One of the biggest things I have learned through writing and editing my novel, Coyote Dreams, over the last two years is that a good story is worth the time it takes to polish it. Writing the first draft was an exhilarating adventure. I thrilled at each new twist that unfolded on my screen. Typing 'The End' was a big moment, worthy of the happy dance. However, I've since discovered that writing those two powerful words is somewhat of an oxymoron, since finishing a first draft is actually just the beginning of all the real work.
First, I read it over and made what edits/corrections I could see. Then I sent it out to several readers who sent it back full of enough red marks that I feared its wounds might be fatal. I made the needed edits again and sent it out for a second read. Thankfully I've been blessed with some readers who have a very good eye and were willing to teach me how to be a better writer. These are the edits I'm just now finishing. Huge thanks to Renee Miller and Rita & TJ Webb for this one. Don't know them? Well, you should:
Soon, I'll send it out for one last read with a new set of readers to get their input. Perfecting my synopsis and query letter will be the focus while I wait. When I get those last reads back, I'll fix whatever I missed (and ignore whatever suggestions I don't agree with).
My goal is to be done by the end of April and research which agent to send my work to. It would be a wasted stamp to send my YA novel to someone who specializes in, say, romance. There is a love triangle in my book, but it’s a first kiss, not the whole she-bang.
I hope to get my first letter back from agents by the end of June. I know most will probably be rejection letters because everyone gets them. I think the key to keeping up moral is to have a plan on what to do with them. I'm going to follow Steven King's lead and spear the things on a nail.
While I wait for someone to accept my manuscript, I'll resume work my next story, Firebug, work on the farm over the summer, and begin the whole process again.
If I had been impatient and thrown my story out there before taking the time to polish it, then rejections would have been guaranteed, and the time invested, wasted.
The time was well spent. When Coyote Dreams goes out, I'll know that it is a story worth reading.