Compare that to my first novel. The day I completed my first draft I practically threw open my living room window and shouted down to anyone that would listen that I had just written a novel. I thought for sure that in a few short months my creation would be available in bookstores around the world, because how could it not be? Because I had written a beautiful, polished, ready-to-query piece of first draft art.Because getting a book published would be simple, right? RIGHT?
Here, in numbers, is a little comparison between my first and second novels:
Novel 1 Novel 2
Months spent writing the first draft: 3 24
Quality of first draft on a scale of 1 to 10: -6 7
# of queries sent before starting revisions: 10 (ack!) 0
# of Beta readers who reviewed before sending MS to agents: 0 (ack!) 4
Months spent revising before (re)submitting to agents: 21 3
# of Beta readers reviewing before sending MS to more agents: 6 tbd
Hours spent day dreaming about NYTs Best Seller List: 1,023,848 132 (so far...)
Net, when it's all said and done, it took me about the same time to write each story when you factor in revisions. The biggest difference has been my attitude once I completed my latest and greatest. I know I need to walk a way for a while before I take another look at it. I know that I should not query a single agent/editor until it's been vetted through beta readers and gone through several rounds of edits. And I know that even if it gets picked up by a publishing house tomorrow, it still won't hit store shelves for another two years. Because the process is long and takes patience. And it's worth the wait. So why risk it by skipping steps?
Am I still excited? Hell yes. Am I still going to dream about best seller lists? F*ck yeah. What's the point of writing if you can't dream, right? I'm just a little more tempered in my approach these days.
How about you guys? Have any first novel first draft submission "don'ts" you wish you could erase?