Yes, it is that time again. Time to take stock of where I am in my writing life, and where I am going. I would prefer to just keep on writing and believe that somehow, magically, one of my books will be published. The fantasy goes something like this:

I’m sitting outside on a sunny afternoon with a cup of coffee, writing away on the newest manuscript. The words are flowing freely, the characters are brilliant and witty, and I’m completely immersed in the creative process.

My phone rings.  I do not leap out of my chair and spill coffee all over my laptop because I am not on call, and have learned to accept a ringing phone as a harbinger of human relationships and maybe even good news, rather than a signal of disaster. I answer the phone, and a pleasant and professional voice inquires,”Is this Uppington Smythe?”

“Why yes, can I help you?”

“Ms. Smythe, this is Agent X – of Prestigious Literary Agency Y. I stumbled across your manuscript this morning – pardon me? Oh, no – you didn’t send it to me. I believe that a friend of a friend of yours, who happens to be my identical twin sister,  was so impressed by it that they brought it in and urged me to read. I dropped everything and fell instantly in love.”

“I’m – speechless, Agent X.”

“I believe your book can be a bestseller. I am prepared to offer you a contract, right this moment. In fact, I have a publisher standing by with a lucrative advance in hand.”

Yeah. In my defense, I’ve been working on Swimming North, which involves surreal reality shifts. But I am not demonstrably insane, and I know it will never go down this way. When I find an agent, when I get published, it will be because I worked hard at perfecting my craft AND paid attention to the business of publishing. I wish that the writing were enough, but I know that it’s not.

And so. What are the next steps I need to take?

  1. Query widely. Yep. It’s about time to send out more queries on Filling in the Blanks.  Every agent from the last mailing who is going to respond has probably already done so. Sadly, the blank spaces on my tracking sheet that indicate ‘no response’ should probably be interpreted as ‘NO.’
  2. Finish Next WIP. I’m actually on this one. Swimming North is undergoing the scrutiny of my beta readers as we speak. As soon as the critiques roll in, it’s back to revisions and edits (hopefully the final draft).  While I’m waiting, I’m running edits on my first novel ever, a YA Fantasy, which has been dust gathering for several years. When I brushed it off, I decided it deserves a shot at the spotlight. There is a problem though – when I set out to write it I was oblivious of the publishing industry and just wrote a book. What I now have is a YA fantasy of about 95,000 words. Yeah. I’m paring it down as much as I can, and I will query it, but I know it’s likely to get turned down sight unseen due to length. The good news it – I am capable of learning. I now know better than this. If I write another YA Fantasy, it will be shorter.
  3. Write Queries and Synopses. While I am working on revisions and edits, I will also be working on queries and synopses for both Swimming North and Losaria. This way, as soon as the manuscripts are polished and ready to go, I can begin accumulating rejection letters on three novels at once.  Because I believe that with every new novel I write, and every new rejection letter I receive, I am that much closer to YES.

As always, I’m interested in every body else’s progress toward goals. Where are you at, and where are you going?

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