Agent, Blog Stuff, Craft, Dream, Editor, Fiction, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Publish, Query, Reader, Writing

I asked a question and … POW!

Last Wednesday, I asked if you had given any thought to INDIE publishing. I expected I might get a few comments. What happened? Despite NaNoWriMo, despite Thanksgiving, we had the best discussion this blog has ever seen!

Surprisingly, there were more yeas than nays. (I don’t know how to count the many who read the post, but remained silent.) And several comments, on this blog and in private, revealed that I’m not the only one who has considered that option. At least one person definitely changed sides. The number of responses amazed me. And I loved that!

I also dreamed about it. Not the post, or the comments, but the two choices. Whether ‘tis nobler to publish traditionally or go Indie. I can’t quit thinking about it, weighing the options. Since this is my blog, I’m going to let you in on some of my thoughts, pro and con. This is a pro Indie day.

Going Indie assures publication. I could seek trad-pub for years—and years—without success. Then again, I could write the perfect query letter, send it to the perfect agent, who sends it to the perfect publisher, who will say, “Yes! We want it because this is a book that will SELL.” Because, of course, only the big name publishers know what readers want.

Or do they?

If the major NY houses truly know what sells, how could any book they publish ever fail to earn out? Surely they’ve never paid a ginormous advance to a celebrity and then seen the sales of that book fall embarrassingly short of expectations. Surely it’s just a myth that twelve publishers rejected the first Harry Potter book.

And they know good writing when they see it, right? You’d never read the latest, hottest, bestest seller and think, Really?! You’d never be disappointed by a boring plot, or bland characters, and definitely not by poorly crafted sentences because these books have been vetted by those powers that be.

Traditional publishers are the standard bearers, the gatekeepers of literary quality. They have declared it so. And that makes it true.


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Agent, Author, Editor, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Publish, Query, Rejection, Writing

Can you find an agent by cold querying?

The first agent blog I discovered was Nathan Bransford’s, and the first thing I read there were his posts on how to get agent representation. His number one tip: have a referral. For top agents, he said, that’s essentially the only way. I really, really, really didn’t want to believe that.

I don’t know any agented writers. I know of some. At least three have even commented on my blog, but I don’t know them in the sense they would refer me to their agent. Nor do I know any agents, editors, or publishers. My budget doesn’t allow me to meet them at conferences or seminars, not even online ones. I’m stuck out in the cold.

I believe my completed novel is a good one, but it’s not the novel of the century, a straight to #1 on the NYT bestseller list. No agent is going to read my query, or sample pages and synopsis, and declare, “I will die, absolutely die, if I don’t get to represent this book!” How close to a miracle will it be should an agent offer me representation, I wonder?

Tell me, fellow writers, do you know of any recent debut fiction authors who found an agent by cold querying?

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Craft, Editor, Fiction, Novel, Poetry, Publish, Query, Short story, Writing

The long and short of it

Yesterday, I spent hours—again—researching literary magazines. My goal is to have at least two stories and maybe a poem in submission by October. I’m not sure I have a talent for writing short stories. I feel more confident in my novel writing ability.

I give story writing a good shot every so often, but somehow, the voice I have when novel writing weakens in my stories. Some feel if you truly have the skills for writing fiction, you should be able to write it long and short. But I know other novelists who either stumble at writing short fiction or refuse to even try.

Story writing is a challenge to me. For some reason, I feel obligated to succeed at it, at least once. I feel the same about poetry—even though that definitely requires a different skill set than fiction writing. Maybe I’m just a bit masochistic.

I have a couple stories I think are worth submitting. But, like querying a novel to the right agent, it’s important to find the right magazine for your story. The few literary magazines I’m subscribed to now, are far beyond my level. Only in my dreams would they accept my work.

It takes an enormous amount of time to read online journals, looking for a good match. And I’ll confess that, like agents, a few mags I thought would be perfect, did not agree with my assessment. A rejection yesterday, came so soon after submission, it seems they didn’t even need to read the whole story. That’s a real confidence shaker. Or maybe that editor’s a speed reader. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Now, your turn. Do you write both short and long fiction? Do you write them equally well? Do you also write poetry?

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Agent, Critique, Editor, Feedback, Fiction, Group, Novel, Query, Short story, Writing

They’re all going to laugh at you!

Two years ago, I had lost all contact with other writers. I didn’t have a Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account. I had never even read a blog! But I was back to spending several hours a day writing, and I needed someone who could relate. So, I googled for a critique group in my area. I discovered one that, coincidently, was having its first meeting the next night.

Did I go to that meeting? Of course I didn’t. I finally worked up enough courage to make it to the third or fourth meeting. And that was only because I feared I would quit writing again, if I didn’t have to answer to anyone. So, when one of my sons offered to go with me because he thought I would never do it alone, I realized how silly I was being and forced myself to go.

I had every intention of getting to know the members for a while before I submitted anything, and listening to their feedback on three submissions that night made me question whether I’d ever be ready to let them read anything I’d written. Then, at the end of the meeting the group leader asked if I could submit for the next meeting and, to my horror, I heard a YES come out of my mouth.

For the next two weeks, I debated whether I should quit the group or face them. I kept hearing Piper Laurie, as the mother in the movie Carrie, shrieking, “They’re all going to laugh at you!” Only, I didn’t quite think they would laugh to my face; I imagined they had already laughed when they read my submission. As it turned out, they gave me some helpful feedback on my story—and no one laughed.

In my rational moments, I didn’t believe they should have laughed, that they had real cause to laugh because, for the most part, I have confidence I can write. I just lack confidence in myself as a writer … or something. There’s a fine line in there somewhere. (Explain this, if you can.)

ANYWAY … now, I’m in the agent querying stage for my novel and every time I look at the list of agents I’ve compiled on QueryTracker, I hear that same Laurie shriek. Every time I paste my query into an email and hit that send button, I suffer a moment of what-have-you-done panic. If I’ve been following an agent on Twitter, I unfollow before I query for fear I’ll recognize my query in one of their can-you-believe-this-stupid-query tweets. But, barring a miracle, I have to query if I want to find an agent who can find an editor who can publish my novel.

At least agents don’t carry chef’s knives … right? Right?

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Agent, Blog Stuff, Critique, Editing, Editor, Feedback, Fiction, Novel, Polls, Revision, Writing

The fat lady ain’t singin’ yet!

Does editing a novel ever end? I swear that when this novel is published, I will never read it again. That’s because I know I would find something I could have written better. This novel was edited as I wrote it; has been submitted chapter by chapter in critique group, after which I edited; has been read straight through by three other writers, after which I edited again; and has gone through multiple rounds of editing by my volition. Yet, now that another writer is giving me feedback, I’m not only editing from her comments, but seeing edit-worthy things she didn’t comment on. Thankfully, these last edits are just fine-tuning. But wait, it’s not over. Eventually, my agent and then my editor will request changes. I’m beginning to wonder if that fat lady ever sings.

Some blog stuff:

  • I’m still not sure I like the way I’ve changed replying to your comments. Do any of you have any thoughts on it?
  • If you remember, I posted a poll a week or so ago inviting my silent blog readers to let me know they’re out there. I didn’t get the thousand votes I hoped for (ahem) but five readers did let me know they subscribe to my feed. Thank you Mystery Five for reading and for voting. I hope you’ll break your silence someday. And if you … yes you … are one of the 995 others still lurking and didn’t vote, the poll is eternally open, click here.
  • And if you’re one of the millions who read this blog occasionally, I invite you to subscribe by reader or by email … see the links right over there in the side, at the top? Sooner or later, I might say something brilliant and wouldn’t it be a pity if you missed that day?
  • I hope to maintain my usual every-other-day posting schedule, but for the next week, my husband will be home. He deserves the time off, but that means I will also be taking time off. My blogging and twittering time will be limited. So even if you don’t “see” me around much, please know that I’m reading; I just may not have much time to comment.

I hope Spring has arrived where you are (though if you’re down under, I guess it’s Fall there.) Anyway … look for your blessing, it’s there.

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