It has been two weeks since I emailed my would-be agent. Well, I would have him be my agent. I haven't heard anything from him at all. I put the finishing touches on the manuscript two days ago now, and I am feeling an onrush of the combination of arrogance and complete self-doubt that I suspect all authors share.
You have to be arrogant to write a book, unless you plan to hide it in a drawer. If you write for any audience it takes arrogance to assume that people out there will want to read what you are writing. But the act of writing consists of putting one word after another, like bricks on a wall. You want to believe that you have chosen the correct bricks, and that you have put them in the right order, and that the wall will stand up, and that the building the wall is part of will serve a purpose, and also that it will be beautiful.
I know that I can write, in the sense of choosing the right words and putting them in an interesting order. But do the words add up to a book? Is it a book that is worth reading? Will people want to pay money for it? Will someone want to make a movie of it? Who knows?
And that is where the self-doubt comes in. It has taken me many years to get to this point and do I really know that my writing is worth the time to read it?
The publishing business is always strange. Authors need agents to be taken seriously by publishers. Publishers will publish what will sell. What will sell is determined by getting shelf space in the big chains. And then there is Oprah.
I have assumed I need to go through the usual channels. I will get myself an agent. My agent will see the unique merits of my creation and auction off the rights to the publishing houses, who will seek the rights to my book like piranhas after a piece of choice meat.
Or, my little manuscript is just another of the hundreds of thousands of unpublishable products of vanity and I will only get published if I pay somebody to do it.
I am toying with the idea of self-publishing. I can put my book up on the internet. I can print copies myself. I can make a financial investment in getting the book out there, buying some ad space, sending out review copies, etc.
Hmmm.... I hope that damn agent calls this week.