Monday, December 27, 2010

Guess there's no Santa

For the five of you that actually follow me, you'll recall that last time I posted of my desire to get a huge publishing contract for Christmas. Of course, it was tongue in cheek. That being said, I would've loved to at least get an offer of representation or a bite from an interested agent.

I'm here to say it should come as no surprise that I didn't get either. My email in box was pretty quiet those few days. I can't say I'm surprised.  Besides the fact that most of the agents I've queried have already rejected me, I hear this time of year is the worst to submit. Many agents are taking extended vacations to spend much needed time with their families. Even then, they're working tirelessly to get caught up on those backlogged submissions and can't make time to get to new ones. Having been in this business so long, I understand the process. Still, it would've been nice.

So I didn't get that lucrative contract or offer or nibble, but I did have a nice time with my family. I set aside my writing and let some dust collect on my lap top in favor of enjoying the company of my husband and kids and other family members. It was just what I needed. The old fingers are itching to hit the keyboard for my latest creation.

Maybe not getting what I wanted means there's no Santa, but that's okay. Time to say goodbye to 2010 with the hearty promise that I will make 2011 a fruitful year in all aspects of my life.

Happy New Year, all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

All I Want for Christmas

Let me just start off by saying the title of this blog is misleading.  It sounds as though there's only one thing I want.  Truthfully, there's a series of things I want, but it starts with just the one thing.

First, I'd like to receive an offer of representation from an agent who loves my work and believes in it as much as I do.  After I find that agent, I'd like him or her to have the perfect contacts in the publishing industry to get me in front of the best editors.  Then I'd like the right editor to fall in love with my book and offer me a lucrative contract that includes a sizable advance and a fifty thousand first copy run of my book. Once those copies hit the book stores, I'd like to hit every conceivable best seller list and get rave reviews around the world. I'd like my book to be made into a movie that spawns all kinds of toys and accessories and the like. With that, I'd like to make enough money that I can support my family just by doing the thing I love, which is writing.

I suppose all of that's a tall order, but to be honest it's every writer's big dream. On a smaller scale, I'd just like to find an agent and a publisher who believe enough in my books to give me a shot. Then I'd like to be able to touch the hearts of my readers and give them a story they can relate to.  I've always prided myself on creating characters that are so believable readers see themselves in them. So, I don't really care if I get rich.  Okay, I care a little, but I'd rather touch a few with something meaningful than sell out and appeal to the masses. 

Anyone with the power to grant me these humble Christmas wishes, please contact me. If not, enjoy your holiday all the same!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Go Big or Go Home?

Go big or go home.  I've heard this phrase or one similar on television, in movies and even in songs.  While I understand the point people are really trying to make, it occurs to me this can be applied to the literary world.

As you know from previous posts, I'm actively seeking a new agent. I'm looking to get a new book out in a new genre so I want a new agent.  Having been burned early in my career by a rather unscrupulous character, I'm much more careful about who I submit work to.  I'll query anyone, but the skeptic in me always does a lot more research if they ask to see more.

Recently, I had an agent reject me in an unusually nice way.  She told me that while she liked my writing style and was enjoying the story, she felt it was too long to interest most publishers.  In case you're wondering, the story is around 133,000 words long which equates to around 510 typed double spaced pages. Now, when an agent rejects me, I either cry or curse or shake it off.  It all depends on the day. One thing I typically don't do is reply to the agent.  This time, I decided to send a quick thanks for considering my work and for giving me the kind words. Not too much later that day, the agent replied to ask me if I had any other projects she could consider.  I sent her a summary of five and she asked to see a sample of four. That's a lot and raised a bit of a red flag for me.  So, off I went to do my research.

In the course of my research, I discovered the agent is new to the business.  It appears she's been in business for no more than two years.  In that time, she's made some sales mostly to smaller houses and has more pending for the future. Despite that, there were quite a few posts on an author assistance web site that made a point to say an agent that can't make huge sales isn't worth your time. This site also had several posters who seemed to feel that a writer should never go with a novice agent.  In the midst of all of this skepticism was one voice of reason who kindly pointed out we all have to start somewhere and even went on to say that it hardly seems fair for novice writers to rule out novice agents and then complain that no one wants to sign them. You can imagine the flurry of posts to the contrary this elicited.  The general consensus among the writing community is to go for the bigger more well known agents so you can get the bigger better deal.

The idea of the bigger, better deal led me to the thought go big or go home.  Do I decide I don't want to work with this agent because she's not going to net me a major deal with a huge advance?  Or do I take a chance because my craft means more than money? Ever since I started out in this business I've said I never wanted to sell out to sell.  I still believe that.  For me, that means I'd rather take a chance on a lesser known agent as long as that agent believes in me and works hard to get my product out there.

Go big or go home? Not this novice writer. Say what you will, but I'll take my chances. Someday, I'll let you know how it turns out. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shameless Marketing at the Holidays- Too Far?

When my first novel, Letters from Linc, (shameless plug number one) was released in 2006, I made sure I learned all the marketing tricks that were supposed to make me a bestseller. I pursued both the conventional avenues and the questionable in an effort to get the word out. The one thing I did do, and still do to this day, is send an email to everyone in my contact list, whether we're good friends or not, to announce the release. Those I didn't have an email address for got one of my post cards.  Side note- post cards are not a good idea, and I will tell you why another time. I honestly don't know if any of these tactics helped me sell any of my books like the self-help book said they would, but I tried.

In order to try and up the odds, I also subscribed to a marketing web site for writers.  As part of this wonderful service, I get weekly marketing tips. Some I use and some make me scratch my head and wonder who came up with that idea.  The other day, I received an email suggesting I use my book cover as a Christmas card cover. This one put me somewhere in the middle of are-you-sure-this-will-work and that's-the-worst-idea-I've-ever-heard.

With the holiday season suddenly thrust upon us, I find myself getting ready to send out the annual Christmas cards complete with the family photo. I suppose it isn't accurate to say the holidays are suddenly thrust upon me when Christmas comes on the same day every year, but that's a rant for another time. As I was saying, it's time to send out three times the Christmas cards I receive. In preparing to do so, I find myself wondering: should I use this as a chance to plug my book? The angel on my shoulder is telling me that's not what the purpose of the card is while the devil opposite him is reminding me how commercialized the holiday already is. I'm not sure who to listen to or how to do this if I decide to go for it.

There is a part of me that likens using my Christmas card to plug my book to including an annual newsletter in the Christmas card. Don't do it because now is not the time to tell us all how great or not so great your life is. Then there is the other part of me who is clearly considering this as I've devoted a whole blog topic to it. In my consideration of the idea, I'm trying to convince myself that while it's self-serving and a little cheesy, the starving writer must do all she can to feed herself.

Will this net me any new book sales? Possibly not since most of the people I send cards to have either bought my book or found an excuse to avoid doing it.  Will I use my Christmas cards as another marketing opportunity?  I guess you'll know in a few weeks when you get my card.