Today the lovelies at YA Highway are asking: What was the biggest writing/querying/publishing mistake you’ve made? And yes, I can totally answer this question.
You’ve heard that you shouldn’t query or enter contests or do any of that jazz until you have a completed, polished manuscript, right? Well … yeah. Last summer I was working on a complete rewrite of Four Stones at a glacial pace when I got word of an agent-judged pitch contest with an agent who was totally on my radar screen and someone whose tastes ran similar to my book. I figured, “What the hell? It’s not like I’ll win!” and tossed my hat into the ring, even though I only had about half of a first draft at the time. So naturally I got a partial request out of the contest.
I sent out the partial, and then over the course of the next ten days, worked psychotically hard to finish the draft. I went from having 45,000 words at the start to having 95,000 ten days later. I basically didn’t sleep (since I was still waking up in the middle of the night with an infant in those days) and operated on zombie-mode the entire time, but it was done.
The agent ultimately rejected me on my partial, which … duh. It was a first draft. But that didn’t matter. I now had a full draft that was ready for revisions. Had I not entered that contest and been forced to complete the draft, I honestly don’t know whether I would have finished the draft and started revisions in time for the January SCBWI conference, the one where I snagged my agent with my completed, polished second third fourth fifth I can’t even remember at this point draft.
So there you have it. I absolutely broke the rules of querying, but you won’t catch me beating myself up over it. Sometimes a little bending can be a good thing…
What about you? What writing/querying/publishing mistake have you made? Any bent rules?