Wednesday, October 12, 2011

(Work-in-) Progress Report: Steve

Word count (to the nearest thousand): 52,000 (6,000 less than last time)
Status: Finished with the third draft!
Attitude: Cautiously optimistic

Third draft complete! And now Steve’s off to meet his next round of beta readers. Thanks, Ben, Jeni, and Kelly! I know he’s in good hands.

I’m optimistic about Steve because the feedback I received from my last bunch of betas was so positive. (One of them even said she read the whole thing in one sitting!) But I’m cautious because I know there are as many opinions in this industry as there are people, and I don’t want to get my hopes up.

I’ve read posts from agented and published writers that say things like, “This manuscript was special from the start. It was the best thing I’d ever written, and I poured everything I had into it. Somehow, I knew it would be the One.” Well, Bob felt like that manuscript for me, and now that he's racked up more rejections than anything else, I know nothing’s a guarantee. No manuscript can be the One (until it actually sells), because too many of the factors that determine its success--or failure--are outside of our control.

I know Steve still needs some work, but at least for the time being, I feel pretty good about where he’s at. So where are you at with your projects, and how do you feel about them?

P.S. In case you missed my tweet, October's round of "An Agent's Inbox" starts next week, and this month, we're trying something new. I'm revealing The Agent's identity RIGHT NOW. I'm thrilled to announce that Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary will be next week's guest judge, so get busy on those entries!


Ben Spendlove said...

How exciting! I'm just starting a brand new novel, and it feels—different. Don't they all feel different? It's an idea I've had for years, and only now do I feel skilled/confident enough to write it.

Karen Denise said...

To me, each novel starts off feeling like, "This one is special!" And I guess they all have to feel that way, otherwise I'd be phoning it in, right? I know my current wip is the first novel that seems to force me to write it. I want to write it during every waking moment. It's exhilerating and exhausting at the same time. Good luck with Steve!

Adam Heine said...

" that [Bob]'s racked up more rejections than anything else, I know nothing’s a guarantee."

Would it surprise you to hear that's exactly where I am :-) I've got some manuscripts still out there, including one that I'm far-too hopeful about. But otherwise, yeah, I'm looking to the next novel.

And the next novel is being drafted. I'm almost at 50k, I think, which is about halfway through.

Melodie Wright said...

Oh, very glad you're into Steve! I know Bob is your first love but there's something so mature about that second relationship...:)

I'm just starting to query a YA mystery. *pulls chunks of hair* And must say my final round of betas was SO confusing - completely conflicting opinions on everything! Here's hoping you have better luck.

Jess said...

I'm still editing my first novel but I think I've got around 46,000 words that should be cut... so I've got LOTS of work to do.

Great job with everything, and good luck!!

Suzi said...

I love every story I have written. I am confident of the uniqueness of my current one for which I'm trying to find an agent.

But I worry more about how polished it is. I think that was one of my problems when I started querying. It wasn't polished enough. I'm hoping that my last round of editing here will bring it up to the agents' standards.

For the agent's inbox, will you allow people who participated in previous contests to submit again? Will it be the same policy as last time?

Last time I submitted my query to see what was wrong with it, and now I think I have one that is much improved. And Ms. Testerman was one who I queried before I was ready, so I'd love to get her opinion on it now.

Riley Redgate said...

Every time I start a new novel, I'm like, THIS IS THE NOVEL OF MY SOUL!!!! But to be honest, this is the first novel I've been confident in, regardless of soulfulness or whatever.

Also, oh my God. Kate Schafer Testerman... #totalagentcrush Please say entrants from the very first round can enter! Please... (fingers crossed)

Suzanne Warr said...

Sometimes I think the writer can tell, but it takes the industry a little while to catch up. One of my writing buddies had her beloved Tudor alternate history rejected and rejected a few years back. She moved on, worked on other stuff, eventually signed with an agent for something else entirely. When that manuscript didn't fly out the door, her agent asked to look at the Tudor alternate history. With the agent's guidance, she turned it into a triology and sold it this summer at auction! So...I think the moral of the story is trust your gut, but keep going cause sometimes it takes even longer than the long version. Best of luck with this one!!!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Sounds like you're in a great place, Ben. You've already made me want to read this next one:)

Karen, very true - if our projects don't feel special, we'd probably never finish them:) And I love it when my works-in-progress have that draw. Good luck with yours!

Adam, sounds like you and I are still querying twins:) I still have a few manuscripts out there as well, but Steve has really captured my affections (for the moment). (P.S. You should try writing MG sometime. Then your 50,000 words would equal a finished draft:) )

Melodie, I don't know what I'd do if that happened to me. I fear I'd just do nothing, and the manuscript would go out warts and all. Happily, my betas generally come to a consensus, or at least they give me complementary ideas. I must give 'em big, why-didn't-I-think-of-that problems to bring up:)

Jess, your self-awareness astounds me. I didn't know the meaning of revision when I was writing my first manuscript, so I NEVER would have thought I needed to cut so many words. Best of luck with that WIP!

Suzi, if it makes you feel any better, I don't think a manuscript ever feels polished enough. We just have to hope an agent falls in love with it, anyway (after we've done everything we can do, of course).

Riley, that's wonderful. It's great to be confident in your work.

As for next week's round of "An Agent's Inbox," I plan to handle repeat entries the same way I handled them last month: I'll give newcomers the first crack at it, then open things up to past entrants if we still have empty slots after the first twenty-four hours. That said, this round is going to be significantly smaller than September's round, so I'll be surprised if we still have open slots come Tuesday. But we'll see.

Aurora Smith said...

I love it, its like the begining of love. You think about it all the time and see its future. Good luck.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Great story, Suzanne. Thanks for sharing. You know, I've thought the same thing might someday happen to Bob. Even if he doesn't work out right now, I think he'll make a great shelf novel, since I still feel so good about him, all the rejection notwithstanding. He seems like just the sort of project to pull down and dust off in another couple of years...

Read my books, thanks for your enthusiasm. I can always count on a cheerful thought and positive attitude from you:)

Kelly Bryson said...

Hey Krista- Hang in there! I wish I could read it all in one sitting, that's how I prefer to read, even if it's a crummy book. It's funny how whatever project I'm working on feels alive, and then if I ignore it for a while, I lose that connection. Like it's a real relationship or something. Have a great day!

Cassie Mae said...

Yay! It's always so exciting to hear back from your betas who are just as excited about your work as you are. Good luck with it!

And very exciting about the agent...she's been on the top of my list, so I really can't wait to send in my entry to get her feedback. Thanks for all the opportunities you give us Krista!

Anna said...

I'm still screwing up the courage to send mine out. Your honesty and excitement and disappointment are all encouraging because they make me feel like I am not "the only one." And that I want to keep going too. Thank you!

Myrna Foster said...

Hooray for Steve!

Michael G-G said...

Good for you, Krista. I too thought my Shakespeare novel was the one; I enjoyed writing it so much. I'm currently midway through a completely different type of novel which has been much harder to write. Who knows if either of them will actually be "the One?"

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Kelly, whenever I'm in love with a book, I always try to pace myself, read every word, and savor it. It's the crummy ones I want to get through in one sitting:) (Once I've started something, I usually only put it down if the content becomes too much for me.)

Cassie Mae, fingers crossed for you! As long as you submit your entry right when the window opens, I'm sure you'll get in.

Anna, good luck screwing up that courage. But something tells me once you do, you'll be glad you did:)

And hooray for wonderful critique partners, Myrna;)

Michael, good for you for not giving up and for writing something new. While I don't make any predications about individual manuscripts, I do think that, sooner or later (usually later), things will work out. We've got at least a few decades to figure everything out, right? :)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Krista, I love your point about a manuscript being The One: there are too many things outside our control for us to bank on that feeling. You're totally and completely right. Wise words there, my friend! Excited about Steve. :)

And how cool Kate Testerman is your agent for the next round of Agent Inbox. I know she'll find some great stuff! Good luck, everyone!


Krista Van Dolzer said...

So good to hear from you, Amy! I'm excited about Steve as well:)