Monday, April 30, 2007

Wow! This All Takes A Long Time!

Here’s a time line:

July 2004 - I started a novel, then called "Eric – First Person Take On It" (Used to differentiate it from a different draft of several chapters which were in third person).

January 6, 2005 – I completed the first draft of WELCOME TO THE VOID. Edits began.

February 2, 2005 – The Version that I would eventually start sending out to agents was done, but, being a newbie, I wouldn’t do that first.

February 15, 2005 – Blithely unaware of how inappropriate my novel was for their market, I submitted WTTV to Wizards of the Coast for their Open Call. This version of the novel was around six hundred pages long.

November-ish 2005 – I got my form rejection from Wizards of the Coast. By this time, I was fairly certain they weren’t going to buy it, so I decided to shift gears and submit to agents.

November 12, 2005 to March 2, 2006 – This time period was all spent querying agents. The nibble I got means that there was also a two month gap when I wasn’t querying agents. I made several mistakes in this period, one of which was misspelling an agent’s name TWICE on two different sections of my submission. Here’s a hint: DON’T DO THAT. In spite of general blunders, the good news came on March 2, 2006.

March 2, 2006 to June 24, 2006 – Things started happening more quickly. Shawna liked my query enough to ask for a partial. A month later she asked to see the entire thing. Two weeks later she suggested rewrites.

And here I need to stop for a minute. You see, I’d written two previous books that I wasn’t willing to alter in any way shape or form. You’ll notice that they aren’t published. By this point, I had a new rule. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch wrote the phrase “Murder your darlings.” Some say that the phrase was actually coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but either way, up until WTTV, I wasn’t willing to do it.

Shawna made several very good suggestions about revising the book and for an hour I insisted to myself that it was impossible. I slept on it and the next morning, I began murdering the little bastards left right and sideways. It wasn’t easy, but I did it and replied to Shawna with a suggestion for a rewrite that she said she wanted to see. Essentially, I had to cut out roughly four hundred pages of the novel and then write a new hundred and twenty or so. No, it wasn't really that easy. I also had to disentangle two complete plot lines that ran throughout the original draft, revising and editing everything for consistency, so that the end result was a shorter, tighter novel with plenty of room for a sequel or seven.

Though everyone insisted that quality was more important than speed, I finished the rewrite in under a month (with extreme amounts of editing assistance from my friends and family) and sent it off again. One month later Shawna let me know she liked the new draft with two small editorial suggestions, which, I made promptly: insert a sports scene (this became the werewolves on ice sequence) and add a clarification about the effects of phases of the moon on my lycanthropes. That is the version of the novel that sold. It wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t murdered my darlings, so when someone experienced in publishing gives you advice, you can reject it, but make sure you fully consider it first.

On June 21, 2006 – Shawna McCarthy officially agreed to represent me. It took three days for this to sink in. My wife threw me a party.

On July 7, 2006 – I got an update from Shawna saying that the book was with six major editors.

July 12, 2006 – Rejection. The editor thought the book was hilarious, but didn’t like Tabitha.

August 2006 – Three more rejections. All three seem to have enjoyed the book, but thought Eric was a bit too much of an anti-hero. I tried not to literally rip my hair out.

September 13, 2006 – Hope. I learned that Jennifer Heddle at Simon & Schuster might want to pick it up.

September 25, 2006 – Score! Jennifer Heddle did want to pick it up.

Early December, 2006 – I finally got the contract in my grubby little hands and signed it.

Roughly one month later – I got a fully executed and signed version of my contract. My wife threw me another party and started my website. We also ordered Welcome to the Void T-shirts (replicas of those worn by the protagonist of WTTV) for holiday gifts for some of our friends and family.

Shortly thereafter - I received my portion of the first half of my advance. Yippee! (And yes, it all went on bills... )

March 8, 2007 – My title didn't go over well at the sales meeting and we had to change it. Several members of my writing group still mourn this day.

March 12, 2007 – WELCOME TO THE VOID became BITE ME, a title suggested by Jennifer Heddle which Shawna had also suggested back in 2006 as a possible suggestion for the sequel. Great minds think alike.

March 20, 2007 – BITE ME went over much better than WELCOME TO VOID with the publisher and things progressed toward the cover concept.

…Which pretty much catches you up with me. Do you see what I mean about these things taking time? BITE ME is currently scheduled for release in March 2008.

Next time: YMMV- a list of "do"s and "don't"s that may or may not be applicable to you.

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