I Begin to Query

This week (so far) I’ve spent the majority of my time researching literary agents and drafting cover letters, in order to start querying my first novel. I’ve been sitting on it for several months, whilst writing my second novel, and I think I’ve done about as much as I can without a helping hand.

My first novel is called The Nothingness and it’s a train-of-consciousness piece of work from an ageing writer who is reflecting on his past. Readers know from the introduction that there’s something not quite right with the writer, and throughout the fiction more is  revealed about the reality of his situation. It’s largely a piece of meta-fiction that aims to be different, yet familiar.

The Nothingness is a tough sell. It’s less than conventional and is technically a short story collection. Which is something that literary agencies tend to stay away from. I have to get across that it’s a full, long-form narrative thread that’s intentionally disguising as a collection of short stories. Madness.

I’ve gotten over the hump of worrying about the inevitable rejection and failure. The way I see it is that I currently don’t have a book published and I certainly don’t have any literary representation. So the absolute worst that could happen is that I’m in the exact same situation I’m in right now. Of course, that’s what I’ve trained myself to think. Here’s a quick insight into what I actually think the worst case scenario is.

  • I begin to query my novel
  • I get no response for a few weeks, which is normal
  • Eventually, a very talented and successful agent emails me and says, “Matt, we’ve read the sample pages of your novel and we just want you to know that you don’t have it. Your story is nonsense and we’re not even sure why you’re even attempting to write for a living. We’ve also saved you the time and trouble of emailing other agencies by personally calling ALL OF THEM IN THE WORLD, to let them know that you’re not quite up to scratch. Have a good day. As good of a day as someone as loathsome as yourself can possibly have, anyway.
  • I say “Fair enough” and then cry for, I don’t know, a year?

I know that’s not how it’ll all go down, but it took me some time to get there. Now I’ve prepared myself for the appropriate, realistic levels of rejection. I know that The Nothingness isn’t 100% ready to hit shelves, and I’m openly receptive to any and all criticism. I’m just looking for some constructive comments into whether or not my “voice” can be marketed. I don’t even want money, I just want people to read my stories. Call it ego, call it arrogance, but that’s where I’m at.

My second novel is much more straight-up genre fiction. It’s post-apocalyptic and follows four people from the USA and UK as they try to piece together exactly what has happened to the rest of humanity. 99% of people suddenly have a violent seizure and die. And 0.9% of people become near-zombified killing machines who’re trying to wipe out the final 0.1% of the species. Four situationally brave, yet terrified, twenty-somethings have to find out why the world suddenly changed, as they each deal with their own personal problems and search for meaning and purpose in a new world.

It’s got action sequences, emotional backstories and interesting journeys. Along with (what I think is) a pretty good twist ending that leads into two sequels that would have a completely different setting to the first, and each other, whilst keeping the same central characters.

When it’s time to start querying my as-yet-untitled second novel, I’m going to be a lot more confident about it. Not just because I’ll have tried, and presumably failed, to achieve representation already. But because I’m more confident in the marketability of the idea. It’s YA fiction for actual adults, like Stephen King’s The Stand.

I’ll probably provide an update in the coming months about where I’m at with querying both books. I’m hoping to finish my second book before the end of June, with edits and redrafts taking place over the summer. But who knows.

My other main goal is to continue writing these daily blog posts. This one is a little bit self-meta, but I had a few thoughts I needed to let out of that sticky part at the back of my brain. Where thoughts about the self can get trapped before they melt together into a toxic ball of self-loathing. I’m trying to keep the content varied between personal opinion, pop-culture reviews and current events. My goal is to write a new one of these every day for a couple of months before I apply to write for websites.

I’m prolific, that’s my one and only actual attribute that I can hopefully convey by keeping a blog. All I want to do all day is write.

I obsess over DIY culture but then lack the ability to easily learn a new skill. So I’m slowly realising that instead of having MY OWN COOL WEBSITE or MY OWN SELF-PUBLISHED NOVEL or MY OWN MOVIE, I need to reach out to the talented people who have the skillsets that I don’t possess.

I just want to show that I can write anything, in my own way, and that multiple people should (maybe, if they want) pay me to write about a variety of things. And if it never happens then it never happens, but it’s time something did. It’s time to unload my mind and my stacks of fiction onto the world. I need to stop hiding, it doesn’t do anyone any good. Unless you’re on the run from the law and in that case you should probably stay hidden.

Although if you’ve done something really serious, can you please come forward. I would imagine that families were hurt by your actions, and closure in itself is a sense of justice. You’ll serve your time, but nobody’s saying you have to fry for it. Thanks.

It’s easy for me to say, because I’ve been gifted this time to follow my useless dreams and passions, but make sure you do that thing you love every day. It keeps your mind fresh, juicy and alive. Being alive is the most important thing you can be, everything else is just window-dressing. Curbing death is a daily struggle, yet here we are; writing and reading some brand new words. I’m proud of you.

This got away from me but they’re good vibes, so I’ll leave them as they are.

Today is Wednesday 16th of May, and your dream-state passions will become realities if you work diligently for them.

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