The Terror That Is Querying

by Shelt Garner

I started off this project wanting to try publishing my first novel in the traditional manner. Not that I have anything against self-publishing, but I wanted to go through the entire process to see how far I could get before I realized it just wasn’t possible.

I’m well aware that for someone like me to get published in the traditional manner is something like winning the lottery. Add to this that I have extremely high expectations for myself and I’ve been kind of drifting towards my goal without any deadlines and, well, here we are. I’m approaching 50 and there’s a good chance I won’t even begin querying literary agents until the fall of next year.

The thing about querying is, it not only is there a good chance someone like me won’t succeed, but even if you do, it can take months, years even, to finally land an agent. Over and above any talent you may have, a lot of luck is involved, too. So, there is every reason to believe that even if I sell a novel, if you factor in post-production issues of editing and marketing that I could be nearly in my mid-50s before I see anything on bookshelves.

Here is where my huge ego and general delusional tendencies come into play. For me, working on this novel — despite how, in some respects it’s obviously a fool’s errand — is existential. I’ve struggled with this project for so long, and improved so much, that I’m determined to see it to some sort of conclusion. I can’t help how old I am. I can’t help that I blew out an emotional knee because of the failure of ROKon Magazine in Seoul.

I’m determined to keep going, no matter what. But I do have to adjust my expectations some. There is the obvious problem of there potentially being a civil war in late 2024, early 2025 that I have to worry about. Tough for anyone to want to buy my novel if they’re dodging explosions. Or, if we become an autocracy, it’s very possible that I’ll just get pushed out a window because I got drunk in a bar and called President DeSantis a cocksucker.

Anyway, the whole point is — I wish I was about 20 years younger. Everything would be similar. But I’m an Old. I’m a loser failure who wasted way too much of my life grieving for a zine in a far away land. But I’m not dead yet. I still have the gumption to try to see if I might get this novel published.

But, of course, this novel isn’t A Confederacy of Dunces. If it doesn’t get published within a few years of me finishing it, it’s just another failed first novel that no one will see nor want to read.

Wish me luck.

Author: Shelton Bumgarner

I am the Editor & Publisher of The Trumplandia Report

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