There is a book out there that’s better than yours

I’ve been told time and again that there are thousands of books out there looking for representation that are as good as or better than yours. It’s just one of those “slap in the face” things that you are told when you start out in writing to make sure you understand that there is fierce (but friendly) competition in the query-market.

Up until today, I had read quite a few beta novels that were as good as my work, or would soon be just as good.  I throw out my pom poms and wish them all the best as they begin to submit.  I do.  Really, I do.  I am THRILLED when I hear that someone lands an agent or gets something published.  I think it’s awesome!

Today, I finished a beta that shattered me utterly and completely.  I just read a novel that will be querying the same time as mine.  It will be in the New Adult category, where mine will be in the Young Adult category, but that is still TOO CLOSE for my comfort.

Is the story like mine?  No.  Not at all, but it is Speculative Fiction.  So, what scares me?

Scare is not really the right word.  I have the sinking feeling that I have just read the next Hunger Games, or the New Adult equivalent to Harry Potter. I have never been so on the edge of my seat.  I have never been so absorbed thinking about a novel and dying to get back to it. I have never been so invested in characters that were not my own.

Swirls of emotion go thorough you when you are touched by something so deeply.  You begin to question yourself. Is your novel anywhere near this good?

You push aside all the accolades you’ve received.  You forget that people have told you how much they like your book.  All you can do is envision THAT OTHER BOOK sitting on an agent’s desk, right beside your own.

It’s humbling.  Very Very Humbling.

I contacted the author to let them know how I felt about their story, and to make sure they shoot for the stars, because this is where that book belongs.

I could feel the gushing coming through on her response.  And she should gush… all the way to a six figure advance.

How am I? Well, after downing a vat of Chocolate Almond Fudge ice cream, I slapped myself upside the head.

Her novel is NOTHING like mine.  There is even a possibility that someone might pass hers over and reach for mine because they have not seen a good high-paced alien explosion novel lately.

The publishing industry is so odd and unpredictable that you can’t know what will happen.

If she emails me in a month and tells me she landed an agent and a big six contract all in the space of a week, I will not be angry.  I won’t be surprised either.  I will do a happy dance of joy for her, because she will deserve it.

And then I will send out another query as I toast her success.

Yes, there will always be another novel out there that is better than yours.  But somewhere in the world there is an agent or publisher who will pick up yours and say “Holy cow! THIS is what I’ve been looking for FOREVER!!!”


For now, I think I might need to get another half-gallon of ice cream.



14 responses to “There is a book out there that’s better than yours

  1. Pingback: You need to buy this book, and it’s on sale for $.99 | Jennifer M Eaton

  2. I admire and appreciate your honesty; sometimes it’s not easy to admit that we’re feeling insecure, especially about something so personal. I have a lot of moments with published novels when I think, “my writing will never be in the same league as this stuff.” I haven’t been fortunate enough to have the amount of beta reading experience you have, but I can quite easily imagine the sinking heart, the aching stomach, and the intense craving for CHOCOLATE NOW that I would experience if I’d been in your position. It’s so easy to second-guess our own work when someone else’s blows us away, and the thought of competition is just… ugh. Shudder. Sob!

    • I really don’t look at other authors as competition – more like family. But when a shining star pops up – you feel like that little kid again- trying to get grades as good as the older siblings

  3. I can certainly relate to your feelings whenever I finish a book that leaves me breathless, too. I think you have the skill, imagination and determination to find the representation that will get your work published. 🙂

  4. Boy, can I ever relate. Thank you for sharing this. The good news is, even after the gallon of ice cream is gone, we still keep writing. 🙂

  5. When I read and edit, and edit yet again, I wonder why I want to throw myself into the lion’s den because there ARE so many talented writer’s and the competition is tough. But, why not take up the challenge and dream… ?

  6. The last twelve times I’ve been here, it’s been to congratulate you on some sort of success. To be honest, I’ve been a bit jealous of the fact that you don’t seem to have any trouble finding publishers for your books. I self published mine because I couldn’t stand another rejection letter.

    But then I realized that your success doesn’t have anything to do with things coming “easy” for you OR “luck”, but everything to do with how much of yourself you put into your writing. You write whenever you get the chance and edit your little fingers off before even considering a query. And then there is the talent it takes to tell a story that people want to read.

    You have everything you need to be a successful writer Jenn. You ARE a successful writer. Don’t ever forget that. 🙂 xo

  7. I’m dying to know what book and which author. hehehe

  8. There’s an episode of a whodunnit mystery in this experience. 😉 I don’t think I’ve beta read the next Hunger Games or other genre equivalent yet, but I’ve read manuscripts that are really, really good. And I’ll question whether mine will reach a similar quality level.

    It’s also disheartening when those really, really good manuscripts don’t find representation or a publisher. Because then I’ll question whether I should even try.

    That’s where our writing groups and blog buddies can be so helpful even beyond the writing critiques. They support us and encourage us to remember that our writing is good, too—just in a different way from those others. You’ve had several stories published—because they’re good. Because you’re a good writer. Not because you somehow bluffed your way in.

    It’s okay to take comfort in ice cream and chocolate now and again because you’re human. And we humans can be too hard on ourselves. But you’re on track for a successful writing career no matter what happens with that other writer.