Hello and welcome back to the blog! I lost a few days of work this week with a stomach virus. Not fun. Now I’m on the mend and it’s time for another blog post. Today’s topic is indecision. Let’s get started.
I tend to be an indecisive person. If you talked to my wife, she would confirm this fact. We can spend thirty minutes deciding what to pick up for dinner or an hour picking out a movie to see. The trouble is routed in her need to please other people, while I don’t like the pressure of making decisions. That’s about all I can discuss on this matter without getting in trouble. Perhaps it’s too late already.
Historically, however, my indecisiveness hasn’t carried over into my writing life. I think long and hard about my options before acting. Once that decision is made, I rarely regret it. Sure, I have regrets—hey, don’t we all? However, I simply move on to the next project and hope to do better. It sounds simple enough and until about a year ago it was. What happened a year ago? I finished writing Breaking Character: The Craven House, that’s what.
Allow me to do a recap in case you’re new to the blog. I finished writing Breaking Character in early March of last year. I spent a couple weeks perfecting my query and forming a list of literary agents to send it to. Over the next six months or so I queried twenty-one agents and received one manuscript request. That literary agent passed. Annoyed that no one saw the brilliance in my manuscript, I decided to forgo an agent and self-publish instead. That also happens to be when I started this blog. For a few weeks I worked to perfect Breaking Character for publication (yes, you should hire an editor to look over the manuscript before self-publishing; if you can afford one) while my brother worked on the cover art. I finished editing and waited for my brother to show me the cover. With not much to do but wait, my brain did what it tends to do best. Bring forth the self-doubt and the obligatory indecisiveness about a decision I was so sure of only weeks prior.
I want to pause here to let you know that I’m not against self-publishing. There are some very good books that have been self-published. However, I think we can all agree that there are a ton of bad ones as well. These bad ones have tainted the reputation of the self-published book. My reasoning for self-doubt is routed in the marketing side of the industry. It takes a shameless self-promoter to make a self-published book successful. That’s just not in my nature. Okay, unpause.
Where was I? Right, self-doubt and indecision. After talking with some other writers on Twitter I concluded twenty-one queries wasn’t much after all. I told my brother to put the cover on hold because I was going to give querying one last try. This time I’m querying more agents at a single time, but with little results to show for it so far.
That’s not much indecision, you say? That was only covering querying. While I was querying agents, I wanted to keep writing. Should I start the second book in the series or write something new? I chose to start something new, which I don’t regret. That manuscript became From Darkness Comes… which I have talked about before. The indecision at the moment revolves around that novel and Breaking Character.
Despite my reservations about self-publishing, I’m starting to come around to the concept. The end of the literary agent’s section of my Writer’s Market is growing near. The feeling that Breaking Character may not be the novel which nets me an agent is growing. I may bring it to the reading public through self-publishing.
So, I’m open to self-publishing Breaking Character, however, the same cannot be said for From Darkness Comes… yet. I’m halfway through the second edit with a final polish yet to come. It’s a novel I started writing to pass the time while I queried agents. My expectations weren’t high to begin with, but I really am blown away by how good it is. It took some elbow grease to get it that way and I’m proud of that. From Darkness Comes… might be a better book than Breaking Character: The Craven House. I think the main character, who is a foster child, will intrigue agents and readers alike. My point is, I’ve given Breaking Character—which could be a lesser novel—almost a year’s worth of attention, shouldn’t I let From Darkness Comes… have its moment?
There is another factor to consider into this decision-making process. Sometimes I refer to the novel as Breaking Character—it’s my original title, that’s why—and other times as Breaking Character: The Craven House. Breaking Character is the series, while The Craven House is the first book in that series. Breaking Character is a series. If I self-publish the first book, then I’m committed to doing the entire series that way. I’ll be stuck, which isn’t a great feeling.
How does one go about making a decision with all these factors in mind? I meditate on it, pray about it, ask other people’s opinions and flip a coin if it comes to that. Once the decision is made, I try not to look back. Being blinded with regret from one decision could cause a poor decision in the future. You might even be so focused on the regret you fail to see there was another decision to make. Take that advice with a grain of salt from a man who has been anything but decisive in the past year.
As you have probably guessed this post came about because of my indecisiveness regarding my next step. I’ll start writing the second book in the Breaking Character Series as soon as I’m finished editing. That much I have known for a while. Breaking Character: The Craven House will get a few more months of querying. If I am rewarded with an agent, great. If not, well, it will get shelved for a bit. At some point along the way I’ll start querying agents about From Darkness Comes… It won’t get a year to make an impression, though with an aggressive approach of querying ten agents at one time, I’ll know long before that if there really is something to that novel.
I may be indecisive, but I did make a decision in the end. Thanks for reading. Until next time, remember to follow your dreams, no matter how much they terrify you.
Stephen Michael Roth