Feliza David (MustacheVillain on QT) has signed with agent Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency.
I started outlining and world-building while working on edits for another novel, which was awesome for me. Usually, I get really antsy and I want to start writing NOW NOW NOW. But being busy with the other edits forced me to take more time to prepare for this novel. When I was finally (finally!) finished with the previous novel's edits, then it took me three months to write the first draft of "Sealed with a Wish," then another two months for a few rounds of edits.
In my more sensible moments, I would try to boil it down to this: no matter what, I was going to keep writing books. It' s just... my thing. I mean, I had been writing for years prior to seeking publication and I had been pretty happy that way. So, since I figured I'd still be writing, I might as well try to get published at the same time, right? Even if it didn't work out with one book, I could always try again with the next one--and, for me, there always has been a next one.
I like to do several rounds of edits focusing on specific elements. That way, I don't get overwhelmed. First, I had to re-write most of the first act to be a little punchier and a lot more cohesive.
Second, I did an edit for story structure--as in, are things occurring at the right times? are major plot points getting enough foreshadowing?
The third round was more focused on dialogue, characterization, and making sure the prose was coherent and tight. The fourth round was mostly about looking at things on a scene-by-scene level. Did the scenes flow well? Did each scene have its own beginning, middle, and end? After that, I gave the manuscript one last read-through (the "half" round).
For me, the key is to break things off into manageable chunks.
I did do some character development stuff, which was new to me. It was very basic--the bulk of it was a little mini-biography written in the character's voice and some small facts about their families and habits that were nice to know (even if most of it didn't end up in the final draft). Mostly, it was just an exercise to help me figure out each character's motivation.
I think our focus should always be on writing the best fracking book possible. I didn't submit to agents until I knew that "Sealed with a Wish" was as good as I could get it. When the inevitable rejections came in, I didn't beat myself up too much because I knew, deep down, that it really WAS a subjective decision. My last book didn't get me an agent because it wasn't the RIGHT book--as in, it didn't accurately reflect my voice, nor was the plot tight enough. But with "Sealed with a Wish," I felt totally comfortable standing behind it.
So, yeah. Write a book. Re-write it. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then query when you think it's as good as it's going to get (at least, without agently or editorial advice). Even when you do get rejected, you'll be less likely to fall into a hopeless funk since you're certain that your book is worthwhile.
And hey, there's always the next book, right?
Dear Ms. Awesome:
I would love to work with you, and I hope you’ll be interested in my YA novel, SEALED WITH A WISH, in which “I Dream of Jeannie” meets John Hughes.
When snarky, sixteen-year-old Layla misplaces her favorite ring, she’s got bigger problems than a lost accessory. Layla is half-genie and must grant three wishes to whoever possesses the magical ring to which she is bound. After Sean, a popular classmate, accidentally gets a hold of the ring, Layla has no choice but to conjure up whatever comes after, “I wish...”
Layla just wants to get this over with, but after Sean’s first wish leads to a night in jail and a confiscated sports car, Sean hesitates to wish again, afraid of wasting his remaining chances. As the two spend more time together, they form an unexpected friendship, one that gets even more complicated when Layla develops feelings for her so-called master.
When (spoiler spoiler spoiler), Layla faces an insurmountable problem: (spoiler spoiler spoiler).
SEALED WITH A WISH is complete at around 53,000 words. I would be delighted to send the full manuscript at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Your New Favorite Client