Catherine Dilts is our guest blogger today. She is the author of the Rock Shop Mystery series. Her short stories appear regularly in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. With a day job as an environmental regulatory technician, Catherine's stories often have environmental or factory-based themes. Others reflect her love of the
mountains, fishing, and running. Her
third novel, Stone Cold Blooded, is scheduled for release October 10. Colorado
You’re on the way to work. Traffic stops. You’re angry that you’ll be late. If only you’d left a few minutes earlier. You vow to stop being so darn last minute about things. There are huge consequences at stake. As you inch along, you imagine your boss frowning. What’s the hold up? Get moving! Then you see the reason for the traffic jam. A fender bender? No. A vehicle crushed like a soda can. An ambulance speeds away. Yikes. Being late doesn’t seem so important now.
The publishing business presents roadblocks that can imitate the emotional rollercoaster of being held up in traffic. Here’s the process many of us have been through recently.
You finally get the darn thing written. You shop it around for months, delighted when you get a “send it” from an editor or agent. By the time you have a contract in your anxious little hands, it has been years from idea to sale. Another round of agonizing delay begins as your manuscript travels through the publishing house with the blazing swiftness of an undigested coconut in the intestines of a brontosaurus. Hint – that dinosaur has miles of innards.
You realize why your Indie published friends are smug about how fast their process goes. But you wanted this traditional route, and by golly, you’re sticking with it. You let everyone know your projected release date. Maybe have a celebration or two. Before your novel is released, you receive a somber email that the publishing house is closing up shop. You wonder if your book had anything to do with their demise - as if this situation hadn’t been fermenting for years. Businesses don’t extinct overnight.
I’ve heard this tale from way too many authors. You’ve read the stories on the blogs and loops. Some are multi-published, award-winning folks. It happens to the best of us.
I’ve given enough doom and gloom to choke that constipated brontosaurus. It’s time to find the rainbow in the storm.
1. First, take a breath. Give yourself a brief period of mourning. What it is you really want out of this writing business? Fame and fortune? Do you write to maintain your sanity in a crazy world? To make a point or make a difference? What is your definition of success?
2. If this roadblock hasn’t utterly crushed your artistic soul, the most important thing you can do is start your next project. Keep writing!
3. You have a finished product. It was accepted for publication. That puts you at the head of the pack. Maybe one more rewrite will propel your work to a higher level.
4. Consider independent publishing. Avoid vanity publishers like the plague, but you might try one of the new crop of publishing services that guide you through the Indie process. Or save your money and go it alone.
5. Do your homework. Don’t jump into a bad deal with a mediocre outfit because you’re heartbroken and desperate. That never works in the romance department, and it doesn’t work in publishing, either. You have resources to use in vetting agents, publishers, and Indie businesses. Ask for references, ask around, check the usual Preditors and Editors type sites.
Going back to my original roadblock scenario, as you drive past the tragic scene, a thought occurs. If you had been five minutes earlier, you would have been in that wreck. In my twisted pessimistic-yet-optimistic worldview, I often see failure turn into a blessing.
The fact is, you broke through a hundred roadblocks to make that sale that eventually fell through. If you did it once, you can do it again. There is a home for your story. Maybe a better one.
I could write an entire blog on Indie versus Trad, but due mostly to my work schedule, I have taken the traditional route. I reluctantly headed down the independent trail when the third novel in my Rock Shop Mystery series was orphaned by the demise of the Five Star mystery line. A month away from my Indie publishing date, an unexpected opportunity arose to join a brand new small publishing company.
Maybe this roadblock will blossom into the best thing that could have happened to my writing career. Maybe I will exit stage right as a semi-digested coconut. I’m just thrilled traffic is moving again.
What’s your roadblock? What are you doing to get moving again?
Learn more about Catherine at http://www.catherinedilts.com/ Find her on Amazon at http://amzn.to/2d2exez