Leaving Circe’s Island

Spring                                                                            Bloodroot Moon

Scott Edelstein says every writer should have a sign near their desk that reads:  Book Publishing Is Crazy.  He told us we could call him up and ask him questions, but he advised us that if what we had to ask was something like “Why is this weird thing happening?” he’ll say, “Look at the sign.”

A cousin-in-law, an ex-navy specialist welder turned metal sculptor, told me about another  sign, one that I had up for a while:  I’m an artist; I will not quit.  Related thoughts for sure.

In most areas of my life persistence has been a real strong suit, doggedly pursuing things even if they seem like long shots.  I did, however, make a fundamental mistake relative to writing.

A book I had written made it through the editorial process to the editorial board of Bantam Publishing. This was several years ago.  On this board sit the publisher’s sales and marketing executive, their subsidiary rights executive, publicity person and the editor who pitches your book, the business people plus the editor who champions your book.  4 out of 5 books don’t make it past this meeting.  Mine didn’t.  They had, I was informed, already bought too much Celtic fiction.

Listening to Scott today I realize I took the wrong message from this.  It was really a sign that the stars hadn’t lined up for this book at this publisher.  The smart move would have been to recognize that it spoke well of my writing; then, to take the book back and get it out, right away, to other publishers.  I didn’t.  I moved on, started writing another book.

In retrospect I put my persistence into writing, not into marketing.  I know that, but especially in this instance I could have taken a different route and I didn’t.  Not long after that I got discouraged and went on a long dry spell.

A year, maybe two years ago, I woke up again, as if I’d finally left Circe’s island.  That was when Missing began to take shape.  Once it’s revised I now know how to get it in the hand of agents.  If that doesn’t work, I know how to get it in the hands of publishers.  If that doesn’t work, I have learned the rudiments of self-publishing, a very viable option in the rapidly changing publishing world.  Scott called it the wild west because nobody really knows where publishing will end up, but a lot of different things have conspired to give writers many more options than used to be available.

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