I began this journey in January 2013. I wrote everyday, blogged every week and, to my surprise, finished a first draft in six months. Editing sucked—like really sucked. But I did it, took writing classes, entered contests and called myself a writer.
In March 2014, I found out I was a finalist in a writing contest, which led me to my first retreat. Whoa! That was when I realized this didn’t have to be as solitary an experience as I thought. I discovered a community of people just like me! It was energizing. So in May 2014 I started the infamously ego-bursting process of pitching my novel to agents.
A temporary shift in focus
The summer of 2014, something crazy happened. I landed a job (as a lawyer) that I loved! At that point, I more or less stopped everything novel related. I stopped pitching agents, my blog consistency went way down, and I didn’t do much work on my manuscript. I consciously re-prioritized during that period because I wanted to make a good impression, and it seemed like a natural time for a break (because pitching agents is a waiting game). The only thing I kept doing consistently was blog for The Write Practice.
Over the next 6-8 months, I received dozens of rejections. Most agents said nothing, but some of them explained why. The most consistent feedback I received was a) they liked my writing style and b) they did not know how to sell my book. Where would it go in a bookstore? (I don’t know) I really did not want to self-publish (a personal choice for me- self publishing is a great option for others) so I started seriously considering a small publisher that read (and seemed to like) my manuscript.
I think that’s where I was at when I last posted to my blog. I’m embarrassed to say that was August 2015!
Since my last post…
Since my last post here’s what happened: while I was talking to the small publisher, one agent was reading my full manuscript. (Let me explain—after you send a query letter to an agent, they take months to request a portion of your manuscript. Then they take weeks or months to read that portion and request the whole thing. At that point they take weeks or months to read the damn thing. Send. Wait. Wait. Rejection. Rejection. Send. Wait. So yeah, I was waiting on the agent.)
Ultimately, the agent rejected it and I told the small publisher I was ready to rock and roll. Maybe the day after I made that known, an agent I had queried ONE YEAR earlier requested my full manuscript. Fortunately, they got back to me relatively quickly with a friendly rejection where they essentially reiterated the two points above with greater detail.
Moving forward with the small publisher
In March of 2016, I FINALLY received a publishing contract from the small publisher. I hired a lawyer/agent (ironically, one I had previously pitched) to review it, and she gave me great comments. The publisher and I discussed the agreement further in person during a meeting in which I was advised to begin thinking of my one-year promotion plan. He made it very clear that, all authors (self-published or not) need to hustle to sell books and the best thing I could do for myself was to figure out I was going to get my name out there, starting NOW.
Thankfully, I had been invited to a retreat outside of Atlanta hosted by The Write Practice that happened to be taking place that month. I attended with a goal of finding ideas and strategies to help me formulate that plan. That was last week and I more than fulfilled that goal! I left with concrete promotion ideas and ideas to address some creative issues I just haven’t been able to resolve with my novel. I was ready to create a 12-month plan.
Step one of that plan? Return to blogging.
So here I am. Can’t wait to finally turn this dream into a reality!
Oh, btw- like my new header?!
Personally, I LOVE it! It’s a pic of a me drawn on the pages of a Moleskine notebook. My friend Ross Boone, who I met at The Write Practice retreat drew it for me! Not only is he an awesome illustrator– he writes too! He also gave really thoughtful advice during the retreat. Thanks Ross!
This is one my headshots from the retreat. Phillip van Nostrand is an awesome photographer! 🙂
4 thoughts on “The Past, Present and Future of This Novel”
Congratulations on your recent success!! I want to be a writer as well, and I am at ground zero (literally). I do find your constant updates about your struggle to finally get to a contract both inspiring and enlightening.
I know the path is going to be hard, but I do want to finally get a deal as well.
Glad you hung in there and didn’t quit when the rejection letters started coming in..
I will buy your book as soon as it is released..
Sondra…. A future fellow writer!!#
And I find comments like these inspiring! Thank you so much for the kind words. I will keep you posted on the book. 😀
Awesome, Monica! I was wondering what took you to ATL. 🙂 This is great to hear; can’t wait to read it!