I’m discouraged today. My Facebook page and my bog both have the subtitle, “Musings on the Creative Journey,” and today my musings are stuck at discouragement and needing support.
I’ve written a novel – in fact, I’ve completed several novels but the earlier ones were probably my practice ones. I’ve had tons of feedback from writers’ critique group and some trusted readers, and I’m pretty sure this novel is at a publishable level. But I’m stuck.
What I want, desperately want, is for people to read my story and be captivated. I want them to be transported out of their own lives. I want them to find joy in the adventures of the characters I created, and to perhaps be touched or moved or drawn a little closer to their own dreams. I think I have 3 possible routes ahead of me, although there could be other options I haven’t considered, to reach this goal of people reading my story.
One route is the world of traditional publishers. The biggest pro of the traditional publishing houses is that having your book accepted by an editor is like a stamp of validation of its quality. When a reader picks up an unknown novel off the shelf in Barnes & Noble, they know that at least one supposedly discerning person, the editor, thought it was worth reading. Also, with traditional publishing, you have the whole machine of distribution behind your book, so that it will appear in chain bookstores and libraries, and have a shot at getting read. One big con is that the author doesn’t have much say about things like the title or the cover artwork. Another is that, if it doesn’t sell well, the publisher will basically discontinue the book, and it won’t be printed or distributed in the future. And the big hurdle is that you must first find an agent to represent you to the publisher because editors at traditional publishing houses won’t even look at work that doesn’t come through an agent. I’ve been trying without success for quite a while to find a literary agent to represent me. It’s highly competitive, and I’m discouraged.
A second route is self-publishing. A big pro is that you make it happen. You decide it’s time to publish, you control all the choices like cover artwork, and it’s completely your baby. Another pro, for me, is that my brother and sister-in-law have successful self-published, so I know where to turn for all the help I’d need in the process. However, the biggest con, especially for fiction, is that a self-published novel hasn’t passed any kind of perceived quality control. It doesn’t have that stamp that validates its quality in the eyes of a potential buyer. This isn’t as much of an issue for self-published non-fiction, but for fiction, many readers are still leery of unknown, self-published books (with good reason, because there’s a lot of really dire quality self-published work out there). Another con is that you have to do all your own selling, however you choose to do that.
A third route I’m thinking about is to pause my publishing quest and have my book critiqued by a book doctor. Although the term ‘book doctor’ has gotten a bad rap from people charging a lot for not very useful feedback, there are still some reputable ones out there. If I did this, I’d be asking someone for a second opinion on whether my manuscript is publishable as it is, or if not, what work I still need to do. One pro is that I already know who I would ask to do this. One con is that it’s expensive. If I choose this route, I would probably work through any suggested edits and then go back to looking for an agent and a traditional publisher, because traditional publishing is still what I really want.
I’m stuck. I’m usually not indecisive about what I want, but right now, I just feel stuck. My knower, which usually signals pretty clearly to me, seems to be on the blink about all this.
So…I’d like to ask for something. If you’ve been encouraged in your own creative journey by any of the things I’ve written in the past few years on my blog and my Facebook page, would you mind returning the favor and sending a prayer or some good, wise energy or a stream of clear light or a supportive thought in my direction? And please know that you have my gratitude in advance! Thank you!