How many years?

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

IkhlasHussain

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How many years were you writing before you got published?

A little bit of a depressing post but I feel a bit depressed lately and feel like crying somewhere. Hopefully someone can understand me and give me a (virtual) pat on the back LOL.

I started writing novels when I was 10 and started trying to get published when I was 15. I'm now 31 and have finished writing my fourth novel. I'm not saying those early 2 novels were amazing, but thinking about it all does make me a bit sad. I tried the traditional route with my third novel but it didn't take so I ended up self-publishing on Amazon. Now I wish I had waited and kept trying. I self-published it on a blog, chapter by chapter, and got lots of great responses from it. An agent emailed me after that and she wanted me to write a book based on my blog. That never ended up working out but we're still in touch and now I'm trying to get her to represent me for this new book, my fourth one now.

She took a cursory look at it and told me it needs more editing, which I'm really struggling with finding someone to do. I joined a critique group but everyone is busy with their own projects so I'm struggling with how to edit my novel when I can't seem to find anyone. Some days I just feel like giving up :(

Anyone else have those days or weeks?
 

Laurel

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I think all writers feel like giving up occasionally. It's a tough business.

Was the agent talking about line edits/grammar or content edits? Knowing that might help you figure out how to proceed.

There's a beta reader section on this site. Have you tried using that? You could also get some craft novels and use the suggestions as a guide as you tackle edits yourself.

I'm a firm believer that traditional publishing should not be pay-to-play and no one should feel that they have to pay for professional edits to succeed -- but if you're stuck and you have the money, you might want to consider this option. You could always start with a partial edit, say the first fifty pages, and see how that goes. Just do your research first -- not all editors are equal.

And to answer your first question -- I was writing novels for about five years before I got a deal. But here's the thing -- I had no life during those years! I wrote about seven full manuscripts during that time, along with multiple partial manuscripts. I've slowed down a bit since then and now average one middle grade novel a year, plus some picture book manuscripts. (And I still have to trunk manuscripts sometimes.) It can be frustrating, but try to remember that it's not a race, and there's always the next manuscript.
 

Sonya Heaney

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Your agent story is *amazing*. It means you're pretty flipping good. I've never heard a story like that before. (But I think I remember reading your blog in the past?)

Other than some nonfiction and short stories that won a few awards, I went back to university at 21 and did a degree in creative writing. I then waited over a decade before I even *tried* to get published. By that point I was losing sleep over the fact I'd been working for two decades and had still got nowhere. We all feel the same way, and right now I'm feeling pretty awful because I've spent the entirety of 2020 waiting for news about my books and still have nothing to show for it.

I've reached the "the only thing you can do is laugh" stage of being a writer.
 

lizmonster

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I always hesitate to post in these threads because I worry I'll sound discouraging.

Suffice to say: getting published doesn't always go well, your first agent may not be your last, and a writing career is almost certainly going to be non-linear.

Some days wanting to give up is the only rational response.
 

JJ Litke

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+1s to be frank and liz.

What worked for me was to come up with goals I could control. My goal is not simply “get published.” I want to be part of the community, connect with other writers, and continue to work on my own writing. Getting published is great when it happens, but it’s not my sole driving motivation. I still don’t have a published novel, maybe that’ll never come. Before my first published story (at age 49 btw) that thought would have been devastating. I’m more comfortable with it now.
 

Broadswordbabe

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I wrote two novels before I got agented, (not counting a slew of unfinished projects) and then two more before I actually got published. I was 46 when it finally happened. I've had two series cancelled after two books each. I'm currently looking for a new agent, and have recently been rejected by one of my top picks. We all have those days, weeks, months, decades... what have I learned? Don't put your heart into a single project, always have something else to be working on. Do your best to just enjoy the writing while you're doing it rather than thinking about whether it will be published or not. (Save that for once you have a completed manuscript). Find good beta readers, here or elsewhere. If you're not already in one, a good critique group can be a lifesaver in so many ways. It reduces the sense of struggling in isolation, and can provide a source of inspiration, companionship and practical help. One of my best beta readers is a now-successful thriller writer I met in a critique group before either of us were published. There are lots of good critique groups now operating online - (I'd suggest you shop around, and find one whose style suits you). From what you've said, you're definitely in with a chance, so keep trucking!
 

zmethos

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I've definitely struggled when it comes to getting critique groups to give feedback because the members are too busy with life in general. I think finding the right people can be difficult sometimes. Of course, you can pay someone, but not everyone can afford to do that.

What I've found in general is that there will always be something--some obstacle, some disappointment--that, depending on the day, may make you want to give up. Even when you reach one goal, the goal post will move and you will be trying to do the next thing. I've tried to learn to enjoy the game in the moment, but there are definitely days when I'm too beat up to play. I actually made a visual timeline of my progress as a writer*, and when I'm feeling down I look at it and remind myself how far I've actually come. That usually makes me feel better.

*And every small thing counts as progress! The milestones don't have to be big ones!
 

lizmonster

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To supplement my downer-ness, a bit: For me, I've had to remember I started all this writing stuff for myself. I'm my first audience, and if I don't like what I'm writing, how can I expect anyone else to enjoy it?

Writing isn't always fun, but I can always remember times when it was, and I remind myself it will be again.
 

IkhlasHussain

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Thank you Laurel, for your response! After reading everyone's replied, it seems like WE all go through this. That makes me feel less alone.

She wanted line edits done; my narrator sounds too adult and the language is too stifling for a YA novel. I've been researching about the beta reader section of the site but I needed 50 posts before posting there. I found one many years ago here on the forums for my 3rd novel and she took a look at this one too, but I definitely need more eyes on it.

Wow, you're a fast writer! Life definitely gets in the way, and small children even more so, in my experience lol
 

IkhlasHussain

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Thank you, Sonya! So cool that you remember my agent story!

When it happened, I was so excited and thought this was my road to publication. 5 years later and I'm still unpublished, but I like to think I'm closer than before.

Yeah I'm also just thinking about all the time I've spent so far, especially now when time to write is so scarce as a mom with so many other responsibilities.

I hope you hear some good news about your books soon!
 

IkhlasHussain

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To supplement my downer-ness, a bit: For me, I've had to remember I started all this writing stuff for myself. I'm my first audience, and if I don't like what I'm writing, how can I expect anyone else to enjoy it?

Writing isn't always fun, but I can always remember times when it was, and I remind myself it will be again.

What a great way to change your perspective! I think I need to find the joy in it again.
 
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IkhlasHussain

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I've definitely struggled when it comes to getting critique groups to give feedback because the members are too busy with life in general. I think finding the right people can be difficult sometimes. Of course, you can pay someone, but not everyone can afford to do that.

What I've found in general is that there will always be something--some obstacle, some disappointment--that, depending on the day, may make you want to give up. Even when you reach one goal, the goal post will move and you will be trying to do the next thing. I've tried to learn to enjoy the game in the moment, but there are definitely days when I'm too beat up to play. I actually made a visual timeline of my progress as a writer*, and when I'm feeling down I look at it and remind myself how far I've actually come. That usually makes me feel better.

*And every small thing counts as progress! The milestones don't have to be big ones!

Yeah, finding a critique group has been super tough. I've been put in a group by a writing group that's local to my area but everyone has their own work they're focusing on.

The goals do change, that is so true! It's so important to count the little milestones too.
 

IkhlasHussain

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+1s to be frank and liz.

What worked for me was to come up with goals I could control. My goal is not simply “get published.” I want to be part of the community, connect with other writers, and continue to work on my own writing. Getting published is great when it happens, but it’s not my sole driving motivation. I still don’t have a published novel, maybe that’ll never come. Before my first published story (at age 49 btw) that thought would have been devastating. I’m more comfortable with it now.

Wow, good for you, JJLitke! It definitely takes time to come to terms with the writing life. As liz said, it's definitely not linear.
 

IkhlasHussain

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I wrote two novels before I got agented, (not counting a slew of unfinished projects) and then two more before I actually got published. I was 46 when it finally happened. I've had two series cancelled after two books each. I'm currently looking for a new agent, and have recently been rejected by one of my top picks. We all have those days, weeks, months, decades... what have I learned? Don't put your heart into a single project, always have something else to be working on. Do your best to just enjoy the writing while you're doing it rather than thinking about whether it will be published or not. (Save that for once you have a completed manuscript). Find good beta readers, here or elsewhere. If you're not already in one, a good critique group can be a lifesaver in so many ways. It reduces the sense of struggling in isolation, and can provide a source of inspiration, companionship and practical help. One of my best beta readers is a now-successful thriller writer I met in a critique group before either of us were published. There are lots of good critique groups now operating online - (I'd suggest you shop around, and find one whose style suits you). From what you've said, you're definitely in with a chance, so keep trucking!

Wow, that's an incredible journey! Good for you for persevering and not giving up! Do you have any tips for finding good critique groups?
 

Broadswordbabe

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I would look for a group that is specifically focused on your genre, if possible. (I've taken fantasy to a non-genre group and...mate. "Why are they elves?" It has elves in it because it's fantasy. I write fantasy because that's what I do.) Anyway, yes, look for a group whose members write/read/respect your genre. I'd suggest one where the members send work to each other to read before the group, so people have time for a proper considered critique, and if possible one which includes people who are already published. The best groups I've belonged to allow a specific short time for live feedback at meetings (usually three minutes per person) and the author doesn't respond until all the critiques are done. Some crit groups ask for evidence of publication, even if it's a single article or short story - but I think your experience with an agent would probably speak for itself. Some groups ask that you sit in on at least one session before submitting work - this can help give you an idea of what you're in for in terms of critique. And you want to look for a group that handles novels. That's a bit more tricky - I don't find chapter-by-chapter critiques that useful, but that's what a lot of them do. I find groups where you can submit an entire draft more effective both as writer and critter, but obviously that's asking more of a commitment of individual members (especially in terms of SF/Fantasy. We tend to write chunky).
This is all still reasonably feasible in these days of social distancing, so long as you've a decent internet connection for Zoom/Discord/whatever. (My current group uses Discord).
That's about all I can think of at the moment. Hope it helps.
 
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Nether

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Kinda curious if there have been any updates because it's almost a year since the topic was posted, but it looks like IH hasn't been around AW in a year.

I read to the end, and I was rooting for the guy... and then realized the last post in the topic was still from October 2020. (And so I'm a little surprised that this post is still so close to the top of the page for this board.)
 

Unimportant

but appreciated anyway...
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The board was shut down for about a year due to hack-attacks, and only came back online recently, some some conversations haven't yet been resurrected.
 

Paul Lamb

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I wrote a lot of nonfiction (articles, book reviews) that got published long before I got my first short story published (after about a decade of writing fiction and shopping it around). Then I went another decade before I got my second short story accepted. I've averaged about two stories published a year since then, which I am fine with. My novels languish though. I think in part it is because I just don't have the knack for presenting them will in query letters. I don't know what the magic is to getting published other than perseverance.

Wanting to give up (or give it a break) is a daily thing with me. I think it's written in a creative person's genes.
 

iBleed2

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I was actually wondering the same thing when I saw the time difference. I hope everything worked out!
 

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