Thursday, June 5, 2014

Loose Ends

As of this writing, I’m just about done with the final read through of my latest book. Some time later today I’ll be sending it off to market. Will it sell? Will it bounce? Will I tear out the rest of my hair while I’m waiting? Watch this space.

You’d think by now I’d be used to waiting. I submitted a book to Harper Voyager’s last open call, back in October 2012. A little over a year later I got the rejection letter. Some poor folks are still waiting for word. For their sakes, I hope the word’s good. I sent the same book to another SF publisher’s open call in December 2013. So far the wait on that one is six months and counting. Welcome to the life of a writer.

I’m beginning to see the appeal of self-publishing. You write your book, polish it up, get yourself some cover art, upload it and you’re good to go. If you want to publish another book the next day, you can. Yes, you have to deal with the editing and covers and promo and all the other stuff publishers do, but for some folks cutting out the wait time is worth it. Higher royalty percentages and monthly royalty payments only sweeten the pot.

I may be dealing with this shortly. With one book off to market, I need to go to work on something else. One of those somethings is a Shapeshifter Seductions novel that I’ll have to self-publish, for a number of legal and moral reasons I detailed in a previous blog. If and when I finish the thing, I’ll be sure to detail the journey here. Forget sales. I need ideas for blog posts.

This is what most writers do while we’re waiting to hear back from publishers: we write another book. Or watch TV. I get a lot of inspiration from TV, so I can call it research. Wonder if I can deduct that on my taxes?

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For those of you worried about Stray Kitty, stop. He’s slimmed down a bit since I stopped putting the bowls out, but his pickiness hasn’t changed. The other day he showed up at the door so I gave him a can of food. Fifteen minutes later I went out to get the dish. The food was still there. So was Stray Kitty. He sat there and waited for another ten minutes until I finally got rid of the offending food and gave him another can. He ate that one. The next day he didn’t show up at all. I guess he found better food elsewhere.

Keep in mind Stray Kitty lives on the street and has no food bowl to go home to. No home, for that matter. This is an animal I’ve observed eating dead cicadas. And he expects me to cater to his taste buds? I’ve come to the conclusion he was some poor woman’s lazy mooch of a boyfriend in a previous life. Karma finally put him in the proper body. Cats have it great, even strays.

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Just remembered another drawback to traditional publishing: the dreaded query letter. I usually lead off with what amounts to a blurb, to catch the editor’s interest. I’m sure you’ve read those blurbs on the backs of books; they help you decide whether or not to plunk down your money for it. Ever try writing one? It’s a stone bitch. Try boiling down a 1000-page novel into a single paragraph. Or a single sentence. Not that it can’t be done, and done well; Snakes on a Plane is pretty self-explanatory. But this is your story, your people and plot, and now you have to distill all those writing hours and all that blood and sweat on the page down to the attention-catching highlights. It’s a whole other mindset from fiction and a tough one to master. Some e-publishers want you to write your own back cover copy. Sales could depend on how well you do this. Can’t we just write the damn book and be done with it?

Ditto for the synopsis. Let’s see you scrunch your startling plot twists and brilliant characterization into a 300-word overview. What do you put in to make it sound exciting, and sellable? How much should be left out? Doing a synopsis for a romance might be a little easier. You don’t have to mention all the sex scenes. The genre makes those a given. Just synopsize the rest of the plot and you’ll be fine.

I’ll bet writing synopses for porn is incredibly easy. “Jill meets Marcus at a party. They go back to his place and have sex for 5000 words. Then Marcus’s roommate Ramon shows up and they break out the handcuffs.” Hey, I think I’ve got my next story. Self-publishing, here I come!


Savanna Kougar said...

Glad Stray Kitty is living high off your generosity and others. You should probably make him a secondary character in one of your stories.

Ah, the pros and cons of trad pubbing, small ebook/print pubbing, and Indie pubbing... a good publisher is worth their weight in gold. However, in these times the 'good' biggies are few and far between unless you're a star.

Even so, from acceptance of mss to actual pub date is a real turn off, and can often miss a rising trend.

I just wish my circumstances were such that I could devote more time to writing... that is, without something bad happening that would change said circumstances... the story I'm working on now, I plan to sub to Siren. But I have so many more I'd love to self-pub.

Pat C. said...

We should start our own publishing company. Then people could gripe about us.

Savanna Kougar said...

Yep, that's what would happen, no matter how well run. ~grins~