In hopes that you, the reader, care about what’s happening with my book, I plan to keep writing about where I am in the process, how it’s depressing me and other insignificant facts about my quest to have a published book. Today, the query letter. I hadn’t planned to write one until maybe the end of the year when thought I would have a fully finished manuscript with 80,000 edited words, some relevant chapters and oh yeah, that pesky little thing every book seems to need, a title.
Then I attended Alt Summit and happened upon a round table hosted by Jaime Morrison Curtis the author of My Prudent Advice: Lessons for My Daughter. A real published author. She had an agent and another book in the works and a blog and pretty hair. I was star struck. Recently on a trip to Disneyland, the hubs spotted John Stamos and when he eagerly pointed out this ‘celebrity’, I gave a disinterested “Yep” and asked where the doughnut place was. But a published author who is making a living writing books? My heart was fluttering and my palms were sweaty. Not only was she kind and easy to talk to, but she gave us every piece of information we would need to query an agent, write a book proposal and fine tune our manuscript. Then I heard this come out of her mouth,
“For a non-fiction work you don’t need a completed manuscript. You need a great idea, a good voice and 50 pages that represents your writing. Then you can start querying agents.”
I should have worn Depends because I nearly lost control of my bowels. This information was the complete opposite of everything I had heard. So I asked about that pesky little issue of big publishers not wanting to publish a new writer who hasn’t been on some shitty reality show. “Don’t most new writers self-publish now? I heard that i wouldn’t have a chance in hell of getting published traditionally.” I had been misinformed. While it is very difficult, no doubt, to get a publishing deal, it is possible. She also gave everyone at the table the name of her agent whom she said would be willing to read any of our queries and book proposals. If I hadn’t been afraid of getting hauled off by hotel security, I would have climbed over the table and hugged that woman until she was crying. From pain.
My course changed and I knew it was time to edit what I had written and get to work on writing a query letter that wouldn’t end up as an origami goose. It was a lot of research, hours of writing pointless shit, hundreds of reasons why it wouldn’t work and then, I did it. The 80 pages I had written was edited, I had a query letter and a possible title. Almost immediately after I finished it, fear took over and I sat on it. I went on vacation, drank blended beverages, slept for 11 hours a night and tried to not think about what it all meant. But I couldn’t shut off my stupid brain. All I wanted to do was to sit at my computer and write more, edit more, review my query letter and send it. When I returned home it was waiting for me and once again, I got scared and started telling myself all the reasons why it would never work. It’s not funny enough, it’s not well written , it’s written by a nobody in Utah and honestly who gives two fucks about me projectile vomiting at a dance club in Vegas. Even with all the chatter in my head, I kept writing and editing my letter, just in case there came a day when I had enough self esteem to send it. Then two days ago, I had a writer friend look it over, I read it to my husband and I did the scariest thing…..I sent it off.
Today, it’s back to work. Twelve weeks is a long time to wait to find out if anyone will read it, use it to house train their turtle or put it on a sarcastic agent website to be ridiculed by millions of people. While it feels pretty cool that I sent it, it feels even cooler that I’m not obsessing about it. It makes me feel like a real writer for the first time since I started this whole process 15 months ago. It’s not one and done, it’s one and keep moving forward. It’s a baby step here, a stumble there and days filled with writing. I don’t know what next year holds, but today I am a writer. Today I move toward the next article or blog post and I keep working, even when the chatter tells me I’m not good enough to be a writer. That chatter needs to shut the fuck up cause I have work to do.