Hello World! I got myself a brand new website!
World: Um, why?
Because getting my awesome debut novel published is going to take a little longer than I would like.
Well, World, to make a long story short, my manuscript, UTOPIA OF THEIR DREAMS, which had been on submission with Tor for the past eight months, got rejected.
Editor No. 1 liked it, but doesn’t edit YA, so she passed it to Editor No. 2, who emailed me a detailed critique of what she thought worked and what didn’t. She wrote that she “enjoyed the sociopolitical questions the book posed,” that “the line by line writing is strong,” that the first three chapters “blew [her] out of the water,” that “there are a lot of great execution of ideas here,” and that I tackled “a lot of philosophical ground that I really enjoyed.” But she ultimately lost interest in June, the protagonist, because June lost her “agency.” She also added: “I would be interested in seeing something new from you in the future along the same vein as you show here.”
And you know what? The moment I finally processed what I read, I smacked my gobsmacked head like an idiot, thinking, oh pooh she’s right.
(World: You silly goose, I’ll bet you didn’t really think of the word “pooh.”)
(Right-o gentle World, I did not. A different word came to mind, but pooh is much nicer, like that lovable bear.)
I absolutely agreed with her entire critique. I deliberately wrote the first three chapters to hook everybody, then had the protagonist step back so I could show the reader my futuristic world and my concept of what a utopia could look like, thinking, like the obviously clueless unagented writer that I am, that I could get away with it.
Here’s June at her high-tech charter school with her friends. And look, here’s June listening to her friends argue about politics so I can introduce the novel’s sociopolitical issues while keeping June nonpartisan to avoid alienating my readers already aggravated with politics in real life. And here’s June helping people struggling with simulated reality addiction. And here’s June trapped in SimLife.
I know now I can’t do that. I get it. It’s not enough to hook readers with just the first three chapters and think I’m covered. I’ve got to put the “special sauce” in every single chapter of the book. I know exactly what I need to do, but it’s going to take more work, and time. And I would absolutely like to start something new.
(World: Hook? Cover? Special sauce? How many metaphors are you mixing here?)
(Oh, I don’t know gentle World, you word nerd. Are dead metaphors still considered metaphors? In any case, fish like special sauce, do they not?)
I have three options:
Option #1: Start over with a new “project.”
Option #2: Fix what went wrong with my manuscript, get it back into shape, and play the Whack-a-Mole querying game all over again—that is, I’m the one getting whacked, one writer mole out of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of other unagented writer moles sticking our heads up into the light, only to get whacked back down into the querying trenches, over and over…
World: Moles and trenches—by Jove, I think you did it again you silly goose, you mixed metaphors.
Did I? I think not, gentle World. It is a fitting metaphor–me, a mole navigating the querying trenches, caught in the middle of the battle between the publishing industry and our tech overlords for the hearts, minds, and credit cards of consumers. Did you know the Big Five is suing Amazon?
Option #3: Do both.
I choose option number three.
World: Egad! What does this mean?
It means my writing isn’t going to bring in a paycheck anytime soon. Fixing what I have, then starting over with something new and completing a polished final draft could take me up to two years. While Wix is very cool and easy to use, it’s kind of pricey at $168 a year for a website that doesn’t do much or have anything to sell.
I found a much cheaper alternative called “EasyWP,” a managed WordPress hosting plan offered by Namecheap that seems just as good as what I had with Wix, and simple enough to use. Adding the SSL certificate, however, costs extra and was a bit of a technical challenge to activate, so if you’re not tech savvy, I’d consider a different hosting company that includes SSL in the cost and doesn’t nickel-and-dime you by making you purchase it separately and install it yourself.
For example, gentle World, do the directions below make any sense to you?
World: Egad! What in the hell is that all about?
Oh, gentle World, if you don’t understand, then never you mind.
My WordPress site costs only $22.88 for the first year and $30 thereafter (the SSL certificate was an additional $5). The catch is I have only twelve days to transfer all my stuff before my premium plan expires on December 11th when my cool Wix website vanishes into cyber oblivion. I think I’ve moved (actually copied-and-pasted) all my text over to my new website, but I still have more work to do. I have to point my domain LisaMarieHagerman.com to my new WordPress site. I have to figure out how to get text to wrap around my images. I want to learn HTML and CSS so I can customize my website the way I want it. I want to learn everything I can to make my new WordPress site as awesome as possible.
(World: You silly goose, do you realize by publicly admitting a major publishing company rejected your manuscript, you may have just pooh-poohed all over your chances of having an agent request to see it?)
(Oh pooh. I’m having too much fun with my blog.)
You’re welcome to take a look around. It’s a work in progress. Don’t mind the mess.