Writing Journey Rewind: Mourning the Death of the First Novel


So a lot has happened to me over the last few months. The goal of landing a dream agent and getting a publishing contract has come to fruition. I feel beyond lucky and excited.  And many of you have been with me on this journey from the beginning, but there are also many, many of you who have tuned in over the last couple of months when everything started to happily snowball for me so have only seen the good news.


Therefore, I thought today, I would pull out a blog post from a year and a half ago when things weren't going so well. When I had experienced the let down of the failed first novel. I'm sharing this because being a writer is full of self-doubt and will-it-ever-be me syndrome. It's a daunting task to do something as personal as writing a book, then facing rejection over and over again. So I want to share the post to show how much a year and half can change.

And I hope you take this lesson from it: KEEP WRITING! Don't get hung up on that one book. Move on, keep writing, keep writing, keep writing!

So here we go (July 16, 2009):


Mourning the Death of the First Novel


So I finished my first novel, Shadow Falls (paranormal YA) a few months ago. (Well, my first one that counts. The one in high school, well, a novel it was not.) I toiled and tweaked and edited and obsessed. I wrote and rewrote my query, frantically checking query shark to make sure I didn't make any well-known mistakes. I went through a crisis of self-esteem before hitting send on my first agent query--the oh so attractive, sweaty, shaky, I-obviously-can't-put-two-words-together-so-why-am-I-even-bothering stage. This stage was quickly followed by the "is my email working? is my spam filter too strong? why is it not dinging with new emails from agents?" phase. Yes, I know they say to expect a response no sooner than a few weeks or months, but I plugged my ears and sang show tunes to avoid accepting that knowledge.
To my surprise, many responded within two weeks, which made the immediate gratification monster inside me very happy indeed. Unfortunately, most of those responses were form rejections. However, to my great delight (and surprise), I received two request for partials and two requests for fulls pretty quickly from biggie, dream agents. Of course, I was already picturing my book on the shelf despite knowing my chances were still slim. After a few weeks (two months was the longest), I received three form rejections. Total bummer. Looped back to low self-esteem phase.
Then, this week, I received my rejection on the final full I had out. However, this time the agent personalized it. The lovely note contained the words "you are clearly a very talented writer" (woo-hoo) and that my story "had lots of teen appeal" (kickass). However, the story wasn't different enough from what was out there in a now saturated teen paranormal market. (sigh) Then, she asked that if I didn't find an agent this time around, she hoped I would query her on my next project. (Backing away from the ledge).
So, I'm considering the rejection a victory. I still have a few queries floating around, but my hope meter for this first book is definitely on low. I am mourning it's gentle death and will be burying it in the drawer soon. Perhaps it can be resurrected another day with some rewrites. In the meantime, onward and upward. I'm halfway through writing the first draft of a romance novel.
Lessons learned from novel #1: a) I don't totally suck b) I can write a query letter and c) I can handle rejection (mostly)


I remember feeling really down the day I wrote that, but now I am so happy I went through that experience. It taught me a lot. So what lessons did your first novel teach you? 

**Today's Theme Song**
"Move Along" - All-American Rejects
(player in sidebar, take a listen)