When I started writing fiction seriously, I had a plan. It went a little like this:
1. Continue to hone my craft by taking classes, entering contests, getting feedback from CP’s (and write, write, write)
2. Network and establish relationships with other authors and agents
3. Get an agent
4. Get published
Simple, right? Well, yes and no. The first two items went well. And after two years and three manuscripts (and a lot of help from #1 and #2), I got my agent.
That was a little over a year ago, and the manuscript is still making its rounds…so part four of the plan…still a work in progress.
I had this lovely delusion that once I had the agent, the book contract would follow immediately. Don’t get me wrong—I knew full well that this didn’t always happen. I just believed it would for me. In part, this was because my agent believed so strongly in my manuscript, she actually had me write the second book in the series. In part, I KNEW that this manuscript was good—as good or better than much of what was already being published. And we were both right.
What we were both wrong about (or maybe too optimistic about) was the current state of the publishing market. It is a tough, tough, tough world out there. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. And that day will come. I even believe it will come soon.
I have a great agent, and my new manuscript is shaping up nicely. But what do I do in the meanwhile, while waiting for #4 to happen?
See #1 and #2.
I don’t enter contests anymore; I got what I was going to get out of that experience, although I believe it was extremely valuable. I don’t take many classes anymore, although I do plan to take Lucy March’s “Discovery” class—I’ve heard great things about it, and it is tackling the exact area where I am weakest (the pre-writing stage of character and world-development). Mostly, I intent to write, write, write. And edit, edit, edit. And listen to my critique partners when they say, “I loved this bit, but that part…bleh.” After all, that’s why you have CP’s—so they can read your work, tell you what’s wrong with it, and then you can fix it.
Do that enough, and with a little luck, you’ll get to part #4 of the plan. I’ll keep you posted.