I recently got the bright idea that I needed a literary agent because my books weren’t selling well. I decided to go ahead and query one, and not just anyone, but one of the top agents in the known universe. In my swing for the fence I thought that by magic he would somehow cause my poorly selling work to become magnificent and therefore change me into a discovered author who is loved, famous, rich, and possibly even more interesting, if such a thing is possible. But that didn’t happen, because he rejected my submission. And my heretofore magnum opus, K [phantasmagoria] is still not selling. Surely that’s not my fault. Right?
When the agent sent me a quick email to let me know “this one just isn’t working for me,” I reacted with grace and thanked him for his extremely valuable time because I am, if nothing else, professional. Meanwhile, under my skin, the sensitive creative bits were hurting. They still are. There’s no rhyme or reason for it other than the fact that someone who knows good writing basically told me my work isn’t good enough. The truth hurts, and this is the first time I’ve gotten a good dose of it. The hardest part to take was the truest: that he found it “hard to follow, with too much narrator-voice in it.” Yep. That’s precisely the problem.
But there’s more. See, earlier that day I met with another guy who knows his stuff. And he told me, “Dude, you have to do something about your covers. You’ve gotta stop doing them yourself. Find a good designer and pay them.” I responded with a sheepish yeah I know, which begs the question: if I knew that already, why is it still a friggin unsolved problem, know what I mean? So this guy who knows his stuff referred me to some awesome cover designers, and I got the ball rolling in the right direction.
What’s key about all of this is that I believe I have the ability to make my work better. I now realize why my book isn’t selling: because it sucks in every way sucking is possible. It’s true: cover, story, marketing, all of it. The hallelujah moment is now, because I can finally realize all of that and make the necessary changes. I mean, thanks to my fans—all two of you—but I can do better. Much better.
So I’m now going back through and rewriting K [phantasmagoria] for probably the tenth time. I’m taking out a lot of the gratuitous nonsense. I’m streamlining the plot yet again, trying to get that ever-important beginning right. I think the story starts in the wrong place, and I aim to fix that. Also the cover art is clearly bad, and that will be fixed— by a professional. There are branding issues as well, at least visually, and that’s going to be dealt with. Plus, the title is wrong. I can finally admit that. Phantasmagoria is a cool and loaded word, but most people blanch at it I think, at least if it’s in the title. And by the way, if you want to have a hand in retitling this book, your contest entry could win a free eBook at the C.P. White Media Facebook page. Just drop a comment and suggest one.
I’ve spent a long time sitting around waiting for the market to respond to me. It could be said that it’s been time wasted. But in light of the lessons I’m learning it’s been time well spent, at least if I can apply the kinds of changes that will get me good results. At this point, good results equal exposure, sales, and a loyal following that’s chomping at the bit for more. I have faith that I can deliver that. Though my confidence is at a new low artistically, it’s only for the time being. I can rise up and do better, and that starts today.