A reflection on where I've been to where I am now
Hello again. Been awhile, hasn't it?
When we last spoke, I was excited and thrilled at the prospects of finally getting my book published into a real, bona-fide novel. I think that judging from my tone which I'm hopefully conveying properly through text, you'll be able to tell that things... haven't really gone to plan. I had been waiting to make a post on here for when my book would be accepted by a literary agent, only to realize later on that such a dream might not be coming true for awhile.
108 days ago, I sent out queries to several of my favorite literary agents, after painstaking research and effort. I'd reread my book multiple times, put my first ten pages through the ringer and gained as much feedback as I could, edited my book 3 times and took out over 30,000 words from its initial draft, etc. It was one of the most labor intensive things I'd done in my life... and I loved every second of it, even the parts that I hated. I left this blog with a promise and request for success, dreaming and wishing of the day when I'd be able to see my labors finally bear fruit.
I failed. Or rather, I'm failing. We'll get to why that's important later.
For now, just to give a general progress update; I've spent the better part of 1/3rd of a year attempting to get my book's query approved, or at least get a full request for the manuscript. I've sent my query to 14 agents since my initial 7, and since then the results have been as follows:
6 No-Responses (Akin to a rejection)
2 Outgoing (My final queries)
0 Positive Responses
I'm not going to lie, this stung. I mean really, I had prepared myself for failure but... still, you can only prepare yourself so much. What makes it worse is how much I was unable to help myself with the anticipation. Every time I would see anything so much as a notification in my email, I would race towards it thinking... "Okay. This is the one. This is the day that it all changes." But so far... I've got nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nadda. Everytime it would feel like someone had stabbed me in the stomach when I saw that fated "We wish you luck on your publishing endeavors" email, which seemed to haunt me in my sleep. Even today, I received another rejection... which is why this blog post may seem so melancholy, for now. It would be one thing if the rejections happened fast, but seeing as it usually takes months to get a response it causes anticipation and hope to build up only to end up falling short. Even now as I'm writing this, a part of me is still hoping my last 2 outgoing queries will be the success I've been searching for, even though I kinda botched the first one & the second is for one of the most queried-to agencies in America.
Nevertheless, the reason why I'm writing this blog post isn't to just lament my failures or host myself a pity party, but to instead celebrate my success. This month... in fact, this next stretch of days, from October 21st to October 23rd, are the days when I published my first book: What I Could've Been. Hence the title of this post. The reason why it's over multiple days is because I stayed up until 1 AM trying to get the book published, and it additionally took around a day or so before the book was properly available for purchase. It's cemented October as my favorite month of the year, as in that single, sleep-deprived moment when I kept on hitting the publish button and crying at my computer because it wouldn't accept the file that contained my book... I made something of my own.
My whole life has been about other people helping me. I can't even brush my teeth without someone putting the toothpaste onto it. I've slowly lost the ability to do so many... many things, as I've said in this blog a dozen times before, that sometimes it feels that no achievement can really be attributed to myself. Of course I know that I've put in effort for my studies, career, life, etc... but I've never had anything that was 'mine' in the truest sense of the word, something I created from scratch and pushed desperately for it to be a reality, at least until now. What I Could've Been was a collective effort of the editors who read it, the people who bought it, and of course, the friends who illustrated it. But that book, in all senses of the word... is mine.
In my struggle to achieve the final stage of this bookmaking process, it's easy to forget the immense labor that went into making these stories, especially when so many others are fighting for the same thing. But every time I see What I Could've Been, remember the countless hours I put into it in a maddened frenzy of loving labor... I feel proud. This thing which I have made will continue to be a part of my story until I leave this world and move onto the next. Grades, scores, etc., were all a part of it to be sure, but none of them were permanent. So I'll continue to hold onto What I Could've Been, through all of the rejections, stress, pain and hardship that I will inevitably be put through on this path which I have chosen.
In saying all of that, I'd like to additionally thank you; whoever you might be. I would never have been able to say that something is mine if it was not for others, as paradoxical as that may sound. I don't know who you are, or if you even exist... as this blog currently gets so little traffic that sometimes I wonder if anyone ever reads this far into the posts in the first place. But by simply listening to what I have to say, you've made the spark in the lantern which I use to guide my way that much brighter.
Now, after the in-cohesive nonsense I've just spat out; it's time to pick ourselves up and continue to move on from this resting point. I have 2 queries still waiting in the wings, but I'm not going to wait for someone else to tell me when I can start walking this path again.
For starters, I'll be sending out a final, batch of queries in the oncoming days, after some tweaks and edits to my first 10 pages and query letter. These will be the final letters that I send before bringing an end to this endeavor, and moving onto the next.
What would the next be you say? Glad you asked! I'll be planning to Self-Publish Beyond on Amazon KDP by Christmas, if all goes according to plan. The hardest part will be finding someone to draw a cover that I'm okay with & re-learning all of the different systems that KDP has in place... but I'm sure I'll be able to figure things out. It's not an ideal ending to all of the effort that I've put into this but at the same time, it's better than leaving things open-ended. Besides, the most important part is making it possible so that YOU are able to read the book properly, rather than letting it collect dust in a 'rejected' pile. Of course, in order to do that I'll be doing a final round of edits, critiques, etc. To make sure that it's ready for publication. Christmas break is coming up soon (wow... this year went by FAST), so I'll have enough time to put it all together. Plus, I have a few more eager eyes who are willing to help me out on my endeavor to make my book ready for publication.
Secondly, once that's said and done I'm going to start formatting some of my old children's stories which I finished into a readable, up-to-standard publishing format & submitting those as well. That may sound like just a repeat of what I've been doing, but since it's picture books it'll be an entirely different process, including a new format and a heck of alot of new research. Who knows, maybe I'll even be able to find someone willing to illustrate for me again, and be able to self-publish my next book!
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly... I will resume work on SpringKeeper, the next book that I hope to complete. I've completed much of the preliminary layout and I've even completed the first 50 pages or so on the first draft, so I'll just need to pick up where I left off. I'm thinking that I'll likely get to work on it around November 1st, or if necessary, the start of Christmas Break. The story & world have been living in my head for quite some time, and I'd rather put them onto paper before they fade away forever or change to a point when I can no longer recognize them, or feel the same fire that I do now.
That's what I have planned for now... but who knows what'll come next? Honestly, none of what I've initially planned went the way that I intended the last that I left you off... but, that's okay. In all honesty, it's part of the adventure of walking this path. It feels as though I am exploring an uncharted road for the first time in my life, with darkened forests on either side of me and only my lantern to guide the way forward. I've yet to see the stars in the night sky quite yet, but it feels as though they'll show themselves soon enough. And I'm loving every second of it, even the parts that I hate.
Until we next meet, I will continue to traverse this road. Safe travels to you my friend, and thank you for helping my lantern burn that little bit brighter.
Farewell for now,
- Ud Din