If I finished my rough manuscript in 2008 why has it taken me 6 years to get ready to make it available? There a few factors. After I finish any story I let it “marinate” I put it aside and work on something else so I can get perspective on it. I spent time doodling illustrations and trying out some other projects. I briefly entertained writing a sequel but I held off, not have the right idea yet. I needed to edit it, which was no small task, considering my issues with spelling and proper comma use. Without trying too hard I’d already let two years slip by, but I was ready to try and make it available.
Saying you want to be a published writer is like saying you want to be a movie star. You might have all the talent in the world but you need to be discovered. Authors much like actors have to find agents who will pitch them to the publishing companies. Whenever I think of what a literary agents desk must look like I imagine the scene from Miracle on 34th Street when the postmen flood the judges desk with letters to Santa.
It takes a lot of luck to get discovered by an agent. Even if an agent discovers you there’s no guarantee that a publishing company will buy your book. I also had something else work against me besides lack of like. Like many first time writers, my story was massive. It was Epic length. I don’t mean this in any self aggrandizing way nor am I trying to employ hip internet slang that kids these days seem so fond of. When I finished my manuscript was over 400,000 words. To give you a frame of reference, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is 257,045 words. It’s the longest of the series. Without it’s colorful book jacket it could pass for a dictionary. My superhero adventure was 64.26% longer. (Yes, I did the math. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those word counts.) Most literary agents and publishers like YA fiction to be between 50,000 and 100,000 words. So where was Liquid Silver to go, besides a massive three ringed binder on my shelf?
After another year of editing and trying to pare it down to a reasonable length, I found out about a Self Publishing Expo held in Manhattan. I hadn’t given up on finding an agent, but it was another option. Not only I did I find out that Self Publication was very doable, print on demand services like CreateSpace had become the great leveler in the world of bookmaking. Previously self publication was considered a Vanity project. Now it is becoming a legitimate method of getting your work into the hands of readers. I always intended for my story to be a series, and I had so many ideas that I’d been kicking around since grade school. Through self publication I would have complete creative control.
Self publication is the great equalizer but it isn’t easy. If I’d been picked up by a publisher I would have handed in a manuscript gotten back notes, and then handed it off to the production team. When you self publish you are your own editor, graphic designer, cover artist, and marketing team. There are definitely a few more but you get the idea. Everything you want to do, you do your self. It’s a lot of work but at the end you have a profession book to show for it. Decided the that 400,000 words was a bit intimidating to start with, I took the first chapter of the Liquid Silver manuscript and developed it into a stand alone origin story, book one in the series. The rest of the stories will come in a few months. There was a bit of a learning curve but once I got the hang of it I was able to juggle a few projects at once. Besides the continuing adventures of my childhood superhero I have four other projects I was able to use self publishing to product. The Jazz Age, and Death and Professor Longfellow are already on amazon. A crime drama, and a science fiction novel are soon to follow!