Progress Report

Empty Chair

In a recent post, I expressed my relief and amazement at having finished the second draft of my fourth real novel. (I wrote several novels in my twenties, but they were bad enough I pitched them into the recycle bin a few years back so no one could “discover” them later. The literal recycling bin, wherefrom they were ground up into who knows what: cardboard boxes, table napkins, toilet paper, something appropriate.) But now came a more important pair of reactions than my own: from my first read and my editor.

My editor exclaimed that the story “packs a wallop,” and that he liked it a great deal. He is sending me comments and markups soon, so I can clean up not only typos but the much more devastating continuity errors.

My first reader of choice is my wife Gina, herself a fine writer and passionate reader, and a very exacting and critical one, as wives are wont to be. I realized I may have a hit here when I notice that she read it nearly straight through rather in the usual dribs and drabs. And her face glowed with pleasure when she finished it. She also sent me a list of typos and errors, and I worked my way through it last night. After the editor gets back to me and I make the corrections he recommends (no doubt there will be overlap), I’ll read it through again myself.

Then comes the hard part: marketing the damned thing. I am still working on the previous novel, My Turn to Die, though I haven’t got the hang of the all-important promotional letter that entices a trade publisher even to look at one’s book. I’m going to study up on that part of the process, before I consider self-publishing. My editors really wanted me to push My Turn to Die to a trade publisher. And I think the most recent book, Stranger Coming Home, is even more suited to a commercial publisher, even if perhaps a smaller one, than the third.

I am hoping my recent successes in placing short stories in literary magazines will help. But the publishing world is in chaos, and in uncertain times business people play it safe, so it won’t be easy.

So, I’d better get to work….

Rick Risemberg