I’m teetering on the edge of something at the moment, have been for aaages in fact: looking at what I should be jumping into, considering it, pacing along it, but too nervous to take the plunge.
We can all feel this way. Whether it’s sliding into a cold swimming pool, starting a conversation with a stranger or standing on a wooden platform high up in the trees, ready to step off and whizz down a zipwire (yay!). Although I know all those things will be good for me and probably huge fun, there’s always still that teeny weeny bit of fear that can make a small step feel like a leap to the moon.
It’s time for me to start a new (proper!) round of submissions to agents! Last year I sent my manuscript to six, which barely counts as a “round” to be honest. Even so, sending my precious baby out into the big scary world and waiting to hear if anyone loved it as much as I do, was very very hard.
While you’re writing, the hope that your story will one day become a published book and loved by many readers can be safely nurtured. When you start submitting, it’s a little like the dating scene – you’re putting yourself out there and asking “do you like my story?”. It’s crushing when the answer comes back “no, not enough” or there’s an empty silence that communicates the same.
I’ve been sort of ready to submit for several weeks, but have delayed because:
- I needed to rewrite my covering letter for UK agents.
- I needed to study how to write a query letter for US agents (a different style).
- I needed to research agents. I’ve just finished going through every single one of them listed on QueryTracker who takes YA (all 483!) – visiting their websites and then checking out the potential best fits on Twitter too.
- I’ve wanted to make some tweaks to the manuscript, especially the first few pages, as they’re usually all an American agent wants initially.
- Hollywood went and nicked my title (more or less). It was a minor annoyance given my huge relief at realising they hadn’t pinched the plot as well. But I’ve had to wait until I could go and see said film (today) so I knew whether or not to use it as a comparison and selling point (probably not).
Now, well, I’m pretty much out of excuses.
Why is taking the plunge so difficult? What’s the worst that can happen?
For my writing journey it’s that every agent in the Western world could turn this story down. I’ll be in good company if they do – many great writers have had that experience.
At that point, I could put it in a drawer and see it as my “back-catalogue”. Or I could self-publish (which I’d seriously consider so that all my family and friends can see for themselves what I’ve been going on about for the last few years). I could cry in a corner and give up.
In reality, I hope I’ll keep going regardless and write something new, which could end up being my breakout novel instead.
There’s no special time when it’ll be easier, no magic formula, no tablet that’ll give me courage. I just have to get to the moment where I take a deep breath and make that leap, because I know it’s the best thing to do.
It’s time to submit.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller