So, how many manuscripts have you completed?

I’m sitting here reading my RWR (Romance Writers Report) and having a glass of wine (Clos du Bois 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon in case anyone wanted to know) and I’m reading the column on first sales:

…the 14th full-length manuscript she wrote before selling.
…the second full-length manuscript she wrote before selling.
…the 11th full-length manuscript she wrote before selling.
…the second full-length manuscript she wrote before selling.
…the fifth full-length manuscript she wrote before selling.
…the second full-length manuscript she wrote before selling.
…the fourth full-length manuscript she wrote before selling.
…the fourth full-length manuscript she wrote before selling.

Excerpts, of course from the full entries. I’m really impressed by those who didn’t make it in the early numbers and had the faith to keep going. That’s something.

33 responses to “So, how many manuscripts have you completed?

  1. I sold my second one. I think Sean Stewart sold his eighth.

  2. That column just kills me, but it gives me impetus to keep going.

  3. I’m about to finish my seventh… here’s hoping it’s a lucky number!

  4. Well I’ve finished only one. Is there any hope?

    • Hush, you. We in your circle know all about the thorough reading you’re getting. You sell your first one and you owe me lunch when I get to L.A.! ;D

    • Yes.
      Speaking from experience.

      • I honestly don’t know if I would have had the sticktoitiveness to trunk-file multiple manuscripts. I admire folks with that degree of perseverance.

        • I don’t think everything I’ve written will be sold one day, but I remain optimistic that some of the older ones will be redeemable when I get down the craft better and know how to fix them to be as good (if not better) than the later stuff.

          • Well, that’s what makes me wonder about the stats J. lists from the report. Are these the number of full novels, all told, or only the ones the author will admit to? I’ve completed *counts on fingers* five novels, but the one I’m polishing now is the only one of the five I’ll admit to writing.
            I quake in fear that I may die unexpectedly and my family will think the other ones could be publishable. please, say it ain’t so. evah.

      • That’s wonderful to hear. And thank you.

        • Ritual disclaimers apply–it was my first novel, I learned to write as I wrote it, and it took me six years to finish the thing. I went through multiple drafts, and multiple character iterations. But it was the same basic story.

  5. That’s faith, confidence, and center. 🙂

  6. Thanks for posting this. It helped make me feel a bit better about my chances.

  7. Wow, one really has to admire those who wrote so many novels before selling. That takes some kind of strength, I’m sure, and I wonder how many of us will have that kind of faith.
    I’ve written three, although one is in rough draft form, and one is halfway to the final draft. Don’t have enough confidence in the first one to submit it and maybe ruin my chances. 🙂

  8. Hmm. How to count this?
    I’d written one-and-a-half novels and the co-author had written one. We sold the first novel we wrote together.

  9. Interesting. I’d be curious to see which ones of those never made it past the rough draft stage, and which ones were the ‘polished and submitted and rejected’ ?
    I mean, it’s easy to trunk a novel and go on to the next story. The creation’s the fun part. The editing, now that’s the sweat and hard work. Nobody (at least that I know) sits there and says “Whee!! Now I get to edit! Yay!”
    Perhaps it’s just me, though. Could be that all 11 of those manuscripts were honed to a fine edge and sent out, or it could be that they’re all just garbled messes waiting for the trash bin except the one that sold. Myself, I’ve got 4 manuscripts under my belt (though lord, it feels like it should be more after all the effort) but the first two are decidedly monstrous, and the latter two show some promise. Not to mention you learn so much in the writing of each one.
    I’d also be curious to see if there’s a vast difference in ‘quality’ from the person that sold their second MS to the person that sold their 11th. Just the nosy witch in me coming out.

    • I’d be curious to see which ones of those never made it past the rough draft stage, and which ones were the ‘polished and submitted and rejected’ ?
      I wondered about that, too. I’ve finished two novels, but one needs to be completely rewritten before I’ll think about submitting it, and the other will (I hope) never see the light of day. It’s the third I have hopes for…

  10. I’ve finished three. Got the first one epubbed recently. I’d rewrite it if I could.
    PS number of manuscripts in how many *months* is the question…some of these guys can crank ’em out. I’m reading Jay Lake’s American Sorrows right now. Now *that’s* the kind of writing I want to learn to do, dammit. You will surely understand my belief that he is, in actuality, an entire crack team of highly-trained writers. On IV caffiene.

  11. That’s an uplifting entry, Jennifer. Gives us hope.
    I’m sitting here in my basement office listening to a small tribe of chickadees that have taken up permanent residence in our yew bush. I’ve been scattering seed for six years, hoping to get birds to nest outside my window. Persistence pays off.
    I’m bringing my 7th and 8th full length manuscript to the WHC pitch sessions in NYC this April, depending on what publisher I’m paired up with. I’ll also have a novella and a collection ready to pitch. A writer must learn to channel the indefatigable spirit of the veteran door-to-door drummer.
    Over the last half of 2004 I sent out about 20 short stories. I have sold 6 of them in the first few months of 2005, to Flesh & Blood, Inhuman, Abyss & Apex, Red Scream, Vacant Funhouse and a couple of anthologies. Chum the waters, the fish will bite.
    Writing isn’t a seasonal activity. You’ve got to be as persistent as the tide. If you aren’t in this game for the long run, run along home!

  12. Hmm… since 1993, I’ve written five full-length manuscripts, but only the latest, The Quill has been genuinely good enough to offer for sale. Which isn’t to say I couldn’t go back and tinker with the others in the hope that they might somehow be made marketable, but I consider the first four my “training wheels” novels; I had to grow comfortable with the form, work out kinks in my style, etc.

  13. I’ve written three that were novel-length but sold a short story.
    Oh, on a different subject, have you had any chance to watch TV lately? I ask because I know you’re a foodie. They had a short focus on a woman who made these beautiful cheesecakes. The ingredients were amazing, as was the way she decorated. My favorite was a lemon and vanilla bean (using Madagasgar vanilla beans) cheesecake with a lemon shortbread/macadamia nut crust. *swoon* Made me want to run off to Central Market and buy ingredients.

  14. Just for your stats, put me down for 10 full-length completed, currently revising the 6th.

  15. Let’s see, I sold my … fourth? Fifth? Third? Argh. *counts on fingers* Third or fourth, depending on how you count it. Third written alone, fourth counting the one I wrote with a coauthor. (You’d think a person could remember this kind of thing.)

    • They all run together into one vast ubermanuscript after a while.
      Amazing the things you forget about your own work, down to pivotal events and characters’ names.

  16. And Anne Perry said she wrote 20 novels before she sold one.

  17. I’ve written 5 2/2 so far (first novel, quadrology, standalone diary/novel, rewrite of first novel halfway through).
    I’ve collected one rejection (for first novel). The quadrology needs extensive revision – it’s 500K, and I can’t revise in small chunks. The diary wrote itself in 3.5 months (started as a livejournal for a character who’d always wanted to take over, and just _grew_) and I’m almost ready to submit. In the meantime, I keep writing.
    I write because I love writing, love finding out how the story goes on. I’ve started many more projects, but it’s been only for the last couple of years that I’ve felt ready to really submit.
    I look at this as a long-time career choice. Having my first novel published would have been _bad_ because, well, it wasn’t a good novel. Having the success of a JK Rowling is, it seems, enough to kill a career completely – because, hey, if I’m so good I sell millions, why should I bother to improve, or <gasp> bother to listen to my editors? (I’ve read a good number of series where the first one was obviously polished and worked on, and the next ones riding on the success of it, and *much* worse in quality).
    I’ve been frustrated by ‘first novels’ that were far better than my third until I realised that ‘first’ rarely means ‘first, ever, with no other writing experience.’ I find that reassuring.

  18. I know she’s around here somewhere, but I won’t dime her out. But *I’ve* heard that one of our more prolific authoresses was rejected 17 times before finally being published…and I know that some folks that are established professional writers still get rejected to date. Facts of the business I’m afraid. It doesn’t mean to stop, it means simply to admire their tenacity and do the same. However, I think I would have had to stop and re-evaluate at number 14…

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