If you’re even pondering this question, chances are you need to slow your roll. I get it—you’re excited, you’ve worked really hard, your mom likes it, you’re worried someone else is going to beat you to the punch with a similar idea, your particular genre is really hot right now, you have people waiting for it—I’ve used all of these excuses and more. When I finished my first draft of BLOOD AND SALT I immediately sent it off to a dozen top YA agents. Rejections and a few lukewarm maybes soon followed. I knew I had a good concept, because people were interested in seeing the work, but it wasn’t enough to make anyone jump out of their seat. And that’s what I wanted. It was a real rookie mistake, and I worried that I’d damaged my chances of finding my dream agent. I felt like I had one more shot at this and I was going to make it count.
Column by Kim Liggett, author of 2015 novel BLOOD AND SALT
(September 2015, G.P Putnam’s Sons). At sixteen, Kim Liggett
left for New York City to pursue a career in music and acting.
After settling down, she created a children’s art education program
and a travel company specializing in tours for musicians. She’s married
to jazz musician Ken Peplowski, has two grotesquely beautiful teens,
and a very neurotic dog. Connect with her on Twitter.
That’s when I decided to get serious. I put on the blinders. I stopped thinking about the market or what ifs and dove into my nearly yearlong revision with renewed vigor. I pushed myself to write out of my comfort zone. I stopped censoring myself and wrote the book of my heart. I put it all on the line.
But I didn’t stop there. I sent it to three trusted beta readers and incorporated their feedback. I read it aloud to my dog, my kids, anyone who would listen. I found an app to make the most boring computer voice in the world read it aloud, which is painful, but a great way to catch repeated words and phrasing. I agonized over every single word and comma. And when I was finally finished, I found that I was afraid to submit. I’d done my absolute best, but what if my best still wasn’t good enough?
That question haunted me.
I knew I had to do things differently this time. I chose five agents that I’d met at conferences, and hit send.
I was prepared to hunker down for an agonizing wait, but something amazing happened! The following day, I got my first offer. And the next day, I got three more.
And three weeks later, BLOOD AND SALT sold at auction to Penguin Random House in a two-book deal. All the work, all the time I put into making it right, paid off in a big way.
The moral of this story is, publishing will wait for you. Take the time to make it right and you’ll be able to move forward with zero regrets. Maybe this isn’t the manuscript that you’ll break in with, but knowing that you gave it your all will catapult you into your next best thing.
Whatever happens, don’t give up. Keep pushing yourself. Stay focused on the writing and good things will come.
Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers’ Conferences:
- Oct. 28–30, 2016: Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference (Los Angeles, CA)
- Feb. 11, 2017: Writers Conference of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN)
- Feb. 16–19, 2017: San Francisco Writers Conference (San Francisco, CA)
- Feb. 26–March 3, 2017: Writers Winter Escape Cruise (conference/cruise departing Miami)
- May 6, 2017: Seattle Writers Conference (Seattle, WA)
- May 20, 2017: Get Published in San Diego (San Diego, CA)
- July 22, 2017: Tennessee Writers Workshop (Nashville, TN)
- Aug. 18–20, 2017: Writer’s Digest Conference (New York, NY)
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