Or: “How I Gave Up on the Publishing Industry and Bought My Own Mannequin.”
Like many would-be writers, I have had trouble breaking into the industry. Partly this is my fault. I wrote a novel first. And it was long. And philosophical. And it had a whole mess of characters and no clear genre. As a result, my efforts to find an agent were, quite predictably, unsuccessful. In an attempt to go in a more commercial direction, I wrote a few screenplays — one was about a bunch of breakdancers playing pranks on each other and the other was a sci-fi thriller. These received some interest from agents in L.A., but neither of them found a buyer. I knew that I should have started with small goals and so I set out to write some short stories and submit them to local literary journals. Unfortunately, the story that I liked best happened to be a little over 15,000 words — which is a completely unpublishable length for most magazines and literary journals. I decided that I would self-publish it as an e-book, because the cost of entry is effectively nil. I did my research and settled on Smashwords (because it redistributes to Barnes and Knobles, Kobo, Sony, Apple and other retailers) and Amazon (because it is a behemoth). I edited. I proofread. I did my own ebook formatting. I designed a cover, using a photograph which I took myself so that I wouldn’t get sued into oblivion if my ebook, by some miracle, actually took off. I uploaded and previewed and re-uploaded and set prices and promoted my book on Facebook. At this point, I already knew that the story would likely never be seen by anyone other than my friends and family. So I did what hundreds of would-be writers before me have done: I bought a mannequin from a discount mannequin retailer (yes, such a place exists in Toronto!).
Perhaps the last step in my procedure isn’t entirely self-explanatory. Please allow me to explain.
My story — Timothy Mallborn: The Invisible Boy — is about a little boy who disappears in a department store and gradually realizes that he is completely invisible. He fashions a little home for himself in the children’s section of the store and lives his entire life inside a shopping mall. Mannequins feature prominently in the plot. The story takes place in the Eaton Centre — the largest mall here in Toronto — so I hatched a plan to dress my mannequin and give him a sign which would offer a tantalizing introduction to Timothy Mallborn’s predicament and give a link to my website. I also plan to print out flyers and hand them out at the same time.
That’s the whole plan. It is zany and ridiculous and doomed to fail.
Wish me luck!
Preparation Pt. I is here. Preparation Pt. II is here.
Or you can just use the scroll-over on the project mannequin button in the menu up above.