As a lot of you know if you follow my channel or my Twitter, I am very very close to querying again with Sharp Hollows, my YA Fantasy novel. This isn’t the first time I have queried. I first had my bouts into the querying process last year, from the last few days of March to around mid-June. I documented the entire process in my writing vlogs for those months and then I sort of… stopped. Here are some reasons I quit querying so soon (three months isn’t a very long time to query) and how I decided it was time to shelf my Red Riding Hood retelling, Through Villains and Wolves.
It Was My First Book
I’ve read so many articles and blog posts from other authors and writers about how their first book didn’t get them an agent. The book wasn’t good enough, querying your first book isn’t a good idea, etc etc the list goes on. First, I’d like to mention that every “guideline/rule” I’ve read on writing there are always exceptions to the rules. There are lots of authors who manage to get an agent from the first book they wrote. I had initially thought I might be one of those writers as well.
As I’ve mentioned about my own background in writing, I’ve been writing nearly daily since I was in high school and through college. The majority of that was on online roleplaying forums. I could create plots, awesome characters, meaningful ships, but I had never created my own book. NaNo ’14 was when I started the first draft in TVAW and finished that draft around April the following year. I was so incredibly proud of it, especially over the next year while I edited it and I deemed it ready in March of 2016.
But it was like my storytelling evolved during that time period. The first book was out of the way, I now knew I had it in me to write a complete book – start to finish – and it was like my creative well start filling up at all the possibilities of the stories I could tell. I started outlining two other projects (as well as the sequel to TVAW) while I was querying and I realized the ideas I was coming up with were better than what I had just produced. I started worrying internally. Should TVAW be my debut when I knew I was capable of writing something better?
I Was In The Process of Moving
I was living in an apartment that I lived in for three years. I had three roommates and I was about to move out into my very own apartment, living on my own for what I felt like, was the first time considering I had roommates ever since I left home for college.
I felt… new, in a way. Like I was finally starting my post-graduate life two years after I received my degree.
So I had this mentality of ‘out with the old in with the new.’ A lot of that came with packing and getting rid of things. I purged myself from so many clothes, books, makeup, items, etc that I had been mildly hording for the past three years and it felt great. I honestly felt like a new person and things were looking up to a future I felt like I was finally starting.
I think the moving mentality of getting rid of all these old things also factored into my decision to shelve TVAW. I wanted to start new things in all aspects of my life – writing a new book was one of them.
I Knew My Next Projects Were More Original
The biggest advice (no exceptions on this one) I’ve seen on querying is that you should be working on something different during the process. I semi-outlined a SF idea I had and also outlined a political thriller. The YA political thriller won out and I started writing that while I was querying. As always, a first draft is going to be bad, but I saw a lot of potential in this. Also? My writing was significantly better.
Now, here me out.
I’m going to loosely compare TVAW to fanfiction even though I feel like I’m reaching. But, TVAW followed an older Red Riding Hood ten years after her encounter with the wolf. I stuck with a world that reminiscent European fairy tales and was using a character that everyone knew in a world that we’ve seen before. While the story and plot, other characters, and the magic system were completely original, there was that familiarity.
The political thriller was completely original. The SciFi YA I was outlining was original. And this all snowballed together into September 2016 when I came up with Sharp Hollows, but that’s not the point.
As I was querying and outlining and writing something new, I realized this. It kind of came at me when I was in the early pages of the political thriller – should I still be querying TVAW when I just know I am capable of writing something better, something original, something completely my own? At this point, I still had a couple fulls out from agents and while I was still 100% eager on that front, I quietly stopped sending out more queries. I focused more on writing and packing and everything else. When the last of the rejections came in, I honestly didn’t feel as heartbroken as I would have, because I knew deep down it just didn’t feel right. TVAW wasn’t the story I was suppose to be working on.
Now, in the next month or two, I’m going to start querying. This project, Sharp Hollows, was the book I was meant to write. I get so excited when I think about it, work on it, and talk about it. I honestly have to dial it back because publishing is so subjective and there is that chance when I start querying, it won’t turn out on how I hope it does.
I’m sending a query to the agents that had requested partials/fulls last year first. Their rejections were more or less: good writing, not as much on the story. So I feel confident in, “here’s my better writing and an even better story.”
Well, hopefully 🙂