A couple of years ago, we wrote a young adult mystery novel incorporating horror elements and a bit of romance. Something Wicked was strong enough to find us an agent, not quite strong enough to find us a publisher. (Penguin Books said nice things about the story but they failed to say the nicest thing of all: "Contract enclosed.")
Later, the story found us an e-publisher (who was kind enough to say, "contract enclosed"), but our relationship splintered right around our fourth editor...the editors kept quitting the company, not us specifically...so we took a giant step and became our own publisher. We enjoyed the process so much that we turned down a contract for The Atheist's Daughter and published it ourselves, too. We just kept doing this and, today, we've published several titles, including a few we don't talk about here.
Mostly, we've loved the process. The one part we haven't loved? Something Wicked never found an audience. It just keeps dropping further and further down the sales chart. No one has offered an Amazon review for two years. The last e-book download was three months ago. Unlike the fish in the photo above, our poor novel is dead in the water.
It happens to writers all the time. Yesterday, Harrell wanted to find a novel by Ron Goulart. R.G. was a prolific novelist in his day but his fiction has disappeared from our local library shelves. It's also missing from the shelves of the last bookstore we visited. If a good writer like Goulart can vanish, what hope have we?
Since we're our own boss, we decided to do a SW rewrite. The changes are subtle -- tying SW into the world of Atheist's Daughter -- but significant. Then we edited, then we rewrote, then...we were confused. Was the book any better, really? Did it still flow? Would it grab an older audience? After reading and re-reading the pages, we no longer knew. We cried out for beta readers and, to our joy, a pair of them appeared.
It took a few weeks but the results are in. The book is great. The book is boring. The opening sets the tone perfectly. The opening should be dropped. People can relate to our heroine. People will think our heroine is whiny and self-obsessed.
So, yeah, two different readers, two different viewpoints. We actually -- this is so stupid -- checked to see that we'd sent each of them the same manuscript. One of our betas loved the book, highlighted the sections she really liked, and offered to share her feelings on Facebook and Twitter. We declined...see last week's post about promotions...but we were flattered. The other beta hated the book, highlighted the pieces he really hated, and offered some suggestions to try to save the story. He was sincere and did this out of the kindness of his heart.
We're grateful to both of them. But, all things considered, we think we'll go with the lady that thought the book was terrific. In a week or so, the new version will be released into the wild. When that happens, we'll let you know (and we may make it free for a few days. We're still discussing it. We'll let you know about that, too).
Currently watching: Storage 24 on Netflix. This is how you do low-budget horror....
What the hell?: The complete and unabridged audio edition of Aly's Luck is available here for $1.99. If one of our wonderful readers hadn't dropped us a line, we'd have had no idea. Last time we checked, Amazon wanted $19.95 for thing -- and now it suddenly cost less than the price of a Starbuck's coffee? Well, that explains our latest royalty statement....
Currently drinking: Lagunitas Sucks, BrownShugga Substitute Ale. Not wine, we know, but how can you not try a drink with "sucks" in the title?
Quote o' the day: “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” -- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities