After the re-write (for the 20th time) I was happy with what I had. It was long enough, funny enough and pretty good. ( IMHO) I had a stack of pages I had printed out with John's red ink on them, and an ink jet printed, one sided, double spaced, copy of the finished product. John liked it and that said a lot because if it stunk up the room he would have pointed that out. I passed it around to a few Beta readers who all liked it. Including my wife, Sherri, who gave me a thumbs up. ( that is hard to come by.)
I joined a writing group in Charlottesville through a contact I made at the University. It was a small group of people who had jobs, unlike me who had nothing to do but sit around and write (poor me :) Oh, yea...and mow the lawn. One of the members of the group (Sara) was a nice girl who owned a used bookstore/coffee shop in the next County. http://www.rapunzelscoffee.com/ She read it and liked it also. One of my biggest worries was that I had missed the mark as far as Kelly's homosexuality. I didn't want to portray a "straight guy’s fantasy lesbian," I wanted Kelly's lesbianism to be honest; a part of her character, like how tall she was, and not the anchor of her personality. I wanted to paint her as a strong, competent investigator, who just happened to be gay. Sara assured me I had not made any major faux pas in that aspect of the story and I breathed a sigh of relief. The last thing I wanted at this point was more re-writes.
I blew the dust off of the old query letter saved on my hard drive and pulled out my file of rejection letters. I read every one of them (painful as that was) making sure I hadn't missed any subtle suggestions or advice. As I read them a feeling of dread settled on my shoulder. The thought of getting on that ride again was really depressing. There had to be a better way. John Grisham lives in the neighborhood, maybe I'll just pop over to his house and I'm sure he'll be happy to have HIS agent take me on.
I had seen something on the web about "self-publishing" and I started to research that process and the various companies out there and the options they offered. This was exciting. I might be able to get a printed copy of my labors without having to go through the agony of first getting an agent, who might or might not, get me a book deal. If I had a successful run, maybe that would a selling point for attracting an agent? Or, was I hurting myself? Maybe an agent wouldn't want someone who all ready had a printed novel? It would take research and soul searching. I scoured the web, gleaning what I could. I decided to go for it !
I settled on a company that offered a variety of services and seemed to fit my needs. I have fought with myself about mentioning the name of the company here. I have a lot to say about them, good and bad, and I don't want to taint my comments by naming them. I will let you read about the journey and if you really want to know who they are, e-mail me and I will be happy to tell you who they are in private, but for the purposes of this discussion I think it is best to just call them, "The Company," and let you make up your own mind after you hear the story. The bottom line is "Would I recommend them if you were going to self-publish?" The answer is "Yes" but you need to hear the story and know what's going on too.
The Company had a web site that I navigated to and started to go through page after page. The fact that they had numerous options seemed at first a good thing, but the more I got into it, the more confused I got. So many choices! They had package deals for almost every conceivable scenario. Unfortunately, I liked a couple of things in this package and a couple from that. Only the most expensive of the packages had most everything I thought I needed or wanted, naturally. There was hope tho, they promised “One on One” assistance with my project which was the one thing that attracted me most to them over any other I had found, to help me decide how to proceed. Ah...... if only I’d known what was to come............