The Final Stretch and the crazy thought I had.
So, here's the thing. First and foremost, I'm getting very close to being done with this draft of the new novel! That's exciting by itself. I know what I want to do to end this thing, and I just need to make it work. Or, see where it takes me that I didn't expect, but as it stands I think the surprises are done for now. The chapter I'm currently working on is coming out slowly though, and I'm taking a break from it today to get this blog post out instead because I have a few things I want to vent. Tomorrow I should be able to finish this chapter, and then there's a handful more until the story is wrapped up in a neat little bow. Then it's time to let it sit for a bit, go back, and do some rewriting. I already have plans to give some more depth to the beginning of the story, now that I know all the characters a lot better, so that should be fun. I'm feeling really good about this one.
Which leads me to the crazy thought I had.
To back up a bit, recently I've been trying to do more in terms of marketing and broadening my reach and all those things that indie authors need to do to get seen and found and read. It's been working, don't get me wrong. I've made a few sales here and there, and I've gained close to 100 followers on Facebook since basically March or April, and it's been fun to talk to other indie authors and make some connections. Everyone out there is great! It's a fun little community and I'm proud to be a part of it as it stands.
As much as I feel bad for saying this: I want more.
This is novel number four now, and I foresee at least a few more ideas in my head currently, with who knows how many coming in the future. This is something I want to do for real. When I originally started this writing journey, I self-published because I wanted the experience, I wanted the physical copy of the book, I wanted to say I did it. I've done that, and I've done it a few times over. Around the same time, I started writing short stories and submitting them out to magazines and e-publications and the like, and while some of the rejections were very "we'd love to see more from you in the future", they were all rejections. They never got to me that much, because I'd self-published and was working on other things. Still, part of me wanted the acknowledgement. I think that's coming back around.
Another thing that's floating around in the sea of my mind is the cost. I've talked about this a few times, but self-publishing to a professional standard is EXPENSIVE. Last book, with marketing and proofreading and cover art and all those things, came out to probably close to $2,000. Looking into a developmental editor for this one, I'm going to hit that mark on that alone. Which means to push out the book that I want to release, I need to spend about $4-5,000. Unless it takes off and becomes a worldwide success, I'll never recoup the money. There's always a chance it could, which would be amazing, but the chance is small and living on the hope of something happening is how I end up making poor decisions.
The final thing that led to this crazy thought of mine is the experience I've had in my goal to go out and support more indie authors. I decided at the beginning of the month that I was going to throw money toward the community, to start showing support for the people out there doing this also. Plus, I'd never really read any other indie author's work, so I wanted to get a feel for the market. So, based on some posts that came across my feed, I dove in and grabbed some books. It's been...a mixed experience.
First off, I want to say that if anyone reading this happens to be one of the authors that I purchased a book from, none of this is personal, and I'm still glad I supported you if for nothing else than I know the feeling of having someone read your work. This is just fully my opinion as someone who's grown up reading and loving books.
That being said, there's a certain format that you expect from a book. A certain way that writing should flow, and a certain look. I'm not talking about prose, or word choice, or descriptors of action; I mean just from a format perspective. As a reader, that setup, that format is what keeps you in the story. Every indie book I've read so far has yanked me out of the story multiple times by going against these things. One of them had no dialogue tags at all. In the entire story. Not a single one. It was fine, and you could always tell who was speaking, but the complete lack of tags or action during dialogue kept gnawing at me. There were also some sections of writing that made me stop and sigh. I still enjoyed the story as a story, but the experience of reading the book hurt me on some level. Another that I read was better in this regard, the writing was good and the dialogue flowed naturally, but there were points when, over the course of two lines of dialogue, the characters had made an entire journey across town, or from one sentence to the next the day had passed. Part of this may have been due to the mental state of the character, and trying to convey that through the story, which if so was well done and just not for me. Regardless of if it was on purpose or not, it was pulling me out of the book every time. I had to stop and actively think about if I was missing the point or not. If it was meant to be this jerky? Again, it was still a good story that I enjoyed, but the experience of reading was rough. Maybe I just chose poorly, maybe I needed to give this more chances. So I grabbed two more. When they arrived, I picked up the first one and sat down to give it a shot. It's a crime thriller, right up my alley. By maybe six pages in (I'm not sure because there are no page numbers in this one), I had to stop. The formatting of each page was giant margins on all sides of the text, smashing the words into a small box in the center of the page. It had dialogue tags, and internal thoughts, and action as we followed the character, but it was all jammed into one paragraph. At the point I had to stop, we're following the main character as she calls her work, and then the phone is answered by the receptionist who we then get a full description of what she's wearing and why she decided to dress that way that morning. This may be, once again, a stylistic choice and using the omniscient POV, but it made me stop and make sure I hadn't missed a scene or character switch. I've got one more to try and read, and skimming through it, it at least looks like it follows common book formatting. It's a bit out of my normal genre of reading though, so we'll see how it goes.
Again, I'd like to reiterate that I still enjoyed these stories, and I'm still proud to have supported some indie authors, but the lack of consistency is wearing at me. It's making me rethink this writing journey in a way. If that's the common experience of people reading indie books, I see why people are hesitant to give a book a try. You might find a well thought out, well formatted book, or you might find something that...isn't. The thing, though, is that I've tried since the beginning to produce something that rivals (or at least emulates) the books that I've read in the past, the format of a traditional book. I like to think that I've done that, and that people reading the book wouldn't notice it was self-published by just a glance at any page. So it's made me think a crazy thought.
If this new novel is coming together as well as I like to think it is, and I'm dreading the amount of money I'm looking to spend to make it the best it can be, why not just go down the traditional publishing route. I've got a few books under my belt, I like to think I've learned some things over the years I've been fiddling with this. And they'll do all the expensive parts for me! Maybe it's time to give it a real-deal shot. It's a scary thought, and there's a large chance that I fail at it, get rejected by everyone I query, and feel like a failure. In that case, I can always fall back to releasing it myself still, so the few people out there that enjoy my stories can get it. There's always a chance, the hope that someone actually believes in it. I know I said earlier that living on the hope of something happening is how poor decisions are made, and maybe this is one of those as well, but at least this one is free. Free hope is the best kind.
I'm still deciding, and nothing is set in stone yet. Hell, I have to finish the book first before I even start next steps. But it seems like something that I might be willing to try at this stage.
And trying is the first step to succeeding.