Let’s talk some more about publishing yourself, what is thought of primarily as the e-book revolution (it turns out, with print-on-demand, that it’s not just ebooks but that’s a discussion for another day). I’m gaining a new understanding as the days go by and I dip deeper into this pool of the change indie publishing brings in the writer’s head and so far it’s all heartening.
My main focus these days (when I’m not reformatting or retouching old books for publication or working on this website or my day job or trying to find places to publicize these books or trying to find time to eat) is the sequel to ‘Mindbenders.’ It’s a thriller and a good one, I think.
I know the emotional ride my characters are going on. I had a storyline worked out but it fizzled on me, which is a sign that it wasn’t working. If it has no juice for me, I can’t finish it, even if it would sell a million copies (I’m not suggesting it would, only how useless I am if the book isn’t bubbling in my gut).
I realized two things in the last few weeks: the beginning was too bulky—and I’d betrayed my whole conception of the stories without even realizing it.
One of the things that I loved about the series from the beginning was the idea that these people could be living under our noses, in our world, manipulating our politics, sales figures of our major consumer items, stockholder votes, things that get written up on the news and that affect all our lives, without our ever even considering their existence or influence. They’re mindreaders, right? If they don’t want you to know about them, you won’t, even if they’re right under your nose. But the idea then is to keep it somewhat low-key, keep everyone under the radar.
But the new book had a bombastic ending that took all kinds of convolutions to happen and that weighed it down like a ton of bricks. And, as soon as I started down this indie publishing route, I somehow organically knew without any soul-searching that it wasn’t right, didn’t fit.
Because it didn’t fit my characters or the type of story I want to tell.
I hadn’t realized that before because I’d felt I had a publisher to impress, an agent to impress. Whatever book I wrote had to be pitchable, had to sound bigger and better. I never consciously thought about those things but the expectations were on my mind—and as soon as I was in charge of my own ship again, I saw right through the bad ideas.
I’ve now thrown out the beginning and the end of the book as planned. I’m back to my usual approach, which is not planning, as though there is no series, no sequel. I’m going on a journey with my characters again and we’ll see where it goes. And I’m excited again, which hopefully means the result will be exciting for readers.
And all this came easily, simply because my own expectations for an indie book future are of necessity far more modest than the old publishing model. Ain’t no million-dollar advance coming. No New York Times articles, all the fantasies you play out in your head. Those things don’t happen for 99% of the writers out there anyway but they clog up your brain like ozone. This way, I know what I’m up against. I’m going to be fighting for years just to get readers who don’t know me already. But now I’m seeing the benefits of this path as well.
I had the feeling that this direction would make me a better writer and here’s early evidence that that’s right.