I’m sorry it’s been so long, but I finally have something to write another post about. A few things, actually. Quite a bit has happened since my last batch of words here, so I’m going to deliver it all in three distinct acts. That way you can experience it with the same excitement and foreboding that I did as it unfolded.
This is where I was in November. I had a completed (sort of) manuscript for the first book in my Ethereal Earth Series, and I was proudly showing it to anyone who even resembled a literary agent or book-seller…or book-reader, honestly. I just wanted it out there! I thought that as long as I was waving the thing around, it would eventually get some positive attention.
And it worked. In my first batch of agent queries (one-page letters explaining why I’m not a complete doofus and my book deserves to exist) I actually got several requests for partials and one request for the full manuscript. Which is a pretty great response for a beginner. It’s like getting through to the second round on American Idol. It means that, not only are you not hilariously bad, but you’re SO not terrible that professionals are willing to spend more time on you. Without the promise of baked goods or backrubs or anything! I was definitely happy with it. So I sent my stuff out to the requesting agents, then sat back and waited for the offers to come rolling in.
That’s right. While I got quite a bit of positive feedback, I didn’t get anything concrete. And that’s typical. Expected, even. Big time authors like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King had to try a bunch of times before they got published, and I’m just, like…me. It’ll take a while, and I knew that going in. I got some suggestions for changes I could make to submit back in the future, and I got some genuinely good advice that I’ve since used to make the story stronger. But I didn’t get an agent in my first round of attempts. That was about two months of submitting and waiting.
But I didn’t waste that time. In between trying to break the e-mail server with refreshes, I was writing a new book and researching more agents. I had it in my head that I wanted to publish my stuff traditionally, and that meant jumping through all the hoops. Each agent has different submission criteria that you have to abide by, and they also have different preferences in genre, sub-genre, character, and general tone. AND, since they’re human beings, those preferences can change periodically based on market conditions, their current roster of clients, and what they had for breakfast that morning.
So if you want to stand a chance at catching their attention, the accepted wisdom is that you need to suss out some kind of connection from their profile and tailor your submission material to match. That takes time that’s almost always wasted. It’s not even like online dating; it’s like blind speed-dating in a crowded airport terminal full of shouting maniacs who are trying to sell the manifesto they wrote entirely on toilet paper. You have to pull loose from that pack somehow, and it takes effort. That’s for one agent, and you’re supposed to do that anywhere from 80 to 200 times before giving up. Yeah…
After months of doing that, I stopped liking it even a little. Because even if you do find someone interested, it’ll be weeks or months before they have time to get to your book. And then they’ll ask for more material, and it’s another few weeks or months. Then a revise and resubmit request, and another few months…you get the idea. You could land an agent tomorrow, but it’s far more realistic to expect it in a year or two. THEN it’s another year of revisions and submissions to publishing houses, who, if you’re lucky, will request their own revisions. That’s all before you see a dime from any of it.
Now, there’s something to be said for the love of the game, but come on. All of that effort takes away from writing time. And that’s the whole point! I write because I love it, not because I want accolades. (Editor: Josh is currently accepting any and all accolades.) So why spend a third or more of my time trying to convince someone to sell my book, when there’s a perfectly viable shortcut that allows me to write more books to sell?
That’s right, I’ve decided to self-publish this series. Now, it used to be that vanity publishers would charge a crazy rate to print your clown romance novel, and BOOM, you had a book. And that still happens to people who don’t know better. But Amazon, ITunes, and Google Play all make it so much easier now. You sell based on the quality of your work and your marketing skills. That’s it. It’s the self-checkout of publishing, and you can be as successful as your work ethic allows.
The big difference is that you have to arrange everything yourself. You have to hire a professional editor (which I have), get the cover designed and ready (which I’m doing), and make all the decisions on your own. It’s scary, sure, but it’s also like setting up a new small business. You have to make some investments, work hard, and hope people like what you end up with–all while ostracizing your friends by relentlessly selling your dream as loudly as possible.
So that’s where I am now. The book goes to a really cool editor at the beginning of March, and she’ll help me get this thing into professional shape. Once I’ve pounded out all the dents and polished it up to a nice glossy shine, it’ll be ready to go. Right now I’m planning on releasing it in May, but I’ll firm up that date as it gets closer. It’ll be available as a paperback, e-book, and audiobook–which I’m recording myself thanks to my friends and family who set me up with the sweet gear this Christmas. If you want to hear me do accents, curse, and talk like a lady, that’s the version you’ll want. (Note: The cursing is by far the hardest to catch me at in real life. Think of them as limited edition f-bombs.)
And to wrap up this long post, I’ll let you know that I just finished the first draft of the next book in the series, and I tentatively hope to release that sometime this Fall. Now, the logical reaction may be to think it’s a little presumptuous to write a sequel before the first book is even published, and you might be right. But I honestly think you’ll be convinced once I show you the following 97-point plan:
That’s my news for now. Exciting things will be happening more regularly with the looming release schedule, so I promise to update more frequently. Please consider joining the mailing list if you’d like to be notified the next time I smoosh some words together here. Thanks for sticking through the whole post!