Are you in the query trenches? You're not alone. There are thousands of authors with you, dealing with your challenges and struggles. This blog series was made as a way to connect with some of your fellow query mates, and let you know you're not alone and your feelings aren't crazy as you navigate the ups and downs of trying to get a manuscript published. You might even find a new author bestie! Personally, I think writer connections are the BEST part of the whole process.
The first author who was bold enough to be interviewed for this series is Brian Hathaway. I met Brian during a Five Days for a Fab First page workshop through Manuscript Academy. He's active in the writing community and someone who's great to have in the query trenches with you because of his optimism.
Meet Brian Hathaway
What do you feel has been the hardest part about the writing journey?
Hmm, well I acted for years early on in my "career" - I put that word in quotes because I've had several careers - so I'm used to rejection. I think it's how freaking slow the industry is. I find the waiting the hardest part of the entire process. It's something we all have to deal with but it doesn't make it any easier. I feel if there's one thing that could use a little disruption, is the speed to acquire and market books. And the entire process leading up to it. I have no idea how that could work considering the deluge of submissions agents receive. But that doesn't help me get over the annoyance at the slow process.
The wait is definitely grueling. Publishing is so slow, and I've heard from published authors that even after agented and after the book deal gets signed that it STILL moves really slow.
What genre do you write in? Do you feel like your genre is harder to query than most?
My debut manuscript is an upper-level middle grade urban fantasy. I just wrote what was inside me. I didn't even know about these categories until someone told me that's what I wrote. I feel like MG is possibly easier to query in. But then again I'm unagented so what the hell do I know? I don't think you can say hell in MG btw...
I write like that too, without considering the category first. For me, story ideas happen before the category comes to mind. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing for marketing purposes.
How many manuscripts have you queried? One manuscript over 100 times. But that was because it wasn't ready. I'm still polishing and I really see how I jumped the gun. Several several several times...
I think I've make this mistake with EVERY single manuscript I query. But to be fair, I think the querying process helps improve the manuscript over time too; so maybe it's just part of the querying beast.
Have you participated in any contests? Did participation help you as a writer? I've participated in PitchWars and various pitch slams. I believe every effort brings you closer to your work. It helped me to speak succinctly and precisely about my own work (verbally and in written form.)
I remember the first contest I ever did was called PitchSlam and I ended up reworking a lot of my manuscript and pitch. It helped me realize what was MOST important about my manuscript and helped me raise the stakes. Contests aren't just beneficial for exposure. They can really help the work.
What has been the best moment during your writing journey? It had to have been finishing it. Like, the first time. Revisions were pretty satisfying too. But a close second would have to be finding my writing fam and the immense support I've derived from it. For the first time ever, I feel like I have a group of people who really get me, this process, and are all in it to lift one another up creatively, spiritually and emotionally.
Yes! The people are the best part for sure. When other people say all the wrong things like calling writing a "hobby," I can turn to writing friends who understand the struggle.
What was the absolute worst moment? Well, don't tell anyone, but I had a couple of very high up contacts at two top publishing houses. They read the earlier versions of my manuscript. After waiting months totally convinced they would offer me a book deal, they told me the news that it wasn't ready. It led me to hire an editor and it's so much better now, but that was a crushing moment for me.
That's so disappointing. Any SOOOO close and yet SOOOO far moments are devastating.
Name one fellow querying author that has helped you and why. Fellow writing tribe members Kathy Nolan - she is my #1 critique partner who went through my entire manuscript with notes on every page. Everything from craft, raising the stakes, character questions - all of it. Leslie Acord - we attended Writer's Digest Conference 17 together and has been a great sounding board on our work, the industry, etc. Brightflame Priestess and Karen Hallam are local NYC authors and we've had some fun hangs together! You! For being awesome and part of my writing tribe. Julie Kinglsey - co-conspirator to MSWLA and a tremendous guide. Christopher Mannino - fellow fantasy writer and super smart, talented guy. Just to name a phew (yes that's a pun!)
I think all of those people are amazing. Writing tribes are the greatest.
What is the best thing you've learned? I've learned a tremendous amount about the craft of writing.
That's a huge deal. I think we all learn so much while in the trenches.
What is your favorite resource, whether for craft or querying? MSWLA and the high priestess of agenting/querying, Jessica Sinsheimer. I mean, there's not even a close second here.
If you don't know what MSWLA is, it is Manuscript Academy and you can find a link to it here. Jessica and Julie are amazing and it's such a great opportunity to help writers know what agents are thinking and how subjective everything is. It's also hands-on consulting for your work with industry professionals.
Anything else you want to share with fellow query trench authors? DO NOT give up. No matter what. I don't even fucking want to hear it. If you have to write. Then keep writing. Keep querying. Until the day you die do not stop. That is all. Also, you're not aloud to say "fuck" in MG.
*chuckles* Some days can be so hard. I've wanted to give up multiple times. I think it's so important to have people in your court who push you and tell you "Don't you dare give up!" Thanks for relaying that message to readers. I didn't even edit out the cuss words because, well, sometimes that passion and intensity is what we need to come to our senses.
To connect with Brian, click here for his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. I also created a forumhere (it's a blank slate right now waiting for contributions) if anyone is interested in talking about the query trenches, getting help on a query, or receiving a virtual hug from people who've been there.
AND as a BONUS!!!! If you've had one of those weeks and have received at least one rejection, you are welcome to enter this rafflecopter for a "chocolate library." That's right, no more virtual chocolate will be sent your way after a rejection...you get the real thing! Click here for the link or enter below.