I originally thought I would write my novel, find a literary agent and get published. Easy right? Wrong.
I did write the novel. It was something I had been writing in my head for years. To be honest, it was fulfilling and a great deal of fun. :) However, I'm still revising, listening to feedback, revising, listening to more feedback, revising some more, and revising my revisions. It’s a process.
After I felt good about my manuscript, it was time to take the next step. It was time to find a literary agent. The commercial publishing industry is completely different from the academic one. For a person like me, who hails from academia it has been an eye-opening experience. My doctoral program was vigorous and daunting, and it was common for students to cut and run after a six hour comprehensive exam. However, the same could be said for the unpublished author. I queried five literary agents. When I received my first 'form rejection' from an agent that I thought would be a good match, I was crestfallen.
What I didn't realize at the time is that no matter how much research I did (believe me- I spent most of my time in graduate school doing this very thing), no matter how perfect I thought the agent was, it was out of my control.
After reading some articles and interviews with literary agents I came to the conclusion that agents are very selective because they have to be. An agent is not going to offer representation if they currently represent something similar. Personal taste can be an issue as well. Perhaps I sent my first-person manuscript to an agent who only likes a third-person perspective. My literary voice may not resonate with the agent. The agent might be too busy with their current clients (as they should be) to take on any newbies. The list goes on and on.
So, what am I up to now? I am persevering. I am perfecting my query letter (I love it now), I am still revising my manuscript and I am entering short story contests.
I have my own little check list for my journey to publication:
- Write the novel- check
- Find the perfect literary agent who loves my characters and concept as much as I do-still waiting
- Write my blog so that my husband (a very talented web developer/designer that can make my website look amazing)- I've started...
- Work with a great editor and listen to all of their advice (I could go off on a tangent here about my belief in listening to people who are good at their job, but I will save it for another time.)
- See my book on the shelf at my local bookstore.
While I am waiting for my perfect agent (nudge, nudge, perfect agent), I have five beta readers (my target audience) helping me out. Let the nail biting commence.