I’ve already blogged that writing epic fantasy feels like climbing a mountain. Well coming to grips with the publishing industry, let alone getting published, is like leaping off the top of said mountain with only a tiny parachute and a whole lot of faith. It’s huge, complex, bewildering and frightening – in a drop your stomach kind of way.
It seems to me that if you can survive the marathon of writing your book, and editing it to a level where you think it really tells your story well – this is where the fun really begins. Apparently you should find a beta reader or ten, to give you honest feedback. A professional editor casting their eye over it would also help. Then you look for the agent, making sure you research them thoroughly, paying special attention to their submission guidelines. Even then you aren’t ready to go, because you have to write a query letter; something completely different from a novel, and yet it must capture the essence of your voice and story. The agent may request pages, a partial or if you’re lucky a full manuscript, and then – and only then, if they really like it, you might get offered representation.
Okay I’m going to stop there. I feel all breathless and crazy-eyed even writing this much of the journey – because there’s still a long way to go before publication. And this is only the beginning of the traditional route – I can’t even bring myself to start on self-publishing.
So why do we even dare to dream of navigating this process? For some it is about money and fame. If I had a dollar for every time someone said – “oh you’ll be the next J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, C.S. Lewis…” I’d be rich – as though just putting pen to paper will magically pay the bills and keep me in pencils for the rest of my life. I hope my novel is great, that it will reach millions of people, and they will love it. But I’m writing it first and foremost, because even if no one else ever reads it – the story has captured my heart. And the act of putting it down on paper and shaping the words into something beautiful and meaningful is something I need to do. For me there is nothing better than when the words truly reflect the story. And every time I learn something that helps me do this better, I am thrilled.
I read a great blog today by Rachelle Gardner – 7 Ways to Give Away Your Power – and How to Avoid It. The way I read it, Rachelle – an agent and blogger extraordinaire, is issuing a reminder that it isn’t us, as writers, against the industry. Rather she reminds us to get a bit of perspective. There are a number of routes to publication, and a number of people you might work with along the way. But they are only people, and not everyone will think your writing is their cup of tea. Don’t take it personally; just believe in yourself and your own writing journey. Sometimes it takes time to make the right connection.
One sentiment, more than all the others, really caught my attention and made me think. She says:
You always want to be looking for the sweet spot where your own passion meets the market.
Wow! I have passion by the bucket load; so it’s just finding the place where I can connect it to the market and other people who might just think my book is all that too.
So I’m going to keep going with my story. My epic, epic, story. And pray that I’ll make the connections I need to make when the time comes. Every journey starts with one step, and those who finish are the ones that don’t give up!
How do you keep the faith when the goal seems insurmountable? I’d love to hear from you!