Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Little Heart to Heart

I just completed a discussion with one of the protagonists from my first book, and he isn't a happy man. You see, I am considering changing him ... well, considering changing how he is presented. A novelist has that power, and that is why he is mad. He already has enough people interfering with his life. You will see what I mean once the work is published. I am trying to talk him down off the ledge. I have told him I will give him about a week to process the changes I have in the works. My advice to him: Prepare questions about my plans so he can unburden himself of all his worries.

He says he will use that time constructively. His advice to me: I better have some pretty damned good answers. (He has a rough way of talking when he's backed into a corner.) I assured him I will.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oh, for some good news

When I started this blog, I presented myself as someone with great journalistic experience but little knowledge of publishing. I was a man with high hopes. I had an undying belief in my project. I figured it was just a matter of time before some agent felt the same way.

I feel the same today. I'm just a little older and a little wiser about how all this works.

There are two ways to get your foot in the door as an author. You have to hit the right agent the right way on the right day ... have the pixie dust fall, as one agent put it ... or you have to be so gifted as a writer that you can't be ignored. I don't think many writers today fall into that second category. I have read too many who have hit the right combination because they write the right stuff ... stories of spies, medical examiners, cops, wizards, sorcerers, vampires and the like. They all hit the right agent the right way on the right day, or else they had such a long list of established work that a publishing house is comfortable going back to him or her on a regular basis.

The way publishing is going these days has forced those changes. Borders is dead, and Barnes and Noble is trying to find ways to keep from dying. E-books are rising. Self-publishing is becoming attractive even for authors with serious skills who can't find the combination to the lock in the agent-publishing house world. That might be my reality in the not-too-distant future. But I am waiting for my latest round of queries to go through the system, and I am going to approach two agents who showed interest earlier but eventually decided not to seek more from me. Maybe things will be different with the changes I have made.

I will be published, and I will work my butt off to make it a successful venture. I have never taken the easy way out, and I won't start now. In the meantime, I have started another novel unrelated to this first work. I have at least two other good ideas rattling around, and there is the possibility of doing followup novels to my first story if things click as far as sales. I am in this for the long run. I will make this work.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Query Questions

I have taken an anti-Query Shark stance. I believe Janet Reid's work is great in getting an overblown query down to size, but that 250-word limit is not a set standard. (Use it only when sending to the Shark herself or if an agent asks for the 250-word limit ... I've seen exactly one other who requires that.)

My greatest advice on queries? Tailor them to the agent you are targeting. Check out the agent's web site, blog, etc. to discover what his or her main points are, then point out how your novel fits into his or her view. There are still pitfalls. I wrote to one agent who liked my work but rejected it on one point ... it wasn't the correct narrative voice being sought for that agent's representation. Who could have guessed?

I am not sending out more queries now. I am waiting for replies from several I sent out recently, and those may take two to eight weeks. In the meantime, I am going to get back to writing ... and it's a different project that the one I have already started. The already-started project is linked to my first novel, and I'm going to hold off until I see what the response is to that first novel. I have another novel in mind, in a completely different genre with completely different goals.

I just need to get back to putting fingertips to keyboard. I need that creative fix ... now.