Sometimes, life just gets in the way. You can’t stop it. You can only hope to contain it. And that’s why I thought I’d provide a quick update on PIECES OF EIGHT, the sequel to BLOODLINES.
Editing is finished. I’ve done the best job my amateur, grammar-addled, anally-retentive mind can do on the manuscript. I tried to cut out over-usage of words such as “upon” (there you go Dylan K) and a few f-labeled profanity types that rhyme with things that don’t suck and wiped as much of my customary long-windedness where I ramble on and on and on…
You get the picture.
This cut the word count from 136k to 124k. Not quite the 120k magical maximum mark that traditional publishing mandates for first-time authors (has to do with printing and such, among other arbitrary business decisions that are, quite frankly, beyond my pay grade), but I’ll take it.
I found a bunch of plot holes, too. Logic mistakes. Or, as Deacon would say, “Shit that don’t make no fucking sense.” Man, he’s got a way with words, don’t he? Anyway, I fixed those, and answered several questions I didn’t even realize I had until after I pored over the story.
Finally, I took the feedback from my wonderful beta readers, fixed several glaring negative issues, put a bow on it, and stepped back to appreciate my work…for about 10 minutes, then I grabbed my Literary Agent spreadsheet and really went to work.
There isn’t any. I mean, how can things be bad when I have a polished (well, what *I* consider a polished) manuscript ready to pitch to the agent world? It’s not.
But it is.
Crisis of confidence time. Every author who wants to be traditionally published goes through this.
Is it good enough? Am I good enough? Will anyone like it?
Aye, there’s the rub. For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come when we have shuffled?
Great question, Hamlet!
I don’t know. I mean, I think I know, but I don’t really, truly, honestly, know. I comb Twitter and read Lit Agent tweets about their manuscript wishlists. I check out all the pitches during the contests (e.g. #SFFPit, #Pitmad, etc.) to see which ones received industry professional likes. I watch Tweeples hawk their stories on the Intra-Webs, check them out on Amazon, compare them to what I’ve written (if there is a comparison to make), and note the number of reviews / rating.
I did my research. I checked out agent profiles on their websites and did my due diligence. Unfortunately, I don’t swim in their business circles. I don’t know what they know. And no matter how good of a query pitch I can put together, if what they’re looking for isn’t there, then it isn’t a fit, and we all move on.
BLOODLINES was rejected by 38 literary agents. A small number to some, but to me, it still looms large. Maybe it was timing. Or content. Or my writing style. The suppositions are endless, but the fact remains the story wasn’t picked up. Will PIECES OF EIGHT meet the same fate?
People still read sci-fi and urban fantasy and crime thrillers. Empire City happens to be all of those. Kirkus Reviews called BLOODLINES “a riveting multigenre tale with sharply drawn characters in a striking futuristic world.” That has to be the greatest compliment to my writing that I’ve ever received, and this from a very well-respected literary review company. They have to know something, right?
My incomparable wife constantly reminds me that my agent is “out there.” That we simply haven’t connected. That it’s just a question of time. Since she and I somehow found each other, and are still together after 15 years despite innumerable threats to my body and soul, I like to think that she’s on to something.
But Tom Petty was right.
The waiting is the hardest part.
I’ve already sent out six queries. I’ve got more queued up and ready to roll out in the coming weeks. I’ll be throwing my hat into the ring for another pitch contest next week.
I’m not giving up. Not by a long shot.
So, what comes next?
Sure, oceans rise, empires fall, and it’s much harder when it isn’t your call.
But I do know one thing, I’m not on my own.