Before I begin I must digress about the title.
When I was carrying my son, I had a pregnancy book called While Waiting. I always saw the title as Whale Watching. I think the reason was my ever expanding belly. Now back to the subject at hand.
I’ve finally begun the query process for Alex Bullied, a middle grade novel, complete at 54,350 words.
This is how I’ve done it in the past:
Prematurely. The manuscripts were not ready. I thought they were, but I was kidding myself. This time, after going through my critique groups a couple of times, I had the manuscript professionally edited by a respected author and free-lance editor. I was willilng to go the extra mile and pay the extra bucks.
Disorganized. This time I made a list and am sticking with it, starting with the first two names even they were the most simple. I’ve had a list before and queried from it willy nilly, sending to the easiest first. It seemed to get confused no matter how many notes I take. I sent a query to one agent with the last agent’s name on the letter. That’s just unprofessional. This time I am determined to start at the top and work my way down the list, no matter what.
One was to an editor who attended the SCBWI Summer Conference this past August. She required a hard copy of the entire manuscript by snail mail. The other was to an agent who also asked for the full ms, in an email attachment. Both are unusual in the querying scheme of things.
I’ve queried other books and usually the agent will ask for a cover letter, a synopsis, and five or ten pages of the ms by email. This time the first two requierments on the list were a bit more involved than the usual. But instead of passing them by, I put my ducks in a row; converting my Word Perfect document to a pdf, printing up a complete copy of the book, buying book boxes for sending and filling out the literary agent’s online form. It took a couple of extra days, but it was worth it.
As of this writing I have seven possibilites for publication out there. I know agents and editors reject ninety-nine percent of the time, but there’s always a chance of falling into that point zero one percent. It happens. So now I wait.
As prepublished writers we know the waiting is not the fun part. I understand why some writers decide to self-publish. They’d like to bypass the agents and editors and the agony of the wait. But for those of us who want to be traditionally published, it’s a necessary evil. The question is what to do while waiting.
Start a new book!
I’m putting my Morning of the Mermaid revision on a back burner. If (fingers, toes, eyes crossed), I do get interest in the bully book, one question I may be asked is, “What’s next?” I don’t think a darker, young adult novel would be the best follow up to my humorous middle grade. So my next book is a story that has been working itself out in my mind for awhile. It is also a humorous middle grade, this time with a girl in 1965 as the central character.
So I am in the pre-immersion phase of my writing process. Pre-immersion equals housework, yardwork, cooking and reading instead of starting the book. But all that other stuff gets done, so it’s not a total loss. And after all, what is up ahead for me? A different kind of expectancy begins, a different kind of labor and a different kind of whale watching.
A first chapter! Yikes.