My first book, Anya and the Secrets of Cupola, is set to release this Saturday. But let’s take a look at what the traditionally published community had to say about it.
Firstly, I got a lot of rejection letters. That’s good. In other words, they didn’t think it was so beneath them that they didn’t even respond. They actually responded.
Which brings me to the secondly. I got personalized responses. Now, for those of you who aren’t aware, a personalized response is a BIG deal. Here’s one from Cate at Corvisierio:
Now, I know what you’re thinking, but let me translate. This means she liked it.
No really, she did. In fact, if I had rewritten the first chapter and resubmitted, she would have probably requested more. Now that was no guarantee she would have taken me on for her to be my agent, but she did like it.
But see, that’s just it. Agents (and possibly publishers, I don’t really know) have what I call the “cookie-cutter mentality” for first time authors. This mentality states that the first chapter must be the main character in an exciting scene. Period. No if, and’s or but’s. (see the “prologue” for Twilight and you’ll notice that it was more than likely added in because it need an “exciting” beginning. But for me, personally, I enjoyed the original beginning and hated the prologue.) But Anya’s different than that. Anya is an ease-into-it book that absorbs you into the world itself instead of bombarding you with flashes of characters you couldn’t care less about because you know nothing of them.
I HATE this mentality. In fact, I hate it so much, that I often skip the first few pages of a book that has it. It’s over done and annoying. Some of the best books in the world don’t do this, and in my opinion, THE best books in the world don’t do this. Take Harry (yes, overdone. But I use it because it’s so familiar to everyone out there-so I don’t have to explain anything). Harry isn’t even introduced until the second half of the first chapter, and even then he doesn’t do or say anything. Take The City of Ember. It doesn’t mention a character at all in the beginning. These books tell the environment that the main character is going to be thrown into, and I love them for it!
And that’s what I wanted for Anya. I was more than willing to change most, if not all, of my work on my other books if an agent wanted me to, but not this one. This one was different. I can only hope others feel the same way I do.
PS-I actually came across this e-mail again by accident this morning while looking for an invoice. I had been concerned about the boring aspects of the first bit of the book (for when I read it aloud Sat.) and couldn’t tell if it was truly boring and I didn’t notice it before, or if it was just where I’ve read it 14,000 times-give or take 1000. But this e-mail made me feel better. It may not have been cut by her cookie cutter, but she still liked it. Called it “whimsical”, “well-crafted”, and with a “unique voice”. Warm fuzzies for everyone!!