My Writing and Publishing Journey Continues!

Hello Readers!

As I sit here watching the time, I realize just how much time has gone by. Nearing the end of summer for 2022 I realize that time is actually an enemy to most of us writers. Also fighting against deadlines or running out of time. Newbie writers like me are stuck in “querying hell” (like many of you out there right now) waiting for that life changing call or email after sending numerous query letters out.

All newbie writers hope for something positive to happen so we can continue to justify our existence and this exercise in creating novels.

It can be downright frustrating after receiving so many rejections and waiting months only to find out your story wasn’t good enough for the agent didn’t see it as a fit. Sound familiar?

As a first time writer, rejection and frustration is expected but it does hurt I will admit and there seems to be no path forward at times.

I’m now a couple months into my querying process and what I have discovered is that there is always more work to do when it comes to a manuscript. I’ve made some mistakes too, I won’t lie.

Getting an Agent seems more like fantasy than the novel I’m writing

The most frustrating part (the waiting) is finding an agent. Getting an agent is such an important step that without it you literally cannot pursue your dreams of publishing your book any further (unless your try self-publishing which is very expensive given all the costs and not a reality for most of us struggling people).

The worst part is that without control and a path to our own success many of us writers will think about giving up and stop writing which is not what the industry needs nor what we as writers want to do but inevitably, there are a lot who will give up. No one ever talks about that fact because it is seen as negative or non-productive but it is a reality some of us are facing.

I’m not giving up however as I believe that my story is strong enough and my drive as a writer will persist. Things continue to evolve and my story I feel is a great one. At least to me.

I will admit thought, that the thought of giving up has crossed my mind many times this year. Publishing seems to have too many barriers to entry and success for debut authors right now at the time of me writing this article.

The obstacles are immense because not only do you have to write a great story by using and learning all of the the tools and story telling knowledge out there but you also have to get recognized and have great prose. Those are only the beginning skills. You also have to have great marketing. Having a great idea doesn’t help but developing into a full manuscript that fits what your original vision was can be daunting. Your story has to be so good that unless your story resonates with the actual individual agents at all, you won’t get noticed and story dies at the doorstep. In the end everything is subjective and sometimes perfection is really what they are looking for. So a bit of luck too doesn’t hurt.

It doesn’t help that right now because the market is so crowded, Agents and editors don’t have time and resources to HELP you finish or make your novel better. You have to do everything yourself.

Thats a sobering reality right now.

Some of the reasons why breaking in is hard right now

One of the reasons this is so hard right now is that the marketplace is flooded with authors left over from COVID19 isolation that all decided to write something while off during that isolation. The perfect writing environment, isolated and lots of time to think producing a lot of writing and artistic works during the 2020/2021 period. This is all just now coming to market, having been developed and produced in 2022. Add on top of that a vast number of people looking to break into writing and a wage disparity and inequality as well as an industry that is notoriously slow to begin with, it’s a recipe for frustration for newbies.

There is also the other employment issues of overworked editors, agents, managers and printing press people who are being asked to work the hardest they have ever been just to keep up with the demands. Put on top of that a paper supply shortage problem and you have one really tough year for the industry.

We are also talking about people’s lives and the priority shifts and in the modern age things move fast. People have so many responsibilities and financial obligations than ever before. Working is actually being re-defined in the context of mental health, workplace safety and work life balance. Peoples individuals are being taken more into account to allow people to start down unhealthy working paths. Everyone is different which makes this a very hard thing to accommodate everyone which is also another reason business is having a tough time. It makes sense that we take a moment and address it, slow down a bit and figure things out for the future otherwise things could get even worse. That seems to make sense but its not happening everywhere and the old drivers of greed, corruption and power are still there in the backgrounds, pushing and pulling.

The problems of the workforce and the drive for greed is catching up with us and setting a definitive path for failure in our society. In publishing this has raised the bar so high that only the rich, elite, special interests or nepotism can seem to get anything published in great quantity. The repercussions of not leveling the playing field for the indie titles, the disabled authors or lesser known debut writer or even midlisters (much like the middle class) will start to cause an extinction in the publishing realm if not properly addressed of which is starting to happen now but at a snails pace.

One driver is also on part of the customer. Everyone loves to collect rare books and stories but due to publishing constraints in availability of numbers of books causing limited print runs, it makes certain books rare. Who doesn’t like rare books? The ones trying to afford to buy one… but what happens when we become an entirely exclusive society where even the middle class can’t afford certain books or gain access to them? Doesn’t that drown out indie and midlist authors who want to sell books and also have a voice?

I suppose reprints solves this issue but it only does so once the paper shortage is over. Distribution exclusivity is another evil but a topic I don’t know much about at present but have heard of problems there as well. Keep in mind, most of my information comes from other YouTube videos and things I read online. I’m still very much new in terms of learning this industry.

The Agent-Editor problem

One large problem is that editors are overwhelmed with work (or so i’ve heard) that they simply don’t have time to help up and coming authors edit and refine their manuscripts like they use to. Agents therefore become more picky, expecting a lot more from authors on querying before they even read anything because they get thousands of queries a month. There have also been a lot of job restructuring and resignations this year.

This is a very bad situation in publishing that needs fixing soon. It can be fixed. Hire more editors and Agents and pay them well to give them a good work life balance so they stay working comfortably either from home or otherwise. Not everyone can live in New York either. A lot of this is taking place already. Seems reasonable doesn’t it?

Writing and the Arts importance in society

Art (and writing) is so important to the driving force behind innovation and creativity that it can’t be left to rot. Without investing in the arts, which create tremendous value to the economy is all kinds of spin-offs in monetary ways, our society would start to change in a negative way. Art and writing is one area that typically teaches, unifies, inspires, and motivates people in their own lives. It’s important that new Art and literature remain available to all and continually financed and authors get paid.

Without support, Artists and writers struggle. As it stands now, most writers either have a day job or have a spouse or other forms of income and don’t rely on writing income to sustain them. How can they when the income from writing is almost like winning the lottery however all the crazy payment structures of the so called ‘Advance’ are spread out over multiple years in small payments while the publishers get rich off of breakout novels, floating all the boats of the authors at the same time which means authors are not well off except for the top 10% or high dollar sign book deals of which all authors dream about.

What about Royalties?

Royalties only come into play when your book has been selling a TON of copies. i mean millions of books. Most authors only make around 10-12% generally on royalties going through traditional publishing. You can try to negotiate for more but the publishers have this down to a science. There’s no magic formula unless your book is timely on the market, edited, marketed and written well and also resonates with readers to such a degree that it becomes a hit to see those large dollar signs.

The reality is that most artists or writers will never make it on their own and some even will die before seeing anything of their work get to such high accomplishments (Vincent van Gogh comes to mind).

Some may just leave the arts because the Business of art and writing is simply too difficult to succeed in today’s market place. That sounds pessimistic I know. Not a vision I like to think about but there is some truth to it. I write about this not to scare or deter writers and artists but to send a wake up call to the powers that be that have the money and resources, including publishers, and are considering not further financially supporting new artists and writers. I beg you, reconsider and support up and coming as well as midlister writers. Make it better for all levels of artists and writers again.

The old myth about struggling artists

Some have argued in the past that the artist’s struggle is what creates a great artist. To some extent that may have been true in certain cases however current times and extremes are at their breaking limit for people and some are literally dying just to make a decent living let alone produce and market good art or writing. This has always been the arts downside. Things are better than they were in some respects but some are still struggling. We all have to eat, cloth and put a roof over our heads and that is getting more expensive by the day.

Just to be clear (In my opinion), it’s the experiences that person has and the vantage point or awareness mixed with creativity that creates great art, not the suffering itself. No one should have to truly suffer to be a great artist. Its outdated and destructive thinking.

One thing is clear, an artist can’t thrive without support from patrons and an income because let’s face it, except for the top 10% in society many artists do not survive or breakthrough enough to earn a living at what they do. If they do, most of them are overworked, undervalued and never achieve a proper work-life balance thus losing many great works of art or culture due to the constraints of the social economic structures we have.

Update on my Book

Now that I’ve got that small rant out of my system, let’s talk about my progress.

It’s been several months now and I’ve just got back most of the queries I had sent out. All rejections. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Even the Youtubers and publishing experts are now creating Frustration videos on how bad things are in the publishing world lately.

As a writer and first time author I did expect some level of rejection but the sheer amount and time diligently taken to query trying to “get in the heads” of agents has been exhausting. Frankly, I may be going about this all wrong.

Not only that but from everything I’ve heard it seems as if it’s a case of bad timing. 2022 has seen the most amount of books trying to get published than any other year for the simple reason of backlog and the pandemic. Everyone and their dog apparently wrote something during the pandemic and are now trying to get it published.

This isn’t just limited to books. Comic books are hitting crazy numbers of new issues and all of that takes printing. The printing presses (i’ve heard) are running full tilt everywhere and there are delays after delays of those printings too.

So where does that leave me? Well it’s not all out of my control.

I’ve come to realize that my manuscript needs a bit more work and polish (and some downright rewrites in parts).

After the rejections, its clear that there are a few things wrong but they weren’t obvious at first.

You see, as writers we should be allowed to fail a few times before getting it right but that shouldn’t mean throwing away your first book and starting over. thousands of hours of work should not be wasted.

The problem with the industry is, they don’t give you feedback of areas where you are failing and why didn’t feel your book was a right fit. what does the book need? Agents? Did you like or dislike the query letter premise? Was there something wrong with the opening chapter? If wordcounts were a bit too long why didn’t you tell me (that’s not easy to fix but easier than being too short)?

I say Agents shouldn’t be scared to give generalized feedback if they are going to reject something. Anything less isn’t helpful to authors, even if it means authors get upset at first reaction, then have time to think about and process those rejections.

Without knowing where we need to improve authors will keep making the same mistakes.

For us authors, it’s a hard realization that makes you question wanting to even try to become an author when you get a rejection that does tell you how you are sucking. How the heck did I not see certain things in my manuscript that needed changing?

And yet every author has been there at some point and we all need to go through the mental and physical learning process.

Agents and Editors, please try to understand we need support, time and feedback in this process if we are to get better.

Update: I’m writing my Fifth Draft?

Like everyone else, having another pair of eyes on your work makes sense however there are problems when you don’t have that many people to trust for reading your manuscript and then offering proper feedback in a way that is helpful. It’s simply hard to find good readers and critique partners. I’m still looking for a good group myself these days. A group that is both helpful and trustworthy is hard to come by.

P.S. if you know any facebook or other social media middle-grade fantasy critique groups that have a lot of experienced published authors on them that are looking for new members, please get in touch with me in the contact section. I’d love to hear from you!

But I have realized my manuscript does in fact need a fifth draft before being “ready” for agents.

Could this be why i’m getting rejections? Possibly. There are a lot of things in the manuscript that needed changing to make it more smooth and flawless that i’m just now realizing about my own work.

It wasn’t easy to come to this realization because the lack of feedback from agents left me hanging without a path forward. Only one agent ever gave me a smallest of hints of a way to perhaps fix something in the manuscript.

She was very helpful in that regard and I thanked her for her time and consideration for doing that. It really did help and that is the type of things that other agents need to make time to do, even if its just a brief impression from the rejection. It helps authors get pointed in the right direction. We can take it from there.

No manuscript will ever be perfect and I don’t think that should be the bar writers have to set for themselves. I also don’t think Agents should expect perfect manuscripts either. Its unrealistic and damaging to the industry.

The best you can hope for is that someone likes your manuscript enough to be able to turn pages and get engaged in the story and characters that they are able to finish the book. That is a good book.

One other tip, Most buyers buy for the cover and the books jacket cover description of the story, authors don’t ever let them down with a bad story because they will never buy another book from you.

Change is hard

Back to my fifth draft…I needed to make changes. I can’t tell you exactly what those are but I can say that the first 30 pages and the hook needed a bit of work as well as another round of line by line editing and word count reductions.

The story itself and the world building is solid so no changes there and I’ve now made most of those changes hoping they will be received and make sense to the rest of the story.

The intro now has a proper bookend for the setup and reason to keep reading however I am debating on shortening my intro even more till the inciting incident but I love the setup the way it is now even though it is a tad longish.

Will this be the last time I change the beginning of the book? Probably not.

Writing is rewriting however at some point you have to let go and get professional eyes on the manuscript.

This is where the point of the article comes full circle to my original introduction about the industry and artists and writers struggles.

For now I am continuing to look over my manuscript and try to spot errors, shorten prose and reduce that word count in hopes that I can shrink it from 106,500 words down to about 85,000 words. Its an enormous task to say the least. I actually found myself writing more words!

Another possible problem with the Industry and not recognizing longer Story Structures

As many of you might know, I first wrote this story as a screenplay and transformed it into a novel.

That process took a very long time but I learned a lot from screen writing that helps writers of novels. Learning to structure and condense the story while keeping on track throughout. The result is a pretty good structure and story telling method. the downside is that because this was my first crack at it, the story structure i adhered to tended to lengthen the screenplay and consequently the novel a bit.

My opinion is that this presented a much better story overall however the industry doesn’t see that for a debut author.

They have word count limits. In screenwriting you have page count limits where each page is approx. 1 minute of screen time.

For my screenplay i started out with 208 pages on the rough and first draft. It then became 160 pages after several edits.

When I converted the screenplay to a novel I found myself having to add a lot in order to smooth out certain stories and arcs as well as lay in description (of which you don’t generally do much in screenplays as its all what the characters see). There was also the internal voices of certain characters. You see screenplays do not tell thoughts and feelings, only what you see.

I don’t blame the story structure. In fact most of these structures are wildly good and have been helpful in understanding storytelling.

This added a lot of pages and material and over the course of my edits I have gotten this down to (as of the beginning of the 5th draft) 440 pages with 106,500 words.

Ideally a middle-grade fantasy novel is in the 75,000 to 85,000 word count range according to online sources. Children don’t tend to read a lot and they don’t like too many pages. Chapters are a good way to break a novel up however and so my book uses 39 Chapters in total (originally 40 but hate to deep six the prologue).

My next goals are to go through line by line (currently almost at 100 pages again of editing) shrink unnecessary sentences and reduce word counts where possible. I may even have to edit some scenes if they are too long. There are a few chapters which have info dumps of which some of which are necessary and some are not.

Editing Tricks and Tips I’ve learned (and sharing with you)

Trick One: One thing I learned is that when I first started writing the novel, I had the font set up as size 14. Most normal and industry standard size is 12 (any font) for the novel. Once I changed this back to 12 I was able to shrink my page counts in my novel from over 550 pages down to 440. This was a relief as I was starting to think I had failed as a writer.

Trick Two: Search through your manuscript for adjectives or descriptions where the word “of” appears. You’d be amazed at how many sentences are too long with descriptions containing the word “of”.

Trick Three: Search character names where you have a character with more than one word names. Do you really need to say their full names every time? How about a one word nickname? Saves a lot of words.

Trick Four: I thing I learned from screenwriting was to start your scene in further and end your scene shorter. This can sometimes allow you to hack off or cut your scenes description or dialogue shorter however make sure you don’t lose important information or key milestones in the story while doing so. This can save a few words.

Trick Five: Use Grammarly. The free version is pretty good but the premium version can rework your sentences for clarity and give suggestions for better ways to phrase things. If you are a wind bag like me, this can help you.


Writers should keep writing and artists keep creating but I hope things change for the better for everyone in terms of reaching your goals and gaining success. If your stuck in the trenches like me, don’t worry you are not alone. Let’s hope things improve in the industry and that the backlog of content clears and the playing field levels a bit for debut authors. Let’s also hope that we don’t let perfection or someone’s bad decision to not go forward with your book stop you from writing more or trying to get it published because everyone deserves a chance. As long as you are going to work hard, take everything everyone is giving you as advice and self analyze a bit, staying true to your core story, you will succeed.

I am going to keep going for now because I am to and hopefully soon I will have good news to share (and a fifth draft completed and ready for agents).

Stay happy, positive and creative!

I will see you on the next article!



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