Well the book is written. Now what? Oh, the advice that comes in is overwhelming and contradictory. I’ve re-read the great work – I consider the man hours involved, not just mine but those of my friends who have read, corrected, edited and commented. The trees destroyed in the copying of different drafts, electricity used to power the computer. These 233 pages are the result, so now what to do with it?
Publish of course! Isn’t that what we all want having put pen to paper – well finger to keyboard. Print and go straight to Hollywood. Another blockbuster. Another millionaire.
Back in the real world on this planet the doubts set in. Publish, who would want to do so, I wrote it so it can’t be worth publishing, can it? I re-read it again; I have now re-read this dratted thing so often I could quote it word for word. Well, I would be able to if I hadn’t kept changing things. I have to confess I like this story. Should I? Should I have enjoyed writing it so much? I feel maybe I’m fooling myself. Not everyone likes it, my best friend, of oh I have lost count of how many decades, has read it almost as many times as I have and she does not like it. The subject matter interests her not at all, my style of writing grates on her nerves, she has been editing it for me and there is nothing about the book she likes, which actually makes her a very good editor Equally another who has been helping with the editing does like it.
I make a decision; I will try and get it out there. So now all the problems really begin. I short list the agencies who might be interested; the first and most major of stumbling blocks, I have not written a ‘genre specific’ story. I just wrote a story. I drew on interests and experiences of my own, as we are all advised to do. Influences from other authors? Probably, I have been reading hungrily for over half a century. My reading tastes are catholic and my interests and experiences are wide ranging.
Is my story science fiction? Many say yes because it is set in the future and, amongst other things, deals with genetic manipulation. I know as a science fiction reader that if I picked this off the Sci-fi shelves I would be disappointed. It doesn’t read as Sci-fi. It certainly isn’t Science Fantasy - not a single dragon in sight! My story is a romance but pick it up off a Woman’s Romance section and again it would not be what was expected. I would like to think it is General Fiction but those agents are eagle-eyed on time periods and if it isn’t set in contemporary life, General Fiction it is not. I like to think it’s a little bit historical as it is looking backwards from 150 years in the future to 100 years in the future, but if it’s ahead of our times it is not Historical. Ah well, it was worth a try.
I put it on hold for a few weeks while I read novels set in the future. I read among a long list of others, Margaret Attwood, Ballard and Maggie Gee. They come into General Fiction as well as being Science Fiction; I could, I thought, slot myself in with them. Who am I kidding? An unknown author trying to nestle in with the greats – I don’t think so. Should I rework my story to fit in? I have never been easy with fitting in. So should I go it alone?