Books for Grownups · Books I'm Writing · Descending · Writing

A Non-Fiction Story About a Fiction Story

I like stories. So I’m going to tell you one (and this one is true). Once upon a time, I wrote a novel. Actually, the time wasn’t that long ago: It began as the first 25,000 words, which also served as my final Master’s Project before graduating at NKU. The reviews from my faculty panel were very encouraging and so I decided to finish it. Many (many!) hours and words later, I had Descending, a 195,000 word science fiction novel. 

That’s right. 195,000 words (roughly 500-600 pages in paperback form). And that’s after I – honestly! – applied my own slightly obsessive editing and strong-armed several friends and family into reading/editing it and then edited it and edited and edited it. 

By the end of a two year+ process, I was pretty satisfied with my work. It was as good as I could get it and I was done. So I started to submit it to agents, hoping for representation and publishing.

After some time of getting nothing but rejections, I discovered my error. Turns out, no publisher (and it’s a pretty emphatic “no”) will publish a book of that length from an untested author. For science fiction, the upper limits are somewhere closer to 125 or 135 thousand words. So more than likely, despite my well crafted query letter, many agents and their minions didn’t go past the “Descending is a 195,000-word science fiction novel whose….”

Now, I did send out an emended query letter suggesting my willingness to turn it into two books and had an agent ask for the whole manuscript. After his reviewers got back to him (with “stellar” appraisal, according to him), it moved to the next step in his agency’s process, but eventually fell prey to the same lingering illness: it was just too long. 

So I stopped sending it out anymore and I’ve decided – with a fair dose of humble pie – to self publish via Amazon. 

My initial response to all self-publishing is that it’s for authors not good enough to go the traditional route. I suppose that’s often – and maybe even the majority of the time – the case. And so my pride bristles as the assumptions people may make. 

But hey: if it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough. And if it is good enough, then it will be great that some people can get it and read it and enjoy it rather than it just sitting on my computer doing nothing. Either way, I’d kind of like to hold my own book in my hands because I’m glad to have written it. It was a life goal.

So I’ll let you know when it’s available and if you want to (only if you want to; more on that later) you can get it and give me some of the most important feedback any author can get: did you enjoy it?

2 thoughts on “A Non-Fiction Story About a Fiction Story

  1. Congratulations! Plenty of successful authors in recent years have gotten their start self-publishing–and you know I am a fan of that route! Can’t wait to read “Descending”–won’t let me italicize!

  2. I have read your new book, “Decending” THREE times, Ryan! Once of those times was with my high school/homeschooled teenager when we read it together for a Literature Class. The first time I read it, i was very impressed. The second time I read it, I decided that it would make a REALLY AWESOME MOVIE! The third time my daughter and I read it, I became so perplexed that it had not been published yet…or made into a movie yet! It is REALLY REALLY good; I am not kidding. When it finally comes out, I am going to buy one for my personal library as a couple to use as gifts!

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