And Here's How You Can Help
I've decided to take to the streets. No, I'm not joining any Occupy movement. I mean I am going to target small presses to get my memoir, Junkie Love, published, on my own, grass roots and all that. I do much better being hands-on anyway. Sitting back and waiting for my agent to hear back from the big houses has been killing me. It's not like the smaller, independent presses are going to necessarily respond any faster (or at all), but I'll be the one doing the sending and receiving, having direct exchanges, which doesn't really change anything, I know. But it sure makes me feel like I am doing something more than sitting on my (finely toned) ass, checking my e-mail six billion times. (Actually, it won't change that last part, will it?)
It's really a no-brainer, when you look at what I am after. It sure ain't the money. The standard, average advance for a first book is about seven grand, I hear. Some authors get more of course, and if you are a barely literate, fat tart living in New Jersey, I'm sure Harper Collins (or whoever published that drivel) is handing out six figures. And they should. I may not be a fan of fat tarts or reality TV in general, but I understand the value of name recognition. Publishing crap like Sookie (or is it Snookie? It's so hard to tell vampires apart from fat tarts these days. And, yes, I know, technically Sookie is a fairy. Which is why I stopped watching True Blood) might allow an editor to take a flyer on something a little riskier. And even if that isn't my book, that is still a good thing. And it is reading. If barely.
Another personality trait/life circumstance that lends itself well to my going with a small press is my ability to bang my head against a wall longer than you (universal). I am relentless in promoting my art, and I am a machine when it comes to routine and schedule. I could be better at time management, I'm sure, but my tenacity is never in question. Small presses require the author to do more legwork. True, I have an arthritic hip, rendering my right leg all but useless, but my other leg works pretty well. Most importantly, this is what I do. After the wife and kid, of course, it is what is most important. The work, my livelihood and passion and all that crap. Who better to have for an advocate for you than you?
Problem is, I'm sorta flying blind here. Like a newly divorced 50-year-old suddenly on the prowl again, only fatter, balder, and with no fucking idea how to use an iPad, iPhone, or iTouch (there's a double entendre in there somewhere). I may not be fat. Or bald. And, yeah, I'm really really good looking, but that doesn't mean I know jack about how to get publishers, big or small, to read my book. Which is half the goddamn problem. Of the myriad rejections we received, the vast majority were assumed. Meaning, we never heard back one way or the other. Strikes me as unprofessional not to even respond, but I miss a bunch of submissions for Lip Service West, so who am I to complain? I am guessing publishers get a lot more submissions than I do for my bi-monthly reading series. You need a really catchy query, and this book doesn't exactly lend itself to that. I am convinced, if I can get people to actually read the damn thing and give it a chance, someone has got to see the value in it. It's all about the query.
(Sorry for another LOL Cat, but my wife and her friend in Micronesia simply can't get enough of them. Justine and Liz are always, like, "Nice blog--but please please please more LOL Cats!" So here you go, Liz and Justine.)
I have a few strikes working against me. One is the whole "junkie" thing. The memoir is about more than just the drugs. In fact, the real heart of the story is probably my relationship with my mom. Probably should think about changing the title, which Michele and I did for the last round we sent out (to Boys of Belvedere), but it didn't seem to make any difference, and the title is Junkie Love. But using the word junkie is a lot like using the word vampire in a title these days. Vampire books sell like crazy, but those are the ones that are accepted. I can only imagine how many frumpy, oversexed housewives and gaunt, pale men who look like Alan Cummings are inundating inboxes with yet another shit novel about the undead. I'm sure as an editor even sees the word vampire, he/she wants to scream. Not sure "junkie memoir" elicits that different a reaction. And there is another thing junkies and vampires (http://tinyurl.com/3ry9mx8) have in common, kinda like this dinosaur book.