I was scrolling down my Facebook page, as one does, often when at a loss, and I saw many people advertising their upcoming anthologies and novels. Of late, it seems to me that the world is bursting with people publishing their work.
I wonder how they manage that.
Long ago, (four years ago, actually) an Indian publisher had suggested that I write a book, their suggestion arising from one of my short stories. I thought that I had died and attained undeserving Nirvana. Fearing the chariots of time drawing ever near, I finished the book within months, full time job, failing kidneys, and graduating child notwithstanding. Every time a revision was suggested, I attacked it, conquered it, and sent back the section before suggested deadlines. I vowed to be the most agreeable, the easiest of writers anyone could dream of working with.
However, some ornery constellation stamped its feet and rather abruptly, I was told that the publisher had lost interest. No other explanation was offered. One day I had a book contract; the following day, I was anchor-less, rudder-less.
My book has been completed, revised, re-visited for years. I had tried looking for an agent and sent out about fifty letters of inquiries to various agents, my list compiled from a variety of sources (yes, including Writers & Poets!). I got nary a bite. Not A One.
And these, mind you, are agents, not publishers that I tried to approach.
Interestingly, however, whenever I have sent in sections of the book as separate stories, they have been accepted and published in magazines, no revisions asked for.
I know my work is decent, current, and fits in with what is being read. How does one jump this huge chasm between finished project and marketed product?
The person who had published my first story offered to come out with a kindle edition of my book. Of course, I have agreed. However, that constellation is still ornery, and of late, my queries are ignored. I wonder about the value that these two experiences are supposed to convey to me, but I remain at a loss. It definitely does not hearten me to know that Moby Dick was rejected 75 times.
I have read hundreds of blogs and articles on composing the perfect query letter, choosing the right literary agencies, paying attention to the kind of material on the market, and followed a myriad of other advice. I have tried many variants and forms of query letters. I pay attention to agents that represent writers I like and whose topics match mine. These pieces of wisdom and logic assure me that agents are interested in accepting and marketing my work; after all, that is how they make money.
Perhaps then, the ones I tried are independently rich.
Perhaps I need to be independently rich and self-advertise, self-market, self-publish, self-sell, and self-buy. After all, I write for myself, not anyone else! Alas, my rather ordinary and modest circumstances, combined with my total and complete cluelessness about this process will allow no such indulgence.
My writer friend and I have agreed that it is time for us to find a proper agent for our finished projects. Of course, we have no idea how to land one. On Facebook, I see thousands of prompts that promise to stir the Muse. Many articles offer advice about how to keep writing, the importance of it. There are suggestions about places an aspiring wordsmith could disappear to, places as impossibly beautiful as a poem from a star.
I don’t think that these articles understand: I write and will continue to write because I have no choices. Inspiration is not my problem. I do not need an ivory tower to write; my sofa is quite adequate. Finishing projects is not my problem. Accepting criticism and fixing bleeding paragraphs is also not my problem, and neither is respecting deadlines.
If only I had a spell that moved constellations! If my patient reader commands such a spell . . . However, I realize that it would be asking for much too much to share it, like asking to spare an internal organ. I do not command the words that could frame such a thing properly.
This post goes out in hopes that it will stir the stubborn stars; perhaps, lounging and floating Vishnu-like on the Milky-Way, they might read this to idle an hour by and deign to twinkle kindly.