I’m Dreading The Due Diligence Of Literary Agents When I Start to Query This Novel

by Shelt Garner

You know, you take yourself wherever you go. And I’m at a point in my life when I can’t get rid of all the evidence that I’m a drunk crank kook and have been that way my entire life.

My heroine looks like Corrie Yee in my mind as I write her.

My fear is, of course, that in about a year, when I start to query my first novel that I will see agents crawling around this Website doing due diligence on me and obviously being shocked at what a drunk crank I am.

I’ve talked about these fears before, but as I get closer to zooming through the third draft of this novel, I find myself thinking about it yet again. I just don’t know what I’m going to do.

I suppose, in the end, I do nothing.

Slings and arrows and all that. I just have to accept that I may suffer something of a “kook tax” yet again — the liberal white women who I believe make up the vast majority of literary agents may be aghast at what a freaky weirdo I’ve been as I written — and talked — over the years at great length, in vague terms, about what I hope is a six novel project.

Only time will tell, I suppose.

Oh Boy. I Hope Having A Lot of Organic ‘Spicy Scenes’ in The First Act Of This Novel Makes It A Page Turner

by Shelt Garner

I measure the development of this novel not in words but in scenes, with each scene being about 1,000 words. So, I’m aghast that my first act has ballooned to 60 scenes. If you assume 60 + 50 (25 + 25) + ~30….oh boy. If I assume 60 scenes for the first act, then about 50 scenes for the second act and maybe 30 scenes for the third act…I got a problem on my hands.

“I can’t wait forever!” — President of Hollywood
I have a real problem on my hand. That would be ~140,000 words. And, yet, maybe not. A lot will depend on how long each scene is and I wildly miscalculated that issue with the second draft. I came in at 80,000 words after allotting myself 100,000 words. The issue was that all many of third act scenes were really, really short.

There are three ways to solve this issue.

One is to just accept that I’m going to blow past the sweetspot of ~100,000 words and take comfort in the fact that The Girl On The Train is about 140,000 words. Another is to hope that I’ve totally misjudged things again and the story will somehow magically fit into the around 100,000 word range. And, last of all, is the most drastic — cut the thing into two.

I think my best bet at the moment is it just finish the novel then take an assessment. If I fall within around 140,000 words, then I think I’ll just fight for that vision and try to pick a novel of that length.

Or I might write another — maybe scifi — novel that DOES fit into the ~100,000 sweetspot and then once I sell that use the success of that novel to sell my first, longer novel.

The point is to 1) finish the novel 2) tell a good story.

Everything else can be taken care of later.

The Sprint Begins

by Shelt Garner

I’m just about to lock down the first two chapters of the third draft of my first novel. It’s some of the best writing I’ve ever done. I’m really, really pleased. I just have to keep the quality of work up.

I’m never going to be Gillian Flynn, but I am at least getting closer to Stieg Larsson quality writing (I know I read his stuff translated). The key thing that changed in the last month or so is I’ve finally — finally — figured out the relationship between different people as the story opens.

As such, now I can zoom through the much of the novel. I still have a lot of issues with some structure ahead of me — especially in the third act –but, in general, I know this story so well that things writing *should* move at a pretty nice clip.

But there are some known unknowns. One is the holiday season is now here and that is going to scramble things on an emotional basis. Meanwhile, I’ve been in a very — VERY — idyllic situation when it comes to writing for a long time and that is bound to change — one way or another — sooner rather than later. I just have to accept that.

What’s more EVEN IF I stick the landing of this novel, the looming Fourth Turning and Petite Singularity starting in late 2024, early 2025 is something I’ve quite worried about. And that’s over and above what a stressful pain in the ass the querying process is on whole.

Anyway. Wish me luck.

Things May Be About To Go REALLY FAST With This Third Draft Of My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

If my hunch is right and I’m able to lock down the first three chapters of this novel by, say, the end of November…hold on to your hats, we’re about to rock n roll. I say this because once I establish the basic relationships between all the characters, then a basic element of the story will be sorted out.

And if you factor in that I know most of the second act like the back of my hand at this point, then I can probably rewrite it quite quickly. The third act, though, oh boy. That’s the act that is going to be tough. If anything causes a delay in my mental timetable about when this novel will be “finished” and the post-production process begins, it’s figuring out a totally new third act.

That could soak up a significant amount of time.

But I am still, however, on track to start querying by no later than maybe September. That’s the dream. That’s the goal. Then a whole new era of this novel will begin. I’m well aware that everything sucks and I may be “on sub” for years…but, fuck it.

Let’s rock.

Dreading The Due Diligence Of Literary Agents In About A Year As Part Of The Querying Process

by Shelt Garner

I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do about literary agent due diligence on my sorry ass when I start to query. The thing about querying is people who don’t give a shit about you are going to become aware of your existence. And if you’re a fucking drunk kook crank like me, then, oh boy, their evaluation could be pretty brutal.

But, lulz, what am I going to do about it now?

I suppose there are a few things on the edges I could do to mitigate how bad things might be seen from the point of view of a literary agent. And, yet, fuck it, I refuse to change who I am. Let the chips fall where they may.

But I definitely need to psych myself up. It’s going to be very disheartening about a year from now to see people who are clearly literary agents poking around this blog. I understand that to someone who doesn’t have the time to have a conversation with me to find out my story that…I can come across as an eccentric.

And I will admit that I’m kind of bonkers. Maybe a lot bonkers.

But I will note that there are plenty of famous people who are just as bonkers as I am who are called “colorful” rather than nuts. Anyway. There’s nothing I can do about it now. Wish me luck.

Pondering Mystery Thriller Novels to ‘Comp’ To My Book As Part of The Querying Process

by Shelt Garner

Because I don’t really even read any modern books in my genre, I think I’m going to turn to AI to find out what current books I should read that I can “comp” to a book that is a homage to Stieg Larsson’s stuff.

My novel is so…different…that I struggle to think that I will be able to find a novel that is clearly something I can “comp.” But I’m going to have to figure out something. That’s what they pay me the big bucks for.

I’m going to have to take this whole process a lot more seriously. Anything to do with querying means I can just daydream and be delusional anymore. I really, really, really don’t want to self publish. That’s just not my scene. I would have to be really fucking desperate — at least at this point — to self publish.

I would rather go down in a blaze of glory a monumental failure than limit myself by self-publishing. That’s just my vision at the moment. I have nothing against people who self publishing, but I just don’t wanna do that.

My heroine, in my mind, looks something like this woman above.
I started reading a novel that was clearly meant to be something along the lines of a homage to Stieg Larsson’s stuff but something about it left me cold. It seemed to hone in on what the author thought made Lisbeth Salander so popular — her vigilante streak.

To me, that’s just a part of her personality. She was far more complex than that. I hope to force myself to actually read that damn book simply so I won’t feel so self-conscious about not reading fiction. But only time will tell.

Pondering The Potential Reception Of This Novel By Literary Agents

by Shelt Garner

Now that I’ve just about locked down the first two chapters of the third draft of this novel, I find myself pondering What Next. I still have a few more months of writing to finish the third draft, but I definitely am beginning to think about the querying process.

My big concern is, of course, that because I’m doing this in a vacuum that the somewhat provocative premise of the novel will make literary agents — who I imagine as being mostly liberal white women — either laugh or get angry. I have no idea if the “sex worker who solves a murder mystery” will be cool with literary agents or not because of that.

But “Barry” was popular, so, lulz, it’s at least *possible* that my similar type story might have broad appeal. And, yet, sexwork is so loaded in the minds of most people while being a hired assassin is a lulz that it’s possible it will just be too loaded for anyone to take seriously.

Yet the point is that I want a heroine is really, really interesting. Someone unexpected who you will want to hang out with for the time it takes to read ~140,000 words. I believe I have come up with just the type of evocative story that people will really find worth their time.

I hope.

The holiday season is now here, so that is an added complication. My fear is that because of the holiday season and other “known unknowns” that I’ll really be pushing it to wrap this novel up no later than April 2024. Then I will have to save up the money to get a professional manuscript consultant to read over the third draft.

THEN I have to start to query just as the “Perfect Storm” of The Fourth Turning and the AI generated Petite Singularity happens in late 2024, early 2025. But, if nothing else, I definitely am happy with this story. There are probably going to be a lot — A LOT — of structural changes to the third act in the transition from second to third draft.

But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Now The Hard Part

by Shelt Garner

I love to write. Writing is like shedding skin for me. I do it a lot without even thinking about it. And, for years now, I’m been VERY delusional about what’s going on with my first novel. I’ve allowed myself this luxury because I knew it was the only way I would ever actually finish anythiing.

And, yet, now that it’s clear that I’ve finally figured out the beginning of the third draft of this novel and I’m going to — hopefully — wrap it up by, say, around April 1st, I have to put on my big boy pants

I have to start thinking about querying.

The reason why this scares the shit out of me is multifold. One is, well, I’m a drunk crank who doesn’t always follow the media narrative on social media. I retweet a lot — A LOT — of pictures of hot chicks. I get drunk and rant about the importance of heteronormative monoculture. And I have been known to say I fucking hate the Bechdel Test. AND, WHAT’s MORE, my novel could easily be reduced to the logline of smelly CIS white male spends 140,000 words to depict a “sex worker solving a murder mystery.”

I retweet a lot of pictures of hot chicks on Twitter.
None of those things endear me to the liberal women who often are literary agents. But I refuse to change anything. I’m going to accept the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, come what may.

I have a lot to consider going forward. I have to think about how I’m going to pay for a manuscript consultant to look over my copy. I have to buy AND READ a series of novels that I can “comp” my novel to, even though it’s a real struggle to consume anyone else’s content — and I’m a storytelling snob.

AND, all of this is happening the context of the rise of AI, the potential for a “Fourth Turning” in late 2024, early 2025 AND the very real possibility that my entire life could be thrown up in the air because of known unknowns.

I dig shit like this.
And, yet, the whole point of starting a novel in the first place was to get outside my comfort zone and to see how far I could get in the process before it became absolutely, 100% clear that I would have to — gulpself-publish.

But I would only consider that after a good bit of fighting to get published traditionally. And I might even be so stubborn that I simply but the finished novel aside until I can get something ELSE published traditionally and use the leverage that gives me to get my first novel published.

I’m Really Worried About What Literary Agents Will Find About Me When They Do Due Diligence

by Shelt Garner

At the moment, I continue to drift towards my goal of being a traditionally published author in a delusional haze. But there is going to come a moment when I begin to query this novel when the cold, hard metrics of reality are going to come crashing down on me.

What I’m thinking about specifically is the due diligence that literary agents are inevitably going to do on me. Given that I’m 100% extroverted, I really have been out there on social media, being my drunk crank self. And that doesn’t even begin to address the various things I’ve said on this blog that could very easily get me “canceled.”

I’ve repeatedly been what some “woke cancel culture mob” people might say is “fat phobic” when I called Trump’s former Sectary of State Mike Pompeo a “fat fuck.” But not only did he deserve it because if he was ever POTUS, I’m the specific type person he would come after, but I would like to think such low brow political rhetoric is protected political speech.

But, no, any literary agent who sees that will probably just roll their eyes and move on.

That the thing about being a drunk crank who’s a loser who aspires to be a success — you just can’t win. The only difference between a drunk crank loser and someone who is “unique” is just success. But the transition from drunk crank loser to being “a colorful, unique eccentric” can be almost impossible because, generally, people are judgement assholes.

It all boils down to — I can’t help who the fuck I am. I just can’t help how old I am or that I’m a smelly “CIS white male” who likes to drink and spout off on various forms of social media while intoxictaed.

Slings and arrows and all that.

It’s Comical How Few People Take Me Seriously

by Shelt Garner

For various reasons large and small, in general, no one listens to me and no one takes me seriously. This has been a problem my entire life. But I have proven time and again that I actually do have some worth and I have surprised people by ability.

As such, it will be quite interesting what the reaction will be when I produce a third draft of this mystery-thriller that is actually…really good? There are some obvious existential problems with the novel, but I do believe that soon enough I will be within shouting distance of a novel that a literary agent might take seriously.

Or not. Who knows. I can’t help who I am. I am well aware that I can come across as a drunk crank at times. Ok, I get it. But I also know I’m a hard worker — especially if it’s something I believe in — and I’m also a good enough writer and storyteller that I have a career as a novelist ahead of me if things work out.

But I also know I’m notorious for being delusional. So, lulz. Who knows. I continue to be weary of the the fucking “Fourth Turning” and how everything could collapse starting in late 2024, early 2025.

I know I worry about this possibility way too much. But I continue to be alarmed at where the United States is going these days and it definitely seems as though we may not making it through the 2024 presidential cycle in one piece. But I can’t predict the future, so, maybe, we’ll just punt our problems down the road another four years and I will be able to query my first novel in peace.