By Henri Whitehead
For the past six years, I’ve been working on my next novel. At the moment, it’s titled Great Is Our Sin, and it’s mostly a semi-autobiographical account of my first year teaching at an incredibly poor and rural school in central Missouri. This is not the first book that I’ve ever written. In 2012, I kickstarted then self-published Sol, and I learned a lot from that experience. I don’t think it was a mistake to self-publish. In fact, I think that was probably the best course of action that I had with that first novel because unfortunately, Sol wasn’t that good.
I rarely tell anyone that I even wrote Sol. Stacks of copies still sit in a closet, and I never feel motivated to sell them. My problems with the book are plenty. I’ve soured on everything from the characters to the entire plot. Perhaps, my biggest issue with the book is that it doesn’t reflect me in my current state. It reflects a very naive time during my twenties when I still pretending to be an adult without understanding what it meant to be actually live as an adult. I had not found my true self, so I see that first self-published novel much the same way someone might look at a high school yearbook photo.
Ten years have passed since I self-published Sol, and I’m just a different person. I’m hoping my latest attempt at publishing a novel heals a lot of lingering shame from that first go around, which is why I just want to do it differently. The big change this time is I’m not going to fall back on self-publishing. I’m committed to going the traditional route through a literary agent (no matter how long it takes). So far my journey finding a literary agent has been a short one. I’ve only been looking for three months (that’s considered short for a first-timer), and I’ve had a slew of rejections but I also had a few bites (still waiting on a big one to give me a final verdict). As this whole journey unfolds, I just wanted to start blogging about the process. I want to be honest about the highs and the lows, so if someone reads this, they can at least be reassured that getting published is a grind.
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