I am now officially a writer trying to get published.
You see, I talked a big game for a very long time. Even back in high school, I had the most recent edition of The Writer’s Market. I had tabbed and highlighted the agents and publishing houses I was gonna send my stuff to just as soon as it was done. Once, I even put together a submission according to the guidelines, with a query, excerpt, and SASE. I was gonna be like Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and Christopher Paolini, damnit!
Obviously it never happened, mostly because I never finished any of the novels I started. C’est la vie.
In college I came back to the From Under the Mountain manuscript (then called Of Magic and Might) numerous times and apparently talked about it a lot more than I remembered. These days I talk to friends I’ve had for years about the novel and they immediately say, “Oh yeah, the witch clan one, right?” But as expected, it’s not easy to write a novel when you’re a full-time student working a part-time job on the side. Hell, it’s not easy to write a novel anyway.
Like I said, I’ve talked a big game about getting published for many, many years. I’ve always told people that becoming a decently well-known author is one of my dreams. Yet, for whatever reason, the motivation was never actually there. I liked the idea both of being an author and of being someone who is trying to get published, but I was neither. Now I’m both! (For these purposes, I define “author” as someone who has finished a novel.)
Today, I submitted my manuscript to Harper Voyager. As of today, my novel is under consideration with a publisher.
I’m frankly a little surprised by my feelings post-submission. I expected more anxiety, I guess. Don’t get me wrong–there is definitely a fluttering in my chest when I think about all this. But the thing I feel more than anything else? Confident. Not necessarily that I’ll get a contract out of this. Competition is definitely steep, especially by sheer numbers; and frankly, I’m not even sure how I feel about this no-advance e-book only deal that Harper Voyager is offering. I’d feel a lot better about it if I had an agent, that’s for sure. But then, if I had an agent, I wouldn’t be submitting to this deal.
The point is this: I’m not psyching myself out anymore. Even right before I hit submit, I was sitting at my computer thinking “Oh my god this is the worst query ever they’re totally going to hate it what the hell am I doing” and thinking that I needed to fix everything but not seeing how I could make it better, so I finally just clicked the submit button and let it go. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? The novel gets rejected? Big deal! Harper Voyager is not the only publisher out there. If at first you don’t succeed, and all that.
Actually submitting the novel to someone in the industry, rather than just talking about submitting to someone in the industry, has really decreased the fear factor. It’s really no big deal. Querying agents? No big deal! Just send out a few emails every week until you get something favorable. Nothing to be scared of. Agents do not bite. And if one is particularly rude? Screw ’em. Move on to the next one until you find someone just as excited about your book as you are.
Now, this attitude is not the same as not taking the process seriously. I’ll still be constantly revising my queries and synopses, keeping up on publishing trends, doing research before sending anything out. But I will not make mountains out of molehills. If I am so afraid of hearing “no” that I never put my book out there, I will never hear “yes.” Obviously that’s a mantra that’s become very familiar, but it’s good and true. For most people, achieving their dreams is 2% luck and 98% effort. Or, as Wayne Gretzky likes to say:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”