Its a mad, mad, mad, mad world

I got an email yesterday regarding the Debut Dagger short-list…I’m not on it. I know most people say they don’t ever really expect to be nominated for awards or anything like that, and for the most part with me, that’s true. But I’ve been riding that Debut Dagger nomination from 2003 for all it’s worth and really expected to make it this time as well.

At the time, and until a couple of years ago, that’s all I ha going for me writing-wise. Now I’ve published some shorts, and made some inroads in the business, and generally aquired a reputation (not saying whether it’s good or bad) based on things other than the DD. So I figured the best way to celebrate all of the progress I made was to submit th new book I’d written. It’s a better book. Longer, deeper, more skillfully executed. The characters are better developed, the plot more coherent, and the reception from readers generally favorable. But it didn’t make the shortlist.

Yet I book I wrote on a lark when I was 24, that’s a good 10k words under the minimum word count for a standard novel, and with pretty one dimmensional characters, and a rambling, virtually byzantine plot, that is so far away from what the CWA traditionally recognizes, was shortlisted. I’m very, very confused.

And it’s not just this event that makes me wonder what’s going on. I’ve detailed my struggle with the query for this stupid book that has received absolutely no lovin’ from the industry even though, again, most people find it intriguing and entertaining and well-written.

I guess it only goes to show how screwy this whole business can be. My faith may be dinged a bit, but I’m not giving up. I still have my dillusional optimism and my jovial nature and a few days ago I finished a huge revision of the book for a great agent who has expressed excitement in the project.

And I’m still better than this guy.

5 thoughts on “Its a mad, mad, mad, mad world

  1. My novel didn’t get shortlisted for Creme de la Crime’s contest, and it sucked, but not as bad as I thought it would. At least it made me finish the revisions for the damn thing. Now to finding both our novels a home!

  2. Bryon,You’re a great writer. I think you’re realizing how completely luck-oriented this business can be.My second novel Culpepper was selected as a finalist for the 2004 St. Martin’s Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. I’m currently working on my tenth novel, and there is not a doubt in my mind whatsoever that the seven novels I’ve written since Culpepper are much better.Character development, pacing, suspense, appropriate use of language, clear genre marketability — I know I’ve gotten better at this stuff in the course of writing all these novels. I mean there’s no question.But I haven’t won any awards or been published or even been selected as a finalist for anything.It’s just like total rejection, and yet I know the business, booksellers, conferences, and have developed a readership that I know could sell as many novels as most first-time novelists (probably better, too).But it’s luck at this point. You’ve just got to get lucky.The shit of it is, I’ve got a baby I’ve got to feed and diaper and I’m counting on luck.I tell you what you can do, though. You can self-publish, force yourself into bookstores, and build, build, build until you’re undeniable…Check out my events calendar for the summer.All of this for a self-published author who has received over 1000 rejections in five years.I guess the point is that solely waiting for a publisher or contest or agent is way too passive an approach to take. Personally, I’ve decided to make things happen – primarily through speaking events at bookstores and libraries.People will make fun of you. They’ll delete your comments from their blogs in a way that they would never do to a published author, and they’ll treat you like you’re non-existent scum that disgusts them. But what the fuck else can you do when every human being in New York publishing says “No, not right for us.”If I can do this, I know a guy as smart and savvy as you can.Keep the faith, man. And keep writing.Stacey

  3. I agree with David … One other thing I’d add is that from my experience, it’s a very subjective business, period. And that makes things pretty unpredictable. … Keep fighting.

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