Lets be brutally honest. Have I read all the Writer’s Digest articles and endless guest Editor/Agent blog posts about editing, revising, re-editing, getting beta critiques, editing again, and just for a change, editing once more BEFORE you start sending out your fragile-winged query letters on breaths of hope for Agents to shoot down one by one?
Yes. Yes I have.
Did I follow that sage and undoubtedly accurate advice?
Nope. Sure didn’t.
In my defense, the high of finishing that LAST SENTENCE, of seeing in my mind’s eye the words “The End” followed by a big, fat, period . . . well that high can lead to silly things. Such as, to use a random example, sending out several query letters while AT THE SAME TIME frantically editing, revising, and making changes to my first finished manuscript. Sure I edited myself and had one beta reader look it over, but it now seems so incredibly badly written that I wonder why I had the gall to send out any queries at all.
In this I’m pretty sure I’m following the well trod footpath of aspiring authors everywhere. I will guarantee you that 181 years ago Charles Dickens finished the last sentence of The Pickwick Papers, hollered and danced around a bit (not that I did that, of course) and immediately ran down the street to hand it to a publishing house in London. Without revising it. And then was smacked over the head with the bundle of papers by an exasperated Editor who had to fix all of his newbie mistakes.
By now, rushing off to query before you’re 1,000% ready and then realizing that this was a poor decision is practically a tradition, and I’m proud to continue it. As well as continuing the tradition wherein agents recognize you’re a desperate newbie and your manuscript is not worth publishing right now and send you rejection after ‘not for me’ after rejection.
As is also traditional I have now realized that I am NOT the exception to this rule, I have done what every author is warned not to do and does anyway. As promised, it has been met with only rejections. I can’t explain my thought process any more than to say that hope is the strongest fragile thing in the universe.
So, if any authors who have just finished their first manuscript are reading this I’m telling you; don’t send out the query letters. Physically restrain your fingers from reaching for the keyboard to hit send. Edit. Revise. Get a couple more beta reads in. Edit again. Start your second manuscript, put the first one in a drawer and bury that drawer in soft peat. Just don’t query yet.
But when you do query anyway, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. We’ve all done it too.
photo courtesy: stocksnap.io by Sergei Soloviev