Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dust it off - Part 3

So, this is a super cool idea!  Cortney Pearson has set up this fantastic bloghop to get us to look back at shelved manuscripts.  In this third and final part of the blogfest we need to talk about what we've learned from that shelved MS.

In my case, I would have to say: everything.

When I finished Assignment 9, I knew nothing about queries, agents, critique partners, beta readers and publishers.  I wrote THE END and figured I was done.  Um...  yeah.  Right.

I entered the book in a contest which, unsurprisingly, I didn't win.  While searching around for other contests to enter with it, I discovered and joined.  This began my learning curve.  I joined a couple of critique groups and through them, I learned so much about what I was doing wrong.  I learned to accept that my writing wasn't perfect, and that fresh eyes are so, so valuable.  I learned about revising and revised the book extensively.  Many times over.

About a year later I was ready to send the book out into the world, for real this time.  I wrote some bonecrushingly awful query letters and received a lot of bonecrushing rejections.  I did some more revising and entered the book into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  Surprisingly, I made the semi-finals which buoyed my hopes.

I wrote more awful query letters and got more rejections.

I did more revising.

I entered ABNA again and this time got cut in the second round.

By this time, I'd written two more novels, each better than this one.  After 34 rejections and 3 contest losses, I decided Assignment 9 needed to be trunked.  It will always be a story I love, and the characters are some of my favorites I've ever created, but it's not a great book.  It's YA, but the protagonist is 18 and at college for part of the book and 10 for the other part of the book so it doesn't fit easily into the age-group.

But even if no one else ever reads it, I will always be grateful to this book for teaching me how to navigate the publishing world, and most importantly, for introducing me to my wonderful critique partners.  I cannot imagine my life without them.  So thank you Casey, Mark, Alan, Jason and Rick for making that journey with me.  And I'm sorry I've locked you away in the depths of my hard-drive.  But sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.


  1. I haven't gotten past the revision stage for my Dust It Off project. But since I'm querying another and go through that big learning curve, I'll know better what to do when my shelved project is ready.

  2. I agree that beta readers/critique partners are so important.
    This bloghop was such a great experience: looking back at what we learned and reading others' posts.

  3. I agree with you totally. I've learned so much with our critique group, and my book changed a lot since I started getting feedback from other writers who made me see my story from other perspectives. Priceless. Good luck with your new novels!

  4. So many good points! And congrats on being a semi-finalist in one of those contests! I've never entered my work into a contest before. You're so right about critique groups/partners. I wouldn't be where I am writing-wise without mine! Thanks so much for participating with us, it was great to learn more about your project. I love that even though it's shelved, it's still a huge part of us. :D

  5. Excellent blogpost! It makes me think of my own wretched first novel, poor dreadful little MSS that it is. I, like you, learned a lot from it, but I'll never inflict it on anyone besides my ownsister, who had to read the first few chapters.

    Poor girl!

  6. My first manuscript I entered into ABNA and actually made it to the second round. When I received my two critiques it was a real punch in the gut. One was nice the other not so much. That was over four years ago and I still have the page announcing the next round winners on my fridge. lol.

    I love how you sum it up to what you have learned as Everything. It's so true. There is so much to learn as a writer and I feel like we never stop learning. Thanks for hopping with us :)

  7. Everything...seems that's how it happens with some books. LOL.