Photo by marianne bos on Unsplash

A couple orders of business…

There’s a new page on the blog! It’s titled Applications I Love and discusses some of the tools that make my work possible. Such as Unsplash, from which I source the vast majority of the beautiful photographs featured here from day to day. If you’ve ever wondered where the photos come from, or how the graphics are made, or have more questions about the process, you might find your answers there. Check it out if you’re curious.

A few posts from the previous week-ish that you may want to check out:

And onto the real order of business…

A couple months ago, I posted a couple times about my work-in-progress, which was then titled Till Dying We Fall. In the case of this revision, I ended up finishing it, getting the book out to beta readers, and following up with several beta readers for their feedback. The good news? They like the book, for the most part. They all have their issues, which I’ll be addressing, but they liked the book. One even said it inspired him to pick up some more reading material. I was really glad to hear that.

The bad news?

As always, the bad news seems larger than the good. As I’d waited for beta reader feedback, I myself had become more and more confused about the genre of the book I’d written. Jeez, Laura, I thought to myself. I thought you were going for a straightforward YA mystery. And, well, it seems I’ve failed to be straightforward once again. Like my last project (fantasy novel As in a Mirror, which I queried as YA), this book falls in a very awkward in-between. It’s YA because it has YA themes and YA central characters. It might be more than YA because it also has prominent adult characters who aren’t bad guys.

Over at r/PubTips (an excellent resource for all things publishing, for those who are keeping score), I got mixed answers as to whether I ought to query YA or adult or rewrite the book completely to make it fall more neatly into one category or the other. This, of course, had me stomping my feet. I’d spent a long time writing this book, whose story I liked, only to face up failure because it didn’t fit into a neat little box, because YA mystery is too confined a genre, because it wasn’t long enough to qualify immediately as an adult mystery, because for all of the above reasons an agent might not view it as marketable.

For about a month, I pondered what to do. My first instinct was to rewrite the book as an adult mystery, since I’ve felt myself beginning to gravitate away from YA in general. Then the same thoughts that had plagued me the first time I queried began to plague me again. What would happen if I did get an agent? If I wanted to make a career out of writing, then would I have to write another mystery novel? Did I have another mystery novel in me? Could I force myself to write a mystery novel if I wanted to write something else? Could I meet deadlines? Would my first novel fail? Would I wash out? What if the agent couldn’t find a publisher for the novel, anyway?

Yes, I know. Many of these are things you should worry about once you have an agent, not before. But not all of them. For example, the questions pertaining to my writing career and my writing life are important to consider, and considering them made me begin to wonder if I’m cut out for traditional publishing after all. It’s not that I think my writing isn’t good enough. Actually, I do think my writing is good enough — and even if it isn’t now, I believe that through persistence I could make it so. I don’t even necessarily think that this is the end of my pursuit of traditional publication — it’s just the end for now.

I may have already led you to the inevitable conclusion: self-publishing. I’ll be honest, for most of my teenage life as a writer I was someone who scoffed at self-publishing. I saw it as selling yourself short or selling out or giving up or taking the easy way out. I’m pretty sure most writers, even successful self-published writers, have had to grapple with these ideas from time to time.

In the end, though, I’ve reached the decision to self-publish for a couple reasons. Some have to do with my writing — for example, it may be easier to publish something “out there” or cross-genre via self-publishing — while others have to do with my personality. I like to write what I feel like writing, and it’s probably easier to be a multi-genre author while self-publishing. Self-publishing equals greater creative control. This isn’t to say that traditionally published authors have no creative control. In fact, they can have a lot. But if they’re trying to make a career out of writing, they may find it more difficult to maintain creative control unless their books are turning into bestsellers.

I could write oodles on my doubts and on how this decision makes me feel in general — and there are other places on the blog where I’ll do that in the future — but for now, I consider it settled. My YA-adult crossover mystery will be self-published in the near-ish future, under the title Blue and White. In the upcoming months, there’ll be some cool stuff for you to check out in advance of the book’s release (which will probably be in late 2020). Sneak peeks, perhaps some character illustrations, possible book covers to vote on… Since I now have greater creative control, I’m inclined to use it — and to have fun with it, too.

The fact that I’m no longer aiming towards traditional publication has some other benefits, too. For example, I’m already feeling more free to express myself on this blog! For a long time, the blog was geared mainly towards impressing agents and publishers. And I really hated that, especially since I was learning along the way that I really loved to blog — but only about topics I was passionate about. I wanted more freedom for my blog. You can call me silly for pigeonholing myself in the first place, I don’t care. All I know is that as soon as I blew the windows out on my writing future, the doors opened up for the blog, which is why it’s been rebranded as Voyage of the Mind(More on that in the linked post.) I am loving what I’m doing here now. I hope you’re enjoying it, too. 

I’ll definitely be writing more on this topic — probably in a post titled Why I’ve Decided to Self-Publish — but I’m going to leave it here for now. After all, this was supposed to be a short catch-up, not a long-winded marathon of a post! I’d like to hear from y’all, though. What do you think about all this? How’s your own writing going? What have you been reading lately? Do you have any new visions for your writing (or otherwise) future? How’s life? 

Got some juicy posts and topics coming up for you in the next week, so keep on the lookout for things like… another movie review, some of my own poetry (which I’m simultaneously scared and excited to share), and, last but not least, episode one of THIS IS NOT A SAD STORY, a landmark tell-all about my life and all the sad and not-so-sad things that have happened therein.

Thanks for reading, reader! Let’s both look forward to a week of new adventures.

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