Publish in Haste, Regret at Leisure

I just had to share this interesting post about the importance of taking your time before self-publishing. It’s by Brooke Warner, who formerly worked in traditional publishing and is now publisher of She Writes Press. Good advice for all indies and something I wish I had read before I decided to self-publish.

I’m currently working on a post about what I did and what I would do differently next time. No, surprises, developing a marketing plan is at the top of that list. Coming soon!


Impatience Wins

Well, it has been nearly two months since I made my last post, and a lot has happened. While I did let the first draft of Going out on Top sit for a month before I attacked it with my virtual red pen, patience really isn’t a virtue of mine at all.

What did I do to scratch that itchy must-publish-something itch? I decided to release my first novel Welcome to Dubai, Baby in serial format on a blog.

Welcome to Dubai, Baby has a long history. I finished it 3 years ago, and did what everyone who has ever completed their first novel does -showed it to only their friends and got nothing but positive feedback. It seems obvious now. Of course! They’re your friends. They’re going to be gentle. They’re not going to tell you it’s complete mind-numbing crap. Hence, I thought it was a brilliant jewel that needed to be shared with the world. And if I thought that, then surely every literary agent and editor I approached would agree.

So, without knowing a damn thing about the querying process, I read a few “how to write a query letter” posts and started submitting to agents.

First couple of agents I submitted to? Nada. Not even a thank you for submitting. The third asked for a bio, a synopsis and the first 50 pages.

That’s when I realized just how much about the publishing process I didn’t know. Like how to format a manuscript, how to write a bio (especially when the sum total of your publishing credits is the star letter to the editor of a local entertainment magazine, for which you were paid in DVDs), and what the freaking heck a synopsis was.

Needless to say, the agent did not take me on as a client. The fact that it took me a week to get back to her was probably enough to tell her that it was Amateur Hour. I got a “Thanks, but this project isn’t for me,” which I also got from the next ten agents I queried. The brilliant jewel started to look a little cloudy.

Then I queried an agent who at one time represented both Candace Bushnell and Emily Giffin. She was no green agent desperate to build her client list. She was (and is) a serious literary power-player, the president of one of the top literary agencies in the US. And she wrote me back (yes!) to tell me that my novel needed to be cut by 30% to even be considered (no!).

Well, I attacked that manuscript, slashing and burning adjectives, adverbs and extraneous (but awesome!) scenes like a literary subsistence farmer, but to no avail. It was still 30,000 words too long. My once-brilliant jewel was now only a collection of sparkly chips. I just couldn’t cut a single word more.

Defeated by my inability to “kill my darlings”, I did what every other person who has written their first novel and had it rejected by agent after agent does. I put it in the metaphorical drawer. Forgot about it. Got an exhausting day job, started on my second novel, wrote some short stories. Decided never to submit anything to another agent again until it was perfect.

But perfectionism and impatience are not character-traits that work well together. One of them had to go.

See ya, perfectionism!

Now Welcome to Dubai, Baby is out there. Published, albeit on a blog with just a handful of followers, most of whom are my friends and relatives. Still, I’m going to release it as an e-book in the Amazon Kindle Store. It’s free. What have I got to lose?

I’m also starting the querying process for Going out on Top. I’ve got my bio, synopsis, first chapter and first 50 pages formatted like a pro and ready to go. Is it perfect? No, far from it. But I believe in it. Enough to put those inevitable rejections (8 so far) into a folder and forget about them. Enough to keep querying, refining my query letter and honing my search for an agent until I find one. My plan is to query 100 agents before I give up.

Yep. I know. That’s going to take a lot of patience.



Letting it Lie

Patience may be a virtue, but it ain’t one of mine. I finished the first draft of my third novel and I’m giving it some breathing room before I have another look at it, see how much work it needs, and start on the second draft. But I’m itching to start now.

See, I know the road to publication is long and bumpy, with lots of switchbacks, and I figure, the sooner I start on it, the better. I’ve just self-published my second novel under a pseudonym. I finished the first draft of that, oh, 3 years ago. It took three years of polishing and researching and querying agents for me to realize that if I wanted to see it in print before I had grandchildren, I had to take matters into my own hands. Now I have a book on the Amazon Kindle Store. Yay, me! Unfortunately, only one person has bought it. ONE.

Because, what I have learned, am still learning is that publishing is only the beginning. Nobody knows it’s out there, well, except for that one friend and I have sworn her to secrecy. (long story short, I live in a conservative country, work in a conservative field and don’t want that very unconservative novel linked to my real name) Now I’ve got to start down yet another long and bumpy  road, the thrilling Marketing Highway, a virtual stretch of tarmac with no end in sight.

So you can see why I might be a little impatient to get things moving with my third novel.

But I’m waiting. Why?

Because I know that every good novel needs that breathing space between drafts, time for the writer to regroup, rethink, and gather the necessary distance to look at it with fresh, and hopefully objective, eyes. I don’t want to have any regrets when I finally send that novel out into the world, whether to solicit an agent and traditional publisher or indie-style on Amazon.

So I remain, writer in waiting.