The more I dip my toes into publishing waters, the more I realize how deep those waters are, how cold, and how many leviathans are waiting to eat me whole and wriggling. Here are a few of them I see below the surface, waiting to sink their razor-sharp teeth into my tender, albeit hairy, flesh.
Big Fish 1: Money… or Lack Thereof
I am not a man of means.
Semi-low paying job
+ married with 3 kids
+ one source of income
One of the refrains I hear most often from the writing community, whether traditional or self-published, is “You MUST hire a professional editor.” I get that. I really do, but to hire an editor for Deified would cost me a minimum of $1,600.
Me: Love of my life. Sweetheart. O heart and soul of mine. Would you mind if I spent $1,600 on a novel that will likely never see a return on the investment?
Wife: Pack your things and get out.
I did fork over $200 for a manuscript evaluation. Even that was like squeezing blood from a turnip.
I’ve got more time than money. My only remedy for this quandary is to write a first draft, edit until I lose all perspective, write book 2, edit that until I lose all perspective, go back to book 1, edit again, jump to book 3, then back to book 2, and so on. I started Deified in 2008 and have taken as much as a year off from it on several occasions. The longer the separation, the fresher the eyes. I’m currently on book 3 in this cycle with some other projects sprinkled in for good measure. Deified, at its longest, was 103,000 words. Currently, it’s 83,000. But have I done enough?
My single greatest fear is that I’m like one of those first rounders on American Idol. You know the ones. They sound like a cat in a meat grinder, but they’re convinced they’re the best thing since Freddie Mercury all because their friends and loved ones never had the heart to tell them they suck.
Big Fish 2: My “Author’s Platform” (aka Social Media)
Other than personal experience, I have so little to say in this blog and even less to say on Twitter. I save all the big ideas for the books and there isn’t much I can say about the art of writing that hasn’t already been said a million different ways by a million different people. Mostly, what goes through my head when I sit down to write a post is, “Well… Uhhhhh… Crap… Ummmm… SQUIRREL!” I can’t very well talk about what works for me when nothing has (yet). It’s like the blind leading the blind. Publishing moves at glacial speeds. It’s difficult to write about the monotonous drone of nothing happening.
Besides, every moment I spend blogging, tweeting, or facebooking is a moment I’m not writing a novel. I just turned 40, death is right around the corner, time is of the essence!
Big Fish 3: Agents
These gatekeepers to the industry are frightening. Most of them are in New York. I’ve been to New York. It’s electrifying, inspiring, and wholly terrifying. After New York, I knew what it felt like to be road kill. I learned to appreciate Texas, it’s slower pace and social niceties. Things like “No, you first” instead of “Get the f*** out of my way” and “Thank you, come again” instead of “Here, now get the f*** outta my store.”
That being said, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that none of my rejection letters have referred to me as a “douche bag.”
I do follow a number of agents on Twitter. They offer much advice that, in hindsight, scares the hell out of me. Querying these people is like trying to court a woman who’s way out of my league, can have damn near anyone she wants, and doesn’t know me from Adam. Kind of reminds me of high school. 🙁
Big Fish 4: Snakes
I have an irrational fear of snakes. This doesn’t have anything to do with writing, except that I fear I might die by a snakebite that will put an abrupt end to my literary aspirations. Sometimes I worry that snakes will get into the plumbing and enter the house through the toilet. Is that a thing? Can snakes do that?
The Biggest Fish: Me
A quitter by nature, I am my own worst enemy. I spend so much time mired in self-doubt, self-loathing, and general discontent that it’s hard to come up for air and keep swimming.
I’ll have to work on that.