Hedging an Investment in Myself

“Fiction submissions should have no discernible genre. While the fiction editor enjoys writing that plays with form & conventions, and is eagerly awaiting writing that sparkles with surprise, it is widely known that each time a vampire story is written, somewhere an orphan dies.  Shame on you.”
– Ampersand Review Submission Guidelines, as quoted from Ampersand Books’ website

This, my aspiring author friends, this is the ray of sunlight I’ve been waiting to see in perusing the publishing world online to find who to query next. Hands-down the best submission requirement I’ve yet to find—bravo to them for lauding originality when everyone else seems to want the next Stephanie Meyer…

[Disclaimer: I’m in a mood, so this post may sound cynical or overly rationalizing in the way diva amateur writers do so well. Would I be saying any of it if I had an offer for publication and thousands of blog followers clamoring for their signed copies? Yeah, probably not. Fickle monkey.]

The fact is, reading used to be a joy. Writing used to be a joy. And then I entered the literary cyberworld. Suddenly, I was blogging, and stalking my WordPress dashboard to see how many hits I got, hooking the Monkey up with its own Twitter account and Facebook page, straying from my simple, original purpose of just writing for writing’s sake to instead wax philosophical and egotistical on my writer’s journey toward publication (as I’m totally doing now!), becoming paranoid that I’m not blogging as often as others or commenting enough on other blogs to link back to mine to grow an audience for my writing, then reading about authors obsessed with Amazon rankings, authors dissing reviewers, reviewers dissing authors, agents dissing queries, publishers dissing anything straying from formulaic conventions that feed their bottom line, and AAARRGGHH! I JUST WANT TO WRITE. I want to write what I want to read. And I want to read what I want again without comparing the author’s writing to mine or wondering how she worded her query letter and synopsis to land an agent and publisher, or what social media efforts she undertakes to get the story out there.

It’s exhausting. Am I alone in thinking this? And am I alienating myself from your support by letting my defenses down for a bit and starting to stitch up a white flag of surrender? I promise I won’t be waving that flag, but at present I’m feeling quite annoyed and really rather bored by this commercial racket.

I also recently wrote about letting go of the ego that can have so many writers sucking their tongues from the roofs of their mouths and heaving a sulky sigh at the criticism they receive of their work, and I vow to not become one of these…but that being said, I just turned down a generous option to rewrite my manuscript (which lies at the intersection of multiple genres) in a way that would conform better to what readers of one particular genre expect. Even though that could give me a better shot at getting it published with a certain indie publisher (as opposed to potentially no one), I’ve made the decision that I can’t make the story or my writing style something it’s not.

This is not going to be my commercially marketable manuscript; I know that and am at peace with it. And even if it were, do I even have the moxy for self-promotion? Who knows, maybe I’ll churn out a mainstream potboiler next time round to wedge my foot more firmly in the door, but seeing there are still proponents of non-formulaic literature out there gives me enough hope to keep pushing the story I’ve got now in a digestible form still faithful to its original vision (because I am revising, and substantially—don’t think that I don’t take constructive criticism to heart!). I will climb back up my tree and nurture its scraggly branches, dolling it up with an ornament or two and conducting necessary trimming, yes, yet pruning it in a shape still reflecting its natural growth rather than Edward-Scissorhanding it into a poodle.

In short, and in the profound words of Charlie Brown, “This commercial dog is not going to ruin my Christmas.” Metaphorically speaking. 😉

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About thefallenmonkey

Primate that dapples in writing when not picking others' fleas or flinging its own poop. View all posts by thefallenmonkey

14 responses to “Hedging an Investment in Myself

  • Eva

    Aw dear, so now the spell of frustration has descended on you, too. (am sure this is horrible English, but hey – I am a German writer). I can imagine how distracting all these competing commitments can be, and how disenchanting they can be to the task itself. Wish I could give you any other advice than trying to not putting yourself under pressure on EVERY front. Know that it is EVIL to not regularly post on your blog – your ms is sure worth it. Re-writing a book to fit the market? Hm, toughie. But if it doesn’t feel right for you, then don’t. It is “only” your first ms. What you learned from it will be invaluable. It is your labour of love, still unspoilt by reality’s demands. Maybe after some time you will be ready to give it a more definite twist, but if not … it is yours. Am sure there is somewhere out there who likes it, too! Fingers crossed, chin up and rock on!!

    • thefallenmonkey

      Thank you, as always, my sage friend. I certainly do think even I would have a price had the publisher been an established one with far distribution and marketing reach, but it’s a newbie still paving its way toward that—so it just seemed that I’d be selling out the story prematurely with questionable reward and before I even gave it a chance with other representation that’s a closer fit. So I’m hoping my little rant yesterday doesn’t make me sound like a stubborn, ungrateful diva, as the rationale really does go beyond just a preservation of my “art” 🙂 (see, I can’t even take myself seriously!). I did receive some good feedback, though, that I’m drawing from for another round of revision, and, honestly, just getting that off my chest yesterday has made me feel much more optimistic of the road ahead. Thanks for sticking with me—the support is mutual!!

    • Eva

      You are very right to not bend your convictions because of a maybe-opportunity. The next publisher might just snap it up just because of how it is now. If this is the story you want to tell, I am sure it is perfect the way it is.

      • thefallenmonkey

        You’re so nice! I think what guts me most with feedback on this story is that it ends up addressing something I did know deep down had to change. So I’m over my bratty initial reluctance, lowering the defenses, and devising the game plan for tackling some of those issues in the manuscript. Thanks again, Eva, for your faith!

  • tahliaN

    This won’t turn us off because it’s genuine & that’s what we want to hear from bloggers – at least I do. I also love cross genre, it’s so much less predictable than sticking to one genre. YA books are often cross genre and that’s one of the reasons they’re so popular with older readers.

    What heartens me these days is that you can always publish cheaply on ebook and see how it goes. We just have to spend the money on an editor to make sure it’s professional. So you don’t need a publisher anymore.

    • thefallenmonkey

      Aw, thank you so very, very much, Tahlia. I needed to hear this. As I just commented to Eva, I was worried I was sending off the wrong impression in my post that I wasn’t going to accept the constructive criticism, just shoot it down and keep my tale as is. The truth is, since turning down the rewrite I’ve proceeded to overhaul the beginning of my manuscript—a painful yet somehow satisfying process!—per that publisher’s structural recommendations. What I’m refusing, though, is to cram a square peg into a round hole where plot and style is concerned, so I’m glad to hear that you support the merits of cross genre as well.

      Interesting that you should bring up the ebook, as that is becoming a very appealing option rather than letting a string of rejection banish a story to one’s hard drive. And yes, professional editing an imperative—I read your post on the feedback you’d given an ebook author and was mortified! (I meant to comment, but had read it on the go on my mobile and had too much to say to respond on that little keypad 🙂 ). Seriously, I was fuming at her response and applauding your effort to help a fellow writer out so her work can be taken seriously. You handled that situation with great tact. And all e-published authors should realize that it’s in their interests to do it right, not only for favorable reviews and faithful readership, but the possibility that a publisher still could pick it up if it gets noticed.

      Thanks again, and I’ll be swinging by your blog shortly.

  • Milo James Fowler

    “I JUST WANT TO WRITE” – I got myself a little stressed yesterday because I was worried that the story I was writing wouldn’t sell. But eventually I realized: Hey, I like to write. So whether or not this story ever sells, I’m doing something I enjoy. So there! And I can totally relate to the whole blogging/readers thing. I usually post only once a week (unless I have something awesome to share), and it’s easy to compare myself with fellow writer/bloggers who post something daily, and then find myself lacking. But in the end, it’s about the WRITING. That’s what we love to do. So we should do it, and to Hades with the rest of it all! At least until we’re over our mood. =]

    • thefallenmonkey

      Honestly, your posting once a week is perfect for slacker blog readers like me who don’t keep up otherwise! That’s precisely why I’ve been averaging once a week as well, if even that :). I’ve been working on getting over the blogger panic and have felt great satisfaction in regularly following the few (such as yourself) that I genuinely enjoy and learn from, and who I can tell love writing for writing’s sake and approach publication with confidence, yet modesty. And the comments you give and take are meaningful, not the self-interested “Great point. Follow my blog, too!” variety that can result from overzealous promotion.

      Ha, feeling SO much better that I wasn’t the only one in a mood yesterday :). I know it cycles through—and am already feeling much better today just getting that rant out of me—and it’s the perspective of why we do what we do that will always expedite that. You produce some pretty incredible stuff with great consistency, so no writing you do is ever in vain.

  • Glen

    ah mate – hang in there. You have to write what’s in your head at the end of the day, and do it the best you can. Everything else is out of your hands. cheer up and keep going. Keep searching for the right publisher – somewhere out there is a publisher who will see your book’s worth.

    I do know what you mean about reading & writing for fun being lost and yearned for again. I don’t doubt that will come back for you though – I don’t doubt it at all 🙂

    • thefallenmonkey

      Truer words never spoken, Glen—I’ve since become happily lost in a book I’m really enjoying reading. Am still making mental notes of how it’s structured, worded, etc., but in a positive way that’s teaching me, and still managing to escape into the story itself. It’s nice to take a break from one’s own tales and delve into others’, isn’t it :).

      Thank you for the kind words of support. My chin’s getting back up there, and I have new motivation to tackle another round of revision. I hope all is going well with your project, too!

  • Nicki Elson

    Haha—everytime a vampire story is written an orphan dies. Way too funny.

    As you know, I wholeheartedly back up your decision to keep your story in its own category. When it comes time to publicize and sell it, it has to be something you believe in, not something bastardized to fit someone else’s pre-defined, narrow niche.

    And I too pine for the days of being secluded in my bubble and free to lose myself in in fictional worlds. Seriously—do you ever wonder what Hemingway or Dickens’ works might’s been like if they’d had to maintain a blog/Twitter/Facebook/Whatever accounts? Would we have gotten less books out of them because they’d have signed up for too many fricking blog hops? My guess is yes.

    And now I’m going to continue on my way to see where you write. 😉

    • thefallenmonkey

      That was seriously in their submissions; I love it. Too bad it looks like you have to court them for a while with shorter fiction before they consider anything lengthy, but hopefully Write1Sub1 will crank something outta me to attempt such wooing…I dunno, though, they sound way too cool for me.

      I know, I think about established authors constantly and how they didn’t have to hack through this cyber mire. Becoming a published writer by writing stories? Not tweets or status updates or blog posts? Really? Is that how it works? Huh. 😉

      And thank you as always for keeping this lil’ buckeroo’s chin up.

  • State of the Zoo-nion Address « The Fallen Monkey

    […] of all, in the wake of my whining two weeks ago (“Hedging an Investment in Myself“), I was delivered from my woes. Unbeknownst to me at the time, but I was sitting on a […]

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