Because life is a series of edits


In Books, Calling, Internet, Marriage, Movies, Places, Technology on January 23, 2010 at 7:38 am


On Friday night, Megan and I had an impromptu date. It had been a while. As the girls were happily occupied at a friend's house up the street (thanks, Erin and company), we went out for Chinese, talked, and then came home to watch Julie & Julia before picking up the girls to play parents again.

If you haven't seen the movie, you might have heard how good it is. Megan especially liked it because it's about so many things she loves: marriage, blogging, cooking, books, and the challenge of juggling those things all at once. The conversations in the film were familiar ones to both of us, as we've struggled with many of the same things Julie and her husband did concerning her art: the absence of time, the constancy of insecurity, the selfishness of narcissism, the fear of rejection, and still the hope of creating something beautiful in the midst of everything else.

For me, the film's storybook ending (literally: Julie Powell's blog gets turned into a book which gets turned into a movie) was about revisiting the hope of being faithful with very little in order to be faithful with much. The perseverance required for Julie's experiment of cooking 524 recipes in 365 days (and then blogging about it for all to read) reminds me of "the good old days" of blogging, when the hope of something happening seemed more possible than it does now, as there seemed so fewer blogs then.

Apparently, though, it does still happen. Just yesterday, I read on Heather Armstrong's blog (I've been a reader for probably five years) about the exclusive development deal she and her husband, Jon, signed with HGTV. I know next to nothing about the network, but apparently lots of people do. While I'm happy for the Armstrongs, it feels like it's the beginning of the end of such transitions (if you'll remember, almost a year ago, I considered whether the potential of the personal blog might be coming to an end).

Sadly, my need for inspiration comes on the heels of yet another rejection of my own writing efforts, this time in the form of an email from an up-and-coming agent I approached a few weeks ago. He writes:

"Thanks for allowing me to review your proposal. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to pass. It’s not that I don’t think this is a good idea or good content. I think it’s fine on both those levels. But these days, with the poor publishing economy, I am having to limit my new clients to only those authors who have established a large national fan base. The larger publishers are insisting on such, since they don’t have the marketing budgets they once did. They want to know that they can sell an immediate 15K or so books to the author’s fan base without having to spend a single marketing dollar. It sucks. But that’s the way it is right now."

Thus, I'm giving thought to what this means (or should) for my publishing future. Do I keep up my occasional attempt to squeeze through a publishing door at least
enough to get someone's attention (even if it's only to look up and ask
me to leave)? Do I swallow my pride and go the self-publishing route, building a grassroots following, and then, if all goes well, take another run at the agents and publishing houses? Or, do I let go of the idea of traditional publishing machine all together and go completely digital, publishing content here (or elsewhere) without getting completely ripped off financially or otherwise?

These are some of the questions I've been asking myself of late, but as of last night's movie, I've added one more to my literary litany of lament:

What would Julia do?

  1. Sorry for the disappointing news, bro. I’ll still read whatever you write. And I’ll provide a place to sell whatever you publish.

  2. If your blog becomes a movie, I’ll watch it.

  3. My two-cents worth…
    Self-publish through a print-on-demmand service like BookSurge / CreateSpace
    Put a PDF of the book for free on your blog, along with a link of how to order it. (Authors have a hard time with this one, but an author’s biggest enemy is obscurity, not piracy.)
    Or instead of last point, have a way for people to buy an electronic copy (PDF, Kindle format, etc.) online.
    Self-promote like crazy

  4. I am finding that most work as a freelance writer right now is as freelance copy writer/editor. There is tons of COMMERCIAL work out there; just not so much of the other work. Thanks to the internet, blogs, and such overnight writers are a dime a dozen they say.
    I wish for more work; it is what will allow me to quit teaching and work at home again and homeschool the kids. So I stick to the boring commerical stuff for now! :)

  5. Appreciate the encouragement and counsel here. Rest assured, I’ll keep you posted as to any progress we may happen to make (and I’ll try to keep the whining to a minimum). Thanks.

  6. I agree with Tim. These days I don’t see much reason to wait around for a big publishing house. I know there’s still some stigma to self-publishing, but so what? You make more money off of each copy if you self publish, and you can be listed in Amazon right alongside the other guys. You can even set up your own small publishing imprint if you want. I did the book layout for a friend who self-published a book with CreateSpace (owned by Amazon), and it went pretty well. He a seminary prof, and he uses the books in one or two of his classes.
    If you do want to set up your own imprint, I would suggest that you register your own ISBN numbers, rather than going with the ones that CreateSpace gives you.
    I’m interested to see what happens to eBooks in the future, with the iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc. May be a good way to get your book out there.
    My two cents. I say, go for it.

  7. Also, you can create a series of videos to go along with the book, and make it more of a value-added purchase. Doesn’t have to be anything super-fancy, do some interviews, add some extra content, show people how to teach the material, etc.
    One more thing, I know you know this, but be sure to get a good designer for the cover and inside layout.

  8. Thanks for your thoughts here, Kelly. What’s it take to officially set up an imprint and register an ISBN?

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