Monday, May 10, 2021

A Terrible Title for a Blogpost

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!

Hey, kids!

I was originally going to call this "The Writer's Dilemma" and then I realized that was a terrible title for a blogpost, and one that I wouldn't click on in a million years.  So I decided to change it to that, which I might, actually.  Still, it's the dilemma thingy that's the subject, so if you just clicked here for the clever title, you're about to get kind of screwed, I guess.  

The truth is I'm feeling at a crossroads and I don't know what to do.  We've talked before on this blog about how the modern world keeps you spoiled for choices, which makes them all seem terrible.  I remember a time when popping in "Rushmore" on a Saturday night seemed like the best choice from my collection of ten or fifteen DVDs.  Now I can't even decide which app to choose my near infinite list of movies and TV shows from.

"Yeah, but what's that got to do with writing, you dumb bastard?" I hear you shouting.  First of all, that's a bit harsh.  I'll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your mouth.  But to answer your unnecessarily angry query, I have a (somewhat?) unique problem in that I have a number of manuscripts in my trunk and a number of things to do with any given one of them.  

"What's a trunk?" you say.  Well, first of all, thank you for toning down the language a bit.  Second, a trunk is a metaphor, a bit like when they say "that film is in the can" in Hollywood, which is a thing I assume they say there.  "Trunk" can have negative connotations, because back in the day a working writer would put a completed manuscript they thought was unsaleable in the (sometimes literal) trunk at the foot of their bed.  But it can also be used to refer to just a completed manuscript waiting to find a home, which is the sense that I mean it here.

Let's see.  In my trunk I currently have:

- THE HYENA, a pretty straightforward sci-fi novel,


- NOTES FROM THE UNDEAD, a pretty straightforward horror sequel to THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO that still requires a hard edit

- THE CORPSE-WRIGHT'S APPRENTICE, a YA horror novella and less straightforward GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO sequel

- THE THING UNDER YOUR BED, a horror novella

- CLICKERS NEVER DIE, a horror collaboration

- A SECRET POLICEMAN'S CONSCIENCE, a dystopian thriller

So.  Shit, that's a lot when I lay it out like that.  So what's my dilemma?  Well, FOMO, mostly, I guess.  At this point BROKEN-DOWN HEROES was actually agented and seen by several people in New York and Hollywood, so I think the only thing I can really do with that at this point is self-publish.  But the problem with that is, and always has been, that it's a massive departure for me and would probably be best served by a pseudonym.

THE HYENA has a similar problem.  It's been queried widely to agents, and never been picked up, which means I either seek a sci-fi small press (a world I know nothing about) or self-publish.  It's not a huge departure for me, since I've done BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS and EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED, which, although dark, are more comfortably sci-fi than horror.  But, still, do I want a sci-fi novel to be my first self-publication?

NOTES FROM THE UNDEAD probably doesn't belong on this list since it's not been edited yet, but as a zombie horror novel it's the closest thing to completely in my wheelhouse that I have in my trunk.  I haven't queried it yet, but who would pick up a sequel to a small press horror novel from nearly a decade ago?  Should I treat it as unrelated and query anyway?  Are agents really interested in horror?  Yeah, I guess I will.  I'll at least give it that shot.  But then, if I do that, what about the press that published TGA in the first place?  Don't I owe them a look at the sequel?

CORPSE-WRIGHT and THE THING UNDER YOUR BED both suffer from the same problem: no one really publishes novellas.  Supposedly people all love novellas, but nobody wants to publish them.  So I guess they're all coming out self-published anyway.  And then I keep thinking I really ought to put out a work for perma-free on Amazon, and one of these novellas might fit the bill.  But should I put it up for pay at first and see if anyone's interested, then make it perma-free?  In which case, would that piss off the people who paid for it?

The goal of making something perma-free would be to get a bunch of people to read something of yours, and maybe a few come back to buy other stuff.  And then, back to THE HYENA, I've also thought about making a small illustrated guide to the aliens in THE HYENA universe my perma-free item, to hopefully direct people to pick up the novel.  But, then if I do that, I have to shell some mad samoleons out of pocket to hire an illustrator, for what could be absolutely zero return.  And shouldn't I include the bestiary in the actual manuscript for people who buy the paperback?  So would there be no point in releasing a novel featuring the bestiary and the bestiary itself under a separate cover?

A SECRET POLICEMAN'S CONSCIENCE is just barely, I think, on its last legs of the query circuit.  So I'll at least give that another ninety days to six months before I give up and do something with it.  Which doesn't help me get anything out this year.

And, finally, CLICKERS NEVER DIE is being shopped around and will be picked up by a high-quality venue, but probably for 2022.  Which is what precipitated this whole damn crisis in the first place.

So, there you have it, everyone.  All the boring ins and outs of what I could possibly do in the next few months.  Which leaves you just one thing to do in the comments: decide for me?


Phronk said...

I am one of those supposed people who loves novellas! And I prefer adult horror, so THE THING UNDER YOUR BED is the correct choice.

But seriously, I don't know why novellas are so neglected. Our attention spans have been ravaged by technology and the pace of the world and possibly brain worms, so there's gotta be a hunger for stuff that's shorter but not quite as fleeting as a short story.

My latest is a novella and I'm having trouble even finishing it because I have no idea what I'll do with it.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Yeah, I don't understand why the market's not there for novellas. I guess they expect you to bundle four together. It's weird.

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