U Got the Look: Novel Marketing and Prom Ensembles

Well, Prom season is upon us. You may wonder what the heck that has to do with marketing a novel. Well, I’ll tell you.

But first, I’d like to introduce this into evidence:

That’s me (with my sister) on my way to the prom circa 1992.

Now, if you’re like me, after looking at this picture, you’re rubbing your stinging nose with one hand while wiping the coffee off your laptop with the other. Which is hard to do when you’re shaking with laughter. I mean that is really quite the look, right?  Check out the asymmetric hair-do and the “floating pearl” necklace. Not to mention the white iridescent tights. And when you’re uberpale, the best look is almost always baby pink patterned satin over white tulle, natch.

Here’s the thing:

At the time, I thought I looked awesome. Other people thought I looked awesome, too. I overheard my date’s younger sister whining that her brother must have bribed me or something cuz OMG, she’s actually pretty!

Unfortunately, I believe writing is a bit like fashion. I finished the first draft of The Edge of Memory in 7 weeks. I did a quick grammar edit, and then shipped the manuscript off to a bevy of test readers for feedback, while I took a month away “for perspective.” (yeah, right.)

Over the next several months, I completed several major edits. I then decided I was done tinkering and ready to seek representation. I read the blogging agents mantras of “Don’t Query Before You’re Ready” and “Write a Great Book” and felt confident. I loved my manuscript. I didn’t think it was perfect, of course, but I thought I’d reached the point where I needed professional feedback to progress further.

I was both right and wrong.

Since that first stopping point (when my book was titled “Still Haunted”), I’ve done at least six more rounds of editing. And each time I finish a round of edits, I cringe to look at the previous drafts. Just like that prom picture, I look at those versions and wonder, “what the heck I was thinking?”

In February, an agent who had requested a partial and then my full manuscript pointed out a plot detail that bothered her. She gave me a eureka moment and I subsequently rewrote several scenes. I am very pleased with the resulting manuscript, and have not edited again since (which, of course, shatters my previous record of approximately nine minutes between edits). I think this time I finally have reached the most polished version I can produce.

Naturally, I wish I had known that I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was when I first began querying. But then, I’m not sure I would have reached this place without the submission process. Certainly, I might never have had the eureka moment without that agent’s input.

The take-home point here is that I’m glad I’ve never been a Query Player (much as I’ve tried). If I had queried a zillion agents when I first thought my manuscript was ready, I’d have burned all my bridges.

But since I’ve only queried a few agents at a time, I’ve got a chance to show my best work. And I’m grateful for that.

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Scene Together

I am so close to finishing I can taste it! I just finished editing Chapter 33, which was the major scene I needed to add. I’ve got to go back and review it later to see how it fits after a little distance, but I think it worked out well.daisy.gif

Seven chapters left on the second edit, and then one more quick time through for some minor things (I need to do some global document searches for words that I overuse. This includes my characters’ names, as I tend to identify them more than necessary).type.gif

I still need to add in a brief scene for the final chapter (and a detail I recently thought of to an existing scene). I also am considering an epilogue, or just extending the ending.

Either way, I am close to having a complete-enough manuscript to print my copy and mail out query letters. And that is amazing.

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Also amazing is some feedback I’ve had recently from one of the people who is critiquing my novel. He has started to talk about the symbols and themes in my novel, which gives me loads of warm fuzzies. It is so exciting to have someone find the details you weave into your story. highfive.gif

Which reminds me yet again of how grateful I am to my awesome legion of test writers, whether they are Chitties or CC Critters. You guys rock! grouphugg.gifthanku.gif

Part III

Well, I’ve finished my second run of editing up through Chapter 30, which concludes Part II of my novel.

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The third act is now all that stands between me and the next phase. I am so excited to hold a copy in my hands. I’m determined to order my personal copy by February 29th.hoorah.gif

The last ten chapters will be a little slower going, though. More changes happening there. I’ve got at least 3 small scenes to add plotting.gif, and the next chapter on my agenda needs a bit of rewriting.

Still, I’m close. Pulsingly, tangibly close. I’m terrified and excited to send out my query letters and see if anyone bites.popcorn.gifpraying.gif

Full Steam Ahead

I am editing like all get out. I totally rewrote chapter 32 today. I added in an unexpected graveyard scene; I’ll have to read it in a bit and see how I feel about it.

I’m now up to chapter 34 for edits. Seven chapters left in my major edit, and I’m feeling really good about what I’ve done. The changes are definitely for the better.
I’m a little nervous, though, because I’ve cut down my word count considerably. I’m currently around 88,000, but I will certainly cut more in the remaining chapters. I might add some in though, too.

I need to flesh out the ending, I think. I kind of rushed through it in my excitement at being so close to finished.

I’d like the book to end up at around 90K. Of course, there are also many scenes where I could add some description. I tend to gloss over those, sometimes.

I’ve updated the version of the first three chapters on my blog, so if you get a chance, you might want to take a peek at them.

Giddy-up!