO NOT HAVE A BOOK. My shoulders slumped. I sat down and wanted to weep. So, what do I do now? Do I get into the agitated editing state as I did before? Do I file away this precious request, finally write the book and re-query? It is a tough decision.
What are my chances of getting a request for a full manuscript? Really slim. But it is possible (or so I like to think). If I do get a request for a full, then what? Do I write a very humble and apologetic letter confessing all the idiotic mistakes I committed, all the naive dreams I had, and ask, beg, pray for time to finish the book? I can only imagine what will come in response… if anything at all. Do agents have some kind of a “stupid authors” list where they write down names of writers like me for their future reference?
I don’t know what I am going to do. I might edit the pages and email them. I might just take my time, finish the book and hope that when I re-query again, I will get some interest.
Meanwhile, I will tell you this:
1. Don’t be stupid and don’t query an agent before you actually finish your book.
2. For your own sake, finish that book!
3. Learn from someone else’s mistakes (mine!) instead of learning from your own.
I am a writer (aren’t we all?). I am not recognized, not published, not represented, not … you got it. I am “not.” But I do love writing (don’t we all?). I started three (!) novels and never finished them. Why? My novels bored me. I became extremely impatient. I wanted to finish my first novel within one month, my second – within three months. Finally I became more reasonable and gave myself six months to finish my third novel. As you can guess, I never finished any of them.
However, I wrote a query letter, describing an electrifying and powerful plot of my third novel, and emailed it to twenty agents. The fact that the novel was unfinished, unwritten and unedited was conveniently omitted. Three days later a very respectable agent asked me for the first chapter. That’s when it hit me. What was I thinking when I sent the query out? Obviously, I was not thinking. I was dreaming.
I feverishly edited my first chapter and emailed it to the agent. Then I panicked. What if the agent liked it and wanted a full (nonexistent) manuscript? What if I blew my only chance of becoming a published writer? You are not going to believe me but I really, really hoped that the agent wouldn’t like my first chapter. Thankfully, she didn‘t.
After this agent searching debacle, I decided to revamp my approach to writing novels. Instead of attempting to write an epic book, I wrote a short story. When it was edited numerous times and polished, and edited some more, I sent it to twenty-five literary magazines. Today I received my twentieth rejection. I am disappointed. I am sad. But I am still hopeful. Five magazines have not rejected me. Yet.
I think that one day I might post here one of my favorite excerpts from the short story I’ve written. Maybe not one but two excerpts. Maybe you will even like it.