I feel like I'm writing all the time, but not actually moving forward. I have completed yet another revision of my memoir. It was 80,000 words and I cut it down to 60,000 words. I had to write a one page synopsis and found this resource that helped me write it.
Through this process I realised what the shape of my memoir was and what needed to go and what needed to stay it. I then re-worked the prologue to give it a better frame and I feel much about this current draft. It also made me realise that the process of writing a synopsis can really help you see what the story is so I'm going to do that for my novels from now on.
At the moment I'm revising my young adult novel. I wrote it in third person and now I'm re-writing it to first person to give it more of a voice. When I've finished that process, I'm up to chapter 5, I want to do a one page synopsis and see how it holds up structurally, then I can submit it.
My actual work in progress this year is a historical murder mystery set in 1969. I'm really excited about this project and was progressing quite well with it, but until I finish revising my young adult novel and get it out into the world, I have to leave it on pause.
So I have lots of things on the boil, but I don't really feel a sense of satisfaction. I feel like I'm in this constant process of suspended animation. The publishing industry is so slow and so brutal. I have been watching with awe as some writers I hugely admire have forged into self publishing.
Ellie Marney, one of my favourite young adult authors of the Every series, has self published her novel No Limits. It was quite interesting to hear that her current publisher didn't want to back this novel because they thought it was too different from the Every series. Because it was a part of the series she didn't think another publisher would be interested, so she self published, and reached #1 Amazon bestseller, I think, within the first few days of it being out.
I have been hearing so many stories about writers who are struggling to secure a publishing contract, myself included, writers who are much more established than me. It's making me re-think my whole approach to publishing and to success. I am starting to realise that I love the writing process and crafting worlds, but the actually trying to get published is really bringing me down.
I think there's an element that I had a dream run with my first novel, submitted to five publishers and had two offers, then I had a dream run with my romance novel, two offers, the anthology I co-edited was picked up after a approach to our second publisher, and now I'm finding it harder.
My memoir was submitted to five publishers and it hasn't found a home yet, and while this hasn't deterred me, it's just illustrating that it's harder. I could perhaps take this as a judgement of my memoir, or the memoir market, but I also think that in general it's much harder to get out there.
Apparently the young adult market is shrinking and the current trend is mysteries so perhaps I might face the same angst with my current young adult novel. So self publishing is very much becoming a viable option. I feel like I'm not making much money from being traditionally published, and I'm in constant limbo with the publisher industry, and at the end of the day all I really care about is getting my writing out there to readers.
I have two romance novels and the rights will revert back to me from next year, one unpublished romance in my metaphorical drawer, a young adult novel that was a follow up to The Good Daughter and I couldn't submit to other publishers, and then all my current works in progress. It's coming to the point where I think I have to bet on myself and strike out as a pioneer into self publishing. And while I've had this thought for a while now, what has held me back is working full time and having limited time. However, this is something I need to prioritise. So watch this space. Something is brewing.
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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