Writing Career Confusion

A year ago I was very clear about the direction I wanted my writing career to go and how I wanted to go about it:

write novels + land agent + get book deal = get published the traditional route

But I keep reading articles and listening to interviews of various authors and agents and I’m really confused.  I don’t know any more whether I should continue accruing agent rejections (start submitting my manuscript again) or re-edit my book to polish it up completely and then publish it myself using all the new and shiny self publishing tools offered by businesses like Amazon or should I just publish my book on my blog in small bites until the whole thing is published with the idea of gaining a fan-base and then attracting an agent or publisher who will then publish it in book form?

How realistic are any of these choices?  It’s tough to land an agent through submissions.  It could take years.  Self publishing has come a long way in both quality, price, and respectability but then you have to pay attention to all the details like cover design, editing (ideally professionally), and type setting.  Then I just read an article in Writer’s Digest by Nina Amir suggesting that publishing your book on your blog is a great way to get published – you develop a big readership and prove your book has commercial appeal and you either gain the notice of agents/publishers or you can approach them and show them how great your book is.

People do get book deals based on their blogs but it’s not as simple as publishing your book online and then publishers just publish it up for you.  From everything I’ve read – publishers expect extra material in a blog to book situation.  Also – I have yet to hear about any fiction being picked up from a blog.  Amir is confident that this whole angle works for fiction but where are examples of this happening?

I already plan on working harder to increase my readership for Stitch and Boots and I have my non-fiction Post Apocalyptic Kitchen project with my friend Emma if we decide to go forward with that – it’s my fiction I’m confused about.  So then part of me wonders if I shouldn’t just publish Cricket and Grey piece by piece on this blog simply for the enjoyment of my personal friends and readers who have expressed interest in it and have been very supportive of it.  Then I can perhaps start working on the second Cricket and Grey book.

What should I do?  I cannot decide.  Is it still important for me to publish novels the traditional way as I always intended?  Will I ever be able to write a pitch fetching enough to catch the eye and the confidence of a literary agent?  Will I still be sending out queries for this one finished book in ten years and paper my office with rejections (difficult when they’re all electronic now).

Here’s what I want from my writing career:

I want to write fiction that is compelling and entertaining

I want to give people new characters to root for or hate and I want to give them a way to escape from day to day reality because that’s one of the greatest gifts literature has given me.

I want to write non-fiction that is as entertaining as it is USEFUL

My favorite kind of non-fiction is the kind that informs with solid knowledge and research, that gives you information you can rely on and put to use in your life but that simultaneously is humorous and down to earth.  There is no reason why non-fiction has to be humorless and “serious”.  Being “serious” in tone doesn’t make you more or less of an expert.  You either are, or you aren’t and I’ll be able to tell just by reading your work because I’m not dumb.  There is the idea that if you don’t maintain a “serious” tone that people won’t trust you.  That may be true for some people out there but I think it’s an old and musty belief.

I want to make a living as a writer

I really do.  I’m not sure if I care if I somehow managed to simply get enough readers on Stitch and on this blog to actually make those ads make me a living or if I publish books and get royalties or if I’m making money from e-books or publish on demand.  I would just like to make a living from writing before I die.  I’d like it to be sooner than later.

I want to earn respect as a writer

I’m not the kind of writer who will write Pulitzer winning material.  I know my level and it isn’t high brow.  I hope to always be improving but I don’t have Pulitzer dreams, if I were to reach that level I would obviously feel deeply rewarded for all the work I’ve put into my writing but it simply isn’t in my sites.  I want the respect of other writers and from my readers.  I don’t want people to think of me as a trashy writer you’re almost embarrassed to like.

So what do I do?  I realize that no one can actually answer that one for me.  But that’s what I want.  I want someone to tell me the best route to reaching my writing career goals.

2 thoughts on “Writing Career Confusion

  1. Chelsea

    Well those are big decisions. I have recently been reading a lot of fiction and non-fiction from the Victorian period, and one thing that appeals to me is the idea of a serial book. Elizabeth Gaskell, Dickens, and Poe used this device to reach a mass public, and you might reach a wider audience without the self-publishing cost.

    This, to me, would be something to look forward to each week. I think it would be an interesting opportunity to gauge your readership, giving facebook/twitter updates with a teaser for each upcoming chapter. You could offer the chapter for 5 days on a special website, then remove them prior to posting the following week. Those who missed the previous chapter could purchase the chapter or buy the book. Then you would know how many copies to print if you do choose to produce a book. It may not make you money, but may single you out as a writer to watch and read, much like those who produce short films or episodes for YouTube.

    Just a thought.

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  2. angelina Post author

    You know I like the idea of serialized fiction as well – I had been planning on doing that and then realized I wasn’t ready to write the story I picked. So I was thinking of doing this with Cricket and Grey since it’s already written and just needs polishing. I don’t know how to set up chapters to sell or whole books to sell yet – but it’s an idea worth considering. One of my concerns is the limitations that this theme has with formatting and font style and I think it would be hard to read a chapter with such small type. I also don’t really want another website to work with. What occurs to me is that I should find out how to set up downloadable PDF files and present them that way. That would mean working with an FTP site (is that what they’re called?) which I find annoying – but if it allows me to do what I want to do then maybe I just need to get over it.

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