Seventy-two Hours

After delving into copyright research, pricing for print publication, and peppering my writer’s group with questions about cover design, I finally settled my mind enough to turn off the internet and work on my book revisions. It was liberating to set my giddiness aside to actually be a writer. It reminds me not to let my current exercise in exploring career options divert me from my identity as a writer above everything else.

This is an important concept for me, because I have a long history of allowing forks in the road to divert me from my writing as I dither about what my next move should be. It is especially important to me because someone who knows me well has prompted me to put the breaks on my enthusiasm for switching gears to indie authorship. He had a few pointed observations and questions. Up to now, I have been steadfast in my choice to pursue traditional publishing through finding an agent. Even as my mind has been opened up to the possibility of indie publication as a perfectly respectable and satisfying career option, I had consciously decided that the appropriate route for me was traditional publishing.

See my first post for a rendition of my internal about-face and to understand how the possibility of indie publication became a viable option for me.

The other point made by my friend and life partner is that some of my motivation seems to be routed in the fear that my novel will be rejected. There is some truth to this, but like a few of my writer friends that I have talked to, he questioned whether my understanding of word count requirements was really the final word on the subject. He cited the case of Robert Parker, whose Spenser novels have always clocked in at a low word count: they are an easy one-day read. I’ve concluded to myself that Parker’s earliest works, when he still needed to prove himself, were published in the early 70s. Production costs were cheaper, possibly, and the marketplace may simply have been different. Just perusing the trade paperbacks on our own bookshelf confirms that mysteries are typically longer than what Parker wrote.

In addition to this link here, I have found three or four other resources in which agents say the same thing: a mystery novel needs to be 80,000 words.

But, delving into my writing process yesterday reminded me not to shut the door on the possibility of meeting this threshold. The peace and the quietness that settled over my mind renewed my resolve to base my next move on what is best for the novel, and what will make me happiest in the end.

In the meantime, I have found some resources which confirm that agents are looking at self-published authors for potential contracts; the choice between traditional and indie publishing is no longer an either-or option. Indeed, I could choose to market myself as an indie author with every intention of selling enough to secure a publishing contract. As competitive as the market may be, it seems that the potential of “hitting it big” as an indie author probably isn’t any more daunting than doing the same as a traditional author.

I am wrapping up my four days of thought and exploration with the same goals as I had a week ago: to do what is best for my creative endeavors, and to be happy doing it.