I finished my novel today.
I’ve spent the past several weeks making final changes to the manuscript, which exists in electronic form as a Microsoft Word document on my laptop computer. I thought of a few additional changes and additions, but decided instead to let it go. Fifteen years is enough time to work on and mull over a project before finally cutting it loose.
The next step in the grueling process is to compose a query letter. After the query letter is ready, I’ll have to figure out who to send it to. I think I’ll try multiple queries, perhaps ten or twelve. Out of that many, I might get a response or two. If anyone responds, my greatest hope is that they’ll ask for sample chapters or perhaps even the entire manuscript.
In the meantime, I might print out the finished product and let someone I know read it. I’ve allowed several people to read bits and pieces of it over the years, but that was during early drafts and so doesn’t really count any longer. I’d like for someone to read through the entire thing and give me a general impression. Other authors might wait until they get feedback from a test reader, but I don’t want to take the time for that. Most other authors probably haven’t spent as much time on their novels as I have on this one.
I’ve checked out several Web sites that cater to writers and agents. One thing that’s scary for me is that I had trouble determining my novel’s genre on pick lists. The only one that seemed to fit is “Commercial Fiction.” Commercial fiction is any fiction that is not literary fiction. My novel is not literary because it is not high-minded, deeply psychological, or perplexingly difficult to understand. It’s just a story about a bunch of people in a small town trying to have some fun and, in the process, outdo other small towns. Not much psychology or high mindedness in that.
I wrote a query letter some years ago that resulted in a book contract. That query was many pages long. The query letter for my novel will be one page in length. Very often, short queries are more difficult to compose than long ones. Distilling a dozen important ideas into a salutation, three paragraphs, and a signature, can be extremely hard and exasperating. It must be done, though. There is no recourse.
I hope to have a query letter prepared by tomorrow and some targets identified. I’ll announce who the recipients are and will track the progress of my queries here.