My book is going nowhere, and I like it

By on May 10th, 2010
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Book ‘im, Danno. Book that guy because his book isn’t going anywhere. But before you do, tell me what the heck kind of name is Danno, anyway? Is that really a name for a grownup? Let’s not dwell on it. And also, don’t dwell on your novel when you are playing The Waiting Game. (It’s like The Crying Game except with more crying.) I’m being obtuse so permit me to be a(bit)cute instead.

My second novel is at a standstill because I’ve handed it off to two of my friends to read. Cheers to friends! As I’ve said in several previous posts, whether you’re trying to land a publisher or you’re self-publishing, getting outside feedback before you submit is essential. I spent six years in my own head—now I want to see how my head bounces off some other folks in case it bounces a little wonky here or there. Is that metaphor strained? So is my neck. Several bits may have been left in my brainstem instead of on the page.

I will probably have all notes back from my wrecking—I mean writing—crew by the end of May. So far, the one I’ll call my first friend merely because it’s convenient to number him as first (who is a writer and literary critic) has provided me fifty pages, and he’s got another fifty or so waiting for me to snatch and grab. My second friend (who is a writer and editor) read the entire book through without making notes and is now going back a second time. He sent me a wonderful email as follows:

I didn’t get as much done while in Iowa as I’d planned, but I did get the whole thing read through once. It’s REALLY great–I like it a LOT. Just some really beautiful stuff in there. So now I need to go through it and mark my thoughts, reactions, editing stuff…But first reaction is WELL DONE!

So, yay to that! What am I doing in the meantime? How should one fill up the Waiting Room of Eternal Writerly Frustration? Here’s the advice: don’t let the dust settle, work on your next book. Whether you have submitted 20 query letters and have to wait six months for a reply, or you have your book with a proofreader for two weeks…wherever it is in limbo-land, don’t stop writing. Move on to your next piece, which might be even better than the one you just completed. I’m currently working on a children’s book with two collaborators—an art director and an animator. And I’m nearly done writing it, too, while waiting. It’s actually going to be an interactive children’s book. We’re going to build a demo of a couple sections of it and then pitch it to publishers. My advice, keep writing. I’m always pullin’ shapes, you dig?


In Hunter-Gatherer mode

By on January 3rd, 2010
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I’m reading (and reviewing)
• Four books on self-publishing The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual 16th Edition, The Self-Publishing Manual Volume 2 and Indie Publishing: How to Design and Publish Your Own Book
• Two books on finding publishers or literary agents Give ‘Em What They Want and The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit

I’m tracking
• Steps I need to take to self-publish by creating to-do lists, short and long term (3 pages so far)
• Authors who might like my book—from whom I will request promotional blurbs if i can reach them
• Publishers of surrealist, experimental fiction and literary speculative fiction
• Artists for cover art
• Expenses (anything writing- or publishing-related is tax-deductible)

I’m scribbling
• Hooks…the first sentence of my query letter.*

I’m surfing
• Research sites for writers and self-publishers. Some great ones include: SelfPublishingReview.com (tips and advice), duotrope.com (for identifying smaller publishers), Poets & Writers (pw.org), writersmarket.com (for identifying publishers, but does require membership fee – $39.99/year)
• Publisher submission policies on publisher sites
• Joining online small press organizations (Independent Book Publishing Association at ibpa-online.org and Self-Publishers Association of North America at spannet.org)
• Publishing blogs and self-publisher message boards (such as the Yahoo Self-Publishing Group, which seems to have much more activity than any google publishing group I can find at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/Se…)

The quest continues.

Coming soon: The Query Letter in detail

*For those who are unfamiliar, a query letter is a one-page letter typically sent to literary agents and/or publishers to land representation. They are intended to grab their attention, convince them your book is worthy of consideration, introduce your credentials, and gain a request for your manuscript.