Sunday, June 5, 2011

Writing in a Vacuum

This is a mistake I made. I worked on my story, my trilogy, my novel, my books all by myself. Sure I read articles in Writer’s Digest. I checked some books out of the library about writing. I read about characters. I read about plots. I read about a lot of things. I took what I learned and began to write.

I looked forward to my lunch hours because I could write. The story kept coming, and I kept writing, and writing, and writing. Book one went on to book two, and book two lead to book three. Eventually I wrapped up the entire story. Three books, 400,000 words total. I had accomplished my wish. Write a great story, or so I hoped.

Now I’m ready to publish. I wrote a query letter, being very careful to model my letter after the letters I found in Writer’s Market. I sent out queries, and got rejection letter after rejection letter.

Then I read somewhere I needed to get an agent. So I sent queries to agencies. The rejection letters kept returning.

Long story short I learned that a first time writer cannot sell a series. Books for my genre (Fantasy, and now I’ve learned it is High Fantasy) run 100,000 to 120,000 words. And they need to be stand alone. My 400,000 word trilogy does not fit. Query letter pitching first of a three part book at 180,000 words red flag goes up and the Agent/publisher stops reading and pulls out the rejection letter and sends it to me.

The internet and e-mail have become the way to work with agents. I found a web site that listed agents. It was great, then I noticed a link on the agent site, a link for writers. So I clicked on Agent Query Connect. As I read the posts and began to get involved I found out the mistakes I'd been making. There I learned you must get involved. Writing is solo, but the writer is not alone.

If I had understood the industry I would have approached this project differently. Still don’t know what I’m going to do with this story of mine. I’ve learned a lot writing it. But I know now I need to get involved with the writing community. Which is what I’m doing now.

So get involved. Find a writing guild, go to conventions, go online. But you need to talk and work with other writers and learn the business. If you dream of getting published, you need to learn the rules.

I wrote in a vacuum, and now I am paying for that mistake.


Michelle 4 Laughs said...

I made the same mistake with my first novel. I didn't make it stand along and it clocked in at 160,000 words. I didn't communicate with other writers and it was full of passive writing and telling. A year later and I know better. I now have a novel that can stand alone and is under the word count. A good solid beta reader read every chapter as soon as I finished them. It still has the occasional problem, but hopefully the marathon can point them out.

Don't go it alone.

Dean C. Rich said...

Well said Michelle!

Glad you've got things going well. You are ahead of me on that score. I am hoping the AQC summer marathon will help me gain a beta reader or two!