I did a scary thing this week.
I've been working on my novel since about June. I finished it in August, and then wasn't really sure what to do with it. It was my first draft, so I knew it would need some more love once I recovered from the process. Since this is my first book, I also have to do a lot of the heavy lifting on my own, for now. Thus began editing my first book...
Yeah, so that wasn't fun.
Turns out, I'm just as critical of my novel writing as I am of my screenwriting. The good news is this means I'm pretty good at murdering that one chapter I absolutely love, but doesn't serve my book as a whole. It took me a about a month to comb through the 100K words. I cut some, added more, and polished it as best I could.
But an indie writer's work is never done. My next task was also the most daunting: find and submit to an agent. In the screenwriting world, You don't need an agent until you do. That roughly translates to as long as I can find a filmmaker who wants to produce my work, I don't need an agent until I'm successful enough to need one. (The entertainment industry is strange, to say the least).
Publishing, however, is an entirely different ball game. Most publishers, the good ones that a budding novelist like myself would want, do not take unsolicited materials. And there's no filmmaker I currently know that also publishes books. But I'm versed enough in the submission process for films and concepts that I know you don't just throw it people and they magically make all your dreams come true. Nope.
If you're smart, and sometimes I show signs of intelligence, you research until your eyes bleed what the agents and publishers are looking for. I found the publisher I want the most (Harper Voyager, please Universe!) because they have a knack for scifi and a parent company that handles the big guns. Then I looked at agents at several agencies who had an interest in my genre. Totally read to submit now... But wait, there's more!
Each agent (and agency) has very different things they want from a writer. Some need a long detailed synopsis, others want a paragraph. One agent wanted my writer's mini-bio, another didn't care. One agent wanted exactly ten pages, another wanted around 50. If the devil is in details, he was certainly in publishing. I felt like I was back at the American Film Market, which is a totally circus, trying to sell my first feature. But because I've done that, I was prepared for the dance.
I spent a month researching, and I submitted my work for consideration to 4 very busy people. They aren't the only people I'm submitting to, and I have probably another month researching other publishers and agents ahead of me. The point of all this is that I did something that scares me, and I feel pretty good. Even if none of them like my work, I took a chance. And if you know me at all you know my favorite saying.
The same thing happens if you never ask at all: nothing.
Cheers to trying.