Knowing when to Quit

I’m not quitting writing. I’m not quitting querying either.

But it’s become painfully obvious to me that I’m not passionate about Book the Second. There’s nothing terrible about what I’ve written so far, and I still think the setting I have in mind has potential, but the characters feel a bit flat and I can’t shake the nagging feeling that the plot will turn out to be underwhelming.

So that’s going on the backburner for a while (probably forever, if I’m being honest.) Besides, I have another idea which I feel much better about, and which will also be an easier sell, I think.

So that will be Book the Second going forward. I’ve written a thousand words or so already, just to cleanse my palate, and now I’m going to go into full plotting-and-outlining mode. The idea is to start writing in earnest this weeked, with the goal of having a first draft done by the end of summer.

So – current word count for Book the Second: Approximately 800.


Query Tracking

The querying process is long and arduous. That much should be obvious by now. You need to find agents (a task that is surprisingly time-consuming), to write good queries, and to keep an eye on the queries you’ve already sent.

And that’s not all – if you want to improve your queries (not just the letter itself, but your writing samples and synopsis over time, it helps to know what worked and what didn’t.

That’s an awful lot of information to track, which is why I created a spreadsheet to track my progress.

I’m not going to put it up for download, because it’sĀ full of weird color codes and assorted notes. It works for me, but it wouldn’t necessarily work for anyone else. Instead, here’s the list of the information I track:

  1. Name of the agency;
  2. Name of the agent;
  3. Date I sent my query;
  4. Date I received an answer;
  5. Date at which I should consider the query ignored or dead. Here, I make a note of whether no answer means I should re-query the agent, query another agent at the same agency, or consider that agency as a lost cause.
  6. What materials the agent requested. Some agents ask for five pages, other for ten or fifty. Some agents want a synopsis, others don’t. I’m tracking that to see if, for instance, I have more success with my first five or first fifty pages.
  7. Any useful comments made by the agent upon rejection – obviously, I don’t track form letters and generic rejections, but I do want to note any hints and pointers I get.

Hopefully that helps anyone looking for help in managing the query process.

Change of Tack

As part of my agent search, I constantly try to find ways to make myself more appealing as a business partner. Part of that is making sure that I offer an interesting value proposition to publishers as well, which includes being able to deliver books on time (and ideally fairly quickly.)

With that in mind, I decided that having an outline for the sequel to Book the First is probably not enough. So I’ve began writing that book (at the same time as the fantasy novel I’ve described a few posts ago.) Running two projects side-by-side is ambitious, but it’s also pretty motivating since whenever I get tired of working on one, I usually feel like returning to the other.

Once I get an agent, I’ll probably decide which book to focus on exclusively, but until then, I think this will be a better use of my time and energy.

(Of course, I also know I need a better platform than what I have now. It’s a work in progress, too. More on that in a future post.)