Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in a Nutshell

Read an agent's blog this morning where she tallied the queries and her responses for the year. There were some sobering numbers.

In January she received 442 queries. She responded by requesting eight manuscripts, which means she sent form rejections to 434.

You do the math. (Seriously. You do the math. I'm terrible at it.) I'd guess it's in the neighborhood of two percent receiving positive response. And she didn't mention how many of those she ultimately decided to represent, or whether she was able to actually sell any of their works. And this is a newbie. She's not some established agent with a long list of authors.

Actually, that's very close to my own results for the year. Of the many, many queries I sent out for Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter, a couple resulted in requests for the manuscript and one actually decided to rep me. So I'm not complaining. 2011 was a little hard in terms of all that rejection, but I'm WAY ahead of the game. I ended up with an agent. And who could possibly complain about that? Not me!

I'm still hammering away on the revision. I've almost completed recasting the opening chapters, trying to get more action faster without losing the character development. I think it's mostly working, but it's really hard to convey progress. A word count doesn't tell the tale. In fact, I'm sort of working on an anti-word count. Eddie wants me to see if I can trim the first six chapters into three. I'm pretty sure I won't make that, but I will get it down to four. And the next couple can be slimmed down quite a bit too. Then it's pretty straightforward, smooth sailing from there.

I actually spend a fair amount of time pacing between the front door and my desk (about 17, 18 steps, but remember I'm not a tall man and don't have a long stride) thinking "How do I get around that and still make sense?" or "What's the timeline events have happen in to be believable?" and suddenly a phrase or image will occur, and I'll dash back and clean it up. This is cleaning up time, not creating. It's more nitty gritty, nuts and bolts work. But it's what tunes up the story so that it runs like a race car instead of a jalopy.

This is what the job is really about. Not the writing, but the polishing and editing and shaping. Making sure all those words I wrote are pulling their weight. Making sure it works.

Happy new year!

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