I found this out when I was reading an article in Defense One – an online military magazine – about how the military needs to innovate more like Silicon Valley. It’s a favorite talking point for people whose deepest subconscious desire is to have a threesome with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
(…Is it presumptuous of me to assume I have fans in the double digits?? Probably, but I feel like indulging my massive ego today!)
I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been hard at work getting my next novel, The Colonel and Her Sergeant, ready for publication on June 14th. I’ll post more about my future Pulitzer Prize winner later.
(I’m just gonna assume the Pulitzer Prize committee accepts self-published novels. NO I’m not going to Google it…my kids tell me if I just believe enough all my dreams will come true so I’ma gonna do that cuz as you know, in reality Donald Trump is my boss so it’s off to fantasy land for me!)
After years of personal experience in the self-publishing
and traditional publishing worlds, and after hearing about other authors’
experiences, I’ve now officially reached that conclusion—don’t query literary
agents. It’ll almost certainly be a negative return on your investment.
In my last article, I discussed how authors often fall into
the trap of obsessing over irrelevant character details at the expense of info
that matters. You don’t need to know everything about a character, only certain
critical details: desires, strengths, and weaknesses. The same holds true for
starting a story: you don’t need to know everything, only certain things…but
you NEED to know those key things.
Maybe I’ve been cursed by the book gods and need to
sacrifice another virgin at the secret blood altar they keep in my local
library’s basement (all the best libraries have one), but I’ve had crap luck
with books lately. I’ve DNF’d the last four out of five books I’ve read,
primarily for story mechanics issues. They’ve either dragged or didn’t
establish a solid foundation before jumping into the action, or just weren’t
very compelling stories. I’m a slow-as-shit reader, so slogging through a book
I’m not that into can take weeks to reach the payoff of a “meh” experience. If
a book doesn’t hook me within the first ~30%, I peace out and move on.
don’t tell me you’ve got a binder or notebook stuffed with pictures you found
on the Internet of what your main characters look like, along with facts about
them like their favorite color, the first song they danced to, their ideal
vacation spot, etc. I mean, you can do that if you’re bored…okay I did that on
my website as part of a promotion for
my book Reckoning. But
don’t mistake this for character development, because it’s not.
Characters in your head are not real people, no matter what a platitude typed
in Corsiva font scrolled across a picture of a quill tells you. They are not
people, and they don’t do anything you don’t make them do. To think otherwise
is to have a fundamental break with reality, and please see your doctor to
adjust your medication dosage accordingly.
Everybody who’s ever attempted to bake a delicious loaf of bread from scratch knows firsthand the endeavor is part art, part science. The delicate balance of flavors and textures—that’s art. Ensuring the loaf doesn’t dissolve into a puddle of goo—that’s science. There are an infinite number of different kinds of bread you can bake—banana, zucchini, raisin nut, marble wheat, etc.—but they all have certain ingredients in common—flour, yeast, baking soda, salt, water—and require a certain order of preparation—mix ingredients, bake, let cool. Without the right ingredients in specific quantities and in the proper order, you end up with the aforementioned inedible goo.
Say you’ve finished writing a book—congrats! You’ve made a few editing passes through it, roped a few of your friends and relatives into reading it, gotten their feedback, and tweaked it into what you think is an acceptable form to show to the world at large. Maybe you’ve even queried a handful of literary agents and received either “Thanks but no thanks” rejections or (more likely) radio silence.
Someone asked me recently why I haven’t blogged in a while, to which I replied, “You read my blog???”
…Which is why I don’t blog more.
A few years ago, while I was investigating other author’s websites to emulate, I was surprised to see very few regularly blogged, and most only did so in conjunction with a new release or event promo. I remember thinking this was lame.
But now I know why. You see, there are only so many hours in the day. When you work a full-time job, are contractually obligated to stay ingood shape, need to spend time with the kids/spouse so they don’t leave you cats-in-the-cradle-style, plus friends, plus eating/sleeping/hygiene, etc. …you get the picture…then you need to be ruthless about how you spend that tiny sliver of writing time. So every day I ask myself—what’s value-added? What’s a positive return-on-investment of my time, and what’s not?