Monday, August 29, 2011

Wonder if it Would Work

As I think I've mentioned before, coming up with an interesting writing related topic each week can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. If I'm lucky, a fabulous idea will strike me a few days in advance. Sometimes, an idea is just dropped in my lap. Others, like today, it's a combination of the two. For the record, I'd planned on posting this topic before starting out my day with a rejection letter. However, given that I did receive the aforementioned rejection letter today, it seems only fitting.

For some time now, I've been attempting to secure an agent for my latest and greatest young adult novel. Having drafted the novel, as well as two of its sequels, and having gotten rave reviews from my target audience, I thought I may as well give it the old college try. After all, it's been some time since I tried to secure an agent so why not go for it again. Armed with my new confidence and matching attitude, I drafted a respectable query letter, complete with the attention grabbing first line. I'm disappointed but not surprised to say the rejections have poured in. To be fair, they've  now slowed to a steady trickle, but they're still coming.

I've long said I wish I could get my internet fans to start a campaign to publishers on my behalf. The idea is that my target audience can show the publishers a demand for my work exists. Then it hit me. Maybe I could revise my query to include their views. Here's what I've come up with:

Dear Prospective Agent:. 

Electronic books are the wave of the future as evidenced by the existence of many fine on line book sharing sites. How would you like to represent a young adult fantasy novel with a huge following thanks to these sites? Before you pass, you should know this is a book that's already amassed more than two hundred thousand reads and consistently ranks in the top twenty of the most popular lists across a multitude of categories including paranormal, fantasy and teen fiction. Still not convinced? Check out what readers are saying. 

This book should be published. I would so buy this book. I feel guilty being able to read this book for free. Why would anyone reject this book? The publishers need to have their heads examined. Vampires are overdone. This is original and so much better. Your editing is always spot on. You leave us guessing at every twist and turn. Each chapter leaves me wanting more. There's just the right amount of action and romance. You're way better than Stephanie Meyer any day of the week. When you publish these, I want an autographed copy. You should be more famous than you are, and your books should be made into movies. 

 Given that I've received thousands of similar reviews, I could on like this for a while, but you get the picture. If you're ready to represent a young adult novel that asks the question: what happens when the daughter of a mass murderer falls for the son of Satan, then this is the novel for you. 

I'll be looking forward to hearing from you. 

Desperate Writer

There it is. So, what do you think. You think it would work? You think I could pique an agent's interest with something so in your face? I don't, but I wonder...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Here's to 1,000 More

First, let me apologize for failing to post a blog last week.  I was stricken with a rather nasty illness and in no mood to do any type of writing.  And you know it’s bad when I can’t bring myself to write! That being said, I’m feeling much better now and ready to wow you once again with my literary prowess.

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning, you know that late last year I joined an online writer’s community. With my young adult manuscripts having been rejected by agents and publishers alike for so many months, I decided I needed to find a way to reach my target audience and see if they agreed with the countless rejections that had come my way.

Though I joined the site in December of 2010, I didn’t begin posting my first story until February of this year. Early reviews were good but slow to come in. I was a bit discouraged until I realized I needed to give a little to get a little. In other words, I couldn’t just post my story and expect the readers to flock to me. Being that I was an unknown author on a popular site filled with an endless supply of top notch stories, I needed to network to build my audience. In all honesty, I should’ve considered this much sooner than I did. If you think about it, networking on this kind of web site is akin to providing an agent or publisher with a marketing plan for your manuscript. Still, the light bulb finally came on and I was off and running. I participated in numerous forum discussions in which authors read and commented on one another’s work. At one point, one of my friends jokingly pointed out I was the eleventh most active person on the site. I never confirmed this, but I believe her.

My zealous approach to gaining exposure for my novel has paid off tenfold. I’ve steadily gained a fan base that I’m pleased to say continues to grow each day. My fans, I’m delighted to say, are rabid in their consumption of my story. Of course that’s a compliment. They devour each post in short order and always ask for more. I never imagined I’d have any fans that weren’t confined to my friends and family so this has been a real treat. Because many of these fans are young and a lot more computer savvy than I am, they maintain blogs and websites in which they feature their favorite authors and books. I’ve had the privilege of being interviewed by three such webmasters which has given me added publicity for my work. I’ve even had the pleasure of one of the site reviewers reading my story and giving it an exceptional review which they posted on their blog as well as Face Book. And speaking of Face Book, I’m always getting friend requests from my fans, which I’m happy to accept.

When I started this journey, I only wanted affirmation of my talent. I wanted someone to tell me I was good and I wasn’t wasting my time. Today, I’m proud to say, I’ve gotten that and so much more. My participation in this site has far exceeded my expectations.

As of the writing of this post, I have 1,005 confirmed fans. Here’s to 1,000 more! Thanks Wattpad.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Reality Bites

If you recall last week, I discussed my feelings of dismay for the closing of Borders book store. The loss of my beloved Borders is the end of an era and a damper on my dream of mainstream publication. Yesterday, I saw the reality of this loss first hand.

Like many of you, I wear more than one hat. I’m not just a writer. I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend and so on. It was in my capacity as mother that I had cause to find myself in the vicinity of Borders. I wish I could say it was because my children wanted to get some books before the doors close for good. I wish I could say that, but I can’t. The truth is, my fifteen year old daughter needed a ride to the movies, and the theater is a few doors down from Borders.

When I pulled into the parking lot to drop her off, my eyes were drawn to Borders. Subsequently, my heart sank to see the huge black and yellow going out of business banner draped across the top of the building. Signs taking up every piece of imaginable window space proclaimed amazing deals with nothing held back. As much as it pained me to do it, I went inside. The idea was to peruse the writing for publication and writing improvement section to see if I could snag a few good deals on books to better my craft. Ironic I know.

I was thoroughly disgusted at what I found inside. No, the inventory wasn’t picked over and the place wasn’t in shambles. Instead, it was crawling with people who were no doubt in search of bargains, and this is what steamed me. Where were these people when Borders needed them? Why couldn’t they be bothered to come in and buy books then, keeping not only Borders afloat but keeping authors afloat as well?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit when it came to music and movies, Borders’ prices were inflated, so a fifty percent reduction on these items caught my eye. However, music and movies were only a small part of their substantial inventory. Books were their bread and butter, and their retail was comparable to that of other book stores, though a bit higher than say Target or Wal Mart. That being said, I couldn’t always find what I wanted at those discount chain stores, but Borders rarely let me down. On the few occasions they didn’t have a book I wanted in stock, they could order it for me and have it shipped to their store for pick up so I didn’t incur the shipping cost.   

With the invention of devices like the Kindle, e-books have taken off. In turn, these more affordable and accessible alternatives to the paperback have driven brick and mortar book stores out of business. Borders was just another unfortunate casualty in the reality of evolving technology. I understand, but I still think it could’ve been spared its fate had consumers cared more about the written word than the latest gadget or the cheapest prices. Keep in mind, sometimes you get what you pay for.

Either way, Borders bites the dust and reality bites!

Monday, August 1, 2011

End of an Era

Welcome back, everyone.  For those of you who faithfully follow my posts, you know I took last week off for a much needed family vacation. While there were no computers along for the trip, and I didn’t do any writing, I still had a clear topic in mind for this week’s post. However, you know what they say about the best laid plans and all.

Thanks to the invention of smart phones, my husband and my child still received their email during our vacation and still had unlimited internet access. I have to confess I’m still living in the dark ages with my old pink metallic flip phone, but that’s neither here nor there. It was an email my husband received during our vacation that compelled me to rethink my blog post this week. The email was from Borders Book Store announcing the store was formally closing and therefore having a going out of business sale.

The news of Borders’ closing wasn’t a shock. For some time now, we’ve all known it was coming. Still, there was this tiny part of me that hoped my location would avoid foreclosure. It’s Borders’ fault for instilling this hope in me. Not long after the closures were announced, I was in their store and cashiers were still recruiting customers to join their rewards program. On hearing that, I thought to myself there was no way they’d still encourage people to participate in this program if they were actually closing their doors. Fat chance! I suppose that’s what I get for assuming, since you know what they say about that too.

To finally have official confirmation of the looming loss of Borders is a hard pill to swallow. Ever since I’ve been in this literary game, my dream has been to see my books in print and lining the shelves of Borders. Now that will never be. My one small measure of comfort is that I did twice appear in magazines I was able to purchase from Borders. In 2005, my name was listed in an issue of Writer’s Digest as being an award winner in their annual literary awards. I made quite a fool of myself jumping up and down in the periodicals section when I saw my name in such a prestigious magazine. In 2009, I landed a feature article in Writer’s Journal, a magazine which Borders carried.

It’s not just the loss of Borders that has me reeling. There’s a bigger picture here that I can no longer avoid facing. For a few years now, I’ve been watching industry articles tout e-books as the future of publishing. Likewise, I’ve witnessed an increasing number of e-book publishers springing up to meet the growing demand of Kindle customers and the like. I’ve known it was coming, but like my knowledge of the impending closure of Borders, I’ve turned a blind eye to this trend. It’s the purist in me that makes me do this. For me, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of holding an actual book in your hands. And e-books certainly don’t have the smell of a new printed book that I love so much. An author can’t sign an e-book. A signed e-book isn’t going to sell at an auction for more than four thousand dollars as did a recently discovered, signed copy of Gone with the Wind. Not to mention, the evolution of electronics in literature seems wholly unfair.

Can you imagine any other industry in which everything will be one hundred percent electronic? How about baseball or football?  Instead of playing on the field with actual equipment, players could engage in a simulated game. Perhaps even from the comforts of their own homes negating the need for stadiums and depriving fans of the joy of seeing their favorite players and maybe even having the chance to meet them. Before you dismiss it as a preposterous idea, consider the evolution of music and movies. In your lifetime, if you’re as old as or older than I am, did you ever imagine a printed book would go by way of record albums or the eight track or the Beta and VHS and cassettes? Remember when camcorders first came out? Besides being costly, they were clunky and awkward. Now, a cell phone can double as a video camera and these devices are absurdly affordable.

Am I overreacting? Probably. Am I being a bit overdramatic? Most definitely, but I think I’m entitled. The closing of Borders feels like more than the end of era for me. Much as I hate to say it, it feels like a blow to my dream of mainstream, traditional printed publication. Let’s hope I’m wrong.