I am a published and unpublished author. I know. Just add that fact to my growing pile of weird. Still, it’s true. My first novel, Sea-Devil: a Delilah Duffy mystery was published in 2013. Two years later, I pulled the plug on it, yanking it psycho-style from all it’s online perches. Well, not really. It wasn’t quite that dramatic. But, that’s how it felt.
In true Delilah Duffy fashion, I’ve made some major blunders in the publishing game. My lack of confidence and tainted notions of what publishing should look like put me on the wrong path. A small press meant less help than I hoped, less money, and zero control. Sea-Devil was out there, but it oddly wasn’t mine anymore. I had to get it back.
So, I unpublished, graciously ended my relationship with my publisher, and took on the weight of starting over. And by weight, I’m not talking about the two teddy bears on the ends of a stick like Spongebob Squarepants used for working out. I’m talking Atlas-caliber weight. I was undoing what I’d done, stepping out on my own, and navigating new waters. Mistakes swirl in the publishing seas like sharks ready to strike me. It’d be easy to get chopped to pieces. Or worse - be dead in the water.
For all their frustrations, mistakes offer a mysterious upside.
Though I’ve made mistakes (and will surely make more), I’ve earned an education over the last two years. The most important thing I’ve learned is that I’ll never quite have it all figured out. But, hey. That’s life in general, isn’t it?
Long gone are the days of queries and awesome book deals (at least for us newbies). Breaking into the business is about as likely as breaking into a bank vault. Also long gone are the days of vanity publishing - the place where unwanted books go to die along with their authors’ bank balances. Emerging out of the dust is the new breed of writers - a talented, but hardened lot of go-getters with great stories to offer the world, if they can get the world’s attention. I’m ready to join those ranks.
The good (or perhaps bad) thing about doing it myself is that I have to go all in. There’s no half-assing it. There’s no one else to blame if I don’t succeed. Right? Oh, well I guess I could always blame my parents.
So, I write, now with the often painful understanding that I can no longer JUST write. I can’t run the race without tripping over some logs, jumping at the sight of a snake, pulling up my socks, and stopping to tie my shoes. Okay, so I just made myself sound like a runner, but I’m not. I aspire to be, though. Just picture me as a runner, if that’s cool. Thank you, internet anonymity! Anyway, I will obsess over the what-ifs and if-onlys, grumble over my frequent idiocy. But, arising out of these mysterious, dark waters will come a force for good - a better, smarter writer.