From the Quarry to the Slog: One Treachery to the Next
When you're querying, you really don't hear a lot about what happens after the agent. This can make it hard when you do get to that offer stage, because you're like....what now? I'll probably go in depth about that in a later post, but for now, I'm going to talk about my personal experience after I signed with my agent, and where we are now with my debut.
Basically, here's the lowdown. It's going to be different for everyone, and I think this is important to get out there. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to go about getting ready for sub. It's an extremely tailored process. Tailored to your agent, to you, and most importantly, to your project.
This is my one and only warning: once you've signed, you should be extremely careful about the groups, servers, and chats you join. Be careful about your circle and who / where you're getting advice from. It's important to keep your writer friends close, of course, but remember that a lot of the chats floating around are full of debut / unpubbed authors who haven't had a lot of experience in the industry yet.
There are unspoken "rules" spread around by these chats and on social media that are not exactly accurate. Rules about how agents "should" or should not go about doing things. And the truth is, there really aren't any rules. Every agent simply has their way, and it either works for you or it doesn't. Sure there are BIG no-nos like asking for money or getting you to pay for an editor before you go on sub, but generally every agent just has their own process and it's up to you to decide if that works for you or not. That's why it's so important to ask the right questions on the call. I will have a post about this later, but let's be honest. This post isn't about you.
It's about me.
Okay so all jokes aside, here's a lowdown of how my first 3 months of being an agented author went.
I signed with my agent and we started talking about revisions pretty much right away. Timelines are going to differ wildly based on the project. The first thing we knew we needed to address right away was the length. My book was somewhere around 98.5K words when I was signed. THE DEEDS THAT BIND US (previously SONG OF CHEVEYO - we'll talk about that in a bit) is kind of a mixture of genres, but mostly, its just a plain old YA contemporary / realistic fiction. Generally speaking, the desirable word count for a YA contemporary is on the lower end, usually 70 - 85K. 98.5K was way too long. But honestly, I knew that when I started querying. I just wasn't at a point in my writing career where I felt capable of making those cuts without my agent's help.
So the first task was cutting my word count. I painstakingly threaded through the manuscript, cutting a few things, but mostly just scenes that were dragged out a little too long, and I found myself at a nice, comfortable 93K. I liked 93K. It was such a nice number. I felt happy, so I turned that version in.
But then there were more edits. Nothing too crazy, the story was pretty firm plot-wise, but there were some undercurrents that needed sharpening, and so, I did it again. Actually, on that final edit, I ran through the entire manuscript THREE separate times, reading specifically for certain emotional undercurrents that I wanted to feel sharp and consistent.
I feel like a lot of people question how to know when your manuscript is ready.
Well, trust me. You'll know. You'll know because you will hate the book for a few days, and then when you let it sit for a little bit, it'll just hit you. You know after you've finished a revision round, and you wait a few days and then BOOM, you're like "Oh yeah, I should edit that one thing"? Well, that didn't happen to me this time. I laid awake at night like I always do, thinking of what to change, and I couldn't think of anything. All of the problems I'd ever thought about during the whole process of writing this book were solved. And then it clicked. The book was ready. I was done.
So I yeeted the whale to my agent with the file name starting with "FINAL". That felt sooo good.
After that happened, we needed to address the issue of the packaging. I knew from the very beginning that I could have trouble with my concept.
I mean, it's a book about a whale. But it's YA.
See the problem?
The thing is, this book is YA. But we're dealing with whales here. And what do you think of when you think whales? (Well, after the sad, dark, and violent history of whaling). You probably think about Free Willy and Song for a Whale. So, we didn't want it to seem like we were straddling middle grade with the concept. Without giving too many details, this book is strongly YA, complete with love triangles, angsty bisexuals, heists, generational family trauma, cartels, political drama, and a lot of things I can't get into without ruining the book for you. But you get the point.
A big thing was the original title, SONG OF CHEVEYO. Though I loved it very much, it didn't reflect the level of grit present in the manuscript, so I had to give it a small little update.
I made some art to go along with the new title, because what am I if not dramatic?
Submission is extremely close now, and I'm finalizing my ✨ magical list ✨ with my agent, so I'll probably need to get real quiet about THE DEEDS THAT BIND US now. However, I will get better about my blogposts, and I'll share what I can about my new upcoming projects (I may or may not be working on 2 or 3 new things...)
There are also other ✨ exciting ✨ things happening that I can't talk about, but stay tuned, and make sure you're subscribed to my mailing list so you don't miss any updates!