Contingency Plan

I have this book written; it’s a full-length SF/Steampunk story, around 90,000 words long. At the moment it has a working title of Smoke & Mirrors, but I can’t really use that (Neil Gaiman has a short story collection out with that name). I do have a better title but I’m keeping it under my hat for now. I might not be able to use that one, either—it turns out that it’s very similar to the name of another short story collection, this one from the 1970s. No matter; if I find a publisher they can make that call.

But that’s a big If. Right now I have the typescript out with some agents, and the indications are that all I’m going to see is rejection letters. It’s par for the course, really; only a small fraction of books get picked up by agents because they have to be picky about what they take on. After all, they have to bear costs until the book hits shelves and starts making cash, and even then their slice isn’t going to pay the rent if the book doesn’t sell. Fifteen percent of zero doesn’t go very far.

My problem here is that it could easily be December or even later before all the agents get back to me (and I don’t expect them all to reply, either—some agents only seem to reply to the few percent of queries that they want to pursue, leaving the rest to hang; one that I’ve queried this time round has a response rate of 4.4%, so I really don’t expect to hear a peep from that direction).

So here’s the quandary: If all the responses are going to be rejections, then I’m wondering: why should I wait for the bad news before moving? Why not just self-pub the book anyway? Then, in the event that one of the agents does actually show an interest, I can always un-publish.

Of course, there’s a danger that an agent might be interested, at which point I then have to tell them that I already self-pubbed—but hey, don’t worry, I can un-publish in thirty seconds with a couple of mouse clicks. But the fact that the book’s already out there and maybe sold a few copies might be enough for the agent to get cold feet. I don’t know what agents do in that situation, to be honest. I don’t know any agents to ask.

What to do, what to do . . .

So here’s the contingency plan: I’m going to start merging the chapter files into a single master document, ready for self-publishing. I’m also going to see about how much it’d cost to have a professional editor look at it, and get some idea of how much a cover artist might charge for an eye-catching cover. That’ll take a couple of weeks, at least, during which time it’s always possible I’ll get a good word from an agent. If not, then I can make the decision on whether to go forward the self-pub way, or continue to wait.

The plan is planned. Tomorrow, I’ll begin merging files, and researching editors and artists. I’ll post progress here. Watch this space.

Dear Diary . . .

MY regular readers (Sid and Doris Bonkers of Epping) might have noticed that every now and then I post something here that’s more like a rambling journal entry than an article about something specific.

This is one of those. Day job and household chores took over things for the last couple of days; I did find time to get a few things done, though, and now I feel like rambling a bit. Let the rambling begin . . .

On books and writing:

As I mentioned in the last post, I uploaded a correctly-formatted version of Finish Your Book, and now that should be what gets downloaded by readers. I tested it and it looks the way I intended the first time round.

I also re-published Pavonis, which was the first full-length story I ever published. It was originally self-published in 2012, but I took it down after Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia was published professionally, the reason being that after going through the whole pro publishing process with G&B, I realised that my self-editing left a lot to be desired and I was no longer happy to have a flawed work out there. So I had sort-of planned to rework much of Pavonis with the help of a professional editor (and cover artist—the cover pretty much stinks), and come up with a better title (because Pavonis doesn’t tell you anything about what the book’s about). But after much consideration, I decided I’d rather focus on new works than try to fix old ones. And anyway, quite a few people liked the book despite its shortcomings. In the end I decided to just put it back out there. I might at some point upload a new version that fixes the known spelling errors and some formatting problems (a few passages display underlines and italics that weren’t in my source text), and I’m considering paying an artist to come up with better cover art. Maybe.

Meanwhile on the writing front, I’m building up the story line for the currently-untitled SF book I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of months. I’ll probably be getting back on that this afternoon.

Also, I did some tweaking of the web site to rearrange a few things and update a couple of pages. I think it’s looking pretty good.

On TV:

We’re saving Game of Thrones on DVR, with the intention of binge-watching when we have four or five episodes recorded. Reason: last year we watched the first episode of season six the night it showed—and at the end we were like a couple of addicts, craving more and cursing HBO for forcing us to wait a whole week for our next fix. So, not this time.

Meanwhile I’ve been re-watching season two of Dark Matter, and when I reach the end of that I’m planning on watching the available episodes of season three on on-demand.

On games:

I was given a new video card—a GTX950 to replace my older GTX560. I installed it yesterday afternoon, but wasn’t able to do anything with until the evening. I played some Serious Sam – The First Encounter and it did seem to be smoother. I’ll try it with something a bit more demanding on the video later; maybe No Man’s Sky. (I noticed NMS has had several patches since I played it last; if they fixed some of  the shortcomings that bugged me most, I might start playing it a bit more often.)

That’s enough for now. I need coffee and maybe I’ll watch a little TV before I get back to that SF story I mentioned.

Until next time . . .

First Query Result…

…AND it’s a rejection. No surprise there—I’m told that nineteen out of twenty queries result in rejection (even for really good books, apparently), so you get used to it. The real surprise is that it was so quick (only three days).

Also no real surprise: no hints whatsoever as to the reason for the rejection. Didn’t like the sample chapters? Didn’t like the synopsis? Didn’t follow the submission guidelines exactly? Is the writing horrible? Who the fuck knows. Don’t expect an agent to spend the extra ten seconds to throw you a bone. Again, get used to it.

Anyway, three more queries in the pipe, so still more chances. And if those drop out, I have two more agents on the list that are open for submissions in September.

Queries have been sent . . .

I just sent out query letters for Smoke & Mirrors to five agents. The original query letters I sent out a few months ago didn’t work at all, so this time round I read up some stuff on Query Shark and Writer’s Digest then, rather than reworking those old letters, I wrote new ones from scratch. Let’s see if that makes any kind of difference.

On a different note, I found out last night that I have a kidney stone. I feel like crap—persistent aching in my side, tired because of lack of sleep.

And on that note, that’s all I can manage for now. End of post, except for this thought:

Screenshot 2017-07-07 at 20.13.54