Tuesday, December 14, 2004

My Book: Here, Eyeball This!

[Note: For those looking for the next Church History installment, a new one has been posted below.]

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am writing a novel. In fact, two fellow bloggers have read it in its earlier forms. Rachel read a very early draft, I am embarrassed to think of what I actually sent her. Josh read a much later draft. What I sent him was probably at the 80% level and it still contained roughly a mole of typos.

The story is now at the point where I cannot make it better, apart from tweaking and typo correction. Note: claiming "I can't make it better" is not the same, by a long shot, as claiming the book is good –it’s an assessment of my abilities.

I have given up the hope of traditional publishing. I cannot get an agent even to request the manuscript. (If you don’t know, you generally approach agents with a query letter and a synopsis. If you generate interest, they will request sample chapters or a manuscript.) Ironically, the only agent to request a manuscript was when I completed the first draft, which I naively though was pretty good. I now know it was awful, little more than an outline.

I explored the Christian publishing route, but my novel, while in my opinion highly evangelical (albeit in an unusual way), is “PG13.” I have had some discussion with Christian publishers. Here is a recent and typical exchange:

David: I have your package, which was sent as a result of my posting on 1st Edition. I might be interested, but I have a question. I consider my novel highly evangelical (An important theme in the story is the evidence for intelligent design), but it is rated "PG13". It's about college students. No explicit sex, some mild innuendo, some swearing (no 'F' word.) Do you handle "PG13" type novels?

Christian Publisher Acquisition Manager: Thanks for the request but we would not be interested in publishing this type of novel.

(Note: what was frustrating in this particular exchange was that they had first contacted me, obviously without doing their homework.)

So, I am considering a different route. Which is to publish it as an e-book with a legitimate e-book publisher and using a Print On Demand publisher (POD) for the dead tree version. The downsideS to POD are (a) a bruised ego (b) a million to one shot at showing up in a major book store (although it would be available through Amazon and B&N online) and (c) higher cost –probably about $13 for the paperback as opposed to $8.

For what it’s worth, here is the synopsis that is not enticing any literary agents:

Here, Eyeball This! (~100,000 words)


Aaron Dern begins graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University, fearful that he can’t compete with this impressive looking array of foreign students. He doesn’t realize that he is about to form the closest and strangest friendships of his life, or that he is about to discover that science and spirituality intersect.

Soon he meets Hiroshi Yoto, from Japan, who enjoys American beer and trying out new English words, often with unforeseen consequences. You’ll laugh out loud when he goes head to head with comedian Dennis Miller.

And there’s Yen, a former tank commander from Taiwan. He likes to read bathroom graffiti and the Bible. To Yen, Solomon is wise indeed, but not for the usual reasons.

From Estonia there is Timil Deeps, who has trouble mastering physics, not to mention an even harder subject: baseball.

Maya Dupree is inscrutable behind her thick lenses, Patrick O’Neill lives in a constant state of pious agitation, and Ken Dolittle does his best at alienating everyone.

Professor Mike Jacob and his wife Vivian, half Mike’s age, teach Aaron lessons far more valuable than physics, lessons about the true origin of the universe.

When Aaron detects signals from Leila, an undergraduate beauty who everyone agrees is out of his league, uncertainty rules the day. She’s a student in his class, which makes the cost of misinterpreting those signals even more severe.

Bernie Roche and Grace Chen, fellow graduate students, impact his life in unimaginable ways. Not at all what Aaron expected when he evaluated them at first glance, they have a complexity that catches him by surprise. The Roche squeeze catalyzes the friendship, and Grace Chen’s feistiness never fails to amaze.

Aaron and his friends inch their way toward the dreaded qualifier, the comprehensive eight-hour exam that will determine their fates. Only those who pass can go for the prize: a Ph.D. And yet the closer it gets, the less important it becomes for Aaron.

And then, a trashcan provides Aaron the opportunity of a lifetime. But is it one that he can accept?

The events that happen in the one and a half years covered by this story will make you laugh, make you think, and might even make you cry.

When it is published (which if I go this route may be very soon) I may pander for bloggers to review it.

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