My Publishing Existential Crisis

Remember that post where I said I was going to do a blind rewrite of the first two chapters of my manuscript? No? Well, that’s probably because that was ages ago, and I promised an update, and here it is and then some.

So first off, the blind rewrite went really well. I’ll admit to some cheating: I did keep a copy of the original open as I wrote, and I added in the parts that I knew were fine verbatim. I also took a looooong time to complete the rewrite–probably about two and a half weeks. The end result came out well; the tone and voice is fixed, and everything flows very smoothly.

Which brings me to what’s going on with the rest of the manuscript. I am essentially done with editing; right now, all I have left to do is correct some of the Spanish dialogue (more an admin task than anything creative), do a final read-through, and get my nurse betas to give me some feedback on if all the healthcare-related details in the book are good to go. And then that’s it–hallelujah.

Except it’s not a hallelujah moment at all for me–far from it, because I’ve been going through a sort of publishing existential crisis. Let me explain, in a few disjointed details, what has been bothering me.

  • It bothers me when I hear the agents on Print Run Podcast remark that they can’t imagine one of their authors writing a negative review of another book.
  • It bothers me when I search for agents using #MSWL and they write that they are not accepting manuscripts by white authors.
  • It bothers me to think that the traditional publishing sphere is so much about relationships, and that if I ever enter that sphere that I will forever have to be on my guard, lest someone sniff out the fact that I lean conservative.

I strive for my books to be apolitical, so that they are widely appealing, as well as to tell a rollicking story that can entertain a wide audience. As for the book reviews that I write, I do my best to be honest and forthright about my assessment of a book’s qualities–good and bad. The reason I do this is because the kinds of creators I most look up to are also very honest people who do not shy away from sharing their (sometimes controversial) opinions. Here are my absolute favorite creators, if you were wondering… Note that none of them have anything to do with the publishing sphere.

  • Tati Westbrook, beauty guru on YouTube
  • Jenna Marbles, YouTube personality
  • Aris Bakhtanians, aka AvoidingThePuddle, Twitch streamer and fighting game commentator
  • Joe Rogan, comedian, podcast host, MMA commentator (what doesn’t Joe Rogan do???)

All very different people, but I encourage you to give them a watch/listen. In the current environment, they are all truly a breath of fresh air.

Which brings me around to writing. Writers are in the business of words. We are shooting ourselves in the head to allow political correctness and “niceness” to reign supreme over our stories and reviews, as this narrows what we allow ourselves to say. And if there’s anything I know after years of researching the publishing industry, it’s that entering that world would entail limiting my words.

What do I mean? Well, here are some concrete things I worry would need to be changed in my current manuscript, to avoid controversy.

  • A first kiss scene between my MC and her love interest would need reworking so that spoken consent is present.
  • The Mexican maid character in the manuscript would have to go.
  • An offhand mention of “innocent until proven guilty” would have to be deleted.

And those are just the concrete details. I also worry that I would have to add in characters for representation, despite the fact that doing so would be tokenization. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t type of scenario–and I just don’t want to play that game.

Couple all that with statistics about the ratio of traditional to self-published authors who make more than $10k, $25k, and $50k. It’s been a “red pill moment” for sure, and I’m ready to take the step towards self-publishing. Screw the query letter (which I had already written, boo hoo) and screw the synopsis (thank God I don’t have to finish that mofo). The next month or so is going to be a crazy learning curve of marketing and covers and who knows what else.

But I am excited and energized to think I’ll be in full creative control. And if something I’ve written causes some sort of Twitter controversy? Screw those people–I invite them to go read someone else.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Whew.

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