I'm at an interesting crossroads, and it has occurred to me that discussing it with you might help you clarify your own "I'm going to be published" vision.
For more than two years, I've been shopping my middle grade fantasy, all the while working to make it stronger, all the while continuing to work on other projects. I've had some tantalizing close calls, some amazing feedback, some uber-encouraging moments. I even have an agent who wants me to send it again after revisions.
Yet I remain unagented.
Now, as you know, I'm cheek-chewingly close to finishing my YA dystopic SF. Close, as in three or four chapters out.
Who, me? Over-the-edge excited?
Anyway, I've already got my Lucky You list of agents I'm going to query first. Which brings me to the interesting crossroads. Some of the agents I'm planning on querying this time around don't do middle grade. I'm feeling confident that a few of them will express at least mild interest in my new work, but this leads me to an important question: What happens to my middle grade novel?
Make that novels. I've completed a "book 2" along the way. And there's a book 3 bubbling around in there, too. (Think lots of juicy, dangling threads at the end of book 2.)
Frankly, I'm not willing to set my beloved middle grade aside. I'm passionate about it--so passionate that I am undertaking a complete, hold-nothing-back rewrite to make the first book even better. And I'm going to keep working at it until it's absolute magic.
That's what I'm shooting for. Absolute magic.
So. Where does that leave me in my new agent search? I want an agent to fall in love with my sparkly-new YA (which will, of course, be spending the summer in the grist mill). But what if the agent who falls in love with my YA doesn't represent MG? Do I pursue a relationship anyway?
Or do I move on to the next opportunity?
It's no small question. I have discovered that I love--I mean love--writing YA dystopic. I could certainly do more of it and be happy. But I'm equally passionate about MG fantasy. In fact, if I had to choose a "first love," it would be the MG fantasy.
So I've got think this through. It's always foolish to cut off your proverbial nose to spite your face. Assuming a snooty, how-dare-you-not-also-consider-my-earlier-works attitude won't get an aspiring author anywhere. Of course, I'm not that kind of author. I'm not snooty. And I think I'm savvy enough to know when to say "yes" to just the right offer.
Still. The whole concept of "My Entire Writing Career" is something we all have to take into account as we continue our agent hunts. For me, it isn't about writing and publishing one book. It's about writing and publishing books for the rest of my life.
Including the middle grade fantasy that nobody has quite loved enough yet. Liked-a-whole-lot, maybe (even passing it around the agency, hoping someone else would take it), but not loved-till-death-do-us-part.
So that's what I'm dealing with as I finish up this first draft and prepare to dig in to my first round of edits (ah, glorious edits!). (And no, that wasn't parenthetical sarcasm; I really do love to edit.) Sending my fresh query to agents who love YA dystopic SF and MG fantasy is going to severely narrow my list. I need to walk carefully, think clearly, decide what it is I really want.
I also have to ask myself this: In the end, if breaking out means indefinitely setting aside my beloved MG fantasy series-in-the-making, am I willing to do that?
Oh, yes. That's a big question. I'm working it out day by day.
And there you have it. What about you? What's your passionate vision? What do you see yourself publishing for the rest of your life? What does your "perfect agent's" I-love-this list need to encompass?
And what are you willing to set aside to Make It Happen?
Onward, one and all. (Talk about catharsis. I feel better already.)