Between Projects: The Publishing Hustle

Now that Assassins is finished and out to beta readers, I am between projects. And the thing is that in spite of the always glorious sense of accomplishment I get when I finish a piece, being between projects kind of totally sucks.

I think that for every writer there are parts of the process that are easy and parts that are hard. My process goes something like this:

  1. First spark: a sentence or an image or some such fleeting glimpse into what a narrative might be which seems to come from the ether
  2. First Draft: start writing about that spark
    1. plan out if need be. go with it if the story is crystallizing all by itself.
    2. take all the notes along the way
  3. YAY IT’S DONE AND THE BEST THING EVARR: send to beta readers to get some perspective.
  4. Let it sit around awhile until I can face up to the fact that it’s not actually perfect.
    1. hey look another spark! I’ll go write that for awhile (new process begins)
  5. Second Draft: rewrite this motherfucker!!
    1. go back through the first draft and make some plans
    2. burn everything to the ground and rewrite it (the story RISES like a PHOENIX from the ASHES!!)
    3. Proofread to the best of my ability (which is not all that great)
      1. convince a life partner to proofread it so I don’t look like such a dumbass
  6. Send back to beta readers & do one last round of edits
  7. Think about pulling together query materials
  8. Think about puling together query materials some more
  9. Poke around the internet looking for agents/presses/competitions the project might be a good fit for
    1. get intimidated
  10. Whine to various life partners about the publishing industry
  11. Edit the manuscript for possible self-publishing
  12. Daydream about covers
  13. Start a query letter, abandon it
  14. Repeat steps 7-13 for an inordinate amount of time
  15. Decide to focus on that cool other project I started between drafts 1 and 2

Ok. So you can see where my weak spot is: the whole getting things out there part. I’m not entirely sure why this is. Certainly, I write primarily for myself, but I won’t lie and say that it’s anything short of awesome when someone else reads my writing. Storytelling is communication, and communication doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I love sharing my work, but the publishing game leaves me cold. It’s not fun. It’s not easy. It gives me no creative high. So I have to force myself to do it.

I get antsy between projects. There is always a moment when I finish something and haven’t started a new project where I manage to convince myself I’m tapped out, that I have nothing else to write. It isn’t true, I know that rationally, but that nagging fear combined with how much I just love writing means I tend to rush into a new project before following through on the publishing part of a just-finished project. No one likes writing query letters, or synopses, or the inevitable rejections (or, even worse, utter disinterest)  from the vast majority of the agents you query. Whenever I sit down to pull together a query package I have a moment of revulsion, like I’m wasting my precious writing time for this?

But, really, I’d like my manuscripts to do something more than sit on my hard drive in perpetuity. I’d like to build a readership, publish, get a body of work out there in a more professional and overt way than passing my pieces to friends, who pass them to their friends. So lately when I finish something and get the edits back from beta readers, I’ve started forcing myself to query it. New rule: no writing something new until a query has been written and some agents ave been queried. So far so good. Here’s hoping I can follow my own self-imposed rules.