In my last entry, I promised to provide an update when the publisher who agreed, then hesitated, about publishing The Oddfits got back to me. And sadly, though they said they’d get back to me the next week, they didn’t. And still no word after I sent them a message asking if they could get back to me by the next week, mid-week. Perhaps it was just as well though: like a delicious meat-based stew, coming to terms with bad news in a good way (at least for me) requires a long simmering time in order to achieve the best results. Emotions acquire different textures. Shock mellowed into anger, then annoyance, then disappointment, and then with the umpteenth shrug of the shoulders, fell off the bone into resignation. A stubborn desire to make them abide by their word (‘they said they’d publish it, didn’t they?’) melted into a realisation that I didn’t want someone who couldn’t abide by their word, or who didn’t fully believe in this novel.
And so, I’ve started searching again. I re-read the manuscript to make sure I did feel sure of it. I wrote a synopsis, a brief bio, and touched up the blurb and query letter. (These are all standard materials that one has to have on hand when sallying forth to find a a publisher or an agent.) I sent Ethos Books a final goodbye e-mail. (To their credit they responded almost immediately with a lovely-sounding email apologising for not replying and wishing me the best of luck.) And I’ve made a queary at another Singapore-based press called Monsoon Books.
Encouragement has come from expected and unexpected places. The most unexpected being two old friends from my middle-school and high-school days in Jakarta, respectively. Facebook brings one back into contact with so many acquaintances from the past. One of them, as someone who works in the publishing industry, recommended self-publishing. I’ve actually contemplated this route quite a bit. If one is successful at it, there’s no doubt that it generates a lot more money for the writer. Going the regular publishing route results in a lot of the profits being sliced away by the publisher’s fees and operation costs, and by the literary agent’s commission fee if you have an agent.
However, I’m bad at wanting to make lots of money. If I were good at it, I would have reconsidered being an English academic a long time ago. And I think there’s a fame-hungry, recognition-seeking part of me–the same part of me that at eight years old wanted to be a Broadway star, and probably that at eighteen years old wanted to be the inspirational and beloved tweed-wearing college professor–that wants the affirmation from a publisher or agent, who will pat me on the head saying, “Good work. Here’s a gold star.”
I know that self-publishing has been immensely successful route for so many writers: it allows them to tell the abusive, lumbering lug of a publishing industry to go screw themselves, and to unleash their new brainchildren onto the world without having to make compromises. But if I’m not mistaken, it’s a very arduous route as well: it helps if one is naturally good at networking or being sociable, I understand: in order to promote one’s book well, one needs to establish quite a presence in online forums, reading communities, etc. so that one isn’t the obnoxious person who just makes ‘friends’ for the sake of making customers. Also, it helps if one is genuine about participating in all of these fora. The thought of having to engage in such activity, to be quite honest, tires me out. But if I’m wrong, or if anyone does have any insights or opinions into the matter of self-publishing the book, advice is always welcome!
In the meantime, wish me luck with getting The Oddfits out someway, somehow!