Wednesday 7 March 2012

When It Comes From Someone Else

   It's funny the effect things can have when someone says them. Even when it's something you knew as a fact even before they said it, once someone else says it, it can change the way you look at things.
   I knew when I started my book that a trilogy would be a lot less likely to be picked up as a debut from someone, because if the first book flops, the entire trilogy probably will. It's too risky for an agent to bet on. Agents don't get paid until the book sells. They are employed by the writer, and it's their job to sell the book to publishers, and if it won't sell, they will have wasted their time and their money on it. They're professionals, they can look at writing and they know if it will flop. Some aren't as good a judge as others, but at the very least it means that they deem it to be too big a risk.
   Yes, sometimes risks pay off. Something might seem too daring for other people, but for others, it's just daring enough. JK Rowling is a reference I hear a lot of - I'm getting quite sick of it actually, so I'm not going to repeat it. But the point stands that "risk" does not mean "hopeless" or "unpublishable". What it means is that I have to present my work in the right way, to convince these people that it's a risk worth taking.
   But, I stray from my point. I knew before I started the trilogy that it would be less likely to be picked out as my first published work than an individual, stand-alone book. That's not because perhaps the stand-alone book is better - I already have some plans, and a title - it's just that if it fails, not as much has been lost. But I contacted someone a little while ago regarding writing a synopsis, and whether I should write the synopsis for the single first book, or for the entire trilogy, since that's what I'm really selling.
   But when they got back to me, they gave me the information I needed, and in good detail, but they also reiterated what I just told you: that a trilogy stands less chance of being picked up as a debut. Now, less chance does only mean less chance. Brent Weeks' debut was the Night Angel Trilogy - though, I'm not kidding myself. His agent and publisher clearly took a risk - a risk which paid off. But at the same time (I've not read the trilogy, but Seeg has; he says I wouldn't like it because it's too gritty), I've been told that it truly is an amazing trilogy. I know for a fact that while my trilogy is good - and I have to toot my own horn - it isn't that good. It just isn't. My first book is good, but I don't know if perhaps it's too slow - most first books are, you get to know the characters and the world, their lifestyle, and then you see it turned upside down, and at the end you find out why. No, my second book is where it kicks off. Fights, black magic, undead, and you finally see other races aside from humans, including one that was previously unknown to exist in their world, evolved from Elves (no, not orcs.)
   But to get my second book out there, I need to get my first out there first.
   They then proceeded to tell me that my trilogy stands a better chance of being picked up if the books can stand up on their own. I regret to use this as an example, since it's been used to death, but Harry Potter truly is a prime candidate for this example. Each book follows the same plot, but in the first few books, that plot is in the background, more so in some than others. Each book can be read on their own. I'd prefer to read them in order, but you don't have to. I'd also say the Discworld Series would be the same. But at the same time, these are not trilogies, they are collections, and that stands differently. In a collection, there may be the same subplot, or it may just be in the same world, but in a trilogy, iit does follow one plot, with other subplots in each book.
   I tied my first one off well enough - you find out who is behind everything, and why, and how. You find out some massive secrets that were unknown to most people alive, and while you can clearly see at that point how the trilogy will end - because most trilogies end this way anyway, but also because the characters themselves say so - the whole tale isn't completely ruined. It's still worth reading. But I'm not sure at all that my books could stand on their own. And that's shaken me a little bit.

   What I'm trying to say, albeit unsuccessfully, is that I already knew most of this (though I hadn't actually thought on the whole stand-alone book thing), but when someone in the profession actually told me those things themselves, everything became more real. It also felt evenmore hopeless, and I knew that if I just sat around thinking about it for ages, it would probably put off my submissions for another few months.
   So I did the only thing I could do: forget I was told it. Instead I just decided to continue as though I had figured it out on my own, and I picked up the plan for my second and current book and rearranged things, following ideas I'd had earlier that day, and work I'd done on the bad guys.

   My confidence has been shaken. But at the same time I know that if I don't push through it, the wall will get harder, and taller, until I can't get around it. I'd continue the trilogy, but may never send it out. Yes, this is just how easy it is to make me doubt myself. No, my writing isn't award-winning standard, but I'm confident that my story is gripping, and that my characters are strong. I'm going to go ahead and keep drafting my synopsis, I'm going to work on my cover letter, and once I've beaten my printer into submission, I will send those, along with any chapters requested, to all the agencies who may just take me on.

   I'm rambling, but I need a few fingers crossed :( not for success, but for me to pluck up some more courage and truly get it moving. Writing is the only thing I want to do. I want nothing else in a career, that's it. And it's all in my hands. I just need to remember all of that.

Over and out.

1 comment:

  1. If you can't get it published could you not look at doing it yourself as an ebook on amazon. If your book is picked up by people then they are usually more willing to pick up a trilogy. If you can prove yourself how good it is and how many people like it then the rest would be published.


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