so far so good

Technically last Friday wasn’t my official last day of work since I’ll probably still make an appearance at least once a week for the next few weeks (to make sure the student who’s taking over my project doesn’t have any problems), but for all practical purposes I’m done.

And I’m pretty happy about that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the things I’ve learned, but I’m glad to be done with it. As a friend of mine pointed out, I’m not really into the idea of being a computational chemist. It would be nice, but just not good enough. It’s just not something I could devote my life to.

But I think writing is. I spent all day Saturday researching options for publishing, and I spent all day Sunday formatting my manuscript. I have a good friend who very kindly agreed to design a cover for me, and as soon as that’s finished I’ll be ready to sell it.

I’ve decided to go the self-publishing route. And by “decided” I mean “all 27 literary agents I sent a query to rejected me”. Apparently there just isn’t a booming market for Peace Corps memoirs written by someone who isn’t already notable in some other way. Who knew?

Still, self-publishing isn’t what it used to be, thanks to the internet. There’s actually a growing number of writers having pretty decent success with it. Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath are two notable examples.

With self-publishing you get to have complete creative control over your work and you receive a greater percentage of the profit from sales. Which is pretty cool. But at the same time you have to take full responsibility for promoting and marketing your work yourself. And when you consider how many books come out each month that your work is effectively competing against for a potential reader’s time and money, this is a pretty big deal.

For the record, I don’t expect my first book to be a huge success. Hell, if I sell ten copies, and more then two of those are someone besides my mom secretly buying multiple copies to make me feel better, I’ll be happy. As I said, there just isn’t a big market for Peace Corps memoirs, but if nothing else it’ll be a major learning experience for me. I plan to use this book as a test run to see how the process works, and hopefully I’ll be able to gain the knowledge and experience I need in order to have greater success in the future.

Regardless, I am absolutely certain that I made the right decision in quitting research to pursue a career as a writer. I really enjoy learning everything I can about the process of producing and marketing a book. For the most part, research generally felt like a chore to me. Sure I had moments of enjoyment, but by and large I was doing it because I had to, and not because I wanted to. And while I may end up failing hilariously and spectacularly, at least I’ll be able to say that I gave it my best shot, and I wasn’t afraid to take the chance.

Of course, I’ll still be in pretty big trouble when my student loans come due, but I’m sure I’ll figure out something.

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About Critical Awesomeness
I'm a 32-year-old American with a PhD in chemistry and a green hat. Only one of these two things is really important.

One Response to so far so good

  1. fellow writer says:

    Keep fighting the good fight, man!

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