So, remember about two weeks ago when I said my goal was to finish three first drafts of novels this year?
Well, I’ve finished one.
It wasn’t the story I was planning on finishing first, but it’s one that’s been with me since I was in high school. I began writing this novel last year about this time, cranked out 68,000+ words, and set it aside as Master of Machines took hold of me and threw me back into the world of Antigone’s Wrath. When reviewing all the projects I started last year, this one called to me once again and I dove in and finished it up in about a week after my last blog post.
It clocked in at just over 79k words (as you can see in the progress bar, right) and I was left wondering if that was long enough. The more I looked at it, the happier I was with what was there. It didn’t NEED any more filler. So, I set about reading it all over again, checking for errors, typos, plot holes, inconsistencies, read it at least once more, rounded up some beta readers, and continued reading it a third and fourth time. The more I read the manuscript, the more I was bewildered at what I’d created. Could this possibly be as good as I thought it was? Had I, in fact, not made a horrific mistake in writing a romance novel? Was I maybe not crazy in thinking it was really good?
When the comments from my betas started coming in, I was flabbergasted. People were really liking it! They were finding so little wrong, and when they did they were all just the tiniest nit-picky things. One of them is still in the process of really ripping it apart, sussing out every last little awkward turn of phrase or grammatical flub, but I’m still being told what great characters they are and what great potential the world and story have. I’m not gonna lie. I’m really excited about this one and can’t wait to share it with all of you. I’m hoping to have a fully edited beta version ready to rock by the end of this week and a query letter ready to send out to potential publishers and agents soon thereafter.
So, what is this project?
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to MAVEN.
“At 21, Dr. Lydia Ashley’s dream of becoming a crew member of the Deep Water Research Command Endure has become a reality. For more than six years, she’s dedicated her life to securing a position aboard the underwater lab and UN military command. Her reasons for this goal were many, but Daniel Brewer was one of them.
Daniel, the 22-year-old son of the Endure’s Captain and a technology genius, leads the life of an underachieving, over-privileged playboy. Unmotivated but undeniably brilliant, his life is turned upside down when the driven, highly intelligent, and beautiful Dr. Ashley reports for duty.
As they learn about one another, Lydia and Daniel uncover a plot to infect the oceans of the world with a deadly marine bacteria. They are plunged into unknown dangers as they defy the plans of a greedy corporation and a scientist with a score to settle, and anyone could be an enemy. If they can put aside their pride, they might find the people behind it in time and maybe save each other from their loneliness.”
There is a problem, however.
I’m currently (as in, as I’m writing this post) having a discussion via Twitter on where this book would fit as far as a bookstore would go. The ages of the protagonists (21 and 22) make it a perfect fit for the still-confusing-and-too-new-to-judge-market-viability New Adult category. The *ahem* “adult situations” of the novel make it a good fit for the Romance section. The setting (an underwater lab in the year 2064) and the professions of the main characters (a marine biochemist and a computer whiz) are in line with Science Fiction. And, as if this weren’t already confusing enough, the actual plot (corporate conspiracies! subterfuge! the possible destruction of the planet!) would work well for fans of Suspense or Thrillers.
I love this book SO. MUCH. I do. But trying to figure out where it fits in this mess is driving me a little crazy. I didn’t make it all of these things on purpose. That was how the story decided to turn out. There was no active “romance sells, so let’s do that!” or “science fiction is really hot right now!” or “ooo! I can cash in on this New Adult thing I’ve been seeing lately!”. Everything it is came about naturally. Like I said, I’ve been sitting on this idea for 16 or 17 years by now. I set out to write a romance novel. It wasn’t until it was finished that I realized, with a little horror and a little excitement, HOW MUCH MORE THAN THAT it really was. My beta readers are equally at odds with how to classify it (though this doesn’t hinder how much they enjoyed it), and this doesn’t bode well for the querying process. Agents and editors consistently say “know what genre your book is” and “too many genres is an instant pass”. It’s terrifying for me to think about that and KNOW the kind of rejection that will come with labeling it as “NA Science Fiction Romance Thriller”. That won’t sell anyone. Not in this market. No way.
So I’ll be giving this a lot of thought the next week. By next weekend I will make my decision on what to do about that and what my next step is. At this stage of my career, I really feel like I want a publisher behind me, in whatever capacity, to help guide my marketing efforts (I expect to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting on my own) and at least point me in the right direction. Lots of book reviewers shy away from reviewing self-published books, for various reasons, and, honestly, even a little advice as far as who to approach would be helpful.
It’s so so true that the hard work only begins with finishing the first draft of a book. The writing part I love. All the other stuff? Eh, we shall see. This story is going to be an interesting experiment.