I'm closing in on the end of revisions. But I'm also near the end of the book, at the part where I need to do the most revision work. I have this bad habit of completely rewriting endings or at least the major climactic scene on every draft. Right now, I've got a chapter that got away from me entirely. I kept finding little places where I can turn offhand remarks into whole scenes that are a lot of fun, and now the chapter is epic so I'm having to cut elsewhere.
One thing that's challenging about this career is that it can be hard to define success. That goal line keeps changing, depending on where you are. A few years ago, just selling a book was success. Now it's having the ones that are published sell well enough that the publisher will want more from me. Next it will be wanting bestseller status. There's been much talk lately in writer circles about a debut author getting a seven-figure book deal and whether or not that's a good thing. A seven-figure book deal would seem like a pretty good sign of success, but it also tends to raise the bar for the book's performance. Sales that for someone like me would be spectacular would be a spectacular failure for someone with that kind of deal. It all depends on how that author looks at it. Bestseller status could be seen as a sign of success, I suppose. But how do you know if you're successful when you're not quite at that level to have such an obvious yardstick? You could still be considered successful enough without getting that kind of measurable achievement.
I guess if other people in the industry see you as successful, that's a good sign. I've learned that there are editors who, when pitching projects to their bosses, have compared books with paranormal elements mixed into the real world in a fun way to mine. That must mean that there are people in the industry who think my books have done well enough to use them as proof that this kind of book can sell. I recently saw an upcoming book promoted as "appealing to fans of Enchanted, Inc." (Though, um, it didn't actually appeal to the author of Enchanted, Inc., so I'm not so sure about that.) That was kind of cool, that someone thought I had enough fans to want to get on my coattails (there are dozens of us!).
I feel kind of weird about saying this because I don't want to sound conceited, but I have this funny feeling like I'm on the verge of a breakthrough with this next book. I get this little tingle down my spine, which is almost the same feeling I had when I first got the idea for the series and just knew that this was it. I'm seeing some signs of momentum, like hearing that other publishers are citing my books as examples of the genre, seeing my titles pop up frequently in Google alerts as being mentioned in blogs, getting a little more promotional support from my publisher this time around, having a few media queries about doing features on me. It's like everything I've been doing for the past few years has been building and is about to burst wide open. That makes me even more motivated to do what it takes for me to help that along as much as I can, even though at this point, that kind of breakthrough is out of my direct control. So expect to see more posts pondering publicity (ooh, alliteration!).
But first I guess I'd better finish this next book. If I make good progress this afternoon, I may let myself go out tonight. The community theater in the next town is doing Assassins, one of the few Sondheim shows I've never seen. The great thing about going out alone to something like that is that you can almost always get a single ticket, even at the last minute.