For some writers I think there’s a belief that when you sign with an agent you’ve finally made it. Sure, there is still work involved, but once you polish your manuscript it’s going to hit editors desks and sell right away. As today’s W.O.W. with Becky Wallace illustrates, that is not always the case. Sometimes it may take several manuscripts before the right one makes a splash with editors, and as a writer you need to be prepared for that reality. I’m grateful to Becky for sharing this part of her writing journey. It serves as another reminder that publishing can be a rough business, but if you believe in your work, and hold tight to your dreams, you can be a success!
Many thanks to Becky for sharing her writing journey today…
Amy: When did you complete your first Young Adult manuscript?
Becky: Oh…I don’t know. Like a thousand, or maybe three-ish, years ago. My first ms was a Nanowrimo success story (though I wasn’t a winner, per se). I started it in August. Finished in December, and edited through February.
Amy: Did you have critique partners or beta readers that helped you polish THE STORYSPINNER? If so, how critical were they to the process of completing the manuscript?
Becky: I do have a handful of critique partners who looked at THE STORYSPINNER at a variety of stages. I have one alpha-reader–someone who reads every chapter as I write them–and provides feedback as the story develops. I have one CP who reads my mss when they’ve reached the mid-point. She helps me make sure the story is on track, that my characters are growing, and that the pace is good. Then I have two or three other people who read my ms when it’s finished. They give me overall feedback for the book, point out plot holes, and areas where the writing can be tightened. They are all critical to the development of the story.
Amy: How laborious/frustrating was the query process for you?
Becky: I felt very lucky with my querying process. I queried nearly fifty agents, but had a lot of positive response right away. I ended up with multiple offers to chose from. My frustration came later (see the next question).
Amy: How many agents did you query for THE STORYSPINNER?
Becky: So…remember that frustration I mentioned in the previous question? THE STORYSPINNER was my fourth manuscript after I got my agent. That’s right, ladies and gents, I shelved three manuscripts (one paranormal and two contemporary thrillers) before I started writing fantasy. If you think querying is hell, can I just say that knowing your book is on an editor’s desk, sitting, gathering dust, waiting to be accepted or rejected, is a gazillion times worse? It’s worse than hot pokers and brimstone. Being on sub is like standing in a pool of water with your hair continuously on fire and an unquenchable thirst. And I went through it. Four times.
Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for the requests/rejections?
Becky: For my query I did receive an immediate response. Start to finish (from first email to contract), the process was less than a month. Submission, as I said before, was a much more painful process. Sometimes it was six months before I got a response and sometimes no response ever came.
Amy: What was your call like with your agent, Jennifer Laughran? How did you know she was the right fit for you?
Becky: I was a basket case when Jenn called, pacing around my house and sweating profusely. I’m so grateful no one could see me because it would be the epitome of all things embarrassing. Yet Jenn was so, so nice. She has such a dynamic personality. She’s funny and upbeat and honest. I love those things about her!
Amy: If you were speaking at a conference and an aspiring writer told you they were thinking about giving up on their publishing dream, what would you say to them?
Becky: I would say, “I’ve been there.” When no one picked up my third manuscript and I knew my fourth would be going out soon, I said to one of my critique partners, “If this one doesn’t sell, then I’m giving up. It’s not fair to myself and my family to put so much time and effort into writing, if it’s just going to be a time and energy void.” But I pushed through and edited the heck out of THE STORYSPINNER. If I was going to give up, I needed to know that I gave writing my best effort before I walked away. And that’s the best advice I can give to anyone, at any stage in publishing cycle. Don’t quit until you know, for sure, that you can walk away without any regrets.
In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky.
All Johanna Von Arlo wants to do is become a Storyspinner. But her options are so limited that she is forced to work for the aggravating and handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. While in his employ, Johanna is exposed to a dangerous game of thrones, a game where she will discover that the magically inclined Keepers from her stories might be real after all.
The Keepers are searching for an heir to a great power and the key to saving their land. They aren’t alone in their hunt. Girls matching the heir’s description are turning up dead all over the kingdom. Girls who look exactly like Johanna.
In second grade, Becky Wallace had to sit in the corner because she refused to write anything except princess stories and fairy tales (and because she talked too much). Her time in isolation gave her plenty of opportunities to dream up the fantasy worlds she’s been dabbling with ever since. She was lucky enough to find her own real-life Prince Charming. They have four munchkins and live in happy little town near Houston, Texas. For more on Becky, check out her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.