So remember when I told you how to write a novel?
If you're too lazy to follow the link- and I commend you because that really is lazy, even lazier than I am- I'll tell you what the secret is. You have to write. There. Now you know.
I sat my butt down and got my hands on the keyboard and wrote myself a novel. Then I rewrote it. Twice. Then I printed it out, set it on a shelf, and ignored it for two months. I read it. I rewrote it again. I let someone I trust proofread it and test if for BS. Then, I rewrote it AGAIN.
It has been test read. Corrected. Is it perfect? Not yet. I still have a few things to fix. But it's very, very close.
I am possibly very foolish to be talking about it on the internet. I hope not. There are other writers who are keeping an online diary of their progress. It's served to keep me motivated and accountable- I have to finish it if I'm telling the world about it.
But...some of you have asked why the heck you aren't reading it yet.
Here's where the hardest part of this process starts: patience. My god, I am not good at this. I want it NOW. I want to live on my farm NOW without going through the tedious process of mortgages and documents and lawyers. I want to move NOW so that my amazing neighbour friends can come out to my new rural paradise and camp out for long weekends and enjoy it with us. I want the raspberries to ripen NOW. I want my horses to be trained NOW so that I can ride happily and not fuss with all the little young horse sillinesses.
I want my novel to be magically done NOW and find an agent NOW and get my book published NOW so you can read it NOW.
Some understanding is needed here as to how this all works. Here's what I've figured out so far:
Once my book is as good as I can get it, it's ready to send to an agent. But it's not that simple. First I have to find an agent that I believe would be interested in my book. I have to scour the interent, look through the Writer's Market book, check out agent's blogs, check them against websites warning who the scammers are, google the agent's name to see what books he has already represented, and of course, find out what that agent is looking for.
And I'm led to believe that I shouldn't pick just one, because guess what, there's a very high chance that said agent will need a month or so to work her way through the mail until she gets to mine. And then, there's a very high chance that she'll reject it. It doesn't necessarily mean that she hates my work; it could be just that she's up to her eyeballs and can't take on any more.
So let's say I've got a list of ten agents. I've done my research, I've read the books they've agented, and I know why they would be into mine, but also how mine is just that little bit different, or hopefully, special.
What am I waiting for???? Send the damn thing. NOW.
This is where, if it wasn't already complicated enough, it gets complicated...because now I need to explain about that one little nagging catch in the process. I can't send the book to an agent. They don't want it, not yet. They want a special kind of introduction from me. They want...
A QUERY LETTER.
It's one page, it's precise, it's the thing that makes an agent decide whether he wants to work with me or not. It's like my job interview, resume, and first impression all rolled up in one piece of paper. It has to be coherent. There can be no mistakes. I have to get the agent's name right and god help me, my own name right too. In this letter, I have to show what the book is about in just two short paragraphs, but these paragraphs can't just be a summary. It has to be a hook that will grab a reader's attention and make him want to read more. It has to be so enticing, so unique and irresistible, that the agent will slap a hand on the desk, reach for his keyboard and fire off an email to me immediately, demanding that I send the entire manuscript as soon as I can get it into the mail, or hit the send button, or sprinkle it with floo powder and throw it into the fireplace, or however he wants it delivered.
Got that? I don't send the book. They don't want the book. They want one page, in which they'll read about my book, and why they should want to represent it, and who the heck am I anyways.
I've heard some writers complain that it's not fair, but if you look at it from the agent's perspective, it is very fair. Any idiot with a computer can write a book. I know, because I've done it four times, so I'm a quadruple idiot. Plus back in the days when this was all done by paper and stamps, it was a bit harder to submit something. Now any idiot with email can zap off a half baked query letter for a crap book any old time, several times a day. I know, because I've done it multiple times, making me a multiple idiot. Imagine how much crap an agent has to go through to find something good.
It's my job to be the "something good". Especially after contributing so much to the crap.
Without going on too long here, that's not even the end of the process, because the agent then takes my winning wonderful manuscript and does the same thing to the editors at the publishing houses- she entices them to buy this great story and turn it into an actual real book. That part of the whole trip is completely out of my hands. That's why I have to do my part now, while it still is in my control.
This is also why, sadly, I cannot let it out of my hands yet. I still have work to do. We will all have to be patient. Yeah, I know. I hate being patient too.
Just so you know, I have been working. I've been scratching and pecking away at my query letter for the last two days. I feel like I have to have it perfectly nailed down before I take on the last tweaks of the book.
Plus I've been up to my eyeballs in kids and couldn't concentrate on the book. Today there are only four kids in my house. I gave birth to half of them. The boy-children are jamming in the playroom and I love it, I love the drums and wah wah guitar. The girl-children just cooked themselves some scrambled eggs. I've got three versions of a query letter simmering on my computer. It's happening. I can't rush it. It's happening.
Writing a query letter is considered by many writers to be harder than writing the actual book. I'd have to agree. I feel like twitching, it's so hard. But I have to do it. I have to be patient. NOW...