When I was in High School, rather than party with my friends, I could be found in my room writing stories and poetry. When I met my wife at age 16, one of the things that she loved about me was the poetry I wrote her. In the United States Navy, when I wasn't on watch or working my rate, I could be found on my rack writing my latest book in a spiral binder. During break at the credit union I worked at I wrote stories, poetry, or read. In construction, at break, while the other guys are talking about their macho accomplishments, I'm either reading a book, or jotting down notes for my book that's been swirling in my head all day. During the late nineties, for about five years, I made a strong push at the short story market, gaining around a hundred rejections. During that time I pushed one book, but directly at publishers. Then, a life changing article appeared in Writer's Digest Magazine.
It was the June, 2004 issue, page 32, "After the BIG SALE" by J.A. Konrath. The article outlines in a journal style the road to becoming published for Joe Konrath, and how a regular guy suddenly found himself joining the club of published writers. . . and with a six figure deal to boot. At the time, I had just completed the first draft of a novel that my wife had proclaimed, "This is the one!"
So I worked my butt off with re-write after re-write, cutting, pasting, adding other characters, eliminating another, toning down one as I increased the visibility of another. Throughout the process, the ending never changed. It was the ending that inspired me to write it in the first place.
At the time this novel was called "Sara's Rose Garden." It changed to "Roseboro," then back to "Sara's Rose Garden," then finally landed on "A Light in the Shadow." By New Years in 2005 the novel was ready, and I decided it would be best to look for a local agent before trying for one so far away in New York City. That was my first mistake.
On January 3, 2005 I sent off my first query letter. In fact, I mailed out seven. On January 31, 2005, something magical happened. An agent requested a one page description of my manuscript, a five page synopsis, and the first 50 pages of the work. I about had a cow! I told everybody, and I responded immediately. On February 28, 2005 they requested the entire manuscript. I was beside myself. This agent, in a recent interview that I read on the internet, indicated that she rejected 98% of the submissions she received. Holy cow! Was this really happening?
Eventually the contract was signed, the editing ensued, and the submissions to publishers began - - but not a single one of them bit. As this went on, I performed more research, research that I should have performed before I sent out the queries. The agency did not have a very good standing in the publishing community. Most of their sales were to small press publishers that didn't even require agents for acceptance, or to an overseas publisher that was questionable at best. I'd been had. Nonetheless, I had begun other manuscripts, and decided to ride out the contract in hopes that this agency could surprise me, and the industry. They didn't, nobody bought the book, and even the agent gave up on it eventually.
I tried to query other agents with A LIGHT IN THE SHADOW later in the year, and in the beginning of 2006, but nobody wanted it. I have since mothballed the novel, as well as a few of the others I've written since completing that manuscript, and donated my energy on my latest work - THE WAY OF DECEPTION (http://home.comcast.net/~douglasgibbs/conspiracy.html).
After a couple dozen rejections, I continue on. Recently I had my query letter critiqued on Absolutewrite.com, a writer's forum I'm a member of, and they shredded it. As a result, I re-wrote my query, then my manuscript, and changed the title to its current THE WAY OF DECEPTION.
Last year, at one of his book-signings, I had the opportunity to meet Joe Konrath, and it was a thrill for me. He hit it big, but he's still just a regular guy - - like me. If he can do it, by darn sure I can - - and if I can, then so can you. Don't quit. A professional is an amateur who didn't quit.
Confucius once said: "A man that finds a job he loves will never have to work again."
My wife recently clipped a little saying that also sums it up. It reads: "Freedom is doing what you want. Happiness is loving what you do."
I'm with you all the way. We'll can do it. Persistence is the key.