Almost six years ago, before I graduated from high school, I thought I had a completed manuscript for my small child magician novel. I was wrong on so many levels—like it is embarrassing to even think of how wrong I was—but I didn’t know it then. I got a subscription to Writer’s Market and started querying agents. At first, it didn’t go all that well. But then a friend offered to put me in touch with their friend, who was a writer. This friend of a friend offered to take a look at my query letter, by which he meant ppass the query letter on to his agent, who not only gave me some good advice on the query itself, but also requested my manuscript and gave me advice that changed my book forever.
I revised throughout my first year of college, and then I resubmitted to her. Ultimately, she rejected the book, but she did say she would be happy to hear from me down the line. So I continued to revise. And revise. And revise.
Just before I graduated from college, my thesis advisor put me in touch with her agent for my thesis novella. This agent gave me some good feedback on that project, but we also talked a lot about how I only get one debut novel. In some ways, this was an obvious point. But in other ways, it was a question I really needed to consider. At the time, I had my thesis novel, my small child magician novel, and the first draft of my memory-wiping academy novel. In my opinion, none of them were ready to be submitted yet, but I’d been given this opportunity, so I thought I should take advantage of it. But the more I thought of it, the more I leaned towards the small child magician novel. It was the novel I’d been working on the longest. It was closest to being really done. And it was the first novel I was proud of. So I decided: it would be my debut novel.
I finished my revisions in Italy, and last spring, I sent it to the agent my creative writing professor had put me in touch with. And I put off doing anything else to prepare to submit it. A few weeks ago, though, I heard back from the agent. She gave me lots of good feedback, and she said she would be willing to look at a final draft, but she also said that ultimately she wasn’t sure this was the right project for her. Honestly, I’d suspected this would be the case for a while, but I was also studying for the LSAT and applying for law school and starting work at the Disabilities Rights Center, so I was fine letting it sit until I heard back from her. But then I heard back from her, and I kicked into gear.
I went through the book one more time, putting some of her comments into a revision. Then I read all the archives on Query Shark and drafted my own query. And rewrote it. And rewrote it. Seven drafts later, I have something I’m really happy with. I bought a copy of the 2016 Guide to Literary Agents and read it cover to cover. I took notes on over a hundred agents who I wanted to research further. I am really, really hoping I don’t need that many. Now I am delving deeper into these agents, narrowing my list, and ranking them based on some criteria I established and also my trusty gut feeling. I’ve found a bunch that look like really good options, and a few I am super excited about. I’m also working on writing my synopsis. In case you didn’t know, summarizing your entire 90,000 word novel, start to finish, in only 500 words, is really, really hard. But I wrote a draft today, and I shouldn’t have too much trouble condensing it so that it’s one quarter it’s current size. I’ve gotten really good at this. Finally, I have a couple more nitpicky edits for the manuscript itself, and then it’s ready to go.
It’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been a lot of fun, and the more I do, the more excited I get. I am doing this! My goal is to be ready to query starting in the beginning of March. I’ve had a couple false starts on this before, but I’m confident that this time, I’m ready.
So wish me luck, because here I go.