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.
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.
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.
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?
Writers are always giving out advice on how to write, assuming for some reason that people care. I mean, you don’t see doctors prattling on to whoever will listen about the best ways to reset a bone or writing blog posts about identifying infectious diseases.
Maybe writing is unique in the sense it seems like something everyone should be capable of doing. With some sad exceptions, everybody is literate, everybody’s got “What if…?” story ideas, and everybody can
tell a good story from a bad one. And yet only a tiny handful of people can sit down and complete a coherent story; even fewer a GOOD coherent story. So there’s a certain mystique around writing, as if people capable of doing it have some kind of magical power that transcends schooling and is divinely revealed ala God’s proclamation of the ten commandments. Continue reading Good Books To Read If You Wanna Be A (Better) Writer→
I used to wonder what was more important—wordsmithing or storytelling. This was when I was on my O. Henry Prize kick, reading dozens of beautifully written short stories that received high praise despite lacking plots or any deep meaning (to me, anyway). As a result, for a while I believed wordsmithing was more important and focused a lot on improving my prose. Then I realized short stories were a career dead end and began focusing on novels, where I came to the opposite conclusion, and the one I believe today: ideally you want to be good at both wordsmithing and storytelling, but storytelling should always take precedence. Beautifully constructed sentences and imagery are great and all, but if they don’t coalesce into anything meaningful it becomes tiresome after a while, like the O. Henry stories did for me; it’s the literary equivalent of navel-gazing.