I See Collaboration (Book & Life Update)

by Jane Devin on 07/24/2011

People have asked me why the publishing deal for Elephant Girl fell through. The short version is that the deal I was told was a deal, wasn’t. Then it was. Then it wasn’t. Then it was all sewn up, but wait . . . no it wasn’t.

The thing is, I don’t really blame anyone. The PR agent who thought she could sell my book probably thought she had—all four times. The publishing house that expressed interest probably was interested—although perhaps not to the extent the agent believed. And, of course, I was eager to sell my book so I could get back to writing and escape the anxious loop of query letters and multiple submissions.

In the end, the publishing deal fell flat. I learned some good lessons, though, and I’m not discouraged about my work. I still believe there’s a place in the literary market for Elephant Girl, even if it’s one I have to carve out for myself.

Tradition has never favored me anyway, so rather than keep trying to force a dark horse into a conventional race, I’m forging my own track. With the help of my surly, creative, rebellious and enthusiastic friends online, I think it’s possible—maybe even providential. After all, without the help of friends on the Internet, my road trip would not have happened. Without the road trip, I might not have had the spirit, time, or support I needed to finish my book. In so many ways, Elephant Girl is the story the Internet helped write—maybe it’s best to publish and launch it in the same realm that has supported it the most.

So, here’s where we’re at: Elephant Girl’s custom cover, designed by the extraordinarily talented Stephanie Cameron of Insight Creative, LLC is getting its finishing touches this weekend. I’ve opened accounts with CreateSpace, Kindle and Smashwords. The manuscript and front matter are done and ready to be converted by someone with more technical expertise than me. With luck and help, I expect that the e-version of Elephant Girl will be online by the second week of August and the paperback will be available about a month after that.

It’s kind of scary to self-publish a book but I keep reminding myself that I’m not alone. Collaboration is happening everywhere—on Facebook and Twitter, with the support of other bloggers (see my sidebar!), by way of encouraging emails—and I couldn’t be more grateful or amazed.

Outside of trying to get EG launched, life continues to be a little rough and scraggly. The no-car, no health insurance, living precariously month-to-month gig is getting old. I try to stay more focused on the things I do have rather than the things I don’t. I keep assuring myself that everything will eventually work out and that I’ll look back on this time of achy teeth and bones, worn out shoes and relentless uncertainty with more fondness than I currently feel. I probably will. I hope I will.

My friend Sam says I should trade the vagaries of hope for the clarity of possibilities, though. I’ve been trying to do that, too. It’s possible that the future will be brighter. It’s possible that, with the help of friends, Elephant Girl will be a success. It’s possible that one day soon I’ll be back on the road, visiting bookstores and coffee houses, and talking about these days from the tender point of retrospect.

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