When I sold my first book, I’d already had it critiqued enough that few changes were needed. With my second book, I had one person look at the first chapter and the rest was up to the publisher/editor to suggest changes. I think we went back and forth about six times before it was ready for a contract. I’ve heard this happens to authors when the second submission isn’t as finely tuned as the first and the agent or editor likes the story enough to spend extra time making the story work.
I was more excited with my third sale than any of the three. The first sale was surreal. The second had so many changes that over time I realized that it would sell and I was prepared for the good news. The third contract was offered by email about three weeks after I’d submitted it. She didn’t say please change blah, add blah. Take out blah, blah, blah. It was just, “I want to offer you a contract…” I was caught off guard and I squealed with delight. A different emotion crossed my face than any my husband had ever seen.
After looking one more time for an attachment of suggested changes and didn’t find one, I immediately wondered if perhaps my first attempt at another genre (this third book) was my fit, what I should have been writing all along. Just maybe I’d finally found my true calling. Why yes, of course. But when I told my brother-in-law about my new revelation, he said something perhaps more realistic. He said that he’d been a carpenter for many, many years. His first attempts at building were far from what he could do now. I imagine it is the same for you, he said. He’s right you know; practice makes perfect.
At this moment I know for sure that I’ve written 5 1/2 manuscripts and I should get better along the way. I’ve learned from critique partners, conferences, blogs, books on the craft, reading how others put words on the page. Time, and all of this, makes me a better writer. I suppose it is more “romantic” to think that I’m only better because I’m called to do a particular work. Time will tell all, and in more than one way.