Sunday, May 31, 2015
Know When to Hold ’Em, Know When to fold ’Em
His first novel, Yesterday’s Echo, won the Anthony Award - Best First Novel, the San Diego Book Award for Best Published Mystery and the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Silver Award. Rick Cahill now stars in Matt’s second novel, Night Tremors. We welcome Matt again, and his yellow Lab, Angus. They both live in San Diego - Matt, does Angus also write???
T. J. Straw
However, I intended to write a series and thought the first book was essential in laying the foundation for the main character and his future development. After more revisions and another year of rejections, I began to wonder if I'd written, and rewritten, a story that nobody wanted to read. Was I going to be that writer who just kept writing his first book over and over while his life passed by? Over a four year span, I'd received almost one hundred agent rejections or ignores. I was running out of agents to reject me. I sent the manuscript out to the last few agents on my list and then closed the book on that first book.
My writers group told me they liked what I'd written so far in book two better than book one. Still, I'd put so much time into the first one, I wasn't sure I could let it die. I finally decided to send it, along with the agent's notes, to Carolyn Wheat. She'd read earlier versions of the book in writing novel classes she'd taught and I'd attended. I asked her if was worth her time (and my money, of course) to look the book over and worth my time to revise it, yet again. Yes on both counts.
Weeks later, Carolyn sent me back twelve single-spaced pages of notes. She found even more weaknesses than had the agent. Her suggestions for improvement were good, but I didn’t know if I could rip and rewrite the book for the fourth or fifth time. Besides, book two now had my interest, my energy. Book one was an anchor, a reminder of failure. But I still thought it was a story worth telling. I decided to give it one last try.
It took another two years of revisions to get the book exactly were I wanted it. The agent who’d given me the last rejection had faded away from publishing. I sent the book out again and still got rejections. I sent it to agents who’d rejected or ignored it before. The title had changed and so had the book. But maybe not enough.
Finally, Kimberley Cameron said yes. Six months later so did Oceanview Publishing. Yesterday’s Echo was born.Two years later, it won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Eleven years to publication. Close to one hundred rejections. And I'm thankful for every one of them. If an agent had said yes earlier, the book would have been inferior and probably never been published. And I wouldn't have met Kimberley Cameron, the perfect agent for me.
I’m not sure I’d advise other writers to follow my path. You have to be very stubborn or very stupid. Or maybe just convinced that your first story is worth telling.
That second book? I had to revise it, too. Just not for eleven years. Night Tremors hits the shelves on June 2nd.
© 2015 Matt Coyle