Life Update 11/21/20: Farisa’s Crossing, et al

I’m still trying to figure out the matter of my online presence (including, to be frank, whether I want to have one at all). For now, I’m still on Substack. I’ll be mirroring these posts on WordPress; as much as I’ve lost faith in the platform, I don’t see any harm in keeping the blog up.

On Farisa’s Crossing, I’ve stopped promising release dates. I can only give a release probability distribution— and that, only for the Bayesians, since the frequentists don’t believe probabilities can be applied to one-time future events— but, I have reasons to be optimistic, regarding current and future progress:

  • the novel is “bucket complete”, by which I mean that if I had a month to live, I could leave it and a pile of notes for an editor, and I wouldn’t feel like I had left the world an incomplete book. (I wouldn’t care about marketing or sales outcomes, for an obvious reason.) There are still things to improve, and I intend to do most of the remaining work myself, but it’s basically “ready enough”.
  • I’ve stopped fussing about word count. It used to be really important to me that the book not get “too big”. Traditional publishing ceased to be an option when I crossed the Rubicon of 120,000 words. As a first time novelist, you have zero leverage and 120K is all you get; although, most award-winning literary titles (in adult fiction) run 175–250K. For a while, my upper limit was 175,000… 200,000… 250,000… which shows how good I am at setting these “upper limits”. Farisa became a bigger story over time. Her love interest, I realized, ought to be more than a love interest. I gave more characters POV time, which meant more world to flesh out. I decided to give more back story to an important villain. Various proportionality and pacing concerns— systems of equations where the variables and coefficients are all subjective, but still require precise tuning— meant that fleshing out one set of details required me to do the same for another. I’ll still cut anything that doesn’t belong. If a scene has an obvious weakest paragraph, or a paragraph a clear weakest sentence, or a sentence has a needless word… it gets yanked. At some point, though, the risks of cutting outweigh the benefits.
  • I’m able to afford having stopped taking new clients in May. I’m down to maintenance of existing ones, at least for now. There’s little stopping me from hitting the next six months at 180 miles per hour. Unless something unexpected happens (and of course there’s that one thing that can happen to anyone) I can’t see anything preventing me from getting the book to a ready state.

There are a million “lessons learned” in the writing process, but I don’t believe in talking about those sorts of things until after you’ve completed the task.

I’ll give it an 75% chance that I’m ready to send my novel to a copyeditor by mid-May; 98% chance by mid-July. Concurrently, probably starting in early spring, I’ll need to get cover art, blurbs, and other marketing materials together. That can go off in a couple weeks, or it can take months. It depends on a number of factors.

I may release the book, without much marketing— because if I’m right about the book, it shouldn’t need it; if I’m wrong about it, perhaps obscurity is a good thing— in August. My next big project (everything being up in the air for obvious reasons) starts in the fall and, to be honest, while the quality of the book itself is paramount, I’m willing to compromise on short-term sales to increase my likelihood of succeeding in other projects. On the other hand, circumstances evolve, and I may size up the situation and decide that Farisa does need the traditional long-calendar marketing strategy, in which case we’re looking at a release date of late 2021 or early 2022.

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