Writer's face many moments of not knowing what to do.
One is deciding if the book is ready for
an agent, editor, or publisher.
Pushing "send" to an editor/publisher/agent is like walking into a room so dark it feels like a wall is in the way. No light seeping into the narrow space whatsoever. If you take a step forward you'll bang your foot. Who knows what all is in the room?
Was my story really at its best? Or best enough to get noticed?
Ten months ago I met with an agent at a conference. Ten of my fifteen minutes revolved around the pitch I'd prepared. I looked at the agent and wondered what to say in the remaining five minutes. Inside my folder was a sheet of paper with one story idea--only a paragraph long. That's it. The idea literally popped in my head the Sunday before. In all the hurry to get ready, I printed out the paragraph and stuffed it in the folder.
I get rather tongue-tied when speaking to individuals with the power to say yay or nay. A regular Rain Man. This time, I pulled out the paper and set it on the desk facing the agent. "I have this other idea." I didn't give her a chance to read the paper. Words, ideas, excitement burst out my mouth. I gestured with my hands and no doubt with my face.
The agent listened intently. Her face matched the expressions I projected. When I stopped she paused for a second and said, "Write the book."
"Okay, I will," I said.
And I did.
*The story tumbled onto the page like a snowball soaring down a mountainside. At the end of 75,000 words I reread the first pages and thought, "Nope, needs to be in first person."
*I rewrote the manuscript in first person and loved the clarity it brought to the story. Hint When we change our minds like that, switching third person to first person and vice versa, it involves much more than switching she to I and her to me. Every word needs to be reread to conform the story accurately.
*I submitted each chapter to my ACFW small crit group. Their eagle eyes detected content issues, grammar issues, spacing problems, etc. I addressed every single one,
*sometimes deleting the suggested words,
*sometimes changing the words to a synonym, and
*sometimes choosing to leave the words.
*While waiting for chapters to be crit, I wrote a full-page synopsis and several other short versions, including a twenty-word pitch size, edited them then set those aside.
*I entered this work in two writing contests. The story was a finalist in one!
*Next I submitted each chapter to a college English student. Her age was a special perk because she fit in the upper range of my target reader. I met with her many times discussing issues. What a godsend!
*While she worked on chapters, I edited the synopsis and the short versions again and worked on marketing.
*With the manuscript in pretty good shape, I sent copies to beta readers who were in the range of my target reader. I received corrections and positive feedback.
*While waiting for more responses, I sent my manuscript to my kindle. This enabled me to see the story in book form. This fresh look helped me see corrections missed by others.
I realize this seems like a lot. I confess, I am like a newbie with an energy drink in my system.
To me the work was worth it. I really wanted to invest my time into this story because it seemed to be THE ONE that might succeed.
I wrote an email to the agent from the conference and explained all I had done to prove my sincerity. I included chapter one and the synopsis.
...But I didn't press send. I stared at the screen.
Suddenly a sense of doubt and fear overwhelmed me. But--I'm a risk taker.
This didn't make sense. I did chores around the house while the email sat open on my laptop. I only get one chance with this story and this agent. I reread my message and made a few corrections then walked away again. I can't send it yet. There must be more I can do before I let it go!
I talked with my husband, barely sitting on the edge of the sofa, and asked him to pray with me. When he finished with "Amen", he said, "Send it. You've worked on it all this time. It's ready."
I walked back to my laptop and stared at the black screen for several minutes then clicked the space bar to brighten the image.
I inhaled and wondered what on earth I was doing. Satan pushed his ugly foot in the way and tried to hold me back. But my husband had prayed for me.
I dragged the cursor over the word send...then pushed.
One of these times I'm going to have the rest of the story for you. Pepper had her first book published. Amy will later this year. Krista and Cara led the pack. Who knows? Maybe...
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Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.