This is part IV of All Roads Lead to Publishing (maybe). Part I, Part II, and Part III
There I was, part of the blog hop that felt like winning the lottery just to get on the ticket. Everyone was twitterpated about the contest, and by that I mean all the judges were on twitter. I joined twitter on the spot, following their every tweet, but that wasn’t enough to quell my obsession of Who Was Going To Be Picked. I read through every tweet hint, then I read through them all again. Then I read every entry on the whole list, all 200 of them.
When people tell me they have a hard time with writing queries, I tell them to go read as many query contest entries as possible. It definitely helps you get a feel for query writing. The good ones are clear and have a sort of pep to them. The bad ones are awkward and hard to read. I only mention this as part of my road to publishing because this moment, more than any other, was a major marker in my writing. I learned so much just by reading through all the other queries.
But, as had always happened to me, up until that point, other people were getting picked. I quietly sat on the sidelines encouraging my friends, but it was looking pretty grim. I made peace with not getting picked: I had already won because I'd learned so much, and I knew there was a ton of work left on my novel.
Then the unthinkable happened: my story was picked as an alternate by Monica!
I jumped and did the happy dance and laughed because someone else finally said they had seen something in my writing, something that was worthwhile. It was amazing to hear that from someone who wasn't my mother. As part of the contest, she edited my first page and it was a miracle. It was amazing. I'd already learned so much from that contest, and now I had personalized feedback on my writing. Hint: good editing makes you sound more like you. Bad editing makes you sound more like your editor. In the case of Monica, she was a great editor. Her suggestions helped me get the writing out of the way of the story, a gift of craft I have carried through every novel since.
Things went live, and... crickets. I did get a lonely partial request, but nothing like the other amazing writers who were making everything look flawless and amazing. (bonus hint: Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s; your journey is as unique as you are so don’t get caught up in the “I GOT AN AGENT IN TWO DAYS” hype).
So I started querying the old fashioned way. I got requests here and there, more than previously, but they all ended in no. Sorry, but no. Your writing is great, but it’s me. The story isn’t quite what’s selling now, or my personal favorite “Your pages made me laugh a couple times, but ultimately the story didn’t grab me.” I took all of those rejections and I gave them a home in my heart next to where this novel lived, and―sad to be sure―I moved on to the next story, because I’m a writer and that’s what you do. It’s not about one book. It’s about all the books. It’s the next book. It’s the book after that, and if this wasn’t going to be The One, then I was going to put my best foot forward with my next book.
That’s right, I gave up on this novel not once but twice. On the other hand, I still had a lot to learn. And I’ll be talking about that next time.