Friends, I did a silly thing. Yesterday, all I ate was a yogurt and a piece of pizza with ranch dressing on it and a few fried pickle chips, and then I went out drinking with the girls from work. Now, these saucy minxes can drink me under the table easily, because in my old age (23, thank you), I am a lightweight who drinks less than half of a big Blue Moon and gets mildly tipsy. I blame my empty stomach and the fact that I was on an antibiotic. Everyone else blames me being, well, a lightweight.
So this morning, I wake up, and my head is pounding, my ears are full of liquidy mush, and my body feels heavy and dead because I barely slept last night on account of my anxiety convincing me that though it was only half a beer, I was dying of alcohol poisoning or a deadly interaction of antibiotic and alcohol (there was NO WARNING ON THE BOTTLE!). But despite all of that, I actually found my mind quite alive and alert. And racing, especially after I poured some coffee on top of the booze left in my really upset stomach.
I never drink. Can you tell?
This morning, (and really, all this week), I have been kind of angsty, thinking about how my ultimate dream is to write for a living, and how I want my Eternity series to be the thing that puts me on the map, because I feel like it has that potential. Truly, from an objective standpoint, I feel like it has a lot going for it: genre-bending, so it is appealing to a lot of different tastes; a strong female protagonist (or an antagonist, as she has been rightfully called, as well), who is unlike most other characters, a strong male protagonist who is young and idealistic and appealing to the YA crowd, plus all the action and sex and love and awesomeness. Oh! There’s also the philosophical question of what we would do if we were given a second chance. And then there’s the apocalypse angle, the dystopian angle, the war angle… When I read it, I can picture it being a film or a television series, as I am sure all authors can, in this age of the book-to-film craze. But regardless of how literally every author thinks about it, I have dreamed relentlessly about it since I first began the book three years ago. The funniest part of this is that in my young, 20-year-old mind, I had fully convinced myself that I would be uber-famous within three months, and I would not have to make the anxiety-provoking move to the school I had just been accepted to. I was a homebody with a terrible case of social and general anxiety, so the idea of becoming a mega-celebrity author with a million-plus reader readership was preferable to moving away from home and having to actually like, make friends. I know, it makes perfect sense to me, too.
But I digress. Kind of.
Though I have certainly become a lot more realistic in my ambitions (I have come a long way even from this last summer, when my dreams of fame and fortune were motivated by the fact that I could not, for the life of me and my English degree, get a job, and I was dead broke and really depressed because school was over, and I missed the friends that I had made despite my social anxiety and wah wah wah), I certainly still dream of what I once referred to as Rowlingian and Kingian literary success. So every day that the Eternity series has still not been like Harry Potter or The Shining or, at least in terms of the amount of readers and money, Fifty Shades of Grey, has been rife with me telling myself that there is more I have to do, that I have to spend money that I don’t have to get noticed, and that my work is maybe perhaps kind of not that good.
It is good. It has its flaws. I mean, DUH. I write and edit the books by myself. But I do think (and people who have read them agree, for the most part), that Eternity is pretty cool, and believe me, I appreciate that, and that is what drives me, as I have said before. I love that people dig it as much as I do. Isn’t that all we should want as authors?!? Yes. Yes, it is.
But I got angsty this morning and decided to try, for the millionth time, querying an agent with my self-published book. I have been told that once they hear your work is self-published, agents close out of your query real quick, so instead of abandoning the endeavor like a normal person, I wrote a really honest, kind of weird query letter, and I want to explain myself here.
I talked about why I self-published. It was, first and foremost, because, at 20 years old, I had no idea how to query an agent, or even that I should. Secondly, I come from a family of writers, and they and their friends told me that agents want authors who have built themselves a readership. I did not realize that they meant the book with which you gathered your audience will not be the book that gets you an agent or a publishing deal. I took advice and did not do my homework to see if other people in the industry agreed or disagreed with that advice.
I talked about the modest success that I have had with publishing. I have moved close to 8000 copies of the first two books, and as we know from my previous posts, I have recently published the third book and moved 200 free copies in one day. Though some Indie Authors (and MOSTLY all traditionally published authors) don’t get out of bed for less than 10,000 copies or 20,000 copies, or 50,000 copies or whatever, I am excited that one person downloaded my book, let alone 8000. For me, that’s monumental and super cool, so I talked about that.
I said that I am 150% open to advice from an agent, if I am so fortunate as to find one. I am open to whatever will make the book most marketable, and yes, I am even open to editing (even though the idea makes me sad, but it’s necessary.)
Most importantly, I tried to pitch why representing my self-published title is worth this agent’s time, and on that point, I spoke from the heart,as objectively as I could (and I know that sounds oxymoronic). I said that I feel my work is capable of something big, all while accounting for the fact that every author believes that. I talked about how I love these books, and I am passionate about them.
I mean, I sounded weird, and I was my usual awkward self, and I was way too honest, and I should probably just stick with the normal, boring query letters that I normally send. But I know that agents and publishers are iffy about self-published works, and I wanted to talk about why my self-published work, though it is self-published, is still capable of being successful. So maybe instead of listening to the “abandon all hope, ye who query here” mentality that I have had these past few months (and by “months,” I mean “years”) where I say that every query is going straight to the virtual Trash Bin because my work is self-published, I need to start spinning why my self-published work is worthy of representation, while also making it clear that I am open to negotiating how best to make it marketable outside of the self-publishing mediums.
I know it sounds like I am turning on my Indie Author roots by saying that I am looking for an agent. But I have been told that “self-published authors” and “authors with agents” are not mutually exclusive categories. Therefore, I don’t feel like I am biting the hand that has fed me. But if I am, y’all can let me know.
I am going to go down a liter of water now and watch Gilmore Girls til my eyes don’t work. #HangoverCure.
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I’m T. Rudacille, author of the Eternity series. The first book in the series, The Shattered Genesis, and the second book, The Bargaining Path, are available for FREE in the Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords stores, and The Shattered Genesis is also available in paperback on Amazon! Also, The Irreversible Reckoning, the third book in the series, is available for 99c on Amazon, but for free everywhere else. Brownie points if you report the lower price!