Yesterday afternoon, I received a rejection from what was, essentially, my last chance for a particular manuscript. It's official. I'm retiring that particular novel until further notice. This isn't an easy decision. I'm not doing this spur of the moment. This was a decision I came to before I sent off that last query.
I'm not happy about it, and I'm considering my options, but I'm not in the best frame of mind right now and I should probably withhold any decision-making until I cheer up a bit.
Have you ever felt utterly worthless?
You see, I don't have a lot of skills to my advantage. I'm pretty average actually. Average height, slightly higher than average weight, average intelligence, average physical ability (though less than average upper-body strength), average looks - not ugly, but not especially pretty either... just so incredibly average.
The only thing that set me apart was my imagination, and the ability to express it (albeit with typos and spelling errors) in writing. It was the one pride I carried with me throughout my life thus far.
Turns out, I'm pretty average at that too. My writing isn't good enough to sell.
As most of you know, I have no beef with self-publishing. I have an anthology of stories out there right now that I've self-published. I think the stigma around self-publishing is ebbing away. Let's face it, there are some absolute gems out there that traditional publishers had passed by (there's a lot of rubbish as well, but luckily, most books can be previewed).
That said, I just don't have the clout to market my self-published stuff very well. Anyone who has tried will know exactly what I'm talking about. It's high school all over again out there - one giant popularity contest.
I was never popular. In fact, I was so unpopular that I missed out on my debutante celebration because not a single guy would be caught dead taking me to the dance. Trust me. I asked everyone. One guy even said that he wasn't going, only to announce the next week that he had just acquired a date for the dance.
(For those of you unfamiliar with the debutante tradition, at 16 years old or so, a girl "comes of age" wears white and goes to a dance (it's a bit weird actually. It looks like a mass wedding...). It's ladies choice, which means the girl must do everything normally handled by the guy, including asking someone out. It's not like a Formal (in North America, you call a Formal a Prom), where you can go with a bunch of friends and screw the date. You must be accompanied to a Debutante Ball).
That's how popular I was in high school.
When it comes to marketing, I cannot, for the life of me, be disingenuous. I can't do it. On twitter, I won't follow someone in the hopes that they'll follow me back. I follow people I'm genuinely interested in. I would hope that the people following me are genuinely interested in what I have to say, rather than just there because they're trying to appear like they have more friends than they actually do.
The same is true of blogs. I read the blogs of people I care enough to spend my precious time reading about. I follow friend's blogs, the blogs of members of my family, and the blogs of authors I very much admire (such as Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Marin). I don't have the time to read the blog posts of everyone in the whole world. I like to read and interact with the bloggers I follow. There are only so many hours in a day, and I can't do the same for everyone in the world. To even try would be a great injustice to everyone involved.
I would hope that the people who follow my blog do so because they enjoy reading it, not because they're begging for reciprocal attention.
Facebook and Goodreads are a little different. I'll friend just about anyone there (it's so easy to ignore people).
If I retweet/facebook/blog a link about a book, it's because I genuinely thought the book was worth something. I would hope that others would do the same for mine.
I'm also horribly shy around people I don't know. I close up and close off. I suppose people mistake this for snobbery, but it's not. I'm just terrible at being around new people. I can't speak in front of crowds without flushing furiously and desperately fighting back tears. The tears get stuck in my throat making it hard to speak. Just the thought makes me nauseous. Large crowds have me so tense I can barely breathe, even if I'm not speaking before them.
In short, marketing is not my forte. Being out and about, meeting and greeting... I can't do it; not well, in any case.
No one's going to read the books I self-publish because no one even knows I exist... well, other than friends and family, that is. And that's not going change any time soon. If I am to become a well-known author, I need help. When you self-publish, you do it all on your own.
And that is where I fall down.
In any case, why would I self-publish something that the industry has turned down? Clearly it's not good enough. I know that there are arguments about what will sell vs. what is actually good, but if an agent or a publisher gets really excited about a story, they'll take a chance. It's been done before, with much success.
In any case, I'll continue to self-publish my short-story collections, and anthologies of poetry, when I get around to consolidating them. My novels, however, I will write and save and perhaps one day, someone will think I do actually have a talent worth investing in.
Sorry to bring everyone down. I'm just feeling very disappointed right now, and more than a little upset. I'll get over it, of course, and press on as always. I just need some time to be upset, I think.
Well, now that I've thoroughly depressed everyone else, here's your Forgotten English word of the day:
Hard of hearing. Dunch is deaf in Gloucestershire and Somersetshire dialects; whence is derived the word dunce.
- G. Lewis' Glossary of Provincial Words Used in Herefordshire, 1839
Dunt, to confuse with noise; to deafen. From 15th-century dunt, a dull blow.
- Edward Gepp's Essex Dialect Dictionary, 1923
Funny, 'dunny' in Australia means toilet. I wonder if it's a reference to the toilet's other nick-name 'thunder-box.'