It was at that moment that I realized my first mistake!
Mistake #1: I sent my completed manuscript to a respected literary agent in New York City, and no one had ever read my book... no one! I was fully prepared to spend months getting feedback from my friends and family. It never occurred to me I might succeed at writing a catchy query letter. It had done its job and left the agent wanting more.
Well, it was not a shock when she passed on my book, but I could proudly say I had survived my first rejection. I was not deterred. I learned from my mistake and knew what I had to do... and then I blindly walked straight into mistake #2.
Mistake #2: I definitely had fears about sharing my book. It was my baby; what if people didn't love it the way I did? I had to conquer my fear because the only way I could improve my manuscript was to elicit feedback. What needed to be changed, cut, expand upon? What was confusing, awkward? How was my pacing, characterization, plot and resolution? I learned quickly that if I shared my book with my friends and family, they were going to love it as much as I did... because they loved me! The first person who read my book was my former Spanish teacher. My eyes welled up at her enthusiasm. It was not surprising when I asked her what I should fix, she replied, "Absolutely nothing. It's perfect!"
It became clear I needed to share my book with people outside my circle of friends and family. With trepidation, I asked a few childhood friends and former students to edit my manuscript. I knew they would be honest while still being kind. Thankfully, mixed with their suggestions was a genuine fondness for my story. That gave me the confidence to do what I knew had to be done, what I'd been putting off doing since I'd finished my book. It was time to join a writers' group.
Mistake #3: Joining the online community of writers at Scribophile has improved my book tenfold, but being amid fellow writers also put a spotlight on my mistakes. The first mistake was the length of my book. I toasted myself when my finished book reached 311 pages, 131,000 words. It took about a day on Scribophile to realize my book was WAY too long! Most books by a debut author should be around 90,000 words. Most agents toss your query letter in the "slush pile" when they see 131,000 words. I panicked! How was I going to cut 41,000 words?