Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What's in a Novel?

It's tough out here for a writer trying to get a foot in the door of the publishing world. Getting the agent, finding an editor, I knew that it would not be easy but also thought that for me, it wouldn't be. I think we all think that on some unconscious level. I know I write well, but there are many who write well. There are all these stories about what people had to go through to get a book in print. Horror stories really. Even Peter Straub's daughter had to peddle her wares like a regular carnival salesman to get her books published. I am one of many, and it just sucks.

The word from my agent is that the five editors who have seen my book thus far were into it. Two or three (half the panel isn't bad odds) really liked my writing and my character development. They thought I showed promise. They were very invested...

And they'd love to see a novel from me if I have one. Short stories, even interconnected stories, are not commercially viable. None of them seemed to appreciate the novel-in-stories overarching narrative. When it came down to it, my book went down as stories. And stories don't sell.

Now I know that stories are a hard sell, but I didn't see that story stigma carrying over to the novel-in-stories format. There have been a great number of novel-in-stories lately that seemed to make a fairly decent go of it: Olive Kitteridge, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Knockemstiff. Take a look a little farther back and there's Jesus' Son, Later at the Bar, Trailerpark, and the old classics of Winesburg, Ohio and Dubliners. Apparently, I was wrong in assuming that meant anything.

I have one of two options: keep it as is and hope or rewrite it, organizing it into a "real novel." I'm going to try my hand at the "real novel" option. Lord knows it would be an easier sell. If not, I don't know. It's sad to think that despite the praise it received, my book won't get an audience, not because it's bad but because it's not easy. I have no idea how to go about this rewrite, but I'm trying to figure it out. I'll, of course, save a copy of the book as it is now just in case. I know there comes a point when the rewriting because a detriment rather than a benefit.

Here's hoping.

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