I finished editing Kaimerus yesterday. This was something like draft 6. Over four years, I’ve rewritten it twice, and this last pass through was a polish after the last rewrite. My plan going forward is turning it in to my editor, Joshua Essoe, in a few weeks and submitting to an agent that asked to see it when it’s ready. Before I go on to discussing other projects (will need another post for that), the two decisions of where to submit in the above sentence deserve attention.
First, hiring another editor. That’s right, another.
I hired C.L. Dyck last summer when my novel had just gone through a major rewrite and still had areas where I was confused about the science of a few connecting plot threads. The book is described as “Firefly crashes on Avatar and wakes up 28 Days Later.” The science of Avatar’s VR and jungle was not meshing well with the berserkers of 28 Days Later, and she helped me with that. After her edit, I essentially rewrote the novel, fixing minor plot points but also rewriting every scene to improve the prose. She taught me about showing versus telling, and the draft ended up bloating from 73,000 words to 124,000 words. In this last draft, I focused on consistency and trimming, cutting it down to 109,000 words.
I picked up a couple beta readers, many were too busy to read, and the three that stuck with it offered helpful comments, but not quite enough to help me get to the stage where the book is good enough to submit or self publish. My options from that became:
- Hire a copy editor and cover artist on the cheap and self pub. (never really an option)
- Submit my best effort to the contacts I’ve accumulated and hope to find someone willing to edit my work to publishable level in return for a cut of the profit.
- Hire an editor to take my work to the next level, then decide to either self pub or submit.
I refused Step 1 because I think, in this flooded market of ebooks, that the first impression I make could hurt my image enough to turn readers off from future works. A copy edit wasn’t enough to make this a worthy first showing.
I refused Step 2 because I didn’t want to waste those contacts by showing them mediocre work. I’m pretty proud of what I have right now, but it’s not elite, and that’s what I want to show these contacts. I kept hearing how publishers, their editors and agents want a finished product, not something or someone who needs coaching. Maybe a Small Press would, but that’s not my top choice. The other thing is that it will take time for them to respond, (especially if it’s not good enough), and by choosing Step 3, I may be speeding up the process (as well as more advice on how to make Kaimerus better). I’m doing my best to get accepted by my top choice agent, not a few years down the road by choice 153.
I chose Joshua Essoe, mainly, because of his credentials (The Black God’s War by Moses Siregar III and Nightingale by David Farland, both of which are award winners) and because of his focus on teaching and macro content. I am building the first in a space opera series, so I need to get this right.
As for choosing an agent, the offer fell in my lap to read my book, so why not? As for Trad pub vs Small Pub vs Self Pub, my main reasons are that Trad pub should be the best outreach to a larger audience without much of an audience to begin with. I have my few years of networking as an unpublished author and podcaster (AudioTim and now Adventures in SciFi Publishing), but not much in the area of readers. The Self Pub success stories are mostly authors who already have an established readership, so that could be an option down the line, but Kaimerus feels more like a Big 5 book with mass appeal.
Jason Hough, NYT Bestselling author of The Darwin Elevator, is partly responsible for this last thought. His advice in AISFP 225 helped me realize my audience would be more widespread than a Small Press niche (if that’s not too bold to claim).
I’m not sure yet about the above agent’s method of operating, but his history, clientel and personality is worth picking him first. We’ll see if he also helps edit and coach me on future projects to work on, or if I’ll still hire out Joshua, but in order to help get him as my agent, I’m ponying up an investment into an editor first. I have to look at that investment as one which may not see beneficial returns in the short term, but which could set off my career on the right first step. Again, first impressions are key in this flooded market.
I am so blessed to have a job where I can write, and we’ll see if that continues through the birth of my first child (Jan 8th due date), so while I’m doing as much as I can six days a week to become a successful, breadwinning author, I understand it takes time. I’m willing to wait while agents and publishers put me in their queue, because I have a lot of projects I want to complete before my name is out there and I need to build a catalog as quickly as possible.