I'm sitting here at sort of loose ends, thinking about my stories in progress and hoping the thesis doesn't come back with big changes. Finishing that thesis freed me in so many ways and yet, here I sit, staring at the screen, tinkering with a novel I finished two years ago but never finished revising, and thinking about other stories I want to write. And it hits me that I've been tinkering, in one way or another, for years now. I finished the first novel, I sent it into the world, I got the rejections and the requests for more work. And of course I froze, life events taking me off in different directions than I'd anticipated.
But now I can't seem to ever let myself get to the stage of being satisfied with the work so that I'm forced to actually contemplate the submission process again. So long as I don't submit, by golly, I can't fail. Right?
Huh. Allison Brennan talked about that very thing over at Murder She Writes recently. (Yes, I'm late in reading it since it was posted last week, but good discussions are never stale.)
For thirtysome years, I wrote stories I never finished. I could argue that it was because I was young, immature, irresponsible, unmotivated, busy, yada yada, but those are all excuses. The truth is, fear kept me from getting to the end. If I finished a book, I would have to send it out, try to get published, and what if it was total dreck? (It was.)
Once I got over THAT fear–fear of rejection or fear that I couldn’t write myself out of a paper bag–other fears crept in. What if I entered a bunch of contests and never finaled? Well, I DID final . . . but I never came in first. What if I never sold? I did. What if I got published, but the books were a total failure? Well, my books did pretty good. What if my next book isn’t as good as the last? THE KILL hit #21 on the NYT expanded list . . . what if I never get that high again?
The difference between success and failure is not whether you hit lists or don’t hit lists; it’s not whether you sell or don’t sell. It’s whether you keep going . . . or
I have a billion and one ideas. And I'm positive none of them are ever good enough. I sometimes write ten pages, then go away to think about it, and never get back to the story. I have half a dozen files like this. And that's not even counting the short stories I get part way through before losing focus.
Obviously, I do finish some of what I write. I have 4 complete novels and one novella under my belt. I have published two short stories and quite a few articles. I can get the task done.
But part of my problem is knowing which direction to go in. I have two literary novels in progress, several romance ideas (as well as a few in various stages of progress), a couple of erotica ideas, and no idea which I should be pursuing.
And don't even get me started on the path to publishing I should take. Sometimes, I think I should explore the e-publishers, especially the RWA-approved ones, for a way to get started. But e-publishing still seems to have a whiff of non-respectability in some circles. I HAVE read some good e-books, books that you wonder why NY didn't buy them and authors so fabulous you can't believe they don't have a print contract yet. And then I've read some sample chapters that fall anywhere between boring to utter dreck. It's true that some (by no means all) e-pubs aren't known for their quality.
And yet writers have been picked up from e-pubs when NY came searching. And working with an e-publisher gives you some experience and a track record of some kind. Someone, and I forget who, in the NY world actually expressed that this could be a plus to them.
I get frozen when I start to consider the possibilities. Try to target category and build up from there? Bust out the gate with a big single title and try to sell that? Write those literary novels and go that route? Or head for the e-pubs and go from there?
Naturally, none of this means I'd get picked up anywhere, so please don't assume I'm saying it would be easy to do any of these things. It wouldn't be, of course. Some paths appear easier than others, it's true, but that doesn't make it so.
Of course I have an idea of how I'd like it to work for me. It involves print, a multi-book deal, and a medium range advance. But I know this may not be the case, and that's where I start to choke. Work on this idea or that idea? Target this market or that market?
Sheesh, it never ends, does it? Most importantly, and I do know this, is to write and finish books and then submit them. The best battle plan in the world won't work if you don't have the soldiers to back it up.
What about you? Do you have a plan? Are you where you want to be? Do you change the plan from time to time?
I understand your concern… I am thinking of e-publishing myself… but doing it in a PDF file… showing sample chapters on my blog (or webpage)… and then use paypal for payment…
Gotta get a book done before that…
I really think that e-publishing will become the future. 🙂
Also… probably smaller books (novellas maybe) because we are growing a generation of readers who are into small bytes of information.
It’s an interesting idea, but I wouldn’t publish myself, mostly because the romance industry is already set up with many e-pubs who also print in trade paperback.
If you want to self-publish, you should consider some of the POD technology too. I haven’t given up on the traditional route by any stretch, but some people do legitimately choose to go the POD route. Millenia Black, for instance, self-published her novel and then ended up getting discovered and selling it to a major NY publisher. She is the exception, though. And of course she is very talented. 🙂
I also have a very talented friend who wants to POD a book of his short stories if he can’t place them with a local publisher. For him, it’s a good idea because the stories all have a local angle and because the target market is Hawaii.
I’m not sure about having people pay to download work from an individual though. Have you met anyone who has done that? How successful was it for them? Again, no need to do it in romance, but in other genres I could see where it might be different.
At this point, I have not found anyone who has done it this way (paypal), but I cannot be the only person with the idea. 🙂
Romance does have some better ways to get published than other genres. The gates to being published is a horrendous road…
a lot of dragons.
Actually, I’ve recently discovered that sci/fi-fantasy and mystery have a few e-publishers out there too. And some women’s fiction is being e-published without the romance element. Perhaps you should consider those. 🙂
I’m not sure that people would pay to download stories from someone who isn’t a name, you know? Stephen King sold a story online, but even he finally quit doing it. I can’t remember why.
Correct me if I am wrong.. but Stephen King allowed them to download without paying first… at least that was what I remembered and then they were supposed to send money… it did not work.
You could be right. I sure don’t know. I’m just not sure it’s a viable way for us nobodys to get work out there. I wouldn’t pay, for instance, to download the work of somebody who didn’t have a long list of credits to recommend them. (And some well-known authors are writing short stories for Amazon.com that you can download for 49 cents each.)
There is one guy, can’t remember his name, who has a subscription list for short stories. He writes damn good stuff — I’ve read the freebies — but he also has credits a mile long. I’d subscribe to the list, but I don’t have enough time to read what I need to read now, so I don’t want to pay for something I may not have time for.
I’m not saying it’s not possible. Anything is, especially with a good marketing plan and the time to put into it.
Well.. you are the one who encouraged me to blog. AND, I can see an improvement in my fiction writing skills by having to actually write for someone else to read. :-)…
I think that actually having an audience will help me to decide to write more… You know, when I was trying to get published in print, I did not feel the audience because I did not get that immediate feedback. I now know what an audience feels like…
So do you think you won’t be pursuing print publication then? Because the lag times are so long, and the feedback isn’t there in the beginning. OTOH, I totally freak when I know someone is reading my story. My inlaws were reading my story in SC2 when they were here, and I told them to please not read it while sitting in the same room with me. Is that strange, or what? I just couldn’t stand it. It’s like standing on a busy street in your underwear. And when I had to read it aloud at the library, whoa. I was pretty nervous about that. Those things don’t bother you? Or is it because it’s online and the proximity isn’t there?
Well… when Otto reads my story I have the same problem you have with your family… AND then I say so what do you think… Of course he says good, very good or something like that. BUT I want to dissect it… and he doesn’t…
So I have learned to use him as a resource. He sometimes proofreads my stuff… He finally told me one day that I was so far above him with the writing that he did not know what to say to strengthen it. I thought that was sweet… (didn’t believe him though… which really upsets him…)
So no more asking him if it is good. LOL
As for the internet… I am OK with it because the proximity isn’t there; however, if you remember I really like to perform. I may have the shakes before I read or whatever, but I sure have a rush afterwards. 🙂
Also… my nerves are not like they once were… I used to have this problem with 1) someone is going to steal it or 2) what if my family reads it. Well, I had to get over it.
So I finally found out that no one really wants to steal my stuff (a real let down) lol
and my family does not even recognize themselves in my characters. (another letdown)
Oh… and I don’t think I will pursue print publication, but if the opportunity comes up… I will NOT say NO. 😉
Ha, well you are no longer a rank amateur if you realize that no one wants to steal your stuff. 😉 It’s a rite of passage when you realize that. 🙂
It’s silly the convolutions some people will go to in order to avoid theft, and it isn’t even necessary. I know someone who’s paranoid about this but so far I haven’t been able to convince her. She pays for her own copyright on unpublished work and it’s just not necessary.
Anyway, ahem. 🙂 Well, I’m certainly in it for the print because I want to get paid. Ha! And I know I don’t like performing, though I will when I have to (the library).
Yes, it’s difficult to get good feedback from a spouse. Mike isn’t a writer, but he’s pretty good at what makes a story work. He’s saved my bacon more than once. When he first read my story from SC2, he didn’t like it. I wasn’t happy about that, but when he explained why, I realized he was right. In fact, though I fixed what he wanted, and he gave his thumbs up, I think I could have went even farther when I reread the story now.
You are so right to not worry about your family reading it. I worry about mine still, but for a different reason. Those steamy love scenes….LOL!
Otto asks about your steamy love scenes.
He wants to give you a few good adjectives… But nothing I could repeat here LOL
Maybe he would make a good romance writer.
And when I first began writing and submitting, I would do the poor man’s copyright… you know send yourself a letter. After reading about copyrights, I finally realized that it was not effective. But I was not going to spend the money on something that was not going to get published… and then I realized if it did get published I wouldn’t need a copyright.
So… I haven’t worried about it since. Getting past the thought that my writings are my children… I now can cut them and rewrite them and revision… and everything else. So liberating.