Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm a whore

Okay, before anyone gets all up my grill for the title of this post, I'd like you to know that the word "whore" appears in the Christian bible 59 times!

Okay. I just made that up. I really have no idea how many times the word appears, but I know it does. A lot.

So anyway, about that "I'm a whore" thing.

Most of you know I wrote a novel, called The Devil You Don't Know. It's pretty good, I've been told. It took me three years to write and revise it. Three complete revisions, actually. It's been professionally edited. Not once, but twice.

It has garnered attention from some of the top literary agents in New York, two of whom told me I was among the best debut writers they had stumbled across. The managing editor of Writer's Digest Magazine critiqued the manuscript and pronounced it one the best he'd read. I've had requests from agents, but no offers.

I don't say these things to brag. These are facts.

I am almost done with my second novel, which I believe is exponentially better than the first. It's certainly more commercially viable.

And therein lies the problem with TDYDK.

It's a pseudo-Christian/mainstream thriller. It doesn't preach (much). It has very adult themes, including rape, pornography, alcoholism and promiscuity. See, what I wanted to do was rewrite the Bible the way Stephen King rewrote Stoker's Dracula.

I wondered what would happen if the Bible IS true. And what would happen if things predicted in the Bible started to happen today? In this secular world. To real people, not cardboard cutouts from poorly written Christian novels.

You know, it sounded like one hell of an idea back in college, when I thought of it after a long night of booze and dope.

And it turned out to be a damned good story. One person who read it said it reminded them of a weird cross between Stephen King and Saint Paul. I took it as a compliment.

Sadly there is no market for such a hybrid in today's fiction market, I have been told. I wish I had a dollar for every agent and/or person in the business who has told me privately that they loved it, but just knew in their heart that they couldn't sell it because of its "Christian stuff."

To which I say: Bullshit.

Has anyone ever read King's The Stand? That book has more religious imagery in it than mine does. Really. I mean, if you sub the name God for Mother Abigail and the name Satan for Randall Flagg, you have The Book of Revelations. Classic Good versus Evil.

I don't recall that causing any sales problems for Mr. King. Do you?

All of which brings me to my point (and yes, I can hear your sigh of relief out there!).

You see, I'm sitting on TDYDK. It's gathering electronic dust on my computer -- still edited, sleek and ready to be read and enjoyed.

So. Do I leave it there and call it a practice book?

Do I start another round of queries (I've sent 29 so far; most were unanswered)?

Or do I find a way to publish the damned thing myself?

For some reason self-publishing (or e-publishing, or Indie publishing. Are they all the same? Hell, I don't even know) scares me to death. For several reasons.

1. It looks like a lot of work.

2. It requires me to do all the PR work. I don't HAVE that many friends and I hate to pimp myself on Twitter and Facebook (although I will if I have to. See the title of this post).

3. I don't want to screw up any chance I have to traditionally publish the new book, or any future books.

Because as much as I love writing fiction, I also want to make money at it. There. I said it. I am a literary whore. I don't do this for the hell of it. I do it because I believe I have something to say, and because I want people to read what I write. And pay for it.

I write this with no apologies. I mean, you CAN be an artist and make money at it. Just ask JK Rowling. Or Stephen King. Or Amanda Hocking. Or (cringe) Dan Brown.

I'm not saying I'm in their league (well, except for .... oh never mind). You get my point.

So I'm writing this to get your opinions. I know they will be all over the place. I know that some have tested the self-pub waters and found them to their liking. Others, I suspect, have the same fears I have.

So if you were me, what would you do?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So why am I angry?

First off, let me assure you I haven't run off to some Pacific island. Nor have I been in prison.

No, I have been writing my second novel. Every single day. When I wrote TDYDK, I didn't have a blog. I started it once I was revising, and it was easy to find time in the day to knock off a post several times a week.

But since I'm writing hot, the very idea of stopping for the day only to come here and write even more is, well, exhausting. Not to mention that it feels like I'm wasting words that would be put to better use in my manuscript.

So, sorry about the lack of posts. I do love you guys. :)

The other thing, and it's perhaps more perplexing, is that I have been in a state of low-level anger for months. It's not something I can explain, at least not well. But it has something to do with writing. And publishing. And agents. You know, that kind of stuff. Writer stuff.

Part of it is me being a baby. I worked my butt off for three years on my first book and, with a few exceptions, it garnered no interest from agents. In fact, more than three-fourths of the queries I sent were never answered.

Now, I know that's the way things are in today's publishing world. A no answer means no. But really, how hard is it to set up an auto-reply? Just so we know that we're not shouting down a bottomless pit.

I can think of two writers who have blown up big-time on the Internet in the recent past. One guy went down on, I think, Nathan Bransford's blog. And man, it wasn't pretty. The dude went bonkers and when he exploded, he likely took his career down with him.

Another woman went batshit crazy about a review of her self-published book, and wound up calling her readers all kinds of profane names. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion. I've heard nothing from her since then, either.

Lesson learned. So each time I call up this blog to write something, I think about how angry I've been and I just close it. Why make things worse than they already are?

But still. I have my moments. Moments like yesterday when I not only want to never write another word, but want to BREAK MY FUCKING COMPUTER too. Really.

And I'm not sure why. I suspect I'm afraid. I'm afraid this next book will sink, too, like its predecessor. I'm afraid I'm wasting my time, chasing a dream that will constantly elude me, no matter how hard I try to catch it.

But I keep at it. I keep writing. I keep reading and studying my craft in an effort to get better. To get published. Because to quit now seems even more unthinkable than keeping going.

So why am I so angry?

How about you guys? Anyone thinking about giving up? Are you angry at the current state of publishing? Are you afraid? Talk to me, people.

And let's all have a nice day.