Posted: May 13, 2016 at 11:18 am
People have been saying to me, “It’s been THREE years! When are you going to finish your book?” When they say “book” they do the air-quote thing with their fingers to emphasize it’s not a REAL book because they’re not holding a copy in their hands. Or they have no faith that I’m capable of writing a real book.
To these people I say, “My book is done, so please quit bugging me.” What I actually think is much ruder than that, but you get the idea. I finished Draft #9 about a month ago, gave it a title page, put in the chapter numbers, ended it with “La Fin” and printed all 278 pages. I’m tempted to write one more draft, but I’d also like to stay married, so that’s it for now.
With a completed manuscript burning a hole in my laptop, my options are:
(1) Upload my book to Amazon and make it available for 99 cents on-line tomorrow. This has the advantage of instant gratification (people can immediately give me money and enjoy my book). The disadvantage is that these people immediately giving me money and enjoying my book are mostly related to me or have learned how to snowboard from me (owing me a favour). It is very difficult to stand out from the MILLIONS of on-line books offered each year. There are exceptions….The Martian and Fifty Shades of Grey both started as on-line books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t smart enough to write the first one and I’m too good a writer to write the second.
(2) Send my book to publishers and tell them it’s the next Eat, Pray, Love. Every writer thinks they’ve written the next Eat, Pray, Love, will sell 10 million copies and will be played in the movie by Julia Roberts (or in my case, Brad Pitt, obviously). Those writers are wrong, because there hasn’t been a phenomenon like Eat, Pray, Love since, well, Eat, Pray, Love. Complicating this dream, unsolicited manuscripts are relegated to a publisher’s slush pile where they languish until all the vowels slide off the pages, rendering the book only slightly less comprehensible.
(3) Hire a printer to print and bind 1000 copies of my book so I can sell them in parking lots out of the trunk of my car. Not exactly the dream I had when I gave up a successful legal career to become a writer.
(4) Crawl into a cave and never show my book to anyone. Not a serious option, because then I would fail in my goal of making enough money on my book to pay for all the coffee I consumed in Delany’s Coffee Shop while writing the book. I know, that’s ironic, or a circular argument, or something that makes the last three years look pitiful.
(5) Query my brains out. To have any chance of attracting a traditional publisher and having my book on the shelves of a bookstore not in my hometown, I’ll need a literary agent. And to get a literary agent I have to “query” 500 of them. A query is a one-page letter, possibly with a book excerpt attached, that is so enticing and mind-blowing that the agent begs me to immediately send the completed manuscript. Remember, literary agents receive thousands of query letters every year, and take on two or three new clients. Consequently, my query letter has to be the best 300 words I’ve ever written, as good as anything in my book. If the agent decides I can write a book as well as I can write a query letter, he or she will offer to represent me…which is no guarantee of success with any publisher with more than two employees.
As you may have guessed, I’m opting for Number 5. I’ll let you know how it goes. I may end up buying a car with a bigger trunk.