Last November, I attended TusCon, the annual fan-fun sf convention in Tucson. This usually sleepy con was sold out, largely because the Guest of Honor was George. R. R. Martin. I was there because several other people from the Tucson SF/Fantasy Writers' Meetup were going, and to attend a few writing-related panels. The most important of these, to me, was billed as a pitch session. I spent a couple of hours at Denny's that Saturday, honing a one-minute pitch and a revised opening sentence for Heirs of Mavarin. Over the past several years, Heirs has evolved from one large novel to three shorter ones, each volume of the trilogy to have a proper dramatic structure of its own. The pitch, however, was for the whole trilogy. Describing a 200K word story in 60 seconds is a challenge!
The three people I pitched to that night were two small press publishers and an acquiring editor. The first guy had no use for a full-length work, let alone a trilogy. The second was unable to commit resources for a whole trilogy from an unknown writer. The acquiring editor suggested that I try to sell the first volume by itself first as an ebook, and make it as good as possible. If it sold, the second and third could be published, with maybe an omnibus dead tree edition later. This was not far off my own plan, which was to publish three ebooks if I could not get a publisher interested.
In any case, my pitch should have been for the one book, not all three.
After the pitch session, I was starting to tell a friend that I'd pretty much gone down in flames when the acquiring editor gave me her business card, and asked me to send her pages. Since then I've sent her a revised pitch, and a newly-tweaked first chapter of the first volume, now renamed The Tengrem Sword. (This was the first name the larger novel had, lo these many years ago.) Just last week, having finished a supposedly-final edit of The Tengrem Sword, I sent the whole manuscript of that volume off to that same editor, by invitation. Huzzah!
I turned 60 years old on Friday, and it seems to me that my writing is finally coming into its own, after decades of fits and starts and lots of misfires. I'm about a quarter of the way through my edit of Book Two, The Road and the City. I just did a little light housekeeping on mavarin.com, and taken down old drafts of the first book from this very blog. I'm more confident and more productive with the books than I've been in years, perhaps decades. Best of all, the books themselves are miles better.