Friday, June 04, 2010


Impatience has led me to lots of bad decisions. I understand this, and yet, it doesn't keep me from doing it again and again. Because for me, the opposite of impatience is dithering, refusing to pursue something because I'm afraid or feel as if I don't know enough.

Example--impatience: Burned out at my job at Newport Television, I quit without having another job lined up. I actually wanted to try owning my own business, but by the time I had to leave Newport, I hadn't found exactly the right thing. So I jumped into The Biggest Mistake of My Life, which is still weighing down on me today, almost a year after it blew up in my face.

Example--dithering: I dropped out of college in 1984, and have intended ever since to finish my degree. But although I've looked into it several times, and even went back to school for a while right after getting out of the Army, I still haven't finished my Bachelor's, mainly because I can't commit to a major. Pathetic.

But there is one decision I made out of impatience that I'm still not sure whether it was a mistake or not: Blue Falcon. The link describes the pros and cons of that situation pretty well, but it boils down to the fact that I'm embarrassed by the book and by the stigma of the vanity press, even as I'm proud of parts of the book and learned many valuable lessons about writing and publishing through the experience.

The experiences I've gone through since, having joined a writers group and published fiction professionally, make me think I jumped the gun by going to iUniverse. Then again, a part of me thinks that I would have been unable to move on and have those other experiences if I had not made the plunge and gotten Blue Falcon out of my system.

Why am I bringing this up again?

Because of a chance Facebook thread of an author I've talked to on-line here and there, a very talented fellow named Steven Savile. It was regarding a decision by another author to release his books through, Amazon's self-publishing venture. And the tone was somewhat admiring of the guy for taking control of his own fate, because midlist authors are stuck in a terrible place, professionally.

And suddenly it seemed to me as if the idea of POD publishing had suddenly become not as stigmatizing as it once was. And here I am with a finished novel, Death Wave, that I think is pretty good, but is a hard sell to publishers because it's so short. Should I try this again?

On the one hand, I haven't really explored my options with traditional publishers. I've submitted to one publisher, Hard Case Crime, and been rejected. I've checked out a few other publishers, and almost without exception, they ask for word counts substantially higher than Death Wave's. I've queried a few agents, but have gotten no bites so far.

But I could spend years pitching Death Wave and not have it go anywhere, or maybe place it with some small publisher who gives it a crappy cover and dumps out a few copies at conventions here and there.

Or I could give this DIY thing another try. Design my own cover, maybe commission a few interior illustrations to give it that truly pulpy feel. Maybe add in a special bonus short story to round out the volume, fatten it up a bit to give more value for the money. Use the lessons I learned from Blue Falcon to put together an even better product this time, and use what I've learned about social media and web advertising to reach a bigger audience. Redesign and use it to add value to Death Wave (and maybe also to build an audience for a Digger anthology or future books).

It may thud as loudly as Blue Falcon did. But look at a guy like Jonathan Coulton, who decided to blow off the rat race and grab destiny with both hands. It paid off for him. Then again, he was ready. He had the skills and he was able to connect with a big enough audience to make it work. And he appears to be the big exception to the rule. There are a lot of people out there trying to do the same thing I would be trying to do, and I would need somehow to get my message to those people who would be interested in what I'm selling at a time when they have the cash and motivation to buy.

The question is, can I? And whether I can or not, is it worth the risk?

Or am I just being too impatient again?

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