Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tied up in knots

I have a bit of a problem with my first book. Yes, yes, I know, AGAIN. I had Molly read it and she was so sweet to do so and gave me great comments. I love her for that. Love LOVE! And then I had someone else read it, my friend in Colorado who spoke of a boutique publishing business. Well, he said the book lacked tension and was pretty much unpublishable and should be put away for five months if not forever. I have mixed feelings about this. No doubt my book is laden with problems, yes, but after all this time and numerous revisions I think it's pretty darn redundant to refurbish a whole plot. I feel like I'm twisted in a knot and don't know what to do. Should I trust what he said? I mean, he kind of had a dismissive tone about the whole book, and I could tell he thought the whole thing was kind of silly. He said the beginning paragraph (which is my favorite part of the whole book and which also won an honorable mention) should be rewritten. He's a great guy, has always been very nice, but I worry that his writing standards are so high and he expected my book to be some killer John Grisham novel.

Again I want to say what a nice guy this friend is. That's what makes this tough, because I honor his opinion. Having said that, I honor Molly's opinion greatly. She is a beautiful writer and I feel like we are kindred spirits. I was hesitant about writing this because I didn't want to have any doubts in that area. I am very honored to have her read the book. I wanted to ask Cro too, but I had a feeling he would have said, "You won't make any money off the book if you let all yer friends read it!" Haha. Tom would have said that as well.

Anyway, so here's what I'm asking: do I honor this friend's opinion and put my book away again, or do I release it out to the world? I was going to try small publishers. Any advice is appreciated.


  1. Oh Amy - I'm telling you the truth - I really did love your book. I felt the conflicts build up in it like they should and I found myself wanting to read the next bit to see what happened. I loved your descriptions. The only thing I can say is that your friend is a man reading your book - from a man's point of view! I think it's like everything else - you will never please all the people all of the time. You see I don't actually go for the blood and guts type of thrillers but more for the Rosamund Pilcher, Josephine Cox type of authors because that's what I like to read. And we are all different. I would say try another publisher. Whatever you do don't give up because I really do think that you have a gift for writing. Love Molly xx

  2. Ignore your friends (both negative and positive). Ignore the rejection slips (all negative, but some with positive reasons). Be prepared to carry on accepting rejections for many moons to come - F. Scott Fitzgerald did the same, and look where that got him.

    Even if it is a long-shot, give it a shot nevertheless - what have you got to lose? Fuck dignity, and you are young enough to have it dented right now. You know what you have done, and how you did it. You are your best critic, just so long as you stay within the realms of reality.

    You started off by saying things like, "Can't wait for all the book-signings!" Well, that was a silly thing to say, even if it was a joke. You are a good writer, but there's always someone out there who is better than you - believe me. However, that is not to say they will ever be published, let alone successful. Whatever happens to someone else, has no bearing on your potential, in this world. Meritocracy it aint.

  3. Thank you Molly so much, first for reading my book and for all the comments and support you have given. It's a great relief to have had you read and go through a project I've labored over for a couple of years now. So very glad to hear you enjoyed it—that means the world to me! xx

    And thank you Tom for giving your thoughts on this. I still dream of having book signings some day, but I always pictured small ones like libraries and small bookstores. My dream has always been to find the kind of people who would love my book, be it two or ten.

    As a mother I am very hands on and organic, but with an old-fashioned traditional sense. I keep my children close, and value what's at the heart of everything we do. I feel the same way about my art or music or writing. I keep it organic, I keep it close. It was a dream to find an agent, but I've never been THAT kind of person anyway and was barking up the wrong tree. A small press, or self-publishing was the way to go all along I think. Especially for a first book. I no longer feel a failure for not getting an agent, I just want to do the positive, healthy thing and that's to find a place that does want my book, that will value it the way I always have. I hope to write a better book someday, and a better one after that, and a better one after that. Anyway, that's what's been running through my mind for awhile now and I just want to say how much it meant when you told me I was a good writer back in the summertime. I still feel like I'm wandering around in the dark, but that comment really gave me a bit of confidence to ride through the tough moments. So again, just wanted to say thank you!

  4. Amy, I was able to read your ms. as part of the lettuce write contest, and it was high up there with the contenders. There were some wonderful parts in the 1st 3 chapters that I read, and I wouldn't mind reading the rest of it. I wonder if you would consider letting me review it for you, and possibly talking to some of the editors at WiDo about their interest? I know they are aggressively looking for YA fiction right now. You can email me and let me know your thoughts. I hate to see you throw it out.


  5. I think you have to go with your gut here, and at least give it a try, before you think about what might needs to be done. Also - is this reader knowledgeable in your genre? Do they read your type of books? Because that's important, too.

  6. Karen- Hmmmmm, let me think about this . . . OKAY! : ) Thank you!!!! I'll send you an email tonight.

    Talli- I think you're on to something there, because I'm pretty sure he's someone that wants a high-tech thriller or a sci-fi—a real edge of the seat, brain picker. My book, like Molly said, is gendered more for the female crowd. It's quiet and slow and more about the girl than the action. So, that's probably why he was disappointed. But again, my book does have its problems, genre notwithstanding.

  7. Can we be practical for a moment. Maybe certain books that women enjoy are different to those that men enjoy. I can think of several female authors that I wouldn't dream of reading, but amongst other women they are extremely popular. I'm not saying that you should seek out 'feminist' publishers, but how about trying ones that are headed by women? And don't forget, female readership must be far greater than male! Don't put it away... Put it out there even more.

  8. Just seen on the news that heavy SNOW is sweeping across the US.... Did Kansas get any? They didn't say!

  9. I think you're right Cro. Not to say that men can't or won't read certain books—but a pretty little love story about a girl and a ghost probably isn't going to appeal to most men. You know, I would have totally put this book in a box over a year ago if I didn't love it so much. I've tried to NOT love it, to let it go, but so many parts of the book call out to me. The funny thing is, I'm a different writer with my other projects. Way different.

    Snow. Yes, we received about an inch on Saturday night! Whooo! It's very pretty and I love it, but I do not love the below freezing wind chill. Yuck! Which reminds me, I have to get the kids ready for school and warm up the car. Have a good one!


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