Friday, May 06, 2011

We're still in it to win it

It's nearly the end of our semesters (Michelle's last final is on the 13th and mine is this Monday).  Our goal was to have 21 out of the 27 chapters completed by the end of Michelle's semester, so it's still conceivable that we'll make that goal.  We currently have 20 chapters completed. 

I recently compiled the official list of all of the agents that we will query first, and that made this suddenly feel very real.  All of them are top notch agents who have represented best sellers and gotten 6-7 figure deals for first time novelists.  We would be blessed if any one of them decides to take us on.  I can only imagine how nerve wracking it will be to actually send out our query letters to all of these amazing people.

Moreover, since we have the completion of the novel in sight (if all goes as planned, the entire first draft will be completed by May 30th and it will be edited by June 20), I decided to start planning who will attend our "first read book club."  That is, once we have the book "finished," we want some of our friends to give it a once over to look for any plot holes, areas of confusion, any other other obvious problems.  There are a lot of great people that we'd like to read the book, but Michelle & I made the decision to limit the readers to people who would actually be able to attend our meeting where we discuss the book.  This eliminated anyone outside of this area (sorry Carlie & Nik!).  We intend to have our book club on Wednesday, July 6th which is exactly 2 months from now.  After that meeting we can incorporate any final edits that are necessary based on the feedback, and once that's done, we're ready to send off our query letters.

While I have many friends who are very supportive of our endeavor (which I am very thankful for), I still find it amazing how many people look at me like I've just declared that I'm running off with the circus when I tell them that I'm writing a novel.  Max & I have discussed this, and we've come to the conclusion that many people see the idea of trying to be a novelist as equivalent to trying to be an actor -- unlikely to bear any fruit.  While it's true that the vast majority of novelists never become billionaires like J.K. Rowling, it is quite possible to eke out a small living by writing novels, even if they never become best sellers.  I think what people don't realize is that when you sell your novel to a respectable publisher (*fingers crossed*), they give you an advance against sales (anywhere from $8,000-$1,000,000 for a first novel, but realistically in the $10,000-$50,000 range for our genre).  Michelle & I didn't even realize this when we started writing -- we started writing because we were passionate about the story -- but I just want to emphasize that I'm not some sort of kook, hitching my cart to a star.

The weird thing is that I'm usually not an overly confident person.  I've always gotten great grades and great feedback from all the jobs I've had, but I'm always afraid that this next thing I do will be the thing that I'll fail at.  I'm not a nervous wreck or anything, but it's this twinge of worry that never leaves me that propels me forward (and it's why I've always been so successful).

Writing a novel, then, should imbue me with a huge amount of terror because I could spectacularly fail at this.  I've never done any professional creative writing, and it's all speculative until you sell the damn thing.  However, I am amazingly calm about this.  I love our story, and I know that we are putting in the effort (serious blood, sweat and tears) to make this thing a success.  Not only have we spent hundreds of hours on writing/editing the book itself, I've spent at least 80 hours on researching agents, learning about how to write query letters, marketing a novel, and anything else relevant to the publishing world.  Is it really so crazy that after all this effort, Michelle & I could sell our novel?  I don't think so.

It secretly makes me smile inside when people act like we're crazy for doing this because I think to myself how foolish these people are going to feel for doubting us when our novel is finally published.  I imagine the look on that person's face when I tell them that our book will be released on such-and-such a date.  It makes me giddy.  The catch is that for this fantasy to come true, someone has to actually want to publish our novel.  I sure hope that happens because I literally can't imagine a future in which it doesn't.