Old Moon

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do You Get What You Pay for?

I'm somewhat embarrassed by the time that has passed since the last post. As one of my sons says, "Life happens," or words to that effect.

I'm finding out a little about how it might feel to be schizophrenic. As I work through the comments and suggestions being made by my wonderful editor on my third novel, I wish (no joke!) that we were back in the hard copy age. I could separate chapters and new and old versions in stacks and/or folders and find them again. As it is, I have the (at least three times rewritten) original copy on my computer. I cut and make a new file of the section being sent for critique. It comes back to me with the notations. I need to make a new file of that section to reword and rework and hope I'll end with what I might consider finished--for the time being. Then I copy and send the next section for comment again, and again. (This is a pretty long book now, and getting longer.) Nowadays I feel that I may truly be "losing it" completely as I try to come up with something resembling a final version that I know will have to be rewritten. Which of the expanding list of files is the right one to copy and paste and send, which is the last with tracked changes, which is the first one before the corrections, additions, cuts, et al.? My eyes cross as I survey the open files.

Yes, I remember to give each file a different name, and I print out what I think I've finished with, but I'm digging out of drifts of paper that I hope I won't have to retype until the whole thing is ready for submission, I'm floundering and coming up for the third time from the depths of too many megabytes in Microsoft Word.

I'm still stimulated by the challenge and the hope of print someday, but there are times when I understand what makes people turn glassy-eyed and catatonic, or into raging maniacs. I think even if I'd started when I was younger, if there had been computers then, I'd still feel as if I were trying to find my way back to the car after a carnival ride. Talk about dizzy!

Reading a blog on the subject of finding an agent has made me come to a cynical(?) conclusion: to get fiction published, a writer needs money. Since finding an agent who might be a match involves finding ways to meet one (conferences, workshops, other writers, signings and the like) that aren't possible in your own back yard, you need time and funds with which to travel and buy books -- so you can have ten words with the authors thereof. You need to do a lot of this if you're to meet enough of them to have a hope of being able to choose.

I recently read an ad in a Sunday New York Times book review section that was placed by a "vanity press." "___________(the press) affirms that ________(author)of _____________(title), is free of blame in regards to omitted words or grammatical errors in his book."

If you can't get what you pay for, at least you can get noticed in The NYT. It makes me wonder if any agent who might be seeking a client looks first at self-published, subsidized, or POD writers. Should we be paying to be published after all?


Glenda Beall said...

Hi Joan, I have missed you. Was about to call and see if all was well. Congrats on working on that third novel.
I'm sure Nancy Simpson can relate to your problems with rewrites and revision on the computer. She has read and corrected problems in our Netwest anthology untils she, too, feels cross eyed. I only proofed it once and said no more.
The horror of it all is when the writer has everything as nearly perfect as she can get it and then the manuscript comes out in print with errors! That must make the author furious.
But people don't expect perfection anymore. I hear it all the time. "Nothing is perfect."
But that is no license to do shody work as some publishers and presses turn out.
What will be the title of your next novel?

JLC said...

Yes, it does make the author furious!

You're nice to ask about the title of the next novel. At the moment it's Second Growth, but that's pretty trite, and I'm hoping to come up with something better. Concentrating on other things to improve the book these days!

Roberta said...

When I earned a living in the commercial printing industry the goal was to send the finish jobs out the door as perfect as humanly possible. That meant everything from typos to ink and paper, and everything in between.

Yes, we made mistakes, but it was made right with the client in the end: discounted price, reprinting, and promises of better quality control in the future.

I don't know what the solution is to the lack of pride in a company's craftmanship. Since I doubt that I'll be coming out of retirement, I know I'm not the answer either.

Thanks for educating me in the pitfalls of self-publishing!

JLC said...

I think I'd have been better off with self publishing. I didn't pay for this, so I have no recourse, I guess.