Last month (give or take), I mentioned my decision to, for now, abandon any attempts at getting Legacy of Memory published and instead move on to focus on a new book entirely unrelated to either it or its self-published predecessor, A Shadow in the Flames. I’ll write a little more here about the new novel (Murdering Zeus for Fun and Profit, for which I just sent out the first agent query yesterday) in a future entry. For now I want to explain a little more about why Legacy of Memory will sit on the shelf, at least for the foreseeable future.
First, my thanks to those who have written asking when they could read a sequel to A Shadow in the Flames. It’s gratifying to know there are people out there who don’t otherwise know me from Adam’s housecat (whose name is Uriel, by the way) who have read the first book and are interested to know more about Michael, Felix, Gideon, and just what the heck is going to happen next.
The problem lies in A Shadow in the Flames being self-published. Yes, the publish-on-demand (POD) publisher I went through does screen books in order to elevate their offerings above other POD publishers, but self-publishing a fiction book still often carries about as much weight in the industry as a dead mule. I don’t necessarily think that’s unfair, either. (That said, I’ve received enough independent praise about ASITF to believe it’s a decent effort. I wish I’d known more when I made the decision to go POD with it and at least tried going directly to some small publishers who take unagented fiction rather than going for agents or nothing, but no matter.) The point is, I don’t want to self-publish again, and the chances of selling a second book in a series when the first book is so obscure are slim to none. My efforts are, unfortunately, better directed elsewhere.
Let me go back and say that I don’t entirely regret self-publishing ASITF. I had a great need to get the story “out there” and read by at least some segment of the public. Part of that need translated into continuing the story into a second (and then planned third) book. There was a danger of my contracting “sequelitis” (see an explanation of that term in this blog by Nathan Bransford (an agent for Curtis Brown, Ltd. with a very helpful publishing blog) and continuing to write further books that had little to no chance of being published in a more traditional fashion. Self-publishing gave me at least some feeling of closure, allowing me to set the story and characters from ASITF and LOM so that I could move on and write my third manuscript.
This is not to say I relish abandoning those earlier books. (Nor is “abandoning” completely final in this case, either. Perhaps in the future I can return to the series, though my thoughts on that are probably another blog entry waiting to be written.) It pains me to think that LOM, by my estimation a much better book than ASITF, will remain read by only a few folks for a while. Yet of some comfort is the fact that I know that I learned quite a bit in writing those first two manuscripts. My craft has improved. I’m quite proud of my latest work (and I confess I cringe a bit when I go back and look at those first two novels) and I would not have been able to do the job on manuscript three without having written one and two. I only wish I didn’t have to lose Michael, Felix, Caitlin, Marc, Marette, and Diomedes to a learning experience. …Wow, my characters have names that start with M a lot, don’t they? What’s up with that?
So, for the moment, Legacy of Memory remains on the shelf. Three people have read the entire thing (besides myself), and it may continue to be so for a while. I may release it electronically somehow, someday. I may hang onto it and find some way to polish it up a little more. (I looked at it again a short while ago. The beginning needs more work than I recognized previously.) Time will tell.
They say a writer’s first novel is a learning experience only, unlikely to see the light of day. That’s not something one likes to hear when while spending so much effort to create it. Two manuscripts down the line, though, I think it’s something I can accept.
And Murdering Zeus for Fun and Profit is a damned good novel. Okay, so I’m slightly biased. I’m also quite proud of it. More about that soon…