This blog post, as most of my blog posts, will cover several topics. But this time I have a theme. It’s called: Let’s get a fucking grip, people! Seriously.
You all wanted a good long rant, didn’t you? I haven’t indulged in a while.
Okay, first we’ll talk about me and my grip-losing insanity this week. For more than a year I’ve been querying agents and publishers. It began with a single manuscript and over that period has expanded to five manuscripts. Literally hundreds of queries have been sent between the five. I’ve researched each one and sent the queries only to agents or publishers I felt would like said manuscript and rejection, rejection, rejection was the result.
So I stopped querying. I’m pausing to catch my breath and decide what the hell it is I want out of this writing thing. Do I want to be published? Yes. Do I need a publisher? I think so. Do I need an agent? I’m not sure. Why not self-publish? Because I’ve worked hard and I want a publisher and I’m good enough to have a publisher and if I self-publish then it’s like I just wasted 18 months querying. Right?
I want to traditionally publish my book for more valid reasons than that. Really, it was a very well thought out decision that had little to do with which is better and more to do with what felt right to me personally.
Well, I have this one manuscript, I Do…And Other Lies We Tell, and it has become a giant pain in my ass. I’m telling you it just keeps giving me trouble. This is the manuscript that gets personal rejections nearly every time. Granted, it’s gotten a few form rejections, but I’d say 80 percent of the rejections for this one have been personal notes that were encouraging, but still turning me down. From commercial fiction agents/publishers I got this “While the writing is excellent, we feel you would be better served working with someone that handles literary fiction. It is not commercial enough for us. Sorry.” That’s it in a nutshell. One particular rejection stated that the characterization and dialogue in my sample chapters was “stellar”, but sorry, not commercial enough. Sigh.
So I changed my focus. I don’t feel it’s literary, but if the pros think it is so be it. I’ll query agents/publishers looking for literary fiction.
From literary agents/publishers I got “While we think the writing is strong, etc. this is not literary fiction. It is too commercial for what we represent/publish.” WTF? Come on now. How can it be too commercial and yet, too literary? This is not possible. Then I read this post by Nathan Bransford and I swear to you, I thumped my head off the table several times. I think I lost consciousness briefly, but that’s not important. Why hurt myself like that? Because I found my brain saying, “You should totally self-publish I Do, because it’s the only way it’ll be published. He’s totally right. The market is changing. You gotta change with it.” I wanted to stick a fork in my eye to shut my thoughts up. How could I, the one who is certain the path she wants to take in her career, even entertain the idea?
Then I went to bed, got up grumpy, drank a bucket of coffee and I got a grip. So what if I considered it? So what if self-publishing is sort of appealing. He’s right. Times, they are changing whether I like it or not. The publishing industry is drastically different than it was just a few years ago. It is a different game. Doesn’t it make sense to reconsider your options? I calmed down and here I am, gripped and sane.
What are your thoughts on Nathan’s post and my reaction? Should I? Is the industry so changed that anyone stands a better chance with self-publishing?
Now, onto the rest of you who insist on annoying me this week. Let’s begin with Twitter.
The world of Twitter is remarkably small. Oh yes, for all the billions of Tweeps there are out there, news travels at lightning speed, and so does reputation. You can ruin yourself real fast on Twitter.
It is a great marketing tool for writers. But please, folks, use it properly. Tweeting about your book and only your book is not how you market on Twitter. I’m sorry, but if you post a dozen or more times each day a link to both your book or your blog and nothing else, I am going to unfollow you so fast it’ll make your head spin. No, I don’t care if you unfollow me back. I don’t want you on my list anyway. Will I buy your book? Hell no. The title now annoys me so much because it keeps FILLING UP MY TIMELINE SO I CAN’T READ ANYTHING ELSE, that I never want to see it again. Get what I’m saying here?
Twitter, when properly used, builds an online presence, gives people an idea of who you are and what your books are about and it doesn’t annoy, harass or piss people off. In other words, post something other than your own damn links. Retweet a tweet that made you laugh. Post a quote or two. Say hello to a few followers you enjoy following back. Tweet about your book and your blog or whatever it is you’re selling. Definitely do that. But don’t be so aggressive you have the wrong effect on people. Also, if you must tweet over and over again, be creative and change it up. You’re a writer for crying out loud. Surely you can find different ways of saying “Buy my book” or “Check out my book”. And don’t bitch when people don’t follow you back or don’t retweet your shit. That annoys me too. Just because you put “RT” before or after the tweet doesn’t make it law that I must retweet it. Actually, just don’t put “RT” at all, because my Irish instantly prevents me from doing so. “Oh, so the wee lass is ordering us to retweet her little bit of nonsense, eh? Well, I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen. We cannot possibly do what we’re ordered to do by someone we don’t know. Never.”
Get a grip on how to use Twitter in such a way that it doesn’t annoy the shit out of people.
Next, pen names. Jesus, I’m already running so long here. Let’s see…okay, unless you’re a children’s writer who also writes erotica or other extremely-adult fiction, why? Why would you want to use any name but your own? Sure if your name won’t fit on the damn cover, I understand. If your name is Seymour Butts, Hugh Jass or Ben Dover, perhaps you might consider a pen name. If you’re Nora Roberts, Stephen King or some other household name that can let it “slip” they’re using a pen name to rebrand and use this “leak” of information to let readers know the pen name indicates a different genre than they’re used to, then fine. Have at it.
If you’re Joe Nobody who hasn’t published a single thing and wants to use a pen name because you’re worried about getting rich and famous and gathering so many haters/stalkers that your life would be in danger…get a grip. It’s not likely to happen anyway. Own what you write. Honestly, this ridiculous fad (or whatever you want to call it) where we all hide behind anonymity because we’re afraid of offending this person or that or because we’d never say these things without the protective cloak of a pen name, makes me sick. It annoys me. Why? If you’re so afraid to own something you’ve written, don’t publish it. If you don’t have the balls to say “Yeah, I wrote this” then you don’t deserve to publish it. That’s right, I went there. Get a grip, folks. Don’t assume you’ll be disowned or people will come to your house packing weapons or flaming bags of shit. Give people more credit than that. They might surprise you.
And one brief mention for those of you who have a problem with the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign that includes the slogan “Save the tatas” or “I like Boobies”, you all need to calm the fuck down. Listen, every time a kid who is giggling maniacally at the words boobies and tatas, buys a bumper sticker or a bracelet so he can go home and continue to giggle with his buddies, money goes to breast cancer research. Every time someone asks him what it’s for, he must pause and consider that. If he doesn’t, well big deal. The thing is, it is helping a good cause. Kids are donating and some are actually learning. My daughter came home last night saying a few teachers believed an “I love boobies” bracelet was inappropriate for school. She’s upset because she wants to get one. She has an aunt (my aunt) who she loves very much who is a breast cancer survivor. She was looking forward to wearing her bracelet and telling people that while it is funny, she’s wearing it because she’s glad her aunt is still here, that she won her battle. How can you criticize that?
Get a grip. They’re just words. Last I checked, boobies was not on the offensive list. Do you all realize the more you tell a kid not to like something, the higher his or her interest in it will be? Laugh it off. It’s a fad. The Cancer Society will benefit while it lasts and kids get a little giggle. It’s certainly better than posting some random message on Facebook implying that you’re pregnant or having sex on a table while eating pickles, but keeping the reason you’re posting such a blatant lie a secret in an effort to spread awareness. But let’s not get started on that.
Last, a very wise man (Paul Mitton) warned that what we type online is “forever”. It is. Everything that is published in any format is essentially forever. That doesn’t mean you should bite your tongue, but you should use caution and common sense. Be aware that some things you post/publish will anger some people. You can’t please everyone and if you think you can, well you’re not going far before they strap you into a jacket and carry you off.
I’m aware that this post could piss people off. Do I care? Not really. That’s why I’m posting it. Believe it or not, I weighed my words. I deleted sections and rewrote them. I omitted some major annoyances because I realized they’re only annoying me this week because of hormones and lack of sleep. Next week I won’t feel the same and I’ll wish I didn’t post them. So I removed those.
The rest? Well, it’s how I feel. It’s my opinion. I own it. If you want to hurl shit at my door, go ahead. Just be sure to hit the windows so that Kurt has to clean those while he’s cleaning the door. They’re awfully cloudy. Oh, and run really fast. I might not like exercise, but I’ll definitely make sure shit-throwing doesn’t go unanswered.