Monday, August 11, 2014

Tilting at Windmills

I started sending out query letters for my book yesterday.  Not long into the process, I discovered horror stories about the size of various agents' and publishers' "sush piles", and I gotta say, it makes the submissions process feel like a wasted effort.  Who knows, maybe somebody will like my cover letter and respond, but it's much more likely that nobody's gonna bother reading my stuff at all because it was sent in cold.

The problem is, lots of folks like to write, and that makes it a huge pain in the ass to figure out what's worth reading.  That's true at every level.  As an example, Sci Fi author/Futurist Cory Doctorow took this picture of Tor Books' slush pile, and now it's famous:

Just to prove that everything always comes full circle, I'll note that I used to review Doctorow's stuff when IDW was adapting it for comics back when PaperbackReader.Com was a going concern, and I was one of their reviewers.  His stuff was always off-beat and inventive, and I found it agreeably depressing in regards to the future of humanity.

I've been reading the latest Robert Galbraith novel The Silkworm, and it too is agreeably depressing, especially on the subject of publishing.  J.K. Rowling has a lot to say about publishing and self-publishers, and most of it is relentlessly negative.  She seems to really like small-press publishers, but everyone else is portrayed badly in her book, with would-be or self-published novelists coming across uniformly as delusional wannabes.  To paraphrase one of her characters, There are too many writers and not enough readers.

I'd be happy for somebody who's knowledgable to come along and tell me that my work isn't good enough, that it's great that I wrote a book for my kids, but it doesn't have any future beyond that, and I should stick to being a hobbyist.  I could live with that.  I'd be happy with it, really.  Unfortunately, that's not what's happening.  Folks seem to like my book.  I don't know that I trust my test-readers--actually, I definitely do not trust them--but nobody has yet told me that I'm wasting my time.  They've been unfailingly positive.  In fact, the last person to read my stuff said, "I guess you've had a lot of people tell you it's good.  It reminds me of George R. R. Martin."

I don't think my stuff is like Martin's at all, but it's a flattering comparison.

I can handle rejection.  What's driving me crazy is the idea that some half-drunk unpaid intern is gonna pretend to read my stuff and then dump it in the trash, so she can sleep off last night's partying.  No one will ever know or care that she did it, and I'll be left exactly where I am now.  

That's not good enough.  I want to be rejected for a reason.

To quote Brian Michael Bendis, "Writers write."  With that in mind, I've already started working on my next book, and at least so far, it's looking like a follow up to the last one.  I'm gonna post a bit of it tomorrow, and you can take it for what it's worth.  If you hate it, by all means please let me know.

If you're wondering where the next part of "The Return of Dr. Necropolis" is...  


I haven't forgotten you.  I just keep getting side-tracked.


  1. Keep writing Danny. Just like Forrest Gump. Keep running Forrest. Go Forrest go!!

    1. Ha!

      Well, I wrote this morning on the way in. "Dr. Necropolis". It's an addiction.

  2. I wouldn't feel qualified in telling you whether you have a future in professional/published writing and I suspect most of your readers feel the same way. Also, like your other readers, I liked what I've read so far, but maybe I can say that J.K. Rowling, GRRM and BMB are better?

    At the very least, you inspire me to not give up on putting time into some creative writing of my own.

    1. That's more than fair. Even if I argued that I was every inch as good as the best in the business--and I'm NOT arguing that--reality is that the stuff that's on the blog is mostly raw, unedited stuff. I think the current draft of my book is better than that, but even so, it could still use professional editing. That's one of the biggest reasons to look for an agent and publisher IMHO. Otherwise you have to either pay those costs out-of-pocket, or your book will be a mess. There's no two ways about it. EVERYONE needs an editor.