First off, I’d like to encourage everyone to go check out Dan Streib’s author page on Amazon. He writes thrillers with a James-Bond-meets-Anderson-Cooper main character, and seriously, who among you doesn’t want to see Anderson Cooper pilot a car-boat through Venice?
Next, I’d like to fill everyone in on my current project situation. The Curse Merchant is sitting pretty in its third draft, courtesy of the valuable input I received from my beta readers. I’d send you each a canned ham, but most of you are vegetarians. I’m (almost) ready to begin pitching Curse Merchant to agents.
Hold up there. Almost ready. I’ve decided I want to run the manuscript under the nose of a professional editor first. Why? Well, it’s actually quite obvious. Literary agents only want to see the best possible manuscript you can provide. It was never a question of whether my manuscript would benefit from freelance editing. The only question was how much I am willing to invest into this manuscript. I have a high amount of faith in The Curse Merchant. Money is still a question, but I have reached the point where I’m ready to hear numbers. To that end, I have a conference call next week with an editor with experience at Simon & Schuster to discuss my manuscript. This is for copy-editing, mind you. I’ll see what she has to say, and make my decision at that point.
But this does leave me in a sort of holding pattern, writing-wise. Rather than sit on my creative assets, I’ve decided to begin pre-writing the next big project. What is the next big project, you may ask? Well, until recently, it was going to be the Curse Merchant sequel. I even posted about it a couple times.
Then I read some invaluable advice from literary agent Mandy Hubbard, by way of her Twitter feed. She spent several tweets last week discussing the folly of writing a series before you’ve sold the first book. Frankly, it opened my eyes to a bit of publishing reality.
I am, at my core, a world builder. I enjoy creating supersettings. My most fabulous, over-arching milieu is so dear to me, that I refuse to write the first novel set in that universe out of sheer terror I’d screw it up. Also: I’m somewhat neurotic. This means that I tend to write for future books. Which is great from the point of view of an editor. They love genre series. However, until you’ve sold your first book, you don’t know how the first book will end up. In the process after that magical moment when you are offered representation by a literary agent, and that mythical moment when the book is accepted by a Big 6 publisher, and that point of nirvana at which you realize your novel in print…
…there’s a lot of editing to do. Hell, the title is likely to change, much less treatment of character, or the survival of specific subplots and even major plot points. Writing a sequel is a fool’s bet, because you don’t know what the publisher likes about your book yet. You don’t know how the book will read yet. All of the work I would spend on writing The Curse Merchant’s Principle could amount to spitting in the wind.
So, what should I do? Outline the book (done), then move on. Thus, I come to my next project. I’m not going to divulge too much at this point, as I’m still outlining, but I will say that it is a horror/western. For anyone who has read my work, this should send your extremities to tingling.
So, until next week when I hope to report good news on the copy-edit front, I wish you happy trails pilgrim, and always go for the headshot!
Image credit: phanlop88
J.P., you’re very wise to run your work past a professional editor, and I don’t say this because I am a professional editor. I’m also a writer and I know how caught up we can get in our stories–to the point that we miss the mechanics and sometimes lose some consistency. I know that editors/agents appreciate a well-crafted manuscript and not just in the creative sense, but also in the mechanical sense. You won’t regret it. Best of luck to you!