Thursday, July 18, 2013

Turning the n_v_l into a novel: how?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Taking a sick day.

So -- here's the question on my mind. What next? What do I do with this manuscript now?

I see two alternatives.

ONE: The Classic Method.

Draft a pitch. Write three different plot summaries (short version, longer version, long and detailed version). Send it out to literary agents. Sit back and wait for cascade of rejection slips.

I don't necessarily see this as a self-defeating expectation -- I see it as a realistic one. The publishing industry is in a panic. They're losing money. Novels? People hardly read those anymore. (Which raises the question: why am I writing novels if there's no audience for them?) Publishers probably aren't looking to take any chances on a realist novel by an obscure author, which means that the literary agents (the gatekeepers) have no interest looking at a manuscript for a realist novel by an obscure author.

I think this one might have more commercial appeal than The Zeroes -- but then again, I actually thought The Zeroes might have commercial appeal. (Actually, I STILL DO.) So it's a crapshoot.

Think of it as sending out résumés and cover letters. A hundred of them, at least. Each needs to be written to suit the recipient and tweaked to adhere to his or her solicitation guidelines. The process of writing sending them all out takes weeks, and waiting for answers takes months. The last time I tried it two years ago, I didn't get one -- not even one -- agent who was interested in even reading the damn thing.

I wonder why this manuscript will be any different. And so, there's the second option:

TWO: Self-Publish. Again.

I still don't wholly like the idea -- but having already done it once and coming out with my sense of self-worth (more or less) intact, it's starting to look like the lesser of two evils. It would probably be more expedient, anyway: why wait to enact the fallback option if your first approach has a 99% likelihood of failure?

Even though there's only a slim (and that's putting it generously) chance at getting this thing published via the conventional avenue, getting an actual publisher would mean that more people would actually read this thing. There would be press releases, book reviews, the book would end up in stores' inventories, etc. If I self-publish again, maybe a few dozen people will read the thing. (We have already discussed how poor I am at the kind of tireless, shameless self-promotion required to get a self-published project noticed.)

I've already accepted that I'll never get rich off my work. At this point I'd be perfectly happy knowing that people were actually reading it.

And more people would read it if were to be published under an imprint, which might make ultimately make the attempt worthwhile.

Well, that settles that.

God fucking damn it.

After I wrap up the revisions, you know what I want to do? I want to stop writing for a bit. I want to draw more comics. Actually, that first batch of Sisyphus comics directly followed my unsuccessful attempt at getting representation for The Zeroes. Perhaps another round with the literary agents will inspire more.


  1. re: The Zeroes having commercial prospects. A lot of my friends have, over the past few years, been in places much like those of the book's characters. For most of them (I was absolutely the douchey guy telling everybody that they HAD TO read this book), it seemed to really resonate.