I’m sure you’ve all seen cartoons like this one before.
Right now, I’m in the fourth stage of this particular cartoon. I’ve been working on the same MG MS for about 2 years–not as long as some projects I know, but still, it’s a long time. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and right now I’m in a place where I feel the second book is better, but the first book is needed, but is the first book working and what do I do about that and what if it never gets published….etc.
All writers go through this and this is not my first rut with a project. The struggle for me right now is that I’ve read this MS so many times I can’t tell what or if anything is “wrong” with it. Every time I re-read it I find a chunk I think is boring or tedious, and I can’t tell if it’s because I’ve been reading my own work for 2 years or because it really is that boring and tedious.
This MS has been through my critique group and a few MS swaps. I’m always open to other people’s ideas and suggestions. If they find the same spots boring and tedious, then perfect, time to cut it out and replace with more action. I’ve also had people tell me what is not working and then I go back and “fix” the issue as best I can. The problem is, I can’t expect my MS swap people to keep re-reading the same book over and over, and I’m not sure I can afford to hire an editor on retainer!
I’m also at the point where I wonder how many MS swaps are too many. I’m swapping with someone after NaNoWriMo season, and I thought about sending them a different MS, but now I’m thinking I need at least one more pair of eyes to either confirm or deny my bleak thoughts about this one I’ve been picking at. I have made changes since my last swap so I know it won’t be a bad idea, now the question is how many more swaps until I feel confident enough to start querying again?
Long story short, ruts are hard. I know I’ll get out of it, it’s just a matter of me deciding when to push forward and get this thing done right or set it aside and work on something new. Come December I’m hoping to have a better sense of what I need to keep writing, whether it’s with this book or another one.
Thank you for reading my rant. We all struggle and I’d love to hear some success stories and positive words for frustrated little writers like me. 🙂
I was raised as an only child, and that combined with being the youngest grandchild in the family makes me sometimes want attention! Because of this I’m usually too eager to share my works in progress (WIP) with others. I enjoy being critiqued because a lot of the time there are large sections that people enjoy, and it makes me happy to hear that. (What writer doesn’t get all warm and fuzzy when someone likes their writing?) I’ve gotten better at being “selfish” with my WIP and waiting until I’m totally in love with the project before I open it up to my family or my critique group. However, for the first time in a long time, I’m nervous about critique.
I’m proud of this YA project, but for once I’m hesitant to get critique. I want this book to do well, and while I’m excited about my concept, I am battling with a lingering fear of rejection. I’ve been trying to get one of my MG books published and I’ve taken a break because of the rejections. Now that I have another WIP I think can succeed, I’m nervous others won’t feel the same way.
What if the drama feels forced?
What if my characters are not believable?
What if people like the concept but hate the writing?
Writing, like all art, takes courage. It’s risky letting others read your work, regardless if it’s family or a stranger I met on SCBWI. Family may be kind, but the people I let read my WIP are honest despite their bias. I can take critique, all of my novels have gone through MASSIVE overhauls because of the advice given by different people. The books always turn out better than they started. There will always be people who don’t like the book and that’s okay, but if everyone I show the book to sees that it’s not working then what do I do? For once, I’m having a hard time (as Stephen King so eloquently wrote) “murdering my darlings.”
In a few weeks I will have to let the outside world in. The MS has gone through 3 drafts, is likely as complete as I can make it on my own, and needs some other eyes on it. For now I’m still tinkering in case I catch a big problem before someone else does. I’m sharing this MS at the end of the month with my aunt who is also a writer, reader, and artist herself. I look forward to her critique, reminding myself that all my MSs are better after others read them…although a big part of me still wants to hold my darling close!
Today I received my very first contract from a publisher! Woo Hoo!!!
Stop. Read. Think. Re-read. Research.
I am new to contracts, so even though I may not be clear on every detail of the contract, I know to take a step back, understand what I can, and research the rest. The contract came from Black Rose Writing (BRW), and unfortunately their reputation does not make me optimistic. Most of the articles I found online are at least 5-8 years old, so the publisher has changed since then. However, it’s unsettling to read the unsavory reviews of a publisher who sent a contract.
They are not asking for money upfront, insisting I buy X number of books (as they once did), but I’m still hesitant. I’ve reached out to an author published through them to get an author’s experience of the publisher today. I’ve also reached out to SCBWI, my friend who writes and reviews contracts, and other authors in my critique groups for advice. It’s tempting to say “I did it” and sign away, although if BRW is a vanity publisher it’s about as exciting as getting a participation trophy at a sports event.
ABOVE WRITTEN FEB 14
Today I have heard back from several trusted people about BRW. Most people I have talked to are also skeptical and want to know more. This uneasy response has confirmed that I will not be choosing BRW as my publisher.
The joy of getting a contract has worn off and disappointment has settled in, but I am glad for it. It’s important to do the research and tap into resources. I talked to a librarian today and she knew of another indie publisher in IL that is small but produces quality work. I will check them out. As a new author, using a small publishing house is a great way to get published and start the process of getting known. BRW, however, boarders the line of vanity press and requires the author to do most of the marketing. At least that is the vibe I get from the contract and website.
For those of you new to publishing who are afraid of getting targeted by vanity publishers, here are some things to look out for:
- A reputable publisher WILL NOT ask you to pay money upfront. If someone offers you a contract and requires you to pay a fee, buy a certain number of books, or pay for marketing services: run.
- Weird typos. Publishers like words and order and professionalism. Having a stupid typo in a contract is a scary sign. BRW had two: 31 of February, and Witnesseth.
- If you contact the press and they can’t say anything specific about why they chose you, it probably means they didn’t read the MS. You want someone who loves your work, not your wallet.
- Vanity and Subsidy press is the same thing. Both will prey on authors and try to get money from them. A publisher is supposed to support YOU, not the other way around.
- More info about staying safe and informed below.
If you have experience with author contracts, what to look for, and how to stay informed, please comment below. I too have a lot to learn, and sharing helpful information unites us as a writing community.
My list of 75 agents is growing smaller and smaller. I didn’t realize how many agencies have a policy where “A no from one of us is a no from all of us.” I have to trust they actually shared my query with their co-workers, otherwise I may have missed a chance. Two agencies have said no, and I was hoping to query about 8 people I now can’t because of this policy.
My heart is racing. I turned on some fun music to pump myself up today, and I finished 4 queries. My query letter is good and my MS has been edited about 4 times so I hope it’s ok. I don’t want to exhaust my options. Again. I know it’s all part of the process, but it’s still disheartening.
Two weeks ago when I had a MS request was the most excited I’ve been in a long time. The no from that was hard, but not as hard as it could have been since I prepared for it. Yet, with each query sent I feel rejection is inevitable. It’s hard to get out of this funk. Self-publishing is not an option for this book so I have to hope an agent likes it.
If I go through all my agents, then what? This question has been plaguing me since the first rejection. I’ve been through this before, but my skin is not as tough as I thought it was. Do I start a new project? Do I push harder for this one? Do I, I dunno, troll Facebook for answers? I want to be optimistic but having a back up plan would help me a lot. Anyone have some good advice? Anyone been through this funk before? Wisdom welcome!!!
I finished a raw MS a couple weeks ago and I am about a third of the way through the beginning edits. These edits are for me to make sure I got all the tenses right, have correct commas, and prepping for other people to read it before I edit again (and again) for a new agent.
This new MS is much different from “The Healing Pool.” It is an adult fiction–not sure if I can get a more specific category–that addresses heavy issues such as mental illness and domestic violence. I think that this work is much more gripping and interesting than my first book, but as I go through and edit some worries are creeping into my head.
I am a senior in college. I am graduating with a music performance degree, but I want to make a career as an author. I know that my writing dream will take time. I can live with that. But the pressures of being an almost-real-life-adult along with the stress of marketing myself and my book is beginning to sneak up on me.
I love the writing process. I love the editing process. Hell, formatting was pretty cool too. However, I really want this second book to get an agent. I want some hard-core help with marketing and for someone to fight for my book and get a publisher really interested. Self-publishing is difficult. I did it once and I know I can do it again, but I don’t know if I can afford to do it again. Self-publishing takes a lot of time but it also takes a lot of money to do it right. I was financially savvy with “The Healing Pool” but even so it took a chunk out of my wallet. I also feel pressured to get this new book out ASAP. There is no one pushing me but myself, but myself wants to keep turning books out so I can get a wide audience and a good standing as an author.
I might be getting ahead of myself. The new MS is still raw, the edits are only beginning, and by the time it’s ready to submit I will likely be graduated and looking for jobs. I think once school is over my mindset will be able to focus. It is difficult to write while in college. I’m sure many of you can attest to that! There are so many other priorities in life right now although the latest MS feels like it should be the most important!
Ok, my nervous rant is over. Needed to get that off my chest! I know that all good things come with time, and although I consider myself to be a patient person, sometimes things need to happen NOW. Right now I need to focus my energies on the creative process before I freak out about the other stuff. I still need to take into account that I might decide to self-publish again and prepare for that, but right now I can also spare to enjoy the process a little.
Has anyone else had freak outs like this before? It’s nice to know you’re not alone!