Photo by The Shopping Sherpa
You can tell I’m the sister who writes sweet, my posts have less half-naked men, sorry!
Now I don’t know why I got to thinking about self-publishing again, but I did. Probably because one of the Sassies, who writes fabulous stories that should be snapped up by a publisher pdq, was mentioning it.
I’ve been beating myself up over missing yet another self-imposed deadline, for the Harlequin Romance Fast Track. I feel a strong sense of failure. I didn’t do what I set out to do, which was finish the chapter and the synopsis and sub them. Actually, I finished the synopsis, and I feel it’s a strong one. The problem was, the chapter didn’t fit any more. Too slow. Too introspective. Not enough hero and heroine together. And not enough GMC. The goal, motivation and conflict is there a bit, but not nearly strongly enough. So rather than sub stuff I knew wasn’t ready, I chose to wait.
That sounds good. Except I know there’s another reason. The reason I procrastinated getting it done.
I am safe from getting another rejection in a month’s time. Smiles a twisted smile and shakes head.
What I want of course is impossible. I want a road to publication where I never have to face another rejection. Where everything I write is accepted (minor revisions okay). Where I never get a negative comment or bad review.
Oops. That fantasy bubble just popped. That’s WTF Publishing out then! WTF would accept me immediately, but the reviews (if anyone ever reads the story) could be something else again.
The problem with some self-pubbed writers is they are doing it for the wrong reasons. Not because they’ve written a story that would be accepted if they subbed it, but they want to hold onto complete creative control. Not because they’ve written a good story that just isn’t a good fit with the mainstream publishers. Not because they’ve rewritten and revised to make this the best story they possibly can and it still doesn’t quite hit the publisher’s mark, at a time when being bloody good just isn’t enough, a new writer has to be sensational to break in.
There are some writers with great stories that have been rejected who really ought to self-publish them. I know a couple myself. I know how hard they’ve worked at their craft. I know how well they write. I know how gutted they are when they get another rejection on something they’ve poured so much into, a story that genuinely is worthy of publication. I would pay to read their stories, just like some books from some of the other self-published writers I’ve bought, read, and enjoyed.
I am not one of those writers. There are a lot of writers self-pubbing who aren’t, either.
Whenever I fantasise about self-pubbing, it’s for other reasons. Because I can’t face another rejection. Because I want an easy route. Because I want to be published, dammit, even if it only sells eight copies and I don’t make enough back to pay for my cover photo.
Not good enough reasons. I remember thinking with my last rejected story, while I was waiting for the response, that if it got rejected I would self-publish it. I believed the story was good enough. Then the rejection letter hit. I thought again about my vow to self-publish.
Maybe I should send it to an different publisher before going to self-publishing? Because I do realise, it’s probably NOT easy to do it right. Eradicating every single error. Formatting it right. Getting a professional looking cover that doesn’t scream “Self-pubbed on the cheap” to potential readers. Maybe I was just wimping out from all that work and the risk of bad reviews, too!
So I looked at the story again.
Ooh boy. The story was very rightly rejected. What was I thinking of when I subbed it in the first place? It’s nowhere near ready. If I self-pubbed this, I’d be lucky to scrape two stars on Amazon. Maybe two and a half, if I could get friends and family to write some – ahem – creative reviews.
That rejected midlength novella is now getting rewritten two ways. One digging deep and changing the conflict significantly, extended into a 50k category romance (that’s the version I just missed the fast Track deadline for, the one I’m kicking myself in the butt over). That’s actually a whole new story. There’s not much I can transfer over from the old story. It’s a full rewrite, just taking off from the same idea. The other will be a very short 10k novella, doing the opposite. Pulling out what’s good in the mid-length novella, tweaking the internal issues and taking out the clunky and unnecessary external conflict that pads out the word count.
The structure is all wrong. Not only is it devoid of any stated goal and motivation for these characters, it’s far too slow to start, I have too many secondary characters and take too long to get the main characters together and get into the conflict. If it was the start of a single title, it would be okay. Maybe.
But the worst thing was- I resolved the essential internal conflict waaaaaaay before I resolved the external relationship block.
So funny to read it again and be half way through and think “This is where the story should end.” So it will!
And the scene that came next, the scene I loved at the time? The scene that absolutely had to be in there? It sucked. I couldn’t even finish reading it, it was so bad. Any reader who’d stuck with the story that far would definitely give up there. I’m not sure that scene is even salvageable. The concept might work, but the execution in this case most definitely did not! That scene doesn’t fit in wither version.
At last, I understand what that phrase “kill your darlings” really means in editing. Nearly all the scenes I liked the most at the time need to go. I’ll be doing huge rewrites on both versions to make them good readable and emotionally moving stories.
But I won’t be self-pubbing them. Once they are rewritten and self-edited as well as I can, I’ll be sending it off to my favourite publishers again.
I hope the writers who do choose self-publishing do well at it, publish wonderful polished stories and get great reviews and fab sales. To do that, they are further along their writing path than I am.
For me, at the stage I’m at with my writing, I need those rejection letters. I still hope soon I’ll sub something that gets a Revise and Resubmit, not another rejection. But if I do get another R, I need to embrace it like the gift it is. An editor’s opinion on why the story isn’t yet ready to publish, the opportunity to take another look at the story I thought was ready to go. Another chance to look hard at the story and see how it can be made stronger, deeper, more focused, a better read.
I want a reader who pays money and invests time in one of my stories to get to the HEA with a satisfied “Ahhhh,” not delete it off their Kindle half-read, wondering why the hell they bothered and swearing never to buy another of my stories again. I want to be on their auto-buy list, not the auto-reject list.
If I self-publish now, they’ll be getting option 2. And somehow I have a feeling having a story rejected by an editor is easier to bear than having it rejected by the readers.
I’m still learning how to write a romance. And I wouldn’t expect anyone to pay for one of my stories now, any more than I’d expect to pay for a piano recital and get to listen to someone practicing their scales.
I better get rewriting! By the time you read this, I’ll be on the plane to Australia, for what’s supposed to be a holiday and a house hunting trip, but may end up being very focused on my parents and their health issues again. Wish me luck with my mission, and time to write somewhere in there too!