Over the past couple of months I’ve been slowly wading into the querying process for Smiling Underwater, the first book in my series about women who perform as mermaids at a tourist trap in 1950’s Florida. I’ve sent out about a dozen queries so far, and I’ve had several full requests. Out of those, two Nice Rejections, in which the agents said extremely complimentary things, although no dice. Still waiting to hear on the other full from this batch, as well as a larger handful of partials out there in the void. Meanwhile, I wait.
So what do I do while I’m waiting? Get my next batch of queries ready for submission, first of all. Continue drafting Book Two. And then/simultaneously, question my entire existence as a writer! Maybe that’s too strong, but there is definitely something about sending one’s work out into the world that brings out the hardcore doubts. What if my subject is too niche? What if there’s too much romance for women’s fiction or too much women’s fiction for romance? What if the time period makes it unmarketable? What if, what if, what if……(insert downward spiral here). So with that going on along with the pressures of upholding my title of Last Unpublished Bad Girl Blogger, I realized I needed a plan… or several plans.
Plan A is to carry on as if I have no doubts. I’m this close, and The Call could be right around the corner. Priority One is to sign with an agent, as my ultimate goal is to be traditionally published, ideally in trade paperback. Hard cover would be nice, but I’m not getting ahead of myself! During this time, I’m writing the other books in my series.
Now, for a brief interruption by our sponsor, Writer Doubt…. But what if I can’t sell this book? Won’t my whole time writing Books Two and Three be a waste if I can’t sell the first one? Glad you asked! That brings me to Plan B.
Plan B applies only if the work is good enough. If I continue to get complimentary rejections, contest finals, and excellent feedback from beta readers, I veer onto the other path. My story is niche. I get it. But I’m not the only one into that niche. I believe I could be successful self-publishing or releasing through a small press with the right research and effort. So that’s settled, then.
The one trouble with this is the open-endedness of the query process. When do I know it’s time to take the other path? How long? How many agents should I query? All of them? It might take a year to hear back. And if I batch out my queries over time, that’s…. yikes. I want my work out there. Some of this might stem from being the last unpublished Bad Girl on the blog, but most is that I’m ready, despite the doubts. That means I need, not a new plan, but an amendment.
Plan A (i): Carry on parent Plan A, as I write the other books in the series. If I haven’t sold by the time I’ve finished Book Three, I implement Plan B. And I’ll have three books!
And as Plan B unfolds, I begin Plan B (i): write the contemporary that’s in my brain-queue, and when it’s ready for submission, resume Plan A.
So that’s my planned path. I’m sure things will change, because they always do, but at least I know where I’m going, and that’s gone a long way to ease the doubt. Fellow unpublished writers: do you have a path mapped out? And published peeps, what did you do? Drop me a comment–I’d love to hear about it!