One year ago I began my attempts at getting CONFLUENCE published. I sent out seven query letters, opened my facebook AUTHOR profile, and started to think seriously about publishing. I was SURE I would find an agent, then a publisher in a matter of months, and worried what I would do for insurance, because obviously I would want to quit my day job and writer full time after I was offered some $50K for my book.
Oh, MAN, was I in for a series of shocks.
So after I excitedly peed myself, sending these early queries, I met a woman, though a neighbor of mine, who is a local writer. I asked her to look at my query and she quickly spotted the sticking point.
-----> 200,000 words.
Did you see it, or was it too subtle for you? Never mind that I happen to prefer my books upward of 500 page. Apparently debut authors have about the probability of a snowballs chance in HELL of publishing that long a book. I quietly stuffed the knowledge that one of the successful people at this, Elizabeth Kostova, shares my city limits. It doesn't happen to REAL PEOPLE. Because HONESTLY, The Historian hit that Vampire wave before it really even started, so someone with LITERARY fiction skills (and I say that in both the positive and the negative—The Historian was a GREAT book, and VERY dense, in my opinion—I have a hard time believing all the Americans who bought it were actually capable of reading it *cough* Sorry—snob moment there). So my cult of nuts isn't apparently the next vampire wave... No 200K book for me.
I spent the summer shortening the book, got it down to 150K and in August tried again. I sent fifteen, I think, ONE of which resulted in a request for 20 pages. Two got responses that were “no thanks we're not taking ANYBODY” (though websites had not said that)--I think I got 10 or 11 rejections and a few no response... hmph.
But near the end of August, when the queries were out, I went on my wild ride of writing LEGACY in just six weeks, then began ILLUSIONS, then took a brief break for NaNo and wrote DENIABILITY, then FINISHED ILLUSIONS in December... in 4 months I wrote 3 books. None of them is yet POLISHED to querying point, but it is NUTS how fast that all went.
In December and January, I then turned to a further polish of CONFLUENCE so I could enter the Amazon contest (had to be under 150K)--and got it down to 137K. In January I queried once again. THIS TIME, I had three interactions where agents wanted to see more, one of them 75 pages. It was a MUCH better ratio. But I have decided since that time, that while I love CONFLUENCE, I think it is really complex enough that it is a hard sell as a first book. It is the kind of book someone will say is their favorite one day, but it is too hard to describe to get a reader to pick up when they've never heard of me. I want to sell (maybe two) other books of mine before trying with CONFLUENCE again. I want an established success record.
So on this queriversary, I want YOUR opinion on which book I should polish first. The following descriptions are not polished pitches—that will come and will take time, but I would love to hear where you think I would be best off dedicating my next round of editing time.
For the former, I've been reading art theft tales. For the latter, I've been watching back episodes of Alias and La Femme Nikita. I think I am ready to dive into the next iteration of either one, but I'd LOVE to choose the one you think has the best shot of MAKING IT as a debut novel.
So THANK YOU for any help or insight you can give on where I ought to start! Happy Queriversary!