Persistence, Beta-Readers, and Keep Writing...
During all this I did another two drafts of my Horror/Mystery/Sci-Fi novel "The Bridge" in order to get the word count below 100,000. I believe I mentioned before that for a brand new author, under 100K words is desirable. Remember you don't have a track record for the agents and publishers to look at, and they don't time to read a new book that is longer than War and Peace. So I finally completed the 7th draft just after New Year's Day. (Mind you, my goal had been to finish it by the end of 2010, oh well). Anyway I finished it and put together a writer's page for myself on Facebook which you will find here:
I posted the prologue to my novel there and will probably post more samples of it as time goes by. I also plan on posting bits of my upcoming novels there as well to get feedback which can be very helpful. In fact I got one piece of feedback where I accidentally confused the readers with who was chasing who in my prologue. My protagonist was running from a teenage girl who is not what she seems, but I had accidentally made it sound like he was running after her. One of my readers pointed that out and I quickly fixed it by adding just 2-3 words.
Now that incident demonstrates the importance of sample readers. What may make perfect sense to you might not be clear to a reader. So have others, who you trust to be honest and well versed in grammar, take a look at your work. I know I've said this before, but it saves you a lot of embarrassement and will be appreciated by the agent or publisher who takes a look at your work. Believe me, they get turned off real fast if they don't feel you have a decent grasp of the English language.
And now the latest news about my novel. About 7 months ago, I sent a query letter along with a synopsis and sample pages to an agent. She later friended me on Facebook and I was able to keep track of how far she was behind on getting to all those queries. I bided my time and continued writing. I also kept on top of other blogs and realized my novel was 24,000 words too long and another draft was needed. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "So that's why he keeps going on about keeping it under 100K words..."
So I did two new drafts which tightened the storyline, moved the action along, and the built up of the mystery even faster. This made the entire story more intense and exciting. Remember, you don't want to bore your readers. We've got to keep them so interested that they don't want to put your book down.
Once I was done I alerted the agent to the changes so when she finally got to my query she'd already know about them. She responded right away and asked for a new synopsis and sample pages, which I quickly supplied. The next day (yesterday) she had some questions which I quickly responded to. By the end of the day she had asked for the full manuscript. Needless to say I'm ecstatic. I'm also working to get the manuscript to her by next week. I know this doesn't mean I have an agent or a deal, but I'm that much closer than I was a year ago. And to have anyone ask for a full manuscript is phenomenal in my opinion.
So do your research, learn as much as you can about the ins and outs of the business. Get and obey the guidelines the agencies ask for. Trust them to know what they want and listen to them. You don't want to get off on the wrong foot, by annoying them. Besides, they're already in the business and know more than we do.
I'll be posting again soon. In the meantime I'll be working on the sequels to "The Bridge" and the one that follows it. Remember, don't just sit on your laurels, keep writing.