One Book Down. Another on the Way.

Well, it took a while, but my first novel is now complete. For a writer, complete does not mean the manuscript is done. That happened about a year ago. The rest of the process is where the work really starts. The writing is work--hard work--but it's the fun part. The publishing is the meticulous part of writing, and quite honestly something of a pain. Let's just say I will never again try to merge two pictures into one for the cover of a book. If I later find a publisher, their graphics team can whip out this stuff in no time. Me? I had to hire a friend who'd done this before, and while she did a great job, it was not easy in the least, mostly due to the requirements of CreateSpace.

I decided to self-publish through Amazon's CreateSpace for several reasons. First, I wanted to get my book out there for people to read. What good is a book if nobody can access it, right? There's a certain "uh-huh" look you get when you say you've written a novel but it can't be read yet because it's not published.

Second, I faced the fact that I'm not getting any younger, and spending five years or more trying to get an agent, which is almost always required to get a "large" publishing house to publish a novel, followed by waiting for the agent to get said publisher to publish my book did not suit my sense of "getting the book out there." The fact I have beaten cancer once, and the chances of getting the disease again is much higher for me than it is for those who've never had it also went into my decision. I also recently found out I have atrial fibrillation, so the heart isn't in the best shape either. So, I was faced with a "do you want to ensure you're still alive when the book comes out?" decision as well. 

Finally, I found that a great many very good books are now being self-published. In the "old" days, self-publishing was viewed as being done by those not good enough to find a publisher. "Vanity Press" was a sort of bad word in the publishing arena. Back then, a writer who decided to self-publish his book would contract with a vanity press for a certain number of copies. This was an expensive undertaking. That is one great thing about CreateSpace. It's a "print-on-demand" book creation website, meaning they don't print the book until it is ordered online by a reader or the author. 

However, back in the time before self-publishing became part of the mainstream in book sales and marketing, the one and only book I ever saw published by a vanity press was awful. This was in the early 1970's, and the few chapters I read were painful. Chapters averaged about 400 words; the heroine was a Civil War era "damsel in distress" seeking love; and furthermore, the racism of the author was evident in nearly every chapter involving an African-American. (Let's just say these people weren't referred to in that way in the book.)

As I said: Awful.

But times are different now. These days, contests are everywhere that are strictly for self-published books, and I do plan to enter as many as I can. Usually, the winner--and possibly other books deemed worthy of becoming a finalist in the contest--gets a "real" publisher. The winner and perhaps second and third place finishers get a monetary award, which would also be nice to have land in my lap. I am aware that winning or even placing high enough to get a look-see from a publisher is more than difficult; it's nearly impossible. It's tantamount to winning the lottery, although it's more than a "luck of the draw" accomplishment. That aspect is these contests' saving grace because talent is the sole criteria being judged. Still, who knows? Someone might read it and find it's worthy of more. We'll see. One thing is certain: If I don't enter, I don't stand a chance.

So now that I've completed my first book, having finalized the last proof yesterday (the third one) and waiting for my book launch date of September 15, I am concentrating on my next novel, the story of a girl who is kidnapped, the family that is left behind to deal with the tragedy, and the detective who is faced with trying to find the girl, which is made more difficult when the kidnapper makes no ransom demands or has any other contact with the family immediately after the abduction. It's a crime novel, a very popular genre, much different from Floating Twigs, a literary novel that has an element of courtroom drama as well, though the family dynamics and the character of the detective make my second book more than just about the crime. It's about people, which is what all good books are about, regardless of what shape the characters take (space aliens and monsters, animals that converse, androids, and so forth).

I am currently working on chapter eight of this book, with about 11,000 words written thus far, or about 12,000 if the part I've written that I will include later in the book is considered. (Yes, that happens sometimes. I will write something in a certain place in the narrative and realize it belongs in a different part of the book. Also, regarding Floating Twigs, I wrote chapter six after completing the first draft of the book and inserted it in an appropriate place in the narrative--a little insider information for those who read my blogs. The chapter resulted from a suggestion from one of my beta readers.)

This new novel is currently titled Hell is Empty from a line in Shakespeare's The Tempest: "Hell is empty and all the devils are here." This is what is known as a "working title." Whether or not I keep it will depend on how I feel about the pairing of the book and the title once the novel is completed. Then again, if I find a publisher, they will decide on my title. (Yes, that's how it works. The author does not have the final say about the book's title--perhaps some input, but that's about it.)

So, that's where my life is now. I am getting involved on Twitter (@CharlesTabb919) and my Facebook is mostly dedicated to my writing life. I have a "page" that I might activate. We'll see. If you've not followed me on Twitter (even if you don't really "tweet"), please do so. A large number of followers is always good for a writer.

As far as upcoming events other than the book launch, I will be appearing at Reagan High School in Pfafftown, NC, where I used to teach in late September or early October, date TBA. I hope to book a few more high schools while there. I should also be at various libraries soon. One is currently being set up, and others will follow (I hope.)

So, good-bye until next time!