~ How to Get to the Top of Mt. Olympus ~
Just like most other writers, having been raised on the romantic and mystical view of the publishing process, I have The Dream. There are many variations of The Dream, but it goes something like this:
In a fit of madness inspired by genius, the Writer goes on a three-day writing binge, sustained only by near-lethal amounts of caffeine, twenty packs of cigarettes, and vending machine sandwiches, downloading at mythic broadband width speeds from the Heavens Above, at the end of which said Writer collapses into a blissful sleep, unaware that the quiet manuscript sitting on the desk is about to change a generation…and bring said Writer immortality and outrageous fortune.
But during edits, the Writer loses faith in the manuscript. Thankfully, the Supportive Roommate (forever memorialized in the dedication and in subsequent interviews) rescues it from the round file and sends it to New York unbeknownst to its Creator.
Naturally, the manuscript is discovered in the slush pile of a Well Known Publisher by an up and coming Junior Editor. This event defines her unprecedented publishing career…along with the record-breaking preempt her publisher pays to secure publication rights after the Writer astutely hires Agent Barracuda who launches a bidding war.
After a stellar book launch that goes without a hitch, the Writer enjoys a noteworthy and praiseworthy career, lauded by legions of fans and critics alike, and immortalized on the silver screen and in a long-ass Wikipedia page.
It’s a nice dream, but it’s hardly illuminating in terms of the path one needs to take to achieve such literary celebration in the gleaming gardens of Mt. Olympus (aka the NYT Best Sellers List). I want to know what I need to do in order to get there. Really. What incense do I gotta burn, what animal do I need to sacrifice, what god should I worship in order to get my heinie a spot by the gently wafting fans and bowls of peeled grapes yon High?
Can someone give me some directions, please?
Perhaps it’s my age — I’m getting persnickety and alarmingly eccentric by the hour — but my old plan of building a writing career looks an awful lot like running around and asking for permission and acceptance and crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. In traditional markets, it’s a pretty long and convoluted path for a story to find the end-reader…not to mention it typically takes at least a month to hear back on short fiction submissions, and sometimes as long as six months or more! And the book publishers who do still even accept unsolicited manuscripts often cite long response times. And remember that even though you have a great story and even though an editor may love your story, whether or not you receive an acceptance for publication depends on whether your work suits the tastes of an already existing and cultivated audience of readers.
Anyway, I’m getting too old and impatient for that. I don’t want to hurry and wait, hurry and wait. I want to go, go, go already! This is real life. I have a family. I need to make the time I spend away from my family working on this dream benefit them now, not in some hazy future that will undoubtedly include college tuition payments.
I may not have publication credits to my name yet, but I’ve got *cough*-plus years invested into my writing career. I’ve got the manuscripts to prove it. I think I am a fair judge of my work. I can find and cultivate my own audience: people tend to find their own. I’m also a lifelong reader, and I think I can recognize crap when I step in it…or write it.
These may not sound like prestigious qualifications for a publisher, but they’re the ones I’ve got. And so I am proud to announce that I have formed a new publishing company and will be publishing my work through Seven Left Turns Publishing, Inc.
How’s that for some direction? 🙂
~ We’re Going to Vegas, Baby! ~
I haven’t given up on The Dream — I’ve just decided to let Mt. Olympus come to me. In the meantime, I’m going where there’s better odds, where I have a higher chance of seeing a return on my investment in the near and foreseeable future. I’m going to that Vegas in the Cloud, where the casinos of mass digital distributors like Amazon and BN spin their algorithms to the fickle tune of a global audience of millions of readers, all greedy-hungry for new content….and I’ve got what they want. Mwah-ha-ha-ha!
And just like the real Vegas, at the very least, I know where to find it. There are maps and brochures and rest stops along the way, created by the recent thousands who have traveled before me. It may not have the same perks as traditional publishing, but I’m practicing my trade. I’m a working writer. I’m practically guaranteed to end up with at least a free cup of coffee and a couple of new readers for my efforts.
And that sounds like a damn good way to begin an epic journey to me.
Tomorrow I ask, “Can You Really Afford to Take a Vow of Poverty?”