Losing faith...and walking back from the ledge


I'm moving forward with submitting my novel to agents. The ugly truth is, however, that I've already lost faith in my story. After having beta readers give me feedback, I made a few revisions but I know the novel still has issues. Fixable issues. I just don't have the heart to fix them. And I won't, unless someone else has faith in me, or the story. That's my hope - foolish and misguided hope, I know, but - that's where I am, and it's why I'm submitting.None of my beta readers really seemed to love the piece. They appreciated it, they had positive and negative feedback, but... no one was dying for more. No one raced through it. And since it's a fast-paced thriller-y adventure, that's a problem. Here's the best feedback I got:

  • The stakes were really high and engaging, and I loved Evgenia. I really liked Anna too, and I thought the way you built up the relationship between the two girls was really well done. I was particularly impressed by the worldbuilding and the voice and how well they worked together - the details felt very grounded in reality and I felt sure that these were real villages and real political details, which of course sells the historical fiction aspect.
  • I think you have a great story and you have a strong voice. I was hooked and invested in both Evgenia and Anna's journeys, and I'm looking forward to finding out what Anna's big secret is about why her family was persecuted. I think you do a particularly good job at setting the scene and explaining the political and cultural elements without having to spell them out or over-explain them.
  • Firstly, great story. The story arc and plot development is very strong. Everything flowed from one part/place to the next, and it all made sense and was easy to follow and imagine. In general, I think Evgenia's voice and personality are very strong. I thought you did a wonderful job of portraying old Russia in every aspect.

And, OK, wow. Now that I'm reading over them, those are some really wonderful responses. Right?I don't know. I guess when I didn't get the response I was hoping for -- instant love -- I felt disappointed. Nobody said that they adored my characters or couldn't put the book down. No one clicked with it or loved it. And that's obviously what I want to inspire.But.... it's good feedback, right? I mean, the things I consistently get praise for are the setting -- apparently I did a wonderful job evoking the time period and place -- and Evgenia's voice, which is also my favorite thing. I'm not sure anyone glommed onto Evgenia as a character. But agents are always talking about voice, right??So, I feel a little more hopeful at the end of this blog post than I did at the beginning, lol. Maybe some agents will be interested? Maybe someone will represent me? Maybe I'll get published?And if I don't? I'll live. No one ever said life -- or writing -- was easy.