Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Writing and Publishing

I’m feeling so inspired after reading Chuck Wendig’s blog post ‘Ask the Writer: “How do I get Published?”’ 
I like the storytelling bit, or I wouldn’t have written all that fan fiction while I was unemployed.  Then NaNo came along, and I thought I could write 50,000 words in a month, even though I was back to working, and working two jobs because Day Job doesn’t pay what my Old Day Job used to pay.  To up the ante, I figured I’d write something original – new characters.  An experiment.
Well, that experiment was moving along in November 2011 when I started the month off sick, then I got cheesed off at something so I flipped my writing back into fan fic to make myself happy.   My word count jumped, besides having 4 days off with nothing to do – neither job, no relative wanting me for Thanksgiving  - and I ended on Nov. 29th with 167,756 words.  On the 30th, both jobs had me scheduled, so no writing.
Half of these words were the zero level draft of The End of the World Sucks. The rest was fan fiction that I posted, got some real reviews for, and then got trolled … because that’s the way fan fiction works.
So back to Sucks – I had this chunk of words that I could post for free on fan fiction’s sister site, Fiction Press.  I hadn’t posted anything there, but thought about my CreateSpace coupon and the much-touted *fears* that Amazon was only using CreateSpace and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest to steal everyone’s novels. 
Not MY fears, all the paranoid people that think they can’t pitch or query their novels because every agent and publisher is out to steal them.  200 word query = 84,000 word novel *stolen*?  Math doesn’t compute, but the logical part of my brain also calculates less people will see it if I never do anything with it.  Posting it free online will get some reviews and feedback, but this is different than fan fiction.  I don’t own those characters or settings so that’s for fun with no chance at recognition except as a quirky pen name. 
What if I wanted to do something for some money – average author annually makes $500 so I’m not thinking about my new Beverly Hillbillies lifestyle, just over time, if I write more books, I’ll sell more, and gradually make it worth the hours I invested in November.  What I didn’t realize is how many more hours I’d invest in edits and rewrites.  I spend more time doing that than writing, but I will hopefully become better when I write future zero level drafts.
I queried and entered contests.  Is it a jackpot moment to talk to an agent on the phone?  Yes and no.  I do really and deeply appreciate the call – no question in my mind that I gained something out of it.  I think I’d compare it most with a job interview.  I don’t mind job interviews so much, unless they’re clearly wasting my time.  And here’s the kicker, this happened early April 2012.  Some people query for a long time before getting THE call.  I got off the phone, bridges unburned.  If I altered my story to a genre-compliant zombie novel, I could submit my manuscript to him.  Since I now had his email address, I could have submitted it with no changes, but I understood what he was saying regarding the marketability. 
While this plum was dangling, I was reading online and going to talks regarding traditional publishing.  I work with metrics and contracts in periods of my professional career so my expectation was different from the way the publishing business works.  However, I can understand their viewpoint because they allow books to be returned by bookstores so the initial shipment does not equal sales.  They also package the author’s product and even if promotion is pushed onto the author, they do make the publication available through their distribution channels, which may have some proprietary aspects.  I can even understand the parts about the advance and it being applied to future royalties so I will not get paid again for that title until x number of books sell.  I didn’t jump into the ‘boo, hiss, they’re evil’ camp because I wasn’t learning about the inner working of publishing, just the author/publisher/possibly agent relationship. 
It didn’t sound like something that’d make me happy.  If I aspire to try to crack $500 annually with my writing, which is way less than minimum wage at the rate I write and edit, then I should go after what will make me happy with this – my plot, my characters, no mystery re: earnings.  Money would improve my outlook, but if only a handful of authors make substantially more than $500, that means that many more earn less.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older that I consider what I would like to do after everything else is done – I went to work, did things for the pets and foster kitties, washed my clothes and now I have free time. I could watch T.V., read, or run loose in the streets yelling my drunken head off (welcome to Sharon’s street – where I see people with red Solo cups dancing around the stop sign on the corner at four o’clock on a Saturday afternoon.  
Since I’m not joining the town bacchanalia, I stay inside writing, and I’ll rewrite to bring them up to the level where others should like them.  It’s my time to waste, and if I don’t feel like writing based on a genre formula, well I guess I’m throwing money away so I won’t be cracking the $500/year threshold to make it into Big Time Authorhood.

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