29 February, 2012

Where I am, and what I'm doin'

I promised to post awhile back, and I haven't (bad tambo!) but I scrounged some free time tonight and thought I'd better grab the opportunity to post.

M has not yet sold, and it's been bouncing around New York for almost a whole year now (it'll be a year in mid March). While it's gathered a lot of positive comments, no one has yet wanted to take a chance on my quirky little thriller.  To be honest, I completely understand, to a point. I know that the publishing marketplace is changing rapidly, traditional publishers are skittish, and since I write genre-straddling books, they're a hard fit into the normal slots, let alone guessing how well they'll sell. I totally get it, I do, it's just disheartening at times because M really is a fun little book (I only say "little" because it's short, for me at least, at a hair over 90k words - Ghosts, the shortest of my published novels, was 143k, in comparison) and I personally think it's pretty awesome, but what do I know? I'm just the author. ;) Anyway, I'm confident that if I'd written it five years ago it would have been quickly snatched up and sent into production, but the market is what the market is.

I'm still hopeful that it'll find a decent home, but I'm less confident than I was.

Before I get buckets of emails and posts about self-publishing it as an ebook, I just want to say that, at this point at least, I'm simply not interested in that. I know a lot of writers are making great money that way, and that lots of stories are getting read that wouldn't have otherwise, but I'm still interested in traditional publishing for this particular project at least. When I finish and polish Stain of Corruption (the 4th Dubric novel) it will most likely be self-published, so it's not that I'm against self publishing, I just want M to be in bookstores and, frankly, in Target. That's the goal, to be on the shelf in Target, and I can't get it there by self publishing it.

My agent still believes in it, and it's still being shopped around, so I guess we'll see. If all traditional publishing options become exhausted, I'll reassess.

I spent most of January reading current fiction, a variety of books ranging from Girl with a Dragon Tattoo to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (two books that could not be more dissimilar, tbh), in an attempt to try to understand what's popular with today's readers. A friend told me that I'm trying to follow the bestsellers, follow the trends, and I don't think that's true. There were quite a lot of aspects of the books that I REALLY did not like as a reader or writer. At all. And, frankly, if those things are what it takes to sell in today's market, then I simply won't be able to sell. I'm not going to write a main character that I personally want to stuff into a trunk and leave there until they get some compassion sense. Or die. Either would work for me. I cannot and will not write main characters whose primary defining characteristics seem to be stupidity, sluttiness, or doing obviously wrong things because appearances must be kept up. I found many of the main characters (but not so many of the secondary characters) in the books to be off-putting if not outright loathsome. While I mostly hate Dubric because he can be a manipulative ass, he's not as bad as some of the shitty people I read about in January.

So. I read current popular fiction. A lot. And, tbh, the only book I actually liked was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I did not expect to like it at all, and the narrative structure being all letters and telegrams took a little getting used to, but at least it's a good book (go read it). The others in my stack, not so much. One, I outright hated.

But I'm a fickle reader, and likely a fickle writer because I've spent February poring over my notes from my January reads, trying, struggling to find common threads. What's making these books sell? Surely not skeevy/idiotic/asshat main characters and trite plots. There must be something in there. Something.

Actually, I found a few somethings. I did. Even in the book I despised. Once I wheedled out those few somethings, I've spent the last couple of weeks - since about the time I stopped posting the photo challenge, tbh - trying to come up with story concepts that meet the criteria I'd found.

I have to be honest and admit I'm not having a great deal of luck. Intentionally conceptualizing a novel does not come easy for me, my stuff tends to be an idea landing in my head with a WHAM!!! Omg, I have to write about THAT!! more than a series of structured planning sessions. It's one of the perils of being a rather organic writer, I guess. Too much planning locks me up and I find it miserable work.

I'm sure that worries about Bill's job aren't helping, or my mother breaking her shoulder, or my middle-aged hormones being out of whack, or every other thing happening in my perpetually wackydoodle life, but I have five ideas. I'm not thrilled about any of them, but at least the main characters aren't bed-hopping asshole idiots and - hopefully - the ups and downs of the plots aren't obvious by page three.

So that's where I am with the writing, at least the writing yet to come. I worked a little on Stain mid month (Kia is so screwed, yay!!) and I sewed at a quilt retreat last weekend (also, yay!!). Been trying (and mostly failing) to diet and exercise, and I have a cold.

But I'm here, I'm okay, and I should have some decent concepts to send to my agent next week.


Jean said...

I look forward to hearing what your agent has to say about what you've come up with.

Mikaela said...

I am sure M will sell. Have you and your agent considered Carina Press? Their motto is Where no great story goes untold, after all. Plus some of their books is available in print.

Maripat said...

Hugs, Tammy. I love your storytelling. You are one of the few authors that keep me glued to the book from start to finish even if it means staying up all night.

Now before you think I'm just posting to kiss butt, I'm not. It is hard in today's publishing climate. And I agree, too many authors that I liked in the past--I now pass over their newer stories because they've fallen into that annoying, shallow character cookie cutter type. What was unique is now everywhere. What happpened to the strong heroine that wasn't a slut and had a backbone? Sigh. Sorry pet peeve.

Anyway, good luck, Tammy.