Today's Miscellaneous Monday is about Reaching the Dream – the “Dream,” of course, being a published book.
That's my dream. It has been for years. Even back when I wrote poetry, I dreamed of seeing my books of poems alongside Philip Levine, Edward Hirsch and M.L. Leibler as successful Detroit-area poets (granted, a couple of those names are no longer in Detroit). Now that I've transitioned to prose, I dream of seeing my books on shelves with Melissa Marr, Maggie Stiefvater and that other Faulkner.
The problem is this, though. No matter how hard I work and how good my books are, there's no guarantee that I'll ever reach that dream. There are just too many writers, writing too many books. That's just the plain and simple truth. Traditional publishing is just not able to put out every good book they see. Not even every great book they see. There are just too many great manuscripts out there.
Sure, we can look through the stacks at the local bookstores or through the pages of Amazon.com, and see that not everything that is published is great – or even good. But somewhere, someone thought those books were worth the effort. Someone decided those writers would be published authors.
So what happens when a manuscript doesn't get chosen. What if it's good, maybe even great, but for whatever reason, it's not picked up by the traditional system? Maybe it's timing. Maybe it's “not right for us.” Maybe that particular house (or particular agent) just took on another manuscript with a similar theme (despite being very different in every other way)? Does that make the passed-over manuscript bad? Does that mean that writer is doomed to stay unpublished?
My answer is “no.”
I don't believe there is just one path to reaching the dream. I'm choosing one that is less traveled – or at least, less traveled by traditionalists.
To be perfectly honest, though, I am a bit of a literary snob. I've always believed that any book good enough to be read will be picked up by a traditional house. Then I bought my Kindle and started reading some of the independent authors out there. I've been amazed by what I've seen so far. There are some GREAT books, written and published by indy-authors. Why are these books not available at Barnes and Noble or Borders? Why didn't Penguin pick up these books? Why didn't editors at Hyperion snatch up these manuscripts?
Who knows. Maybe the authors tried these routes; maybe they didn't.
I, personally, have been looking for an agent since late 2007. I've had a couple very, very close calls, but in the end, everyone passed. I haven't even tried going directly to publishers, though I've heard that it's sometimes easier to find an editor than an agent.
Instead, I've decided to go the indy-route. I'm making my young-adult novel, Summoning, available for the Kindle through Amazon.com and for other e-readers via Smashmouth.com. My goal is to have an online virtual launch on Halloween. I hope you'll all be there for my big day.
I'm reaching out and grabbing my dream!