I’ve sent out ARC (Advanced Review Copies) to a few reviewers but you’ll probably get the book before they are done with the reviews. Right now, I’m waiting on a cover and on one final editing pass by my wife. If all goes to plan, Bob Moore: Hostile Territory will be in your hands by the end of next week. Also, if you don’t have it by the end of next week, it’ll be at least a month or two before you do as I’ll be in the midst of a move back to the United States from Christmas until…well, until we can get settled. So, cross your fingers that the cover comes through.
What the hell took so long
Okay, first of all, I’m sorry. Those of you that follow me on Twitter have been going crazy for the last few months. You’ve known the first draft of Hostile Territory was done months and months ago and have (by your emails and tweets) been wondering what I’ve been doing all this time. Well, time to reveal all.
At the suggestion of a published writer I decided to look for an agent. I was thinking of spending money on a professional editor but, frankly, I didn’t see that I would ever see a return on that investment. Unlike those writers that put out books with tons of typos and other errors, I take great care (and time) making sure my product is as polished as possible before I release it. Would an editor help? Almost certainly. Would it translate into more sales? I doubt it.
So I met with local (to Australia) writer Marianne de Pierres (as reported here) at a local Sci-Fi conference. She took an hour out of her busy schedule to talk with me. She suggested that I might be ready to look for an agent and gave me some tips on how to do so. So, after finishing about the third revision of Bob Moore: Hostile Territory (where I thought it was good enough to have someone professional take a look at it), I decided to give it a shot.
Well, it is a lot longer process than I expected. First, you have to write a query letter. That’s a pretty stressful process (if you want to know how stressful, spend some time on the Query Shark website) that took a lot longer than I expected. It took me about a month to put together a query letter that I thought was good enough. Then I had to have a synopsis. That was even harder though it took about the same time for me to construct one. Lastly, I had to send out the letters and wait.
Well, honestly, I’m still waiting for responses. I sent out about ten letters, immediately got two rejections and one request for more pages. After that, absolutely nothing. I waited about eight weeks before I gave up. It could be that they come back later and say they are interested. In which case, I’ll have to tell them that I already self-published it because I couldn’t keep you all waiting any more.
All in all, I’m glad I went through the process. It reaffirmed that traditional publishing was everything I expected it to be. Lots and lots of waiting with very little feedback. I’m not really good at waiting so self-publishing is probably going to be the route I end up staying (at least until someone throws a big pile of cash at me for a traditional publishing deal).
Some of you know that while I was working on the edits of Hostile Territory, I was finishing up a fantasy novel tentatively titled Touch of Pain. I’m still working on the first draft (it is done but needs a few more going-overs before it starts into the editing process) but I had to put that aside while I finished Bob. Touch of Pain is written in third person while the Bob books are all in first. Switching back and forth is quite hard for me to do so, once I start on one, I don’t like to switch until I’m “done” with whatever I’m doing.
That said, I’m probably going to try to get an agent for the fantasy novel. That’ll mean probably another lengthy delay before I decide to self-publish it. If it turns out that I get that agent, who knows where it might lead. But I promise you – no more agent searches for Bob. And no more for the fantasy series (I’m planning at least three books though those plots are pretty hazy in my mind). From now on, I’ll query the first book in a series. If it doesn’t hit, I’ll self publish and move on. When I come up with another series/idea, I’ll query that. And so on.
If self-publishing is the wave of the future, why am I considering a traditional publishing paradigm? I can’t honestly say there is one reason. Surely the exposure and support. Surely the prestige. Surely the validation. Hopefully the money. Surely all those things and more. Now that Bob has three books, I don’t see him ever going to a publishing house but getting famous through a traditional publishing deal surely would do wonders for his exposure.
I have a friend in Australia that opened and operated his own motorcycle shop. Repairs, tuning, gear…that sort of thing. He ended up shutting down the shop because the mining industry, very powerful and flush with cash here in Australia, offered him more money than he could earn with his motorcycle shop. Is owning your own business the dream of many? Yes. But it is hard to argue with a fat stack of cash.
I feel like traditional publishing may be that to me. I don’t know that I’ll love it, I don’t know that I’ll hate it, but I’m sure not going to say “no” before I figure it out. I’d like to give it a try and see how it goes. If it works for me? Great. If not…well, I’ve always got self-publishing to fall back on. I’m rambling, I know it.
I feel like a traitor. Like by seeking out traditional publishing I’m turning my back on my self-publishing brethren (and sisters). Well, I don’t think of it that way. The most successful self-publishers started off in traditional publishing. That’s nothing to be ashamed of and certainly should make many of us rethink how we view traditional publishing houses. They are there for a reason. They know what will sell to a large audience. They may be right that many of the niche titles that have found footholds in the self-publishing world (I’d like to say that Bob was one of them) wouldn’t sell well overall. I’m okay with that. But if I have something that would, I’d be a fool not to take them up on their offer.
I’m a realist. You should be too. I’d like to have my wife work less (or not at all). I’d like to be able to focus on putting out a Bob book, a fantasy book, and one more each year. Frankly, self-publishing may someday get me there but, right now, it isn’t even close. If I don’t explore all the possibilities available, I’d be letting you, my family, and myself down.
So, what I’m saying is that I’m sorry for the delay. There was a reason, and it won’t affect future Bob releases. Please feel free to drop me a line or leave a review after you finish Hostile Territory. It took a long time to get to you and I hope you feel the wait was worth it.