Screw the map. I’m going bushwacking.

Ever have one of those weeks that just makes you question everything? Where every possible thing that could go wrong, will? Yeah, this is one of those weeks.

Listen to me. I sound all Eeyore-ish. (Coincidentally, I adore Eeyore.) This week wasn’t that bad, in the grand scheme of things. It’s more I just spent some quality time with my brain and tried to figure shit out.

Way back at the beginning of the year, when I first started sending out query letters, I thought I knew what I was in for: long, long waits and rejection after rejection, and maybe an occasional pat on the back or tidbit of encouragement.

Well, I was right about all of it. It’s where the encouragement came from that’s surprising: editors.

Yes, editors.

Publishing is a labyrinthine world with so many frickin’ choices, it’s easy to get knocked from one path to another. Agent? No agent? Indie pub? Small press? Digital first? I thought I needed an agent. And I still think that, for the most part. But having had more success and encouragement dealing directly with editors with digital-first imprints, I wonder if maybe I’m going about this all wrong.

If I were interested in pursuing a Big 5 deal or wrote in a genre other than romance and urban fantasy, I’d absolutely need an agent. The major houses (and a few of the more exclusive small presses like Other Press) won’t look at unagented submissions. For the most part, small press and digital first imprints only handle genre fiction, and even then, it’s mostly romance and its myriad subgenres (some of them lumping fantasy, UF, and sci-fi in there, as long as there are strong romantic elements), but if you write, oh, crime thrillers, you’ll probably need an agent.

So what’s a newbie writer to do?

With the UF and paranormal market being as soft as it is (according to numerous agents and editors) I’m starting to think maybe I’d be better off forgoing an agent for those projects and either a) putting them aside until the market cycles back around or b) doing direct submission.

But really, the conclusion I reached was fuck it. Fuck. It.

The last seven months have been spent editing, editing, and editing some more, with occasional breaks to participate in pitch contests. I haven’t written anything new since May (finishing the final chapter for Best Served Cold last month doesn’t count). I was starting to forget why I’d started doing this writing business in the first place: I love it.

I love creating new worlds, meeting new characters and finding their quirks. I want to know what makes them tick. I want to find new ways to define fear, love, loneliness, and joy. I want to fall into a story to the point where I’d rather call in sick and chain myself to my laptop for hours on end.

I did the responsible thing for a while and focused on getting my shit together, and I’ll probably do it again. I’ve got four manuscripts edited to the point where I feel they’re ready for submission or querying (and one of them, Iron Jewel, is going to be my Golden Heart entry). I tried to break up the long, long months of editing by picking at a new story (Nice Guys Finish Last) and that’s just not how I roll. It’s an either/or. I can’t do both.

So I’m losing my “responsible newbie writer” cap for a while and limbering up my writing muscles with a new futuristic romance that’s got me all asquee. It’s so covered in hyperbole at this point, I’ll have to beat it back into submission if I ever decide to query it, but it’s good practice for the style I’m aiming for with my next project, The Sparrowwood Sessions, the full-length version of my short story, War Heros.

Will my decision come back to haunt me, when I’ve got stacks of unsubmitted manuscripts? Possibly. I’ve already got eight completed. I’ll probably have a handful more drafted by the time I decide to break out the query letters again. But right now, I feel so damn good about this decision, I don’t care.

Update: Apparently, I’m not the only one thinking trad publishing may not be the way to go. Check out Rebecca Weston’s blog on self-publishing. Now back to your regularly scheduled reading.

This song pretty much captures my whole feeling about it. Not the lyrics, but the melody, in the way it bursts out with this glorious, palpable rush of feeling. Plus, I feel the need to share the wonder that is BT and Rob Dickinson with the uninitiated. Dickinson has one of the most underappreciated voices in rock music today, and this song shows off his talent in such a way that it actually brought tears to my eyes. Or maybe it was the video. Whatever. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Screw the map. I’m going bushwacking.

  1. Good luck! As a reader, I haven’t found much difference in terms of quality between self-published and traditionally published books in the genres I read. I know there’s a lot of crap out there, but finding a few good reviews before purchase usually points me in the right direction. So, I think authors should feel like they have a lot of flexibility to decide what path is best for them. By the way, I love Eeyore, too.

    1. Thanks! Writers have so many options these days-the trick is to do your research. And as Becca points out on her blog, it doesn’t really matter which path you follow, because there are no guarantees in any kind of publishing.

  2. I feel you, Amanda. There are a lot of decisions to make, and I applaud you for completing 8 manuscripts. That’s a lot of work! I agree that self-publishing has its perks, but just like trad, it’s a big commitment. It’s something to consider. Adore the song, thanks for the share 🙂

    1. It is a lot of work, but I enjoyed every minute of it! Self-publishing is becoming a more viable option these days, and it’s definitely something I’ll have to think about in addition to the small press/digital first option.

  3. First, thanks for the blog shoutout, Amanda!

    Second, I think you’re making a very smart move taking a step back. You’re listening to your instincts and putting creativity ahead of publication, and sometimes we need to do that because otherwise we lose sight of the real reason we started everything in the first place. Writing becomes less “fun” and more “work.” And it shouldn’t be.

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