Lessons from a Twenty Year, Almost Career (Part III)
Anyway, I jammed through my first novel, and was so happy to get it done, I sent it off to all the big publishing houses all at the same time. It cost me a small fortune in postage. Never again.
I did it! I wrote my first novel . . . and the overall story wasn’t that bad. It had a lot of promise, but what did I know about polished words? I just knew I did it, used almost a ream of paper to do it with, and it all made sense in the end. I even waited until the last two pages to reveal the true face of my monster. I thought it kicked shit all the way to Shinola. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Between my first novel and a dozen short stories that year, I had fifty or more rejection slips. That’s when I took everything I had to date and put it in a drawer. I knew I was doing something wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. Like most of you out there today, there was nobody around I could ask for help.
My collection of How To books grew. Literary dandelions. My How To medley now stands at 35 books. It took all that for me to figure out what I was doing wrong, and what I was doing right. I read good How To books, and bad How To books. I’ll list the good How To books in a coming post, if you want to know them or buy them. I have no deals with any of their publishers. I’m giving you this information freely, as an opinion. My learned-da-hard-way opinion.
Every single one of my “How To” books can tell you what is, in their words, the right thing to do. Some dry reading, to be sure. Many include writing exercises you can use to improve your skills. They all give examples of what not to do, but they don’t go in-depth. Everybody learns from their mistakes. It’s human nature. God knows I certainly learned from mine.
I’m going to expose myself like an unashamed flasher. You get to read about and learn from my mistakes. Chances are, these are the same mistakes you’re bashing your head into the wall about, and drywall is a pain to replace.
Writing is a craft. It’s an art form. It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Writing well is the key. Technique. Form. Talent. Dedication. Blah, blah, blah.
I believed this nonsense. And it is nonsense. Others will argue this statement to the death, but for me this declaration rings true. It’s nonsense, up to a point. Where does it stop being nonsense, you ask? Read on and figure it out on your own. You see, the answers are different for us all. My conclusions will not necessarily be yours.
“Getting published is easy. Writing well is hard.” – Gary Provost.
My ass. Getting published by the big boys is hell-on-wheels in this day and age, and writing well is much easier than you think.
There is a Catch 22 when it comes to getting published by the big boys. I bumped heads with it for years. It is: You have to be published, in order to get published. Or, to put it another way; you don’t have any credits until you get published, and publishers want to see your credits before they risk publishing you. And on and on and on.
A nasty, endless circle of twisted logic that really doesn’t make any sense. You see, me and several of my writing friends have great credits. Published many times at the semi-pro and pro level, and we got nowhere. When it became truly possible to bypass the clearinghouse, fee-charging self-publishers, I decided to take the Indie Author path. I’m much happier these days, despite doubling my workload.
The fact is, within monolithic publishing, crap sells. I don’t know why, but it does. Agents and publishers know this. Think Snookie, Paris’s dog, and so many others.
Great books, wonderful stories, they get turned down every freaking day. The gatekeepers think only in dollars. If they think they can make money off of you, lots of money, you’re in. But, they don’t know what will sell oodles of books. They simply follow trends, and then they beat those same trends to death.
With us, thinking publishing as a business, and you’re one of those people who think your finished first novel is gold, good to go; do yourself a favor and put it in a drawer for six months. Don’t touch it, don’t even think about it. Six months. Write another novel. At the end of that six months pull it out and read it again. If you still think you have gold, and be truthful, without having to rework almost every page for some reason or another, do whatever it takes. But, like I said, be truthful to yourself, first and foremost.
Twenty years of reading everything I could get my grubby hands on about writing and publishing has taught me a lot. It taught me even the best storytellers out there today may never, ever, get a contract. Future Pulitzer Prize winners may never see print by monolithic publishing, until after they win a Pulitzer. Indie Authors, some of us are magnificent storytellers. We care about our readers. We care enough to try to be the best there is out there today, in content and quality. Not getting published by monolithic publishing means nothing in terms of the quality of our stories. Nothing!
Return tomorrow for Part 4.
Terrance Foxxe is crazy enough to share everything he knows about catering to readers, because readers matter most to the Indie Author of today, and tomorrow. He had two books published under his real name, only to discover publishers really suck. After being drawn and quartered, royally ripped off and then some, plus more, he is the Indie author of A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love, $2.99 USD for the Kindle. Link provided. He’s now a happy man. Buy his book. Read it. Write a review.
A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love is available at Amazon.
He blogs at http://terrancefoxxe.blogspot.com/