The end of the year has left me reflecting on my own writing journey. Like most, it’s still ongoing with plenty of bumps and bruises along the way. Some stops I expected and others had me turned completely around. I’ve learned a ton and I’d like to share my experience with you. At the very least you can get an idea of how things work and how they don’t.
In September 2009, I completed my first young adult fantasy novel. This was a major high for me. I’d never written a novel before so achieving this goal meant everything. Afterwards, I took a break from writing to query agents and learn about social media. This was about the time I started attending writing conferences and taking online courses.
January and February were two tough months for me because that’s when the rejections started to arrive in my email inbox. I’d say over the next several months I received around 35 total. I imagine taking a bullet would feel similar because you’ve invested so much of yourself into a project and it hurts when the response is negative. This was when I found myself at a crossroads. Do I self publish with hopes that the agents/publishers are wrong, shelve my manuscript and move on to another, or quit writing all together?
I went against all my choices and decided to research. I wanted to understand the agency’s decision to decline my novel. I also wanted to get a better understanding of the YA market. So, I went on Amazon and bought every young adult fantasy novel on the NYT bestsellers list. The next several weeks were all about reading the forty or so books I’d purchased. After my reading, I decided that the agents were right. My book wasn’t that interesting. I’d say I had peeks of interest, but not enough to stand out in the crowded YA fantasy market.
By May 2010, I decided to split my time between an idea I had for a book and a website. Through my research into social media, I found that I needed to create an audience for myself. But, how do you develop an audience if you don’t have a published book? I decided to create a website that catered to all the great books I’d been reading and to aspiring writers like me. I teamed up with my fantasy website Yoda, Will Kalif, to create the YA Fantasy Guide.
We decided the website would feature book reviews and recommendations, literary agents and author interviews, articles about writing, and contests. The biggest surprise of the year came from the popularity of the website which has surpassed even my expectations. We’ve been able to land some amazing interviews and really reach out to fans of our genre. Now I’m getting emails from publicist and agents hoping to get their clients featured on my site.
The end of 2010 left on a positive note. I’ve received interest from several agents regarding my second novel. Nothing’s happened yet, but I’m very encouraged. My message to all aspiring writers is to keep moving toward your dream. For most writers, it takes years. My journey started three years ago. Don’t get discouraged by rejections. Instead, focus on your writing and storytelling. Always strive to get better at your craft. Don’t forget to use the information that’s out there and take part in the writing community. If you take anything out of this post then let it be this: Never Give Up!
You can check out some of my other articles for writers here: Articles for Writers