A while back I finished my 3rd and I’d hoped final revision of Song of Bones/Melody of Bones/that dragon story I always wanted to write but kept putting off. My stubborn brain insisted it was complete, that I had told the story the best way I knew how, and that it was time to set it free. Since I’d written the synopsis in the middle of the process, I waited a scant two weeks before I started submitting to agents and editors.
Without, you know, re-reading more than the first pages required for the submission process.
I can hear the rest of you writers out there cringing.
And you’re right.
After thirteen unsuccessful submissions I fell into that funk we all get at rejection. Because, you know, rejection is painful. I know editors and agents hate to do it, too. I think most of what makes the whole process bearable is knowing that they are in that socially awkward position where they must say; “No, thank you.”
Unless, you know, you get that editor/agent who enjoys tossing rejections like snarky confetti, but those are few and far between.
Mercifully, I stopped submitting after thirteen. And I know some of you are going to point to James Patterson’s 42 rejections before he sold that first novel, but I promise you this was the right move. Because six months after I sent that first submission I opened up the manuscript again and realized how much I’d gotten wrong.
My dragon culture was not fully fleshed out. The first chapter was trying to cram too much information without enough characterization. And I was struck with the fact that I needed to keep the novel centralized in one setting rather than trying to fly between continents.
My Muse seemed to be snickering at me from the corners of my writing space.
I had broken that cardinal rule of writing – Thou shalt wait at least three months before picking up the work in progress.
If I’d given myself the time and space, I could have saved myself and the agents/editors who I submitted to a lot of awkwardness. I could have saved myself from a little of that funk of rejection.
I say a little because I know in its completed form that Melody of Bones/Song of Bones will still be rejected by those agents/editors who do not feel it is a good fit for them.
I am so grateful that I gave myself the time I needed with Enemy Souls. (That novel hit shelves on September 8th and is doing quite well! I am supremely pleased by the reception it has had and should be working on the third installment of the Tapped series during National Novel Writing Month this year.)
Dear writers, learn from my mistake. Put that manuscript away. Give it fermentation time. And, of course, read the thing before you start submitting it.
Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.