Your name is Jude Hardin. You graduated from the University of
Louisville in 1983 with an English degree, and you’ve been writing in
one form or another for a long, long time.
Six-and-a-half years ago, you decided it was time to try the big one--the novel.
It would be easy, you thought. Your idea was a surefire hit, and publishers would line up with their fat wallets open.
didn’t know what the hell you were doing, but you kept at it. The pages
you wrote in longhand started accumulating, and eventually you decided
to type them up on an old Olivetti portable you found at a thrift
Now this thing, this monster you had painstakingly
brought to life, had page numbers and chapter headings and description
and dialogue and action and humor and irony and pathos and NO FUCKING
You had written two hundred pages of what essentially amounted to rubbish, and you thought about chucking the whole shebang.
But you didn’t.
You ran across an article in Writer’s Digest by this guy,
who had recently signed a six-figure deal for a mystery series.
If he could do it, so could you.
bought a computer. You started reading more mysteries and thrillers.
You took your two hundred pages of rubbish and used them for offstage
backstory. You created a protagonist.
A few months later, you were over halfway through and moving right along. Time to start querying agents and publishers!
You didn’t know it at the time, but you were lucky to get form rejections. You were lucky to get any response at all.
You finished the book, and allowed a few friends and family members to read it. They said it was great, and you believed them.
2006, you attended a conference where the first chapter of another
novel you were working on was chosen to be in a workshop headed by them.
pitched the first book to an agent at the same conference. She
requested a partial, and you thought you were on your way. You sent her
the first fifty pages, only to receive a detailed letter in return
outlining the reasons the novel was not right for her.
Soon after that, you struck up a conversation with her.
She agreed to look at your first fifty pages, and echoed many of the
same concerns as the agent. You thought about addressing those concerns
and starting a major rewrite, but…
There was that other novel you were working on. The one that had been selected for the workshop.
hero was a private investigator named Nicholas Colt, and people seemed
to respond to him. They liked him. They liked the “voice.”
you finished the book and landed an agent, only to be disappointed time
and again by rejections from major New York publishers. They liked it,
but it just wasn’t “big” enough.
You did a rewrite.
came the recession, and for a while it seemed as though publishing was
at a standstill. You became frustrated, and decided to part ways with
the literary agent you’d worked so hard to get.
Now you were on your own again.
You thought about giving up, but this guy
had recently signed with a small-but-well-respected press
and you liked the way he spoke of them. You went to their website,
found the submission guidelines, and submitted a short synopsis and the
first thirty pages of your thriller Pocket-47
month or so later you got an email requesting two copies of the full
manuscript. You were excited, but you didn’t tell anyone about it
because you know rejection is the norm in this business. The publisher
promised to get back to you with its level of interest within 90 days.
You wait. And wait. And wait. A month passes, then two. At the end of the third month, you’ve just about given up hope.
It’s Thursday, just past five, and you’re thinking about playing tennis when the phone rings.
Your name is Jude Hardin, and you’re going to be a published author.