How I Decided to Self-Publish

My journey in writing a novel starting back in 2002, when the publishing industry looked a bit different than it does today. I got myself a Writer’s Market book and set about looking for agents that might be a good match. Over the years I ended up with a few editions of the Writer’s Market books, and continued to comb through and update my database.

Then I stopped. I stopped writing. I stopped editing. I stopped querying. I would attempt to get back into the groove throughout the years, sent off a measly query or two. But the fire was out.

Flash forward to 2013 when the fire was re-ignited. The publishing world had changed and I found self-publication to be a viable option. The writing world is changing. The reading world is changing. No one knows what it will look like a year from now, never mind in ten years. There is no one right answer.

I met other indie authors and felt at home. I liked the control a self-published author keeps, even as the weight of doing it all alone is terrifying. This path spoke up and said it was the right path.

Then I entered a pitch contest and got two nibbles on my writing. NIBBLES! Holy cow! Someone liked my pitch?! Cue the schoolgirl nerves and excitement. I put the brakes on the self-publication train and waited to see what would happen to my nibbles. I didn’t sit around and do nothing. I switched my focus to my other projects. Always move forward, even if the step may be considered sideways.

Nothing came from the nibbles, which is status quo for the writing world. But the thought of having an agent or publisher was renewed inside. I like the thought of being chosen. I like the thought of not having to pay anything out of my own pocket. And I had all that research I had done years ago on agents. Some of those must still be thriving, right?

Some were, and I started the query train back up. All the while editing again.

And then I hit another writing wall. If I work at representation that will add more years to the wait time to be published. That will push aside my dream of publication in 2013. That will mean more work and editing on a novel that I was done with months ago.

But yet, the real answer is simple. The real answer is and has been sitting right in front of me. I love Project Torture. She’s my baby, my first novel. She has quirky characters and a story that I am proud of. She’s an indie book.

So another step to the side, another step forward. Project Torture will be self-published. But that doesn’t mean I am done querying. That doesn’t mean I am done with agents or publishers. It just means that I have decided the right path for my first novel.

I’m digging my heels in this time. 2013 is almost over. I have only a few months left to change my description for “aspiring” to “published”. I will do it. It’s time.

Letting Go of a Novel

I have come to realize that the reason I am not a published author is my own fault, my own fears. I worked long and hard on Project Torture a decade ago. At the point where I stopped and shifted my focus I had what I thought was a completed manuscript. I had done research on agents to query. I had collected two rejections. Two, out of the hundreds I could have, should have. There is no excuse except for myself.

Even now I have a limited number of rejections. Which means a limited number of attempts. My manuscript has gone through a few big changes in the last nine months. Trying to do a “final” edit through I have now reworked my opening section. Again.

And even though I want to be done. I want this to be shared. I’m realizing that the hang up is me. It’s not the work I’ve done. It’s not how worthy my work is. It’s me.

So what exactly is my problem?

1)      FEAR: Fear is a big one and deserves the number one spot. Perhaps fear of rejection has kept my own personal rejection stash low. More than that, I only have one first novel. One first attempt at winning over audiences. One first shout out saying “look at me, I can write!” And what happens if I fail on all those marks? What happens if my first novel, which is my first born and treated as such, sucks? What if all those people that are impressed that I’ve written a novel are no longer impressed by the un-creative way I’ve strung along thousands of words?

2)      LETTING GO: When I publish, for better or for worse, I’m saying that Project Torture is done. Sure, I can still go back and tweak and edit. I can continue to change two words in the same damn sentence each time I edit. But it will be done. It’s ironic because I am so ready for Project Torture to stop torturing me. I want her to spread her wings and fly. But like a mother I also want to keep her at home. Safe and sound on my laptop and various other back up methods. She’s been all mine since her conception in 2002.

3)      DOUBTS: Like any author I wonder if what I have written is any good. I keep feeling like it needs to be better (hence the rewrite of the rewritten first section). How do I know when she’s ready? How do I know if I’ve done anything right in my attempt to write a novel? I don’t. I need to trust my gut, trust myself. But even with the few people who have read my novel cheering me on I’m left in complete and utter stage fright at the amount of people out there left to hate my work.

In the end the hang up is me. I’m preventing my own publishing future. I’m back to toying with self publishing vs traditional publishing. After all, I did a ton of research back when the year began in 200_. Don’t I owe it to myself to give it a try?

Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. But any and all further delays at this point runs the risk of making my publication year not 2013. Which means I’m playing Russian roulette with myself. I’m blocking my own attempt at success. I’m crushing my own dream.

So this time it really is my last edit through. I will contact that editor that I should have contacted months ago. I will hold my nerves and hold hands with other writers as I figure out how to self publish. I will do it. Because the only one stopping me… is me.

Romance Novels and Steamy Male Characters

How steamy does your male love interest character need to be? I’m all for a good looking male. Personally I feel the world is full of them. They come in all different shapes and sizes. Though novels tend to be known for the tall, dark, and handsome type.

Case in point, I’m in the middle of reading a romance series. I’m loving the books, I’m loving the author. I’m stumbling at my sixth male that is physically fit and over six feet tall. I feel like the entire male cast could audition for Magic Mike.

Granted, good-looking people tend to hang around with other good-looking people. I want variety. Give me a blond, at least! I’m married to a blond myself, and dated a few redheads back in the day. Maybe this is all part of my rooting for the underdog? All hair colors can be attractive. Or are we forgetting Brad Pitt and Matthew McConaughey? (I’ll keep the redheads to myself; I know that is more of a personal fetish.)

How tall, dark, and handsome does a character have to be for you in a romance novel? Is short okay? We can make him still taller than the female if that is required. How about physique? Our leading females come in all shapes and sizes. But the men all have washboard six pack abs. Is a four pack okay? Two pack? Keg? Scrawny? Chunky? All these are body types that woman do fall for. Lust for.

At what point is the character on the inside more important than the outward looks? I mean, this is a novel, we can picture them anyway we want to. I’m not a fan of mustaches and read a book where the male had a mustache. I took out the shaving cream and shaved him in my mind.

If I write about a non-fit male, will it still work for my reader? Or will you have to send him to the gym for a few hours while you sit at home and eat a candy bar?

Or maybe that’s just me eating the candy bar?

Give me some feedback. How normal of a guy still evokes the steam of a romance? Or do I need to start channeling the tall, dark, and handsome stereotypes and leave the other options to my supporting characters?

Attention to Detail

Taking off my author hat for today’s blog. I’m posting as a reader, a reader who likes paying attention to detail. I enjoy reading a book and seeing how the plot points connect. The problem is that the dots don’t always add up.

Case in point: I’m currently reading a fantastic little series that makes me sing. Two characters are ten years apart at the beginning of the first book. By the end of the book there is a mention of them being eight years apart. Yet one character is twenty-four and the other is thirty-four. I think I’m pretty good with math. This doesn’t add up. I can see nine years apart depending on where birthdays fall, but eight? Nope, doesn’t work.

The same thing goes for changing eye color, family members, histories… the list goes on and on. When I come across something that doesn’t quite add up (weren’t these characters twins in book one?) I’m thrown out of the book. Then, in a mad dash, I’m thumbing back through the pages (much easier in a paper copy) to find out whether my memory is faulty, or if some witch craft magic did create a now conflicting notion in the book.

Besides for my mother I haven’t found another person that is as bothered by this as I am. In some ways I feel like I am back in my college poetry class, fighting the urge to yell at people to STOP READING TOO MUCH INTO THE POEM. Maybe I’m reading too much into the book. But that still doesn’t explain how a person’s eyes can change from blue to brown. Sans colored contacts or magical color changing eyes, both of which would need to be explained to the reader.

Putting back on my author hat: I get how mistakes like this can happen. My first novel is quickly becoming a trilogy and I have created a freakin’ spreadsheet to keep track of my characters ages. And I still can’t wrap my head around it. I very nearly almost had siblings, who were originally four years apart in age, become three years apart. And there are only three weeks between their birthdays, so the time line excuse doesn’t work.

I also have seen how comments are made in one book don’t stand up when a character is further fleshed out in another book. When I catch these little errors I fix them. Because if I don’t it will drive me up a wall.

What about you? Do these little details get to you? Or is a good story able to keep you wrapped up in the moment and not caring about magical bouncing ages?

Back to School

Growing up, going back to school meant many different things. Above all it meant seeing friends again, every day, for better of for worse. It also meant back to work. Seeing if the teachers would be nice (a.k.a. easy) or mean (a.k.a. hard). It was a fun and exciting time.

Until now, as a mother in her thirties, I never saw the other side. All over Facebook and television I see images of children begrudgingly going back to school. Backpack slung over shoulder, face down turned, solemn. While the parents are jumping up and down, thrilled. Sipping wine and enjoying five minutes of peace and quiet.

As a child back to school was all for the kids. Not for the parents.

My son is only thee-years-old and I get it now. I completely get it.

When school ended for the summer I had a moment of terror. “What am I going to do with him on my day off? Will he get the same stimuli as he got in school?” Of course, I also lamented the loss of my two and a half hours of peace and quiet. Writing time. Editing time, Blog posting time. Time for a five-minute trip to Target without having to drag a screaming kid away from the toy department.

We survived summer. Now he’s going back to school. And I have two hours of “me” time to look forward to. Those all important two hours to recharge and get my bearings before my child, who still somewhat needs that afternoon nap that he doesn’t get, comes home and is a crying, needing mess.

At this point I am sure parents with older children, who are well versed in the back to school: parent edition business are laughing at me. Telling the screen “just you wait, oh foolish young mother.” To them all I can type is: I will get there in time and laugh at my own words once again.

I raise my glass to all the parents out there who are rejoicing in school returning. I raise my glass to all the kids enjoying the back to school buzz. Mostly I raise my glass to my laptop. Two hours. You and me. Let’s go.