Friday, August 19, 2011

My Path to Publication- Part One

I published a book.  It’s a story-within-a-story (within a story) called THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS.  But despite all the things I’d like to share about the layered story-telling in my book, I have a different tale to tell you now: the story of how this book came to be.

Rather than go with traditional publishing, I chose to self-publish.  It’s not a decision I made lightly.  I did many things before I went down this path…

Step 1: I wrote a novel.  Now to be clear, I am not talking about THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS, I’m talking about the first novel I wrote, FATE’S GUARDIAN, a 120,000-word paranormal thriller.

Step 2: I queried and was rejected.  Eventually I earned a request for a partial from a popular agent. Unfortunately he didn't request the full manuscript.  But I gained something from the experience: great feedback and inspiration to keep trying.  

Step 3: The experience also forced me to swallow a bitter pill: I needed to re-write FATE’S GUARDIAN from scratch.  I started into that process, and was amazed at how much better my second attempt was.  I was learning, and practicing hard to get better at the craft.  I was a writing machine.  I even started writing a new book, a satire about the end of the world.  I woke up early to work on FATE’S GUARDIAN, and I worked on EARTH’S END in the evenings.

Step 4: I read news that a long-time children’s book editor had come on board with a reputable New York agency.  I dusted off a 500-word picture book manuscript I had written for my children years before, a silly little story about a boy named RUDY TOOT-TOOT.  Rudy was born on a bean farm, and he had a special talent.  Something someone who eats beans everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner would be expected to do.  He can fart.

The query and manuscript caught the agent’s attention.  She liked the premise, but thought there wasn’t enough to it.  It was worthy of something more; Rudy’s toots needed real plot consequences.  She advised I try to expand it and stay in touch.

Step 5: Several thousand words later I had a fledgling chapter book.  I queried again, and was offered representation…but with a caveat.  While I was on the right track, my story still felt like a small part of a larger work, and my agent asked if I could put more into it.

Mornings and evenings were dedicated to Rudy, and after 13,000 more words I thought I had it.  Rudy had moments of literary glory, moments of humor, and moments of learning.  What it didn’t have was cohesion.  I was trying to be too many things, and my agent told me as much.

Step 6: They say real writers re-write, and since I hope to be a real writer one day, that’s exactly what I did.  I followed my agent’s advice and my gut instinct and found the voice of the story, fixed character inconsistencies, removed an anti-climax and wrote a great ending.  I had it critiqued, and my readers thought it was ready.  My agent agreed, and RUDY TOOT-TOOT went on submission. 

Click here for Part Two: The Arrival of Cinder Clouds...

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19 comments:

kdrausin said...

Seriously, you're going to make me wait for Part Two? Your writing journey sounds a lot like mine... except for the agent part. I'm still working on that one.

Rick Daley said...

Yep. Part Two is coming on Tuesday. I already wrote it, but it's a strategic timing for the release. It's all part of my master plan...

Sharon said...

Truly amazed at your not so hidden talents, that as your sister I feel quite embarassed that I didn't know you were really this talented??!!

Anne Gallagher said...

So whatever happened to Fate's Guardian. I think that's when I first met you. And will the agent who reps Rooty rep you with that?

And I agree with Kdrausin. You're going to make us wait for Part 2?

Bane of Anubis said...

I have to say, 120,000 words is a pretty good length for a first attempt. My first book clocked in at 400,000 (edited down to 340,000 :)... Now I'm much more efficient (though my first stab at MG went 72k and my second 65k, ha).

Rick Daley said...

Sharon- Just tell everyone you know. You can't help it that I've been writing in secret.

Anne- Fate's Guardian is on the back-burner for now, but I will come back to it, and it will be much better when I do. I still really like the story. Part Two will explain a little more about Rudy and my agent experience, and like anything to do with publishing, there is a little waiting involved. But I have a method to my madness, and a little strategery to my timing. As Kris Kringle would say, "It's all part of my master plan."

Bane- First draft of first novel, everything I could think about for every character went into it. New minor character=extensive break for back-story. I thought it showed my creativity and ability to write. In reality it showed my creativity and inability to discern what was necessary for me to know to develop a character, and what the reader needed to know to get through the book. It didn't work for me (although it really worked for Stieg Larsson).

Travis Erwin said...

Rick I ordered my nook copy today. I'm looking forward to reading it and will let you know my thoughts when i finish.

Rick Daley said...

Thanks Travis, I hope you really like it! I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about it.

Anita said...

Ooooh! Excited for part 2...I'm sorry, I still haven't bought...had surgery on leg and all kinds of other junk, but will locate ereader tonight and BUY THE THING. Who else is with me?! Come on everybody!

Rick Daley said...

Anita- There's still plenty of time before Christmas. But if you're laid up with a hurt leg, you should definitely read it soon, you'll have a lot of empathy toward a pivotal character...

jbchicoine said...

Rick, I'm so excited to hear about your journey--especially since you were one of my earliest introductions to blogging. You've worked so hard and your persistence has been an inspiration...I can't wait to hear your continuing story!

Rick Daley said...

Thanks Bridget. It's been fun, I've gotten to know so many other writers and artists, and with your writing and painting you definitely fit into both categories!

Douglas Brown said...

Rick, this is a great story of an author growing. Congrats on your representation and good luck in the future. It is pretty eye-opening to see your early work after a few years of writing, huh? I'll be watching eagerly for part 2.

Rick Daley said...

Doug- Thanks! About that representation thing, though...well, stay tuned for part two.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Your book is coming up fast on my list, and I can't wait to get to it. Thanks for sharing your story so far! Can't wait to read the rest when you get it up. :)

Rick Daley said...

Thanks Michelle, I'm posting it on Tuesday. I'm waiting for MONARCH to come out...

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

It's actually for sale now. I'm announcing it tomorrow, I think... :)

Domey Malasarn said...

I refuse to comment until I get the rest of this story. This is not a comment. N'est pas une comment!

Rick Daley said...

Sacre bleu! Mon Deiu, mon ami, vous parlez s'il vous plait...