Musing on the State of My Writing Career

It’s been about 2 years since I started querying Sava. The only agents left on my list (of 142 agents) by now are those who were closed whenever I looked (maybe even all the time) and those whose agency siblings have a query at the moment.

I sent 102 queries in these two years. Of those, 68 were passed on. Only 2 of those 68 agents said to send more materials should I query something else. One pass was personalised but with no actionable feedback which was fine.

I hat 1 request of a full and 1 request for a partial so far. The full came back with a form rejection which broke my heart. The request for the partial came from a query I CNRed to query somebody else at the agency. (And got a quick pass on.) I am grateful for the turn of events but also very confused.

I CNRed 6 queries to query somebody else at the agency. 9 queries are at a place where I could CNR them but since there’s nobody else I wanna query, I do not. If they have no time line to when “no reply means no” those queries will just keep floating around as undecided until I need to do an action.

I keep thinking to call it quits for Sava. I will keep querying her until I have my next fantasy ms ready to send. I’m at a point where I can’t muster the energy to send e-mail queries. Query Manager exists. I love the thing. Maybe there will be days when I can send e-mail queries. I don’t know.

Also, I have been querying so long, that by now agents changed agencies. Something my spreadsheet doesn’t always catch because it’s sorted by agency. I do not need the mortification of realising I sent another query to an agent who already passed on the ms.

I have learnt a lot in the past two years. Unfortunately, a lot of that made me disillusioned about tradpub. Why even bother getting an agent when editors sell their novels in-house in six-figure deals without jumping through any hoops?

In general tradpub is very conservative with their choices, so what chance do I even have? I am tired of the staples that tradpub loves. Who will even want my autistic protags when the story is in no way centred around that fact at all? How do I make readers realise their protag is neuro-atypical if simply writing people like me just makes them unrelatable?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m finding my niche that is just be autistic enby protags in fantasy and sci-fi. I’m just not sure what to do here now.

For Sava? I think once she died in the querying trenches, I will overhaul her to make her autistic traits more visible. That won’t be anything major, so I can’t yeet her at agents again afterwards. Maybe my next ms will score an agent. Maybe they will be happy to have another ready-to-go autistic fantasy.

I’m mostly disappointed and resigned, though. I’m going through the moves because it is what you do and right now I have nothing else. I started to save a little each month for selfpub. If by the time it amounts to enough to get a book out sensibly, I am still in the querying trenches, Sava might go that way.

Or maybe the erotica thriller (or so I have been told) goes that way first. I know nothing about the genre and don’t see myself returning to it. Maybe I’ll throw out my novellas that way. There’s a play in the depths of my portfolio and one or two volumes of poetry.

What I wish for most is the time, energy and money to pursue selfpub. But I gotta eat and my full-time job eats most of my time and energy. I make my peace with the possibility I may never get published traditionally. It helps that one of the major reason I want this (marketing) is a game of luck in tradpub anyway and there I a great chance I wouldn’t even get any.

On a positive note, I have seen friends get/become agents in the past two years. I see time and again that it is not completely hopeless. At least not for others.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere.

Publishing has a survivors bias and I’m just shouting out before it swallows me whole.

Afterword on short stories

I write a few of them. And I accepted from the get-go that subbing shorts is a lottery.

But it is overall easier. My heart is less invested in most of the short subs. I shrug the passes off more easily. It feels more like a hobby because there is no way in which selling shorts could be a noticeable contribution to my income.

I sold my first short to the third market I subbed to (the first always being Clarkesworld and Asimov’s because of their fast reply times). I have been shopping around other stories for over two years now. That’s just how selling shorts goes.

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