One, meet eighty
So, when I wrote the other day that I had decided to serialize my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel Labyrinths, I didn’t go into all the thought that influenced the decision. As it turned out, though, things weren’t as settled as I had believed, and I’ve now changed my mind. Some explanation might be in order.
First, I’ve been intimidated and frustrated by the traditional publishing process for some time–this despite not having nearly enough experience dealing with it to make a fair assessment of its value. Like most people who seriously think they might someday be published, I’ve done enough of my homework to know what the odds are. I know how difficult it is to get the attention of a publisher–how much work and how much time it takes to get out of the slush pile and into the hands of an editor who can fairly judge the work. And, like so many, I’ve found myself wishing and hoping for some way around this.
And so, despite my own bias against self-publication, I began to look at it seriously–both online and via ebooks–as a way of simply attracting attention. True, some people have done quite well financially, and I’ll admit that I was craving some of that action. But the real reason was because I wanted people to be reading me, dammit, and if it took an end-run around the traditional hurdles of editor and publisher, well, that was how it was going to have to be.
But. There’s still that internal bias. When I started writing reviews, I learned right away that I really didn’t want to read self-published books, because unfortunately, the majority of them are abysmal. The stereotype–that people self-publish because they couldn’t get their book past an editor–is there for a reason. (This does not apply to all self-published writers, of course.)
There’s also the issue of editing, formatting, cover art, promotion, advertising. (Okay, five issues.) All of these are things that you get with a traditional publisher, because it’s in their interest to have an attractive product and to make sure people are aware of it. If I did the ebook myself, I’d be on my own for all of that–and, in the end, I’m just not entrepreneurial enough to do that sort of thing competently.
And last, but definitely not least, when I started rereading and reworking Labyrinths in preparation for serializing it, I realized something amazing–it’s actually pretty good. Not great, and not terribly original, but it’s better than several first novels I’ve read by people who later became major names.
And it’s too good, I think, for me to waste it on this site, or in a self-published ebook that may get read but probably won’t.
So, yes, I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going to serialize Labyrinths. Instead, I’m going to expand it. Get it up to around 60-70K words, more in line with what publishers traditionally want for a short novel. And then I’m going to start submitting it.
Because, in the end, I still believe in the traditional publishing model. Yes, it’s a huge pain in the ass for everyone involved (including the publishers themselves, who have to wade through the literal tons of junk they get sent). But that process is necessary, at least if you’re going after a wide audience. It’s worked for centuries, and the majority of books still get published that way, so it must have some value.
Of course, this means it’ll be quite awhile before you get to read it. Sorry about that. But there’ll be more of it. Hopefully that makes up for the delay.
In the meantime, I have more stories to get cracking on.