I've been quiet on here lately - as well as still getting over Christmas and my birthday having been on Saturday, I've been working quite hard on getting my book ready for submission to literary agents. They say you need distance, so I decided back in June when I finished the book, or just about, that I would revise it as much as was needed, then set it aside and work on my next one, and in January, when I hoped to start writing it, I would start submitting.
I'd already had a solid idea of what I wanted to do for my next and unrelated book at the start of 2015, and throughout the year had already worked on a basic plan, so all I needed to do was put more work into it. I'm still doing that right now because it's a very complex story, but I'm starting to see light at the end of the tunnel and I'm hoping to start writing it by February.
For now, however, I'm so keen on my next book that I feel I've got the distance I need from the last to be able to submit it and, this morning - 15 minutes ago, in fact - I did just that.
Using the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, I tracked down all the agencies who specifically stated that they deal with fantasy submissions - there are 10, which is double the number from 2012 when I submitted my first and, in hindsight, not amazing book - found their websites and gathered exactly what information they wanted and did my best to deliver it. I tailored every submission to each individual where I could, and they all went out this morning.
From both and economical and ecological point of view, I'm really pleased to see that many only accept email submissions now, including a few that, last time, only accepted postal. While this means I don't have the opportunity to make a visual impact (which isn't really important or actually wanted by the agents), it does mean that I don't have to print 10 cover letters, 10 copies of my first 3 chapters, 10 synopsis and, possibly, 1-2 full manuscripts should they want more. This saves paper, ink, money, postage, the worry that it's been pinched from the post, the worry that it's gone missing, and the worry that it might somehow get ruined in transit. Instead, it's all immediate, and I've already had 3 automatic emails thinking me for my submission. There are only 2 agencies on the list that still only want postal submissions, and one of those wants a preliminary letter first. For so few to accept postal submissions, I'm happy to accommodate them.
Despite all this excitement and positivity, I'm keeping a level head. I know it's very likely that none of them will want to see more. I don't doubt my writing ability, I don't doubt my ideas, but I do realise that timing is as important as skill, and when it comes down to that, luck has a big part, too. If I submit it at the wrong time, I could get rejected when, a month later, it would have been accepted. But the thing is that you can't tell when the right time is. Fantasy has more of a hold on the world now than it has in the past, so I'm hoping that's good for me - either way, there's more demand for it - so I'm hoping my timing is right. But my timing could be right but the agent still doesn't fancy taking a risk on me, a new voice with no statistics. So it's hard to break through. And it's for this reason that I expect to be rejected. It's still more than worth a shot, though, which is why I put my time into it and submitted it anyway instead of going straight to self-publishing. It's been my dream since I was 12, after all, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let an industry fact shake me.
But, now that they're out, all I can do is wait. I'm turning full attention onto my next book which I think is 10,000 times better than the last (just like whatever I write after this will be 10,000 times better than that), so if and when I get rejected it'll be much easier to shake off because, right now, I know I'm working on a winner. And when I submit that, I'll feel the same about the next. This is part of the reason it's important to have distance from your work when you submit it, so rejections don't hit as hard, and in fact this course of action is recommended by most agents. Write it, revise it, revise it, polish it, start work on something else, then submit it. And that's what I've done.
In short, I've done all I can. It's in the hands of the agents now, so I'm better off forgetting about it. After all, 2 of the automatic messages I received told me I could be waiting up to 12 weeks for a response, and that's assuming they're interested. If they're not, I may not receive a response at all. So, as I said, I'm better off forgetting it for now and working on my next and much more awesome piece.
I am terrified, and I am excited.