In 2021, I decided to become a full-time writer, and I sat down to write my first novel. Although I’d never written one before, I had maintained a blog for over a decade and wrote a children’s book. Additionally, I’d written numerous short stories. But a novel is a different beast altogether. Unfamiliar with the process, I researched the key points. Feeling armed with enough information, I began, but I didn’t write every day, just most days. I used to tell people it was a B.I.T.C.H day––butt in the chair day. And before I knew it, four months later, manuscript one was complete. I looked at the finished first draft and said, “Now what?”
The Next Steps
Lost and overwhelmed with so much information on the interweb, and after tons of research and vacillating, I found Mary Adkins’ program, The Book Incubator. A three-time published author with HarperCollins, she helped me sift through the subsequent steps, including writing my second manuscript while I let my first one “simmer” to give me clarity for my gut read.
Unsure I could write a suspense thriller, but with Mary’s and the Book Incubator community’s support, I put pen to paper, and eight weeks later, manuscript two was finished. While that one rested, I revisited manuscript one, reading, revising, editing, rereading, revising, and editing it over and over. I gave it to beta readers, and with their feedback, I repeated the process until I had a best-polished version of the story.
Then It Got Real
While in The Book Incubator, I learned how to query (submitting to literary agents), and in November 2021, I started. It was as scary as *insert any explicative here*. In turn, I revisited manuscript two, working on it the same way I did with manuscript one––repeating the process until I had the best-polished version.
And while I worked on manuscript two, the rejections, or I liked to call them, “no thank yous,” started rolling in. One of three things happened. I’d either get ghosted, rejected, or a request for more materials. And when I’d heard about writing conferences where you can pitch agents live (well, through Zoom, thanks to 2020), I registered for a few.
My first one was in March 2022, pitching manuscript one. The next conference was in June, and now that manuscript two was complete, I pitched that one. Meanwhile, after seven months of querying manuscript one, I received nearly eighty rejections. You read that right, 80! Good times, right?
The Final Stretch
At the June conference, numerous agents requested my manuscript. Two rejections came within the first week. Fast forward six weeks. I received an email from my now agent requesting the entire manuscript. I hit the send button before finishing reading the email (not really, but I was so excited I responded within a few hours). Two weeks later, she requested a phone call. I don’t think I slept until the day we spoke. On my “graduation” day from The Book Incubator, I landed my agent!
A few weeks later, edits began. One week later, my agent put the manuscript on submission. And we waited. A few “no thanks yous” trickled in. And whether or not this part is true, I’ve heard that most publishers slow down, some shutting down completely during the holidays. If that’s the case, we lost weeks. And we didn’t hear anything for a while.
Fast forward again: The New Year rolled around, and my birthday is three weeks into it. When I blew out my candle, I wished to find a publishing home. The next day(!), my agent notified me we had an offer. I couldn’t believe it. I’d wished for it, and it had come true!
The Lesson Learned
The takeaway from all this is that it was a long road to get where I am today. I wanted to quit so many times, but no matter what, I had to keep going. Anyone who’d been through this kept telling me it’s a slow, arduous process. It takes patience, perservereance, and thick skin. So, if you’re reading this, and you’re a writer, hang in there. Don’t give up. Stay the course. And if you need any resources, check out my For Writers page!