Celebrating a Win, If Just for Today – The Road to Self-Publishing

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation. My author page is www.facebook.com/lindafausnet

 

20 Weeks Until Publication 

 

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Well, I’ve just finished yet another FDFN of another novel – my fourth. FDFN stands for Final Draft For Now because I really don’t believe in final drafts.  The “for now” means that you really never stop rewriting a novel until it’s either published and too late to change anything or you decide to shelve the novel forever.  FDFN means the novel has been critiqued by others and rewritten over and over to the point where it is as good as I can possibly make it. The next step is send query letters to literary agents and publishers to see if anyone will bite. Typically, a handful of literary agents will request a few sample chapters. Most of the time, they will reject the novel at that point, though some might request to read the rest of the novel first. If I’m lucky, the agents who ultimately reject the book will give me some kind of critique, some kind of reason why they are passing on the project. That’s where the “for now” part of the final draft comes in. If an agent or publisher gives me some helpful pointers on what they found lacking, I can then open up the novel and do some more rewrites.

Now that I’m starting my own self-publishing business, most of my books don’t have to end at that point. I plan to still run all my books through the traditional publishing route, pile up the rejections, and then go publish the book myself. I know that sound like a negative attitude, but to quote Dr. Phil, “this ain’t my first rodeo”. I know how this story is likely to end, at least with traditional publishers and agents. I’ve been told numerous times, by both movie producers and literary agents, that my writing is good. Very good, in fact. They just don’t think my particular projects will sell. Yeah. That’s code for – we think your work is good, but we don’t think you’re going to be a blockbuster, breakout author, so we’re gonna pass. That’s the way traditional publishing works – there is very little room for midlist authors whose books might sell, but won’t sell as much as J.K. Rowling or Nora Roberts. For most of my books, I’ll go the query route first because I really don’t have much to lose, except for some time and a small amount of postage money. So, I figure, why not query on the off chance that I’ll get an agent this time? Then I’ll just go an publish the book myself.

Not this time, though.

As I mentioned in earlier blogs, my current novel is for middle-graders aged 9-12. It would be nearly impossible to market it as a self-published book. Unfortunately, that means that this book’s life will end after the query process if nobody bites.  Which brings me to the point of this article.

It’s very important to me to celebrate the completion of the Final Draft For Now. It’s a big deal, at least to me. There are thousands of people, maybe more, who say they want to write a book but relatively few actually do. I actually do it. I finish what I start, even though it’s not always easy. I write when I feel like it and I write when I don’t. I believe it’s very important to take a little time to celebrate the accomplishment of completing another book before the world steps in and tears it apart. Right now, the book is finished and nobody knows what will happen next. Most likely and despite any praise it might get from agents and publishers, it will be mostly rejection that lies ahead. That’s later. Right now, I finished another book and I believe that it’s good.

That means It’s Time for Peach Schnapps and Drag Queens, my traditional way of celebrating when I complete an FDFN . I learned the hard way not to send a single query letter out before I do my celebrating. In this digital age, it’s possible to get a rejection letter in under five minutes. QUEEN HENRY was rejected a LOT (everybody said the book would not sell because it’s gay-themed) before I got the chance to celebrate the fact that I finished it, and I swore I would never let that happen again. It’s very important to take a couple of hours just to celebrate before the world gets in the way.

So this Friday night you know where I’ll be and what I’ll be drinking.

Cheers!

–          Linda Fausnet

IT’S TIME FOR PEACH SCHNAPPS AND DRAG QUEENS

If I’m reposting this article, then it means one of the following has just happened:

1. I just finished the first draft of a new novel.

2. I just finished the final draft of a novel.

3. I just got an agent to represent me.

4. I just published a novel.

5. I just sold a screenplay.

If you’re the betting kind, I’d wager on one of the first two, because 99% of the time that’s what I’m celebrating. Besides, if I publish a novel or sell a screenplay, the party’s gonna include something stronger than Peach Schnapps…

Very few things are guaranteed in the life of a wannabe. Numbers 3, 4, and 5 listed above sure as hell aren’t. But one thing is for sure – I finish what I start. I don’t get tired halfway through a writing project and give up. When I start a novel, I will finish it. And that’s a big deal. Whatever happens to the book after that really isn’t under my control no matter how hard I work to market it to agents and publishers.

I once spoke to another wannabe writer who had a bottle of champagne chilling to only be opened on the day of her book launch. Like me, she didn’t even have an agent yet. It’s a nice idea to have the bubbly ready for when your book gets published…but what if that day never comes?

This kind of thing reminds me of Erma Bombeck’s essay entitled “If I had my life to live over”. One particular line always stuck with me for some reason. It was “I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.”

The point is – what are you waiting for?

As they say, tomorrow is promised to no one.

Well, today I finished a novel. It’s time to celebrate. Now. Not when some agent or publisher or editor tells me it’s okay to celebrate.

And what if you wait until the book launch to celebrate and it’s not everything you thought it would be? If you think publishing a book means you’re no longer a struggling writer, you’re gonna be sorely disappointed. (reality check – – most published authors have day jobs and many first novels won’t earn out their advance). I’m a big believer in celebrating every victory you can because they can be very few and far between in the wannabe life.

Instead of champagne, my drink of choice for writerly victories is peach schnapps. The main character in my favorite novel that I’ve written drinks straight shots of peach schnapps, so now so do I. It’s funny. I’d never even tasted the stuff until Henry started drinking it…

Anyway, I keep a bottle of schnapps on hand only for special writing-related events. I drink a shot whenever I finish novel draft, get an especially good review of my manuscript, or receive any other kind of good writing news. For example, the time a NYC literary agent told me my novel had a “strong chance of publication” was definitely a schnapps-worthy event.

I even have a special schnapps-only shot glass I made at the pottery loft…

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I find I really like the smell of peaches now because it smells like good news.

Another goofy tradition of mine is that every few months I like to settle down with a few beers (okay, many beers..) And watch one of my favorite movies – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – – – just for funsies. It occurred to me that I also tend to finish a novel draft every few months, so I decided to put the two traditions together.

 

So now when I finish a novel draft (or publish a novel….) I like to settle in with my drinks and watch the movie. There’s even a scene where the queens say ”chuggers!” and take a shot, which is the perfect time to break out the schnapps. It’s a really funny, feelgood type of movie (even more so when you’ve been drinking…) And it’s always such a fun way to celebrate finishing a novel. It’s important to me to take a little time to just be happy about finishing the book because the next step is to send out query letters and you never know how that’s going to go. I could publish this novel someday, but there is also the possibility that this could be the end of the line for this particular book. All the pages are freshly printed out on my desk and they may just stay there gathering dust forever. You just don’t know.

Here’s what I do know: I wanted to write a novel. So I did.

And I finished it today.

Bring on the schnapps.