By ‘completed’ I mean that in each case I got to the end of a first draft, then I went back to the beginning and edited (draft 2). Then I got a few trusted reader and writer friends to read the manuscript, and waited for their comments. Then I let the comments sink in for a while, and only then, on the basis of these comments and further thoughts I’d had in the meantime, I edited again (draft 3).
Then I sent each book out to agents. Each book got some positive attention, but no one took the punt on signing me.
Which means that at the moment I don’t have a publisher for either book, or an agent working to get them out into the world. They’re finished, but not Finished.
So, what next?
Obviously, I’m hoping that having one book out there already will lend me credibility, open doors. But in the immediate term it isn’t going to get those other two novels published.
And I’ve got a new idea gnawing at me, so there’s a part of me that would really like to start working on that.
I’m not afraid of hard work, and I don’t mind rewriting. And yes, the first draft is mega exciting, but I’ve found ways to love rewriting too. I’ve been rewriting Baby X since last summer after all. But that was different, because I knew there was someone out there who believed in the book and was excited to read the new version. Now it’s back to rewriting on spec, with no one to send the book out to at the end of the process.
That’s not quite true – a number of agents were interested in He, She, It. One even sent me pages and pages of enthusiastic comments and constructive criticism, and said she’d be interested to read a rewrite. But I also know from bitter experience that ‘interested to read’ is nowhere near a sure thing. Who knows how she and her list might have moved on in the last eighteen months? And if I rewrite, will she actually like this version anymore than the last one?
Another agent expressed an interest in reading another draft of Seal Skin, but suggested I get it professionally edited first. Professional editing might be the way forward, but costs a lot of money, is no sure-fire route to success.
To complicate matters further, advice from agents and writer friends hasn’t been at all consistent. I’ve been advised not to rewrite anything on spec on the basis of agents’ comments, but to start something new, in the hope that I produce a book that chimes sufficiently with the what the market is looking for, and hooks me an agent who can move my career forward.
I’d love to hear what other #WhatI’mWriting authors think about this dilemma, and how you’ve chosen to deal with it.