A Weird Thing Happened on the Way to Publishing a Novel

My middle grade novel, Smivey Stepward, is a coming-of-age, first love, mystery, ghost story with an unexpected twist at the end I really love.

The start and stop process I used while seeking a literary agent to represent my work to publishers obviously didn’t work. Obvious, because start and stop never works with anything. The only way things happen is through perseverance. Someone said, “If one tooteth not his own horn, the same doth not get tooted.” Wise.

Early on, a question from agents I kept seeing was, “What is your social media presence?” I didn’t have a social media presence.

I immediately began working on my new project. Trying, very uncomfortably, to create a social media presence that went beyond clicking on Facebook once in a while, wondering what Twitter was, and marveling at my kids’ Instagram pictures. The problem is I spent two years working on all this and completely stopped pursuing representation.

Now you know why I haven’t written any blog posts for over a month.

Writing a synopsis of a fifty-seven thousand word novel is excruciating. It involves summarizing every chapter in a paragraph, all twenty-two of them. Then condensing the paragraphs, weeding, editing, shortening, clipping, editing some more, crossing off, rethinking, changing my mind, and finally, looking online for advice on how to write a good synopsis and discovering mine was crap. Rewrite.

Query letters are almost as painful as synopses but not quite. A query letter has to have a killer hook, just enough information, and not sound like the back flap blurb all books have.

When everything is ready, it’s time to research which agents who rep middle grade novels are accepting submissions. That doesn’t mean creating a list and sending out a huge stack of the same things to everyone. Ohhh, no. Some agents want a query letter, synopsis, and ten pages. Some want three chapters, some two. Some want just a query letter and one chapter. All use some form of email, no one is using snail-mail anymore. They make it very clear paper submissions will quickly find their place in the trash.

Some agents use a platform called, “Query Manager” which is an online submission form and those are not all the same, either. Some ask for a biography, a pitch, a target audience, and one required the name of an actor who would play the main character if the novel became a movie.

Then the wait, and the inevitable “thank-you but no thank-you” replies.

It definitely is worth the work. Having a finished novel I’m very proud of and being able to present it to the publishing world is an exciting experience.

So there you have it. I haven’t disappeared. I didn’t stop writing. In fact, I’m writing more. Just not blog posts right now. I’m writing to agents, many of them, asking them to represent me in my quest for a publisher who will release Smivey Stepward to a waiting world.







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