Saturday, May 14, 2011

Crawling past one finish line, onto the next one


Hello internet, my name is Tim McGregor. 

The last half decade or so has been spent working in the film biz. The Canadian film biz specifically, not the big Hollywood game. God knows I tried to bust into that racket. The Canuck film biz is a much smaller racket all round. Smaller movies, smaller budgets, smaller paydays. I’ve juggled a dozen different projects in the hamster wheel of development and had three features produced so far. All three films were small scale, the kind of stuff you catch on the Sci Fi channel or Space or, God forbid, Showcase. 

After the financial meltdown of 08/09, film work dried up for me. Producers always cry poor when you’re pitching them but this time they actually meant it. Cut to 2010 and I polish up another spec script and start the grindwheel of sending it out. Somewhere in there I got cut from my agent and I’m flying solo. The response from that last round of pitching/contacting/pleading was a deafening radio silence. 

Thoughts wandered into the area of “why don’t I just turn this into a novel?” This wasn’t the first time I had thought this and neither would it be my first attempt at writing a novel. The idea of it, turning my last script into a novel sounded awfully tempting, but I kept some perspective. Contacting literary agents about a manuscript and getting it published would be at least as hard as getting a movie made, if not harder. Was I ready to jump ship from one soul-crushing hamster wheel to another slightly-different-yet-altogether-the-same hamster wheel? No. It would be like clawing back to square one and starting over. Fine for John Lennon but not me. 

Stupidly, I ignored my own advice and just dove in. I needed a break from screenwriting and the change felt good. I figured, if the book turns out well, maybe I can try smaller publishing houses. Maybe someplace known for genre, like Dorchester.
And then Dorchester started to flounder, crashing into the breakers. Other small publishers started sinking too.

But then I started hearing about ebooks. Specifically Joe Konrath, and the success he was having by turning his back on traditional publishing and flying solo. Selling his books on his own via Amazon. Self-publishing-- that dirty little word in literary circles. Heretofore the domain of cranks and talentless, deluded bastards turned away by publishing houses. Yet here was Joe, selling tons of books and watching the traffic spike on his blog. No one seemed more surprised than he was at his success and he backed it up with honest hard data, sharing his sales figures and earnings. 

It was inspiring but I remained skeptical. It seemed too good to be true. And then I learned about others doing the same and the unprecedented rise of ereaders and ebooks even as traditional publishing was crumbling further apart.

Writing a book didn't seem like such a bad idea after all. The options available, the creative control, was heady stuff to someone schooled in film. Long story short, the book is done along with all the detail work of hammering it into an ebook. The cover is over there to the right, ready for clicking. 

Fingers crossed, here we go.