25. June 2007 · Comments Off on And Now to Plan B · Categories: Domestic, General, Literary Good Stuff, Media Matters Not, Working In A Salt Mine...

After gamboling playfully in the literary trenches for much of the last year trying to get some official interest going, as far as rewarding my own literary ambitions with… I don’t know, the odd spot of cash and acclaim, I have somewhat mixed results to report. It takes the form of a sort of good-news, bad-news joke.

The bad news is: Tor Books (or their subcontractor who actually has to plough through the submissions showered upon them) have rejected both “To Truckee’s Trail” and “Adelsverein, Pt. 1” (or as we like to call it “Barsetshire with Cypress Trees and a Whole Lot of Sidearms”)

The Good News is that they have done so just this last weekend, instead of when I expected to hear from them, which according to my original calculations was September… which means that I can briskly move on to Plan B now, without wasting another two months.

What, you didn’t think I had a Plan B? My dears, I was a single parent and a career NCO, I always had a Plan B. And a Plan C through M, N, O and P, too, come to think of it.

It’s not been a wasted year; I am becoming as insouciant about brushing off rejection letters as if they were mosquitoes. Really. I am seriously amazed at how little impact the usual sad little SASE envelope with the rote rejection form or letter enclosed has on me now. The depression lasts for about ten seconds, and then I throw it into the file I keep for them with a cheerful comment along the lines of “Your loss, dickweed!”… And then forget about it as I go on and write another half chapter. I used to be quite crushed by this, but now… as the T-shirt says, “I’m just amused”.

I’m also obsessed… but as I am a pretty OK writer and a not-to-bad storyteller, this is a somewhat useful quality. The race is not always to the swift or the strong; sometimes it goes to the persistent and/or obsessed. And sometimes I do come up with a right pretty turn of wordsmithing.

During this last year I have been scribbling madly, some of it even for work that I got paid for. OK, so some of was for laughably small amounts, but I have made some connections, and credentials along the fringes of the scribbling game that will — I hope — help quite a bit as I carry out Plan B.

It’s been pretty educational, also to lurk meaningfully in the comments neighborhood of a lot of book and literary-industrial blogs. Such interesting and fascinating nuggets to be mined out of the gravel there, some of which confirm what I suspected from the beginning… like whenever I set foot in Barnes and Noble and took a good look at the shelves… which is that there is a hell of a lot of dreck out there. The traditional publishing world seems to be swamped up to it’s gorgeously nipped and tucked neck, which kind of seriously affects how they can handle the not-inconsiderable quantity of fairly OK to Pretty Damned Good. It’s still a numbers game, as the head of the consulting firm that I worked for, something like four or five jobs ago used to say.

So, maybe if only 5% of the manuscripts floating into agents’ offices, and publisher’s submissions sub-sub-sub contractors are good for anything other than landfill. Everyone thinks they have a book in them, and the fact that in most cases it should have stayed right there is beside the point. The OK to Pretty Damned Good stuff is still an absolutely unmanageable quantity. All the competent and ethical agents seem to have about all they can do to look at hundreds of similar OK to Pretty Damned Good submissions clamoring for their attention and time and make a snap decision on accepting and managing the tiny percentage that will pay off with the least amount of effort on their part.

Yeah, they kept sending me these letters admitting that they just didn’t feel the passion for my book that they felt was necessary to represent me adequately. So, apparently no one feels sufficiently passionate about “To Truckee’s Trail” except for me, and about a dozen people who have read the entire thing and loved it passionately as well.

Unfortunately, all those people were just readers and other writers… so, here goes Plan B.; a fund drive to do a POD version, to buy advertising, and put review copies where they will do the most good. I think I can promise an autographed copy of “To Truckee’s Trail” to anyone who contributes over a certain amount. *

Hey, it works for Public Radio, doesn’t it?

*Later – suggestion from commentor Peregrine John on amount: A paperback copy – autographed! – for donations north of $30

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