1. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    Sitting on two finished manuscripts

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by carsun1000, Apr 14, 2015.

    hello all,
    So here I am after at least two years since my last posting on this board. Been busy with life, and also made time to finish two novels (each over 100 000 words). Currently working on a third one. My problem is I love to write, but I'm not sure what to do with my works. Not sure if I want to be an author even though I love to write. Not sure if I should seek an agent's service and try to make something out of my works, not sure if I should try self-publishing either. I aspire to work for the federal government which may involve working outside the United States. We all know to be a successful author, one must have time and resources. Combining being an author with working (especially General Schedule) usually does not gel well. Just confused and not sure what to do. Anyone else sitting on their work(s)and not sure what to do with it?
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    It's interesting that you say that you're not sure you "want to be an author" - I take it you mean a published author - but then go on to list the usual possibilities for becoming one, and then your concern about time. Time is indeed a precious commodity, and I've felt rather starved of it for most of my 40 years in the workforce. That said, it has been my experience that when one wants something badly enough, time can usually (but not always) be found. At the same time, if one is not confident of success, it is sometimes easier to rationalize reasons not to try rather than risk failure. On the chance that such is your issue, I make the following comments.

    First of all, as a current (and soon-to-be retired) employee of the US federal government, I have to say that unless you have a specific career path in mind, it isn't a choice I would recommend. For the past five years, Congress has been squeezing whatever it can out of appropriations to most federal agencies. We've seen a shutdown, extended hiring freezes, wage freezes and increased costs of retirement benefits (with more proposed in the current budget). Government service has never been a place to become well-off, although, with some effort, one can make a good living. OTOH, if you do pursue federal service, in most cases the working hours are not onerous (certainly not on the level of corporations) and there is often a great deal of flexibility. I currently telecommute just about full time and I can work credit hours, which I can accumulate and use to take days off. This is golden for an aspiring writer (however, your agency may vary). So, if you're disciplined during non-working hours, and if you don't have other pressing issues (like family needs), there is no reason that being a GS employee should prevent you from being a writer.

    If you're still with me, let's turn to your two finished novels. How finished are they? By that I mean, have you edited them rigorously? Exposed them to beta-readers or a critique group? This is extremely important if you plan to publish because if you plan on publishing traditionally, your ms has to be PERFECT in order to get an agent to even give it more than a cursory glance (I am currently querying for my historical novel and will spare you my rants about the current state of the publishing industry); and if you self-pub, you need it to be of top quality in order to distinguish from all the sludge that's out there. Also, if you go the querying route, make sure you have a slam-dunk query letter and a solid opening, because most agents only want a 1-page query letter and the first 5 or 10 pages of the novel - not a very good chance to make an impression. Some ask for a chapter, and one agent I've queried asked for three, but those are in the minority. Some also ask for a synopsis (which I found more difficult than the single paragraph summary in my query letter) and I've had one who asked for a chapter outline. Many agents now accept (some demand) e-mail queries. These are fast and save you the cost of stationery and postage, and far more respond (even with a rejection) than don't, although the rejections are virtually uniform - "not quite what we're looking for". This is a shame because I had queried two other novel attempts, and was fortunate to get useful feedback each time. But agents are so pressed these days to find something they feel they can pitch that they don't want to take any more time than necessary. This is another reason why you need to get some objective critique of your work.

    "You can do it. It's just hard work, is all." - Johnny Shellshocked in "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain".
     
  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why don't you send stuff out and see what happens? If no one's interested, that solves your current issue, right? And if people ARE interested, you can always proceed on a book-by-book basis.

    But I wouldn't get too caught up in the "can't be an author and have a day job" mindset. I'd say a solid majority of published authors are still working their day jobs. It's totally do-able, as long as you're willing to give something ELSE up.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think you need to see whether or not your work is ready ( maybe have someone beta read it or post some snippets and see if it's clear and coherent ) and then send it out. What's the harm?

    I've bumped into authors that have only published one or two books. There's no law that says you must meet a quota or quit your day job. The only thing that might conflict is when the agent wants to go over edits with you ( I'm not even sure how that works out but with this day and age of emails I think it would be ten times easier. And I'm sure a lot of editors work with people that have fulltime jobs. )
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Most authors have other jobs, as far as I'm aware. Very few have the luxury of working full time on writing, unless they have a well-employed and extremely supportive spouse. So don't let that get in your way.

    I'm with those here on the forum who wonder if your stuff is ready for publication. Trust me, after you've done your final final FINAL edit all by yourself, you'll give it out to people who will find all sorts of plot holes and make suggestions to improve everything from character development down to actual sentence structure. Then the real work begins. Incorporate the suggestions that make sense to you, then send it out for another tranche of readers to tackle. When your feedback finally becomes nearly all positive, then you can probably consider going either in search of an agent, or learning about self-publishing.

    Both of these take time, but if you can squeeze the time, you might find it wonderful to have 'author' as an officially recognised part of your life. Of course you are an author even before you are published, but other people won't know it.

    Or ...you can continue to write and just pile up the manuscripts. Nothing wrong with that either. If you feel you don't have the time to send your work out, that's understandable. However, I would definitely get some people on board to read it and offer suggestions. If you have writing issues that need to be pointed out, it might be good to get them recognised and ironed out before continuing on with more and more novels, all making the same kinds of mistakes.

    But ...all that aside ...congratulations. You HAVE written, finished ...and lots of folks never quite get there even once. You've already done it twice. Getting to the end of a story is a huge accomplishment. Now them up to publishable standards—and by all means keep writing if it gives you pleasure. Publish later, if that's what you prefer. But do keep writing.
     
  6. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    Thanks for the advice. Nice to know others here work for the federal government. I just found out I made the short list for a GS 12 for a position in Germany. If I get selected to fill the position, I will more than likely take it.
    One my novels is edited professionally, but still looking through for a different choice of words here and there. The other one is yet to be edited professionally just because I'my not sure which direction my life is headed. Once I know I won't be transitioning to Germany, I will probably have it looked at, and make a desicion at that point.
    But regardless of my professional future, I will continue to write just because I like to. Will post synopsis of the finished work later.
     
  7. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    I should know my fate in the coming months. If I don't get the gig I'm hoping for, I will be back here to continue to work on my projects. At that point, I will be ready to share my work with people who are willing to help. Thank you very much for your input.
     

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