By Judy Clement Wall
On April 5th, my journey began.
I was hoping to come back here and tell you that the series was over because, in two weeks, I’d found an agent, sold the book at auction for a gazillion dollars, and would subsequently be writing posts about puppies and rainbows.
Instead, my first report from the trenches includes an unexpected trip to Humboldt, where I hiked every single day, through marshes, over dunes, along windy shorelines and through the most beautiful forests I’ve ever seen. I came home to find out a friend had been hospitalized with a ruptured brain tumor (from which she is recovering at a miraculous rate, yay!), and a stack of 50 manuscripts submitted to Cal State East Bay’s annual short fiction contest (for which I am a first judge). I hosted a wine tasting, hiked a new trail, finished a short story and drove to San Diego to watch my nephew get married.
I know what you’re thinking: That’s all great, j. But where’s the part about getting your novel published?
The truth is, I did look for an agent too. Here’s how that part of my two weeks went, presented in a helpful “How (NOT) To” list…
- Decide which is the better tool, AgentQuery or QueryTracker (and, just for kicks, allow someone to toss Agent Search into the mix at the last minute).
- Get frustrated long before you finish anything that could be considered an actual analysis. Decide to switch gears. Start by drafting your awesome query letter.
- At around sentence two, in order to ward off a creeping panic, jump back onto AgentQuery and tell yourself it’s a bold, decisive move.
- Query “literary fiction.” Get a dizzying number of agents. Choose the first one and read the agency’s About Us, Staff, Blog, Clients/Recent Sales and Submission pages. Thirty minutes later, write the agent’s name on your “Maybe” list.
- Repeat step four for the next agent on the list. At about the 20-minute mark, notice this agency requires a synopsis.
- Stop everything. Focus on your breathing. It’s way too early in the journey for hyperventilating.
- Put away your work, walk the dogs, return to your computer and look up recipes for veggie lasagna. Drool over what you find, but make something else because you have nothing but the noodles.
Not a stellar start, I admit, but… I did start. And I did hike, and taste wine, and finish a story I love, and blow bubbles at a wedding… it’s hard to feel too terrible about that.
What have you filled your April with?
JUDY CLEMENT WALL is a Course Presenter for the Fear of Writing Online Course and co-manages the FoW blog with Milli. She has just finished her first novel, Beautiful Lives, and here, at FoW, she is chronicling her quest to find a publisher. You can read more of her work at Zebra Sounds.