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The Blog of Anya Harker » submission process

Is admitting your first book isn’t THE ONE.

 

Trust me, I’m still trying to come to terms with this realisation. It’s a hard one to come to, to put something you’ve loved so dearly into a drawer and decide you’ll pull it out again at some point… or maybe never again. I’ve sadly hit that point with my first second novel.

 

The first was the easy one to put aside. It’s the book I wrote in high school and I found it again the last time I was home. I flipped through it, shuddered, and threw it in the back of my closet where it will never again see the light of day. I know it’s there and that’s enough. The fact is, we all have our “first” novel. The one we never admit we wrote, but, like all writing it was a learning experience.

 

Then there came the second book. The one you pour your heart and soul into. For me? This is an idea that’s been running around my brain for the past ten or so years. It started in high school, I attempted part of it for NaNo one year… but it wasn’t until last year that I actually sat down and wrote it from start to finish. It went through edits. It went through more edits… and then it went out into the wide and scary world of agents.

 

I have to say — it did well there. I got a LOT of rejections, but I did get a fair number of requests too. And while the agents who read it liked it, there was never that push to take it and me on as clients. Maybe it’s just not ready — or maybe the market isn’t ready. I’ll be damned if I know and I’ll drive myself crazy trying to figure it out.

 

So, for now, my beloved manuscript is going to sit in the proverbial drawer on my harddrive. It’s a hard blow to take, especially when it’s something you’ve loved for so long. But… it happens, even to the best of us.

 

Now, bring on novel number three. Here’s hoping it’s  “the one”.

Over the past six months, I’ve been getting a lot of emails as I venture into the world of querying. Most often, I see the emails of “thanks… but”. Those are some of the worst — especially when they come from agents you’d think would be perfect for your manuscript. You also learn a lot — not to send off a bazillion queries at once when the query isn’t perfect.

 

You learn to head to other sites that offer peer review. You learn to take the criticism and the hurt and put it into writing bigger and better drafts. Soon you have a version of your query that sparkles so brightly it shines as the diamond in the slush.

 

Then, you start hearing the exciting words.

 

Can I see a partial?

Can I see the first 50 pages?

Can I see the first 30 pages and a synopsis?

 

Those words are great and exciting, especially when you’ve gotten nothing but rejections sitting in your inbox. Still, the greatest words ever to appear in an email have to be:

 

Is your novel still available? If so I’d love to consider the full.

 

It still is enough to make me grin. And so you, my awesome readers, what are some of the best emails you’ve gotten while going off on the grand journey that is publishing?

So right now, it’s been fairly slow going. My opening is polished and I’ve been steadily editing while trying to balance my fun work, my internship, and that pesky thing known as law school. I’d send out a couple of queries once a month, just to see how I was faring.

And I’ve been rejected.

Yes, rejection is the name of the game, but it still sucks when you wake up to an email that says “your query was engaging, but I didn’t like it as much as I hoped I would”. Hell, you get to the point that a personalized rejection is better than the hated form rejection! Still, rejections suck. You soon realize that no matter how thick you think your skin is, everyone has that one area of vulnerability and they manage to slip beneath that skin and gnaw away.

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve entered several contests as well — and got no love from the agents. At that point, I started re-thinking things. Contests, I will say, are fantastic ways to get some good insta-feedback. At that point, I took a step back and changed things. The title changed. The prologue changed. I started going back over the opening chapters and fixing things, especially when I began to realize just how much my voice has changed over the course of a 76k novel.

Then… came March Pitch Madness, hosted by the amazing @brendadrake, @CA_Marshall, and @Shelley_Watters on their blogs. Still stinging from the last contest rejections, I made a last minute decision to sign up — and I am so glad I did. I waited on pins and needles to see if I got accepted into the final round. Out of 198 entrants, I was one of 60 chosen. OH MY GOD!

I tried not to get my hopes up after the last contest. So when I hit refresh on my entry at noon yesterday, I was shocked to see not one, but TWO requests on my entry for the query and the first 25 pages. I wanted to do a happy dance, but since I was at work, I had to settle for the dance in my head. It looked something like this:

Hugh Grant Does a Happy Dance in LOVE ACTUALLY

Okay, so the .gifs are a little large. So sue me. I want to use things from LOVE ACTUALLY.

At this point I entered the awesome CHALLENGE ROUND. I sat at work, obsessively hitting refresh to see which agent would come out on top. In the end, it was the amazing and awesome Sarah LaPolla who won the day with a 150 page request. It’s safe to say the happy dance I was doing in my head looked something like this:

Laura Linney Flail from LOVE ACTUALLY

So yes. I waited until today to write this post, because I’m afraid that if I wrote it yesterday, it was going to be nothing but a VERY long line of SQUEEEEEEE. So right now is the last set of eyes going over the first 150 pages to make sure they sparkle as much as I know they can. I’ll release it from my hands this weekend. But for right now, I leave you with one final .gif — because this is how I still feel, even as I sit in my law classes and try to do work.

KERMIT FLAIL

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