Friday, March 7, 2014

Finished first draft of my third novel "Going Through The Doors". Now what?

I've recently finished a first draft of my latest (my third) novel "Going Through The Doors" It's a novel about LSD use, teenage angst, and abreaction (look it up). Other than that, I don't want to go into too much detail about it yet. I've got about 133,000 words which comes out to about 439 double spaced pages in word perfect 12 (I've used word perfect 5.1 particularly in the DOS, pre-windows days and I'm not overly fond of Word). Now, I've sort of come to the hard part. I have no hard copy of the manuscript and I'd like to start trying to make revisions with that. It's a bit much for me to print out on my own printer and I've sent an email to Fedex (formerly Kinko's) to get a quote for how much it would cost to type it out. After this, hopefully I can get started with a rewrite. I'm sure it's going to need a major one, which I'm probably not capable of turning into a publishable novel.

 I used them with "The Mu Rhythm Bluff", my second novel, and I had to end up paying more for than their quote which sort of pissed me off. I don't know where else I can go and get this done. I'm waiting for them to respond to my email.

 In spite of the lack of the hard copy, I've started to rewrite the 'script a bit. I might be able to rewrite it without a physical copy, but not sure. After I've rewritten it to the best of my ability, I guess I could rejoin the internet writer's workshop which I left, not sure I'd ever have another manuscript which they could critique. I submitted "The Mu Rhythm Bluff" in its entirety to this list and got some helpful feedback. Of course, the number of crits I got was limited as some people felt that long descriptions of poker hands were a bit tedious. I tried to reciprocate and crit as many people as possible also.

After this is done, I will have to ask the question "now what?" Is there any point in submitting it to an agent for publication? When I was shopping my first novel, "The school of Hard Knocks" around, I got a few agents who were interested in reading it, but they took a pass on it as well as the ones who did not want to read it. Susan Ramer who was Catherine Stocket's (The Help) agent was one of the people interested in reading it and suggested I might want to have a professional editor look at it and polish it up before sending it to more agents. I went to some editors, most of them were not terribly helpful and they were really expensive and a bit beyond my means. I finally gave up on that first novel, giving it a good flogging and relegating it to cobweb filled shelves, a space becoming literary cluster fucks.

I'd dreamed of using my autism as a gimmick of sorts to get this autism-related novel published. I had high hopes when I met journalist Tamar Brott who in the past has done stories for the NPR shows "This American Life" and "Studio 360". I hoped getting on "This American Life" would result in publication by a major house. After This American Life was enthused about doing a show created by Tamar about me and my novel, they decided they did not like the way Tamar had written it and killed (or at least put into abeyance) the show. I ended up on Studio 360 which was a nice consolation prize, but it did not result in publication of the unpublishable work. The gimmick failed me.

 After I'd been through rewriting and limited editing of "The Mu Rhythm Bluff", I took the plunge and queried with nine agents. I noticed things had changed in the several year interval between my first and second novel. Agents no longer even answered prospective authors for the most part if they were not interested in the work. The publishing industry had totally changed with digital readership and the big chain Borders going out of business and Barnes and Noble having trouble. Amazon had started to rule the world. The only up side was that thanks to Amazon and their Create Space and KDP select programs, self-publication was a far more viable option. I took that route, hoping I could use the gimmick to promote this book. Tamar had moved to another city and was busy with other things so she could not get me on NPR. I wrote to Studio 360, asking if they remembered me and were interested in doing another show with me. They just wrote me a "don't call us we'll call you" email. No media people or reporters were interested in my story, an autistic novelist having written an autism-related novel. Advertising was not viable or too expensive except for the money I spent on Good Reads. In short no one was interested in the gimmick which would result in "The Mu Rhythm Bluff" being published by a major house getting on the New York Times best seller list  and being made into a major motion picture or anything like that. In the year that it's been out I've only managed to sell 49 ebook copies and three physical book copies-an average of about one book per week.

 "Going through the Doors" is a different story. The teenaged protagonist does not have autism and there is no mention of autism in the book. There is no real way I can use the gimmick for this one. It does not look like the third time will be the charm. So, as I await being able to obtain a hard copy of this draft, I must ask a few questions. How will I know it is ready for submission or self publication? Is there any reason at all to even bother querying with an agent? Is it worth my while to invest the time and capital of self publishing it Amazon, even if it is ever ready for such? In short I must ask the question, Now what?


Socrates said...

52 books. That's 52 books more than most people sell in a lifetime.

Getting more feedback/criticism (and support and encouragement) seems like a good idea. I would've hoped there'd be an editor out there that would help you for the love of the craft.

Otherwise that internet class seems like the next best shot.

And keep on keeping on...

Shanti said...

This would be my suggestion. Start small. Market directly to people in the autism world. Parents, professionals, people with autism. I'd start by pushing "The Mu Rhythm Bluff" because autism is one of the main themes and because I, personally, loved it. Offer free copies or drawings on Autism parenting websites. (Age of Autism comes to mind. I know you're not into the vaccine thing, but they'd love the anti-ND sentiment.) Send autism bloggers a free copy in return for a review on their blogs. It's obviously a small start, but if it increased your numbers to 200 or 500, that would be the right direction. If publishers and NPR hosts find out people are reading it, it won't be as hard to convince them to take your work seriously. Once people get to know you as an author and love your work, they will seek out your newest novel. I know I will be buying "Going Through the Doors," when it comes out.

jonathan said...

@shanti Thanks so much for your suggestions and thanks for thinking of me.