Ok, that sounds a bit (melo)dramatic. But in truth, it is no word of a lie. This week my first novel will be formally submitted to a select group of publishers by my agent. It’s out of my hands now, nothing to with me. I have to be honest, it’s not a feeling I feel comfortable with. I want to be there as the carefully crafted letter, synopsis of the second and third book arrives. I want to follow every flick of their eyes as they read it. I want to argue every imaginary point they might have, explain every nuance of plot and character so they really understand just how wonderful the whole thing is. I want to be there as they discuss the advance they are going to offer. I want to raise my eyebrows in disdain at such a paltry sum, tell them that the others have offered far more….and have already secured overseas rights and a film deal. Losers!
I think you can see my problem. I have spent the last two years living this, agonising over it, dreaming about it, fretting over it. A child could not have had more love or effort lavished on it. But the sad fact is that it all comes down to this. My MS being sent to a bunch of people who have no idea I exist and only care if my book happens to be better than all they currently have offered to them if it fits with their publishing schedule and is – most importantly – in a genre they think is going to be popular in the next eighteen months or so. I am helpless, unable to argue my case, defend my child. And what if they just say “meh, thanks but no thanks”. What then? I am well into the sequel and at 40k words it is shaping up well. The writing is better, the plot and scope have grown. It’s getting really interesting and I have come up with, what I believe to be, a wholly original solution to one of Sci Fi’s most popular ideas. Be a shame to see it all go to waste……
But, dear reader, that is the fate all authors face. The sad fact is that even having got to this point and fail now is both galling and frustrating, but it is the likely reality, the odds are still against you, especially as a first-time novelist with no track history. So it helps to be a pessimist, the glass must be half-empty, it is the only way to survive. Think the worst, destroy your own before they do by professional indifference. It’s nothing personal, it really isn’t. But try telling your psyche that when you wake up at 4am thinking you should have tweaked that chapter a bit and now all is lost. They will see you as the fraud you are.
So what next? Truth be told I have no idea. The submission process will take up to a couple of months and then your guess is as good as mine. I have another novel in the works, a completely unrelated idea that I have been working on whilst developing the pitch for “The Differences” with my agent. There are around 12k words completed and detailed plot and character arcs, as well as a complimentary solo play that I have submitted for a festival that can also form part of the novel. So the cupboard is not bare. Yet my heart wants to carry on with the trilogy. I want to write it. I want to find out what happens to the characters I have brought into this world. I want other people to read it and enjoy it. But it’s no longer up to me, and that is the singular truth I have to deal with.
See you out there.