“The Best Advice I Ever Received” — Rebekah Ganiere
After I wrote my first three books at 150,000 words a piece and each taking me only a month to write, I decided to head to a convention to see if I could land an agent. My husband took me to the San Francisco Writer’s Conference and at that time I was confident that my first book was so great I would get an agent right away. Man was I in for a surprise.
Going to that writer’s conference was the best decision I ever made and honestly I think it put me ahead of the curve with other new writers. That particular conference is put on by agents. All the panels and workshops are done by agents. Every word you hear is out of the mouth of a top notch agent. And because of that the standards are high and the information they give you is amazing and heartbreaking.
You hear all the things you are doing wrong. You hear how they get upwards of 300 queries a day and take on less than 5 new clients a year. You hear how not to start a book. You listen to them rip first pages apart. You are told to not use adverbs, to show not tell, don’t use passive voice and above all, stand out. Things that as a new writer you don’t always know.
But along with your dreams being crushed, you also learn one very important lesson.
In a world where we as artists want nothing more than to show our beautiful babies to the world and have them praised in all of their glory, we need to learn that our babies aren’t beautiful without a lot of time and effort.
When I say slow down I don’t mean write slower, I mean take the time to do the necessary edits so that your baby will really shine. Write your story, then let it sit. Edit it. Then edit it again. Find all your crutch words and over used phrases. Make sure you show don’t tell. You don’t have passive voice. You hit all the plot points in the right spots. You have a true blackest moment. Think about your pacing and do character sheets. And then… edit some more.
I tend to edit three to four times minimum before I send my book to at least two critique partners and an editor. After I get it back from them I incorporate their suggestions and then edit again. Possibly another time afterward. Then after that I send it to a minimum of three beta readers. And then incorporate their notes.
All in all, I spend a lot of time editing. Anywhere from 3-12 months. Does that seem like a lot? Maybe. But when you think about it, there is a ton of competition to get an agent or a contract. Yes, there are a lot of not so great manuscripts but yours has to be stellar to stand out and garner attention. You can’t just throw something together and expect someone to want to represent it. Why? Because they are looking at every single tiny facet of the book. Not just the plot, story, theme and characters. They are looking at marketability, salability, time involved in helping polish it, and a thousand other things and then weighting the money they will make from it verses the time they have to put into it.
There are a million pieces of advice I’ve gotten that have helped push me forward and move me on as an author. But the one I would give is: do you very best. Books are eternal. There is no time limit on when they have to be published. So take your time and make sure your book is the greatest it can be before it goes out.
Rebekah is an Award Winning Bestselling Author currently writing six series. Her trilogy The Society was released by Kensington in 2014 and her new series Shifter Rising is releasing in 2016 from Samhain Press. Her Fairytale Retelling series Fairelle is with Fallen Angel Press.
Rebekah is the President Elect of the FF&P Chapter. In her spare time when she isn’t writing you can find her teaching on SavvyAuthors.com or RWA. Rebekah cosplays with her kids and is a guest speaker and panelist at San Diego Comic Con, WonderCon and Salt Lake Comic Con and several other Comic Cons on the west coast as well as LTUE, RT, RWA, and AAD.