Positive stress

What does it mean when something has been self-published that on its face has no literary merit? Does it mean:
a) the publishing world is f&%$d?
b) readers have no interest in something deep and pensive, but will buy whatever is simple and clich’d?
c) self-publishing really is a vanity backwater and should continue to be ignored by anyone interested in decent fiction?
d) there’s no hope for a writer looking to “wow” an agent because self-publishing has saturated the market and rendered agents obsolete?
e) churning out content has more chance of success because it’s just a numbers game?
Oh, I don’t know. I want to know that the publishing world is FAIR and selects the BEST new work out there, that if I just put in the time on the manuscript, all will come out okay. I am learning how VERY wrong that perception is.
Here’s a blurb from Amazon (edited for length) for a book written by a friend-of-a-friend: “L’s life was comfortable and safe in her suburban New York home. She was smart and beautiful, and attracted more than her fair share of attention from men. However, she felt that there had to be something else out there for her other than her well paid but predictable job in her home town. L had always been fascinated with far away destinations. She sometimes wondered what path her life would have taken had she followed through with her application to enroll in the Peace Corps. In an uncharacteristically impulsive decision, L books a safari to Kenya. She decides that this is the perfect opportunity to spice up her mundane life. In Kenya, L is transported into another world when she meets a handsome and charismatic man; L is at a crossroads and has to make some potentially heart rending and life-changing decisions.”

Fascinated with far-away destinations???? It could be a fine story – I haven’t read it – but the blurb is so full of vagueness and cliches I want to rip out their tongues and chastise them for not bothering to think while writing it. That’s right, “them.” The book has TWO authors. It took TWO people to come up with that. If I can’t sell my book I think I will jump out of a very tall tree.
And if they’re going to hyphenate “life-changing” why not “heart-rending” or “well-paid” as well? That is a huge mystery to me, even if the plot sounds… a little less mysterious. Ah, Keri, quitcher bellyaching, as my brother would tell me, and he’s right. I don’t want to hate on people who’ve put pen to paper and made the effort. I salute the two authors. I guess I’m jealous that that book has made it to “print,” and I’m still floundering with a half-edited query letter.
I saw a TED talk yesterday about stress and how it’s actually a force for good if you believe it to be. Good for your health, good for your relationships, good for your achievement of your dreams. What’s important is taking on stressful but captivating things because they matter to you – and then learning to believe you can handle the stress, the ups and downs. That seems entirely logical to me, and the TED talk backs it up with science. My problem is not the publishing of other works, substandard or otherwise. All I need to do is get that query letter into the hands of the right agent, facing the fear of failing with a big sunny, confident grin on my face. I’m ready.

2 replies on “Positive stress”

  1. Good one. I’ve been all three types of writer,: unpublished, self published and published. Wrote good stuff in all three versions of me and continue to get better. My own thoughts on self publishing is bring it on. Not every book should or will be read by anyone but the writer. So what. It is a great boost to egos to have a book with your name on the spine on the coffee table. You’re a good writer btw. Nate

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