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I’m moving!!

Hello everyone!! As I gear up for the release of The Polaris Uprising later this year, I’ve moved to my new blog! Pardon the dust as I get settled in my new home.

In the meantime, please follow me over to jenniferibarra.com

Many, many thanks to my incredible designer, IceyDesigns.

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Shifting gears

My inner critic is confused.

For the nearly six months I was working on the first draft of The Polaris Uprising, I kept her locked in a room, with nothing but jigsaw puzzles and Angry Birds to keep her entertained. Occasionally, I’d let her out to take a whack at a particularly egregious typo (I couldn’t let her muscles atrophy, after all–I needed her in tip-top shape when I unleashed her for the editing process), but for the most part, I was pretty disciplined about keeping her in that room, no matter how many times she’d bang on the door and beg me to unlock it.

But then the editing process came, and I set her free, and boy did she have a field day. How she mocked me with her cruelty and hinted I was a hack writer with flat dialogue and repetitive phrasing and plot holes the size of Rhode Island. I bowed to her whim, fixing everything I could, pouring out blood, sweat, tears to get to a draft that was a far cry from what it was when I first typed “The End” (ok, I never actually used those words, but you get my meaning). It was a grueling process, but one that brought me results I was proud of, and when it was all over, I thanked my inner critic for all her hard work, and then…

… forced her back into the room and locked it up again, because I had a new first draft to write as I begin book 2.

She’s in there now, whining and pouting, calling me all sorts of nasty names. I can hear her still. The thing is, she had a taste of freedom, and she was enjoying it a little too much. Now she’s back in her room and the jigsaw puzzles ain’t cutting it, and she wants out again.

See? Confused.

That’s the thing about switching gears. You get used to one thing, and you start to get proficient at it, and then you change things up again, and it’s like starting at the beginning. In theory, I know it’s not the absolute beginning; I know I’m starting from a far stronger foundation than I did before. I know this world. I know its people. I know the story inside and out, backwards and forwards. I’ve constructed a story structure that’s very sound, mapped out a character journey that’s compelling and (hopefully) moving. And yet, all my inner critic can focus on is the crappy words I’m producing right now, and she’s sure letting me know it (even from way inside her locked room).

It took me a while to get good at learning to ignore her. I suspect it’ll take me just as long this time, too. Beginnings are especially hard; it’s where I struggle most in a story (once I get in my groove though, man, there is no stopping me!). But the only way to get through it is… to get through it. Just keep hacking away at it. Eventually, she’ll get bored and go back to putting together those puzzles. She’ll leave me in peace to just get this draft down, knowing I’ll let her out eventually so she can have a field day with it. I’m in those negotiations with her right now.

Until then, it’ll be painful for both of us.

At least until I let her out again temporarily after I get my editor’s feedback on book 1 and need to shift gears again back to editing mode–boy that’s going to be fun. But then, back in she’ll go, and hopefully she’ll give me a good 5, 6 months of harassment-free writing.

Pardon me if I stall out a few times as I get back in the first draft mode...

Pardon me if I stall out a few times as I get back in the first draft mode…

Making the leap…

Last week, I made a big decision. A terrifying, risky, exhilarating decision.

I will be self-publishing The Polaris Uprising.

This was not a decision I made overnight. In fact, it’s something I started wrestling with even before I sat down to write the first word of the first draft. When the idea for the book first came into my head, I was determined to self-publish it. Then as I thought more about it, I decided I would try pursuing the traditional route first, and then consider self-publishing if that didn’t work out. After all, I’ve had this dream my entire life, and the dream was being traditionally published.

And so, when I finished the countless drafts of the book, I crafted my query and my synopsis and started researching agents. I targeted those I felt would be a great fit, who’d be able to share my vision for the book. But all along, there was an unease in me I couldn’t quite quiet. My gut was trying to tell me something–it was screaming and yelling, in fact. And finally, several weeks into the query process, I finally gave in and listened to it.

It told me this: the dream had changed.

Publishing itself has changed. It’s been transforming for the last few years now, but never more so than in the last 12 months or so. Self-publishing has been growing in acceptance and legitimacy at an almost exponential rate. With proponents such as Guy Kawasaki and inspiring success stories such as Colleen Hoover, the stigma that’s long dogged self-publishing is starting to erode and reveal an exciting new business model that’s all kinds of scary, yes, but also one filled with promise if you can approach it with care, research, and hard work.

I have a tremendous respect for agents and publishers. This business model has been around for decades and will be around for more. I don’t see it going away completely. These guys work hard and play valuable roles in the industry. But just as individuals have a choice as to whether they’d like to enter the business world by either getting a job in a company or striking it out on their own, we writers now have a similar choice.

Will it require hard work? Absolutely. Will it require getting out of the comfort zone? You bet. Will it require money, time, patience, a tolerance for risk? Yes, yes, and hell yes.

But will the reward of greater control and the prospect of having a more direct connection with your readers be worth all of those things? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.

I’m lucky. I’m a marketer by trade. The marketing aspect doesn’t scare me (and in fact, I geek out on it). I’ve got a budget I can set aside for this, and I will be able to make a reasonable investment and still be in good financial shape if I never see a single cent of it come back. I know how exceedingly fortunate I am to be in that situation. And that made the risks of this so much less daunting.

I’m going to be ok even if this goes out there and there’s barely a ripple in the ocean.

That said, I’m planning to go out there with this and give it all I’ve got. I’ve lined a team of amazing professionals–a fantastic editor and a brilliant designer–who will help me put together the best possible book I can get out there. I’ve got a marketing plan all ready to go. I’m going to set myself up for success as best I can, and then… whatever happens will happen. I certainly hope it will work out, but I’m also prepared for the possibility of it fizzling and fading into oblivion.

No matter what, though, my book will be out there and no one will be ever to take that away from me, and to me, that is priceless.

Jumping into the great unknown...

Jumping into the great unknown…