Thursday, December 2, 2010

My OMG! story: The Epic Fail

Annie McMahon has been asking me for an OMG! story ever since I ran a post with that theme, so this post is for Annie. Not the OMG! story I hoped to write, but my story nonetheless.

This time last year, I finished writing the first draft of my novel, Between. I'd been working on it solid for about six months and when I got to the end, it was 188,000 words or about 800+ pages.

At the time, I didn't think that was such a bad thing, since Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series was a big part of my inspiration for writing it. If you've never read the series, many of her books top 800 pages without breaking a sweat. Why should mine be any different?

Speaking of Diana, I went to a book signing of hers in September of last year where she told the large crowd about how she became a novelist. She started writing, sent a few chapters to another writer she met on the Compuserve Writers' Forum who recommended she sent it to his agent. She did, calling it a "rather long historical novel". The manuscript was not even finished, but that didn't keep said agent from offering her representation and selling it to a publisher in a 3-book deal something like 3 days later.

So, here's me, at the time, coming to the end of writing my most awesome tome, thinking I just needed to follow in her footsteps. No problem!

So, here's me, a year later, realizing what an absolute fairy tale that was.

I bought Jeff Herman's Guide to Agents and Publishers, crafted a query letter ("I've just completed writing my first novel and am excited to share it with you!"), and promptly queried 30+ agents. Fail.

I did some research and learned my word count was an issue and the genre I chose was a problem (is it women's fiction, chick lit, romance, paranormal, fantasy, what???). So I cut the novel in two, did some revisions and sent it out once more. Failed again.

So I joined Authonomy, Compuserve Writers' Forum, started a blog and entered writing contests to get feedback and connect with other writers. Some people praised my work ("SO FRAKING AMAZING!!") and some people cut me down ("the writing is Meh"), while others offered helpful, specific feedback. I revised again. And again. More queries. More fail.

I checked out books from the library on writing. I changed the genre to Young Adult, worked with some crit partners, did a full revision, cut out all the yummy sex scenes, joined WriteOnCon, joined Twitter, joined Wattpad and queried again.

Fail. Fail. FAIL.

So one year after typing the last words to my brilliant manuscript (which, I'll be honest, I still think is damn good despite all the evidence to the contrary), this is where I stand. Loving my book, my characters and the story; hating the process, the emotional rollercoaster and the subjective nature of publishing.

OMG! This sucks. That's the OMG! story I have to share. Stay tuned as I plan to share other "OMG! This sucks" stories I've been reading on other blogs.

I may have lost the fairy tale but I have gained some editing skills and a supportive writing community.

Win! *hugs to you*


  1. I have epic fail stories too. I'm only just re-working a novel I wrote and shelved over ten years ago.

  2. Hang in there! Sounds like you're doing everything right to finally get to live out your dream. All you need is for the right person to fall in love with your work. Good luck!

  3. This whole publishing biz is such a huge emotional roller coaster. Though my works are getting pubbed at Siren, I feel it too. A Friend told me this morning that this is the work... this is part of my job, to learn how to deal with the emotional upheaval.

    Anyway- I thought it was helpful, so I wanted to share with you...

    Hugs, Daisy

  4. Your story sounds so much like mine. I finished my first about a year and a half ago. I only queried 13 agents and more than half of those never responded at all. I have since come to realize that I need to put this first book on the back burner and focus on a second story first. I learn so much about writing each year that I simply KNOW that my second book will be much better (despite how much I LOVE my firs one) and then I can consider rewriting portions of my first.

  5. Don't you just hate that there are enough of the fantastical stories out there to give you hope and fuel that inner voice that whispers it could happen to you? I figure that if I ever actually finish my novel, I will experience all the horrors of getting published and none of the perks. I know that sounds pessimistic, but I can only afford to buy so much Kleenex per month.

    BUT, I guess the trick is mustering up the patience to keep hoping and trying. I hope you do. The world needs the chance to read your book. {hugs}

  6. Oh, I would leave a longer reply but I'll be drugding my own soon on my own blog.(Urg.) Anyhow, I know how you feel. I had the opposite thing going on though, went too short for what my novel should be (first series is short, I can't change it.) No one understood.

    I gave up on the idea of publishing it 'out there' on Amazon and stuff when I went self. Fantasy is just not popular as an ebook right now. (Maybe when more people actually buy ebooks?) I knew too (did research beforehand) but still I pursued anyhow.)

    I wrote a second story, but so far I am taking it easy. Right now, I am trying to get readers to read for free...with plans on getting paid advertising later.:)

    Of course it's not much, but sadly, I'd make more than I would with my book.

    Keep holding onto your book dreams! If it's meant to be, someday it'll all work out.:)

  7. Aww... I love it when I read someone else's blog and my name is mentioned. *beam*

    You haven't failed at all, Cyndi! In fact, you're much closer to being published than you were a year ago. If you look back, you'll find that you've learned a lot and your writing skills have become much stronger in the process. And now you have a whole team of people ready to help you out, which you didn't have before. Priceless!

    Sometimes we don't see the progress we make until we go back and re-read our previous drafts. I know I always blush when I read my first draft. And I thought my book was ready for publication! *blush*

    We're all in it together. I don't know how look it will take me to get my first book published, but right now I'm just enjoying the ride. :)

  8. OMG! What a familiar're doing great, my friend. You will get there, you know it :) Remember, I'm the Rejectionator, I know what I'm talking about :D

  9. Go you for continuing on. My coping mechanism isn't to re-write the story I"m suddenly unsure of but to write something else, leaving everything else in various steps past the first draft.
    I'm closing in on a couple of projects but I've gotten my share of rejections as well. It's a rough, rough business.