Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Better shop around.

I love writing. I love everything about it. I love the inspiration of key ideas or characters or images. I love hammering out an outline, which feels very much like beating metal into useful shapes. I love crafting the introductions to characters, the twists, the openers, all the blocks that go into building a satisfying story. 

What I hate: Peddling.

I'm trying to find a new agent. I don't want to go into a lot of detail, but I spent much of 2015 working on a book based on an "understanding" that it would be just the right thing for the market -- and wound up with a pile of paper and no publisher. So I decided to give up on this writing crap.

But I can't, because I love to write.

But I hate to sell. If I could sell, I'd be a salesman and making some actual money.

If you've written and you're not from New York, you might think that someone like moi, who has lived and worked in the city, especially in and around the publishing business, for more than 20 years would use my connections and secret handshake to get my work published at the finest houses for huge advances. It doesn't work that way. I might as well be working in a gas station in Tugaske. Why? Because I've worked in the wrong end of the business -- copy work is the necessary but unglamourous side of editorial. Also because I spent a lot of that time at magazines, not book publishers, and there's not that much crossover. And because unless you're a real insider, you still run up against the gatekeepers. Just as in Hollywood everyone's writing a screenplay, everyone in the world is writing a novel, and editors don't want to see yours -- or mine -- unless it has at least gotten an agent to bless it. Even if they've known you for years. After all, if I show Editor Smith a novel that she hates, but then she makes a deal to publish a similar book, she might get hit with a lawsuit from me for plagiarism. That's where we are now in this litigious age.

I have lots of friends in the biz, but as the immortal Rodney Dangerfield once said, "My problem is that I appeal to everyone that can do me absolutely no good."

Part of my problem, too, is the stuff I want to write. This new book is a mystery novel about desire, but there's nothing X-rated -- as Dirty Harry said in Magnum Force, "A man's got to know his limitations," and I don't want to win the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Further, there are no scenes with naked, trembling women locked up in underground dungeons, and the overall body count is low. There's no massive conspiracy. In other words, I think the zeitgeist has passed me by.

But I do think it's a good book, a good story, and I think it's worth a shot. Will keep you posted if there's any good news.

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