Pilgrim’s Progress

Met my goal tonight on the second novel and stopped writing with the muse(s) still chattering. It’s been a little over a month since I finished edits on Book of Icons (now that you know that it has a name, that makes it legit), and I’ve received a response from every agent and publisher I queried. I’ll say one thing for rejections in this season: they’re awful timely. Grieved as I was a few days ago when I received the last one (and those of you unlucky enough to have befriended me on Facebook and suffer live action roleplaying photographs as well as childish rants, forgive me), there was one line in particular from the letter that made me feel something totally inappropriate: triumph.

The publisher claimed that they did not feel my novel would be a “commercial success” in the current market. It’s a form letter and I’m not taking it (too much) to heart, but I can’t help but feel that when I look at the current market, when I discard book after book after book after only three chapters reading, that while of course I’m writing because I want to be read, I’d rather it were for the right reasons, by the right people. If to be commercially successful I’ve got to scrap whimsy (which isn’t to say I believe that I do), I’m not gonna. I joke big time about writing lusty vampire fiction because it seems to me when agents say they want fantasy they don’t mean epic, and when they do, they want Robert Jordan. But while there are some gals who are writing urban fantasy in a seriously spectacular way, those aren’t the dreams I’m dreaming.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to make money, didn’t want to make it big. But I can’t be something I’m not, can’t write what my heart isn’t in. And for now, it’s this story, this girl who is more than she appears to be and more still. It’s spinning folktales fat as spiders that in turn spin themselves, my cob-webbed brain resurrecting all of the things that I love best about living and reading, licking and sticking and pinning them on the page like postage stamps or luna moths. I’m writing for me. For now.


5 thoughts on “Pilgrim’s Progress

  1. The Storialist

    It does make it legit to have a title for your book. So agree.

    You should feel triumph for continuing to send it out! (And should continue, of course—it sounds like you will). You’ll find the book a home.

  2. Marcin Wrona

    In my opinion, this is an awful time to pitch novels. The growing popularity of e-books, the huge economic hit publishers are taking, and the move by so many authors towards small press or self-publishing have all created an ugly little war of desperation contracts with simply terrible clauses. Publishers (and authors) vacillate daily on which way to go. I don’t mean to discourage you from sending stories out by any means, but keep an eye on the market and be sure to have any contract put in front of you examined by an IP lawyer – not an agent, a *lawyer* – before signing.

    If you can stand the day job a while longer, I’d say keep writing and see how things go (or else look into doing it yourself; if it’s worth anything, I’ll buy a copy day of). The dust should settle in a year or two, and you’ll probably have better luck pitching books when you have more of them in your back pocket.

    1. Jillian Kuhlmann Post author

      I’m inclined to agree with you. I’m not terribly well connected (at all connected?), and the vibe I’m getting is that every day is another little crisis in the publishing industry. And am definitely on board with the lawyer piece… every thing I’ve read suggests it’s worth spending the money to protect yourself and your work.

      Thank you so much for the vote of confidence! I haven’t ruled out self publishing, for sure. Just haven’t determined if that’s the step I want to take yet.

      1. Marcin Wrona

        It’s not a small step, for sure. It requires a lot of time and a lot of figuring out how the marketing works or doesn’t, and usually money paid in advance (for covers, etc.), so there’s a certain amount of risk associated with going that route.

        Of course, being published through the trade industry isn’t risk-free either. It’s more a question of which pitfalls you’re willing to take a running leap at.

        But it sounds as though you’re keeping an eye out, which is the important thing. The right decision ultimately rests on your personal goals and tolerance for screaming at and shaking the monitor, so the more information you have percolating about your head, the better.

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