One fine day, a little over one year ago, I sat down at the laptop and started writing a story. I had never written anything in my life, other than some crappy reports in school. To be honest, I hated to write.
Several months had passed and the manuscript grew longer and longer with each passing day, until one afternoon I had typed the the final words to, not just a story, but a novel.
A friend read the manuscript and insisted I submit it to be published.
I didn’t exactly know how the whole submission process worked. I had read that a Literary Agent was a good way for an unknown author to get his/her inaugural work in front of a potential publisher. So, I queried a few potential agents and within a few weeks I signed a contract. Now, I would sit back and wait for the offers to roll in, or so I thought.
Months had passed without a word from my agent. During the waiting period, I had written and self-published a short story and a novella, with more ideas brewing in my brain.
While self-publishing my works, I had learned a lot about the publishing industry and even more about the writing process itself.
The finest lesson I learned was about a special group of individuals called: Beta Readers.
Before I self-published my short story and novella, these fine folks tore apart my manuscripts, not in a bad way, they had helped to improve the stories immensely.
Beta Readers have now become an important part in my writing process. I transfer their tons of notes, highlighted words/phrases, suggestions and corrections to my grammar and punctuation, onto my MASTER MANUSCRIPT. Each Beta has a predetermined font color and I add all of the colorful notes directly into my manuscript (corresponding with the particular issue). When I have completely transferred all the notes onto the MASTER, it looks quite colorful and pretty with all of those different colored fonts.
A friend noticed my MASTER on my laptop one afternoon and she inquired about it. I explained to her how my manuscript revision method worked. After all the colored Beta comments are posted onto the MASTER, I start at the beginning of the manuscript and address each Beta issue. One at a time, I make my revision or correction and delete the colored Beta comment and move onto the next Beta issue until no colored Beta comments remain on the MASTER. After addressing and deleting all of the Beta issues, my MASTER is a totally revised manuscript.
My friend began to read some of the Beta comments and became extremely offended over comments they had made in regards to my manuscript.
I closed the laptop and immediately changed the subject, not wishing to get into an involved discussion of how their comments made my stories more readable.
Several additional months had passed and still no communication from my Literary Agent about my novel. I sent copies of the novel manuscript to Beta’s for an initial evaluation. WOW! Was I ever impressed with their extensive comments.
After completing a new revision of the manuscript, I sent the improved version off to another round of Beta’s.
Result: the Beta’s suggested the deletion of six entire chapters and in doing so required major modification to the story.
My contract with the Literary Agent had expired, without even an email asking if I wished to extend it.
I have since realized that my involvement with the agency had been a waste of time. The agent had lead me to believe I had an excellent manuscript, ready for publication and the agency would locate the most suitable publisher for my work. In actuality, my manuscript was a piece of shit and needed a tremendous amount of reworking before it could be considered “submission ready”.
On my own initiative, Auf Wiedersehen~Journey to Goodbye has already gone through eight entire rewrites and I have begun the final revision. It’s basically the same story as it was one year ago, but it reads like a real novel now.
Funny how things in our lives change, sometimes over night. Nineteen months ago, I sat down at the laptop to write just one measly story…