Signal to Noise: A Brief Story

When I wrote my novel Signal to Noise, back then titled Sound Fidelity, I made a halfhearted attempt at finding an agent but after querying a handful of people I gave up. I was too busy and didn’t have time to consider pursuing agents. It’s a novel about magic and music, set in Mexico City and jumps in time between the 1980s and 2009. No one will ever buy it, whatever, I thought.

I was like this:

But then it turned out Solaris wanted to buy my book and suddenly I had a contract. Suddenly I also had an agent. Oh, boy I’M GOING TO BE BIGGER THAN NEIL GAIMAN.

Today I looked at the final proofs for the book. It’s headed to the printer. And now I’ve reached this stage.

I’m not going to play it cool with you. I am fucking terrified. Lavie Tidhar blurbed the book and it’s a nice blurb. But what if no one buys it? What if everyone hates it? They sent a copy to the book editor at the Washington Post. I was his intern. He’s not likely to read it. But what if he hates it? Will I be haunted by the weight of shame?

Am I even a good writer? What if I’m bad or even worse, mediocre? God. All these great expectations and what if I bomb. What if I have to change my name if I ever want to write again. I can’t come up with a good pseudonym. I am horrible at them. I’d call myself Rainbow Prancer and that’s a terrible moniker.

Am I going to end up writing 99 cent Kindle novels about dinosaur strippers? Is this my future? What if I’m remaindered? What happens if people send me hate mail saying the book sucks dick?

What if nobody notices? If a book fails at a bookstore, does anybody hear it?

There’s another novel I’ve worked on and it’s with my agent. It’s about vampires and drug dealers and it’s set in Mexico City, starring a street kid who meets an Aztec vampire on the run. What will happen to me if Signal to Noise fails? Will my vampire novel be destined to the shredder?

Big whoop, you’ll say. You got paid an advance, you have a book with a publisher that will actually be in bookstores.

Yeah, but I still feel very nervous. The novel won’t be out until February and I can’t sleep already.

My life right now consists of non-stop, around the clock 80s music to comfort me. Which, incidentally, is also what the book is about. Music.

It’ll get better.

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