DON’T STOP WRITING TO WAIT FOR AN AGENT
This is another thread inspired by the Genre Writer’s Retreat – Fantasy, Sci-fi, Steam Punk Facebook page, which lately, has provided me with a wealth of subjects thanks to writers and authors asking lots of questions. While I can give short replies, or sometimes only have time to give a quick “like” on the subject, here, I have time to discuss these things in more detail. Many times, they’re subjects I’ve covered before, but maybe not from quite the same angle.
THE QUEST FOR AN AGENT (OR PUBLISHER)
A lot of writers tend to become focused. Okay, sure, when you’re writing a story, you need to be focused on that story at that time. So, now you have it finished (well, mostly). If you are young and naïve, you’re going to drop everything and immediately start looking for an agent.
Just one problem.
Okay, you’ve finished your great masterwork, but what about editing it? What about a sequel? What about other inspiration?
Just because you finished one doesn’t mean progress comes to a screeching halt while you shop around your work to the “receptive” world of publishing.
I think you’ll be in for a rude awakening.
I am, of course, exaggerating most writer’s circumstances, but sometimes, just sometimes, not by as much as you might think. With a lot of writers, they (and maybe you) might be guilty of a variable of that scenario.
How many of you have become so focused on your one thing and never considered the rest of it? Sure, maybe you took the time to get it edited through whatever means and started querying, then spent all your time and energy trying to get it published.
Oh, wait a minute. In all that effort, you forgot one other thing.
Something else to write!
I can tell you right now that I’m not exaggerating about that. As a member of multiple writer’s groups over two decades, well three to be exact, and having attended multiple writer’s conferences (twelve to be exact), I’ve talked to a lot of writers and authors. You’d be shocked at how many of them have done exactly what I’m talking about. They put all their time and energy into that one book. Their reasoning?
“I want to see if I can get this one published first. If I can, then I’ll write something else.”
NEVER PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET
I often cite my extreme quest to get published because I refused to self-publish. It took a looong time. Let me ask you something. If you wrote a single book twenty one (almost twenty-two, now) years ago, before you finally got published, how much inspiration do you think you’d have left by now? How many ideas and fragments of ideas do you think you’d remember after two decades? How many would be obscured by all the frustrations of being rejected?
How practiced would you be at the craft of writing if you’d even bothered to stick with it for more than a year, let alone twenty? I’m guessing most of you wouldn’t have lasted near as long.
Thanks to my two mentors at the time, Carol Davis Luce and Rhondi Vilott Salsitz, I knew I was in for a tough sell. I also knew I loved to write. The other thing was that when I started out, my first novel was never going to see the light of day. The Cave was just my way of seeing if I could complete a novel. Once that was out of the way, I got serious with The Greenhouse.
Sure, I pitched it. I pitched it and I pitched it. I queried it and I queried it. I went through all the same rigamarole as you’re probably going through with your great American novel, but in a more primitive form, using books and mail and very little Internet. Different times. However, while I was doing that, I was either editing it for the second or third time, or, I was in the middle of writing Lusitania Gold.
Folks, I wasn’t about to sit on my ass and wait for the agents and publishers to come banging at my virtual door! Thanks to Carol, Rhondi and anecdotal evidence (brought on by actually reading about querying), I knew it’d be a tough sell. Therefore, since I was brimming with inspiration, I moved on. My writing would not come to a screeching halt just because I had to take time to pitch The Greenhouse or Lusitania Gold or whatever.
SUMMARY – TAKES TIME AND EFFORT
Pitching your work, such as querying agents and publishers takes work, research, time, effort, bla bla bla. It takes inspiration and creativity just like writing does. However, consider that just necessary time away from your calling. It’s something you have to do if you ever want your stories to see the light of day. You have to be skilled at it, you have to be smart about it and most importantly, you need to allot time away from your regular writing for it.
However, you do not stop writing while waiting for an agent or publisher to take the bait.
That’s a great way to get nowhere fast.