Welcome to the Awkward Squad – Chapter Eight on Self-Publishing
Every pissing cloud has a silver lining (if you’ll excuse my English). I was reading this writer’s blog Promote Yourself, Not the Book and was glad to note her mention of the difficulties of being cross-genre, unable to fit neatly into a category. Also known as the awkward squad. I don’t even have the joy of fitting in with say the Sci-Fi geeks, as I’d doubtless be considered too ‘soft’. (Is there a more insulting term than ‘soft-Sci-Fi’, like being the Philadelphia to someone else’s Long Clawson Stilton (keepin it local folks)). Unless, as mentioned in chapt 1, I join the ranks of Literary Fiction, which is probably the place my dishevelled nerd of a novel will end up. But does Literary Fiction have a fanbase? Do any meaningless terms have a fanbase? We imagine those who read Literary Fiction to be all roll-necks, berrets and womb brooms. I’m just not sure that is the person who would most like my book.
Anyway. Enough stereotype-slinging. I did get accepted on that Headstart young businessperson’s programme I mentioned last time (Whoop). The catch is that there are minimum charges if my project isn’t turning a profit (Booo). But hopefully the skills I will learn in the planning and execution of a small business venture, will be well worth that investment anyway. Even if I’m a big fat soggy mutt of a belly flop. In book terms.
I’ve also completed my (banging-head-against-a-brick-wall) last edit and sent my near-perfect manuscript off for the final copy-edit via messenger pigeon. This all sounds like good news and progress doesn’t it? But that’s me doing the old service industry swan (effortless above the water but kicking like mad underneath).
I realised the thing I’ve been facing recently is what marathon runners call The Wall. It’s the psychological mammoth you have to conker (conquer, sorry, but I like the dyslexic poetry) to keep your chin off the ground and keep going. It’s the great abyss of self-doubt. It’s the jeebs! what the devil am I doing?! Just gambling my life away. Just pinning my future on the idea that more than ten people will want to part with money in order to read Dogtooth Chronicals.
It’s all very simple to say – just keep running, just keep on clinging to the icy rock face looking for the next hand hold. But that’s what you do. There will be days of failure when you crawl back to bed in defeat. There will be sleepless nights of worry that cause you to be too tired to finish that last little bit of editing the next day. There will be weeks when all your best laid plans fold up and die on you. You may waste precious time getting extremely drunk and vomiting all your hopes into a toilet bowl the next day.
But to actually give up seems itself impossible. Even if I instead blew my publishing money on a much-needed holiday. I’d still have to face myself in the mirror. I’d still have to go into my day job and face colleagues asking ‘How’s the book thing going?’ So I’m gonna keep running/climbing/some other reassuring metaphor. And of course I still have incredible friends, family and the online community cheering me on. I assume the whole ‘self-belief’ thing will return at some point. In the meantime another strong coffee and a double rum & ginger will have to do…
Over & owt.
Postscript… I’m suddenly tempted to set-up an online community called the Awkward Squad for all us genre-benders. We’ll meet behind Maths block at lunchtime, well away from all the cool smokers, Vampires, Chick-Lit’ers & Fantasists. Maybe someday that buff kid in the Hard-Sci-Fi squad will speak to me… *swoon*