After weeks of dithering, holding off and damn well waiting for that agent to get back to me about the manuscript for Behind the Scenes, I took a monumental step. In other words, I just said stuff it and have decided to submit it direct to a publisher instead. Have I just taken decisive action that puts me back in control of my career, or have I just completely ruined my chances of convincing that agent to take on my work. Who knows? As a rule, agents aren't terribly fond of taking on books that have already been submitted, and rejected, from a publisher. It is far more likely that the publisher will reject my work than my manuscript being one of the lucky one or two out of three thousand that actually makes its way into print.
But what I have learned through publishing three novels as an indie author, is this. Sometimes you have to take risks. Publishing Being Abigail was a huge risk. How many people were going to want to read a book that was based on a website that they could visit every day for free? How would international audiences respond to the Australian references and humour? How many people would find the improbable opening funny?
More than one, as it turns out.
Here are some more odds to ponder. Indie novels don't get reviewed, sell to complete strangers or wind up on the shelves of a bricks and mortar bookstore unless you put it there. Being Abigail has achieved all three of those supposed impossibilities. I won't pretend that it is a best seller, has made me hundreds of dollars or is ranked on the top 100 books on Amazon, but I'm not going to downplay or be ashamed of what my book has achieved. As a writer, one of the things I enjoy most is when someone who has read my novel tells me not how much they enjoyed my work, but how much they could relate to a particular scene or paragraph. For me, "I know exactly how that feels", or "I can relate to that" is high praise indeed. It means that I got it right.
So what does all of this mean for Behind the Scenes? Well, I have a manuscript that I believe in. One that I have spent many months writing, editing, redrafting, rewriting, reediting, etc. One that I have invested far too much time to dither around waiting for someone I may never even hear from again to give it the thumbs up or down. (And okay, I know. They are running a business and trying to make a living, of course they are going to go with whatever they feel is going to make them the most money. And I don't begrudge anyone that.) And time is short. Penguin books, one of the few publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts for young adult novels, are closing their books at the end of this month. If I want them to look at my work, I need to make that move now. And maybe, just maybe, my book will prove worthy of taking that risk ...