Where I’m At, Part One

THE STATE OF MY NOVEL, “LIGHTNING”
My novel’s done as far as writing, proofreading and a copy edit. Now I’m in the brand new territory of having to find a literary agency to represent me. As a full-time worker who’s trying to write and find work, I need an agent. I can’t run around representing myself when I have no idea what I’m doing and have a million other things to do all at the same time.
Agents will take a cut but me earning 80-85% of the book’s money is far more than 100% of nothing, that’s my mindset. An agent will also be a voice to springboard off of as my proofreaders are non-writers who are increasingly busy and it’s not cool to pester them every day. Every other day, maybe. Neither had the stamina to join me all the way through Lightning’s copy edit at the pace I was going through it, sadly, but my goal was to be done with the edit by July, a deadline I managed to hit with gusto.

I was going to get the latest Writer’s Handbook until I bumped into an old customer of mine on the train home from work. He was always an interesting customer to talk with, being a fellow writer-type and someone who evidently thinks academically about comics. The last time I spoke with him on the train, he recommended me The Writer’s Market. He also sounded quite down on the comic industry and writing in general, I hope it was just a down day. I was secretly hyper about comic delivery day and bouncy about something to help me hunt agents, something he only helped with.

I ordered The Writer’s Market 2011 from Amazon. It got pushed back, and back again, and I kind of let it. That horrible ‘will to fail’ took over. I wouldn’t progress in anything to advance my novel because I didn’t have the book. When I realised that was what I was doing, I cancelled that order and looked for a new copy. Then I found the 2012 edition. Awesome!

Once I got it, I started to go through, creating a shortlist of literary agencies to pester and checking out the essays at the start. A fellow aspiring writer on the Guardian Gamesblog mentioned that it was depressing to go through. I get that, but I felt oddly heartened. A lot of the advice were about things I knew already, or trying to idiot-proof the process. If I’m going up against idiots vying for time with the agencies, then that’ll be great. I can do this.

My shortlist of agencies stands at 44. Any who take at least 10% unpublished writers and at least 10% novels are on the list. If they specifically do take sci-fi or young adult (the closest genres on the list) then that’s mentioned. To be honest, Lightning’s cross-genre enough that it’s fine with even being “mainstream fiction” in the list of genres.

My next step is to make a query letter. In his freakish prescience about my writing career, the one man swearpocalypse Chuck Wendig has written a piece about 25 things I need to know in writing a query letter. Which is good, as I’m struggling.

The main issues I have are with genre as it crosses a few of them. Also I want literary comparisons, when all I have are tv/film/comic ones. I’m going to try and throw words at my proofreaders, I have a giant whiteboard with a mind map mentioning all the genre conventions and aspects I want to highlight.

I have confidence in my characters and the dialogue, so I need something short and punchy enough to send off.

And that’s where I’m at with Lightning.

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