Posts Tagged ‘agents’

And now for a little down-time

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I find myself unexpectedly without a book to work on today, so it’s going to be a day of playing some Grand Theft Auto, right? Right? Yeah, probably not. While edits for BFT haven’t reached me yet, my editor did send me a honey-do-list of things he’d like from me, namely a map of some kind (which I do have! Hooray!), a Dramatis Personae (which I might have somewhere in my files, to help me make sure I was spelling names right), and a royal family tree (which I don’t have). There’s also back cover work to be done, which I think I’m actually going to start that over from scratch because the one from my query is just blah. So there’s plenty to work on there.

On the other project, I’ve officially kicked off the agent hunt, but am taking it slowly and meticulously this time. The previous time I was flat-out set on getting an agent; this time, I’m feeling like it’s less imperative. I like the idea of having someone on my team who can not only poke an editor for an update but actually get a timely response to such things, not to mention that keen eye for contract slipperiness, but the romance genre does appear to be more open to unagented authors than SF/F, so I could go it alone if need be. So this time, I’m picking and choosing my queries carefully. There is a lot of research to be done, websites and blogs to read, Twitter feeds and interviews to peruse to help me solidify my small list of agents to approach.

In the end, I’m likely to do a little bit of all it. But mostly I’m going to be doing laundry. Lots and lots of laundry.

Where oh where have you been?

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Been quite a while since I’ve made an update, and I’ve been very busy but very productive. So a little update on matters:

The publication date for my first novel The Bone Flower Throne has been set for October 19, 2013, a really good date since that coincides with MileHiCon here in Denver, so I’m looking into possibly throwing a release party there. More details on that once I get reservations and pub dates more solidified.

Production on said novel is moving along. I expect to receive edits any day now, and Panverse has hired a wonderful artist to do the cover art: Zelda Devon, who–along with her partner Kurt Huggins–did the lovely web art for this very site. The initial concept sketches I’ve seen are very exciting. Arcs are scheduled for mid July, so if you’re interested in reading and reviewing the book on Goodreads or Amazon, drop me a message via the contact page and I’ll see what I can do. Word of mouth is very important with small press books, and the best way to spread it is with reviews.

As for promotion, I recently set up a Pinterst account and created boards for not only The Bone Flower Throne, but its sequels and another project I’ve been working on (more about that below). They are collections of art and photographs the relate to the books or remind me of things that happen in them (there are a few pieces that are original art related to the books and they are marked as such).

On the new writing front, I’ve been extremely busy. I’m in the final stages of finishing up work on my alternate history romance, which I’m calling Fugitives of Fate. I had a tremendously fun time writing this book, set very early in my One World series, and I have at least one more novel idea I’d like to pursue at some point, but for now it’s time to focus on seeing if I can sell this.

I’m about to test out the agent waters again, to help me decide if I’m still hanging out in the unsaleable pool and whether or not I should pursue this novel’s publication on my own. The good news is that I’ve found at least one major romance publisher with a new imprint that is looking for alternate history, so I’m more hopeful about the book’s chances than I was at the beginning of the year, but the whole “I’ve never read anything like this before” I’m hearing does make me worried (granted this statement is often followed by “Sounds really cool!” and “I want to read more!” but still…. I guess I’ve become a bit gun-shy.). I’ve signed up for my first ever pitches with an agent and an editor at the upcoming CRW minicon in August, so I’m getting my stuff prepared for that 20 minutes of terror.

And that’s where things stand right now. Lots going on, most of it probably not all that interesting to talk about on a daily basis. Writing is mostly just putting the words on paper and rearranging them over and over until they look the best, not the most exciting thing to read about.

Out with the old, in with the new

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So 2012 has come and gone and the new year is before us, which means taking stock of what I accomplished and then looking ahead to the future.

So, last year was a crazy ride of ups and downs, some of which I still can’t talk about because things haven’t completely ironed out yet. I finished a second draft of one novel, started a third (which I didn’t even get half-way through), then wrote another novel in a completely different genre, but again in the same milieus that I love. I still haven’t lost the desire to write about Aztec history and mythology, and have several more stories brewing in the back of my mind. I started the year off strong and hopeful, but hit a slump where I wasn’t enjoying writing anymore, but moving ahead into a new genre helped me rediscover my love of writing. However, I think my lack of desire to move on to new subjects led to the demise of my career in traditional publishing before it even started; there is apparently no market for what I write with traditional publishers, in either genre I’m writing in, but I really, really want to write these stories, so in the end, I decided to let my agent go and strike out on my own. She put in a lot of work on trying to sell my novel and unfortunately that didn’t turn out as well as we’d both hoped, but I think going a less traditional route might be better for the kind of stuff I write. There were some interesting developments in that category in December and hopefully I’ll be able to make some announcements by the end of January. Stay tuned!

On the negative side of things, I made zero money this year on writing, a first since I’ve started doing this in earnest. At least the taxes will be easy to do this year.

As for this year, I’m putting aside the failures of the past and pressing onward. I know what I want to write and am going to do it, and if it means self-publishing it in the end, then so be it. Part of me still wants a traditional sale with the backing of a big publisher, if only because it seems on the surface to be less work for me, but the idea of self-publishing isn’t as scary anymore. The professional world is changing fast, and traditional publishing is looking less and less stable and safe as it used to. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of getting an agent again, for the idea of going into any contract without someone to watch my back makes me sweat, but that just might not be in the cards for me.

On conventions, I don’t know that I’m going to go to any this year, aside from my local one. I really want to be able to go to LonCon in London in the summer of 2014 and that means having to save money for the trip, especially since I’d love to bring the whole family with me this time. The plan this year is to not attend either WorldCon or World Fantasy, though I loath to go two years without seeing my best friends at least once.

On a final note, after having heard really good things about RWA as a writer’s organization from several close friends, I went ahead and joined, and joined a local chapter here in Denver at the end of the year. It seemed a good move professionally since what I’m writing right now is, for intent and purposes, genre romance, and it would be useful to learn from other romance writers. I do intend to approach some small press publishers with this novel I’m working on right now, then self-publish if that doesn’t lead to anything, and there’s at least one more book in this series that I really want to write. In the end I just want to write about what I love and if that leads to sales, great; if not, then at least I’m getting some satisfaction for myself for having told the stories at all.

Agent Hunting – Part 5

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Part 1: Sharpen Your Tools
Part 2: Learn About Your Prey So You Don’t Become Prey Yourself
Part 3: And Now you Wait
Part 4: Size Up Your Opportunities

Part 5: Don’t Pull the Trigger Too Early

Once the first offer comes in, etiquette says you should contact everyone who still hasn’t responded to your query and give them a chance to consider; you contacted them before, so you owe them the opportunity to review it. I suppose you could just take that first offer and say “screw you” to the rest you queried, but what’s wrong with collecting a little good karma? Before I started on this latest agent hunt, I never would have guessed that one was expected to do this, but in fact this is part of the biz (and a good agent won’t pressure you to make a decision on the spot.). So I told Andrea I needed two weeks to wrap up matters with the other agents. A week to a week and a half seems to be the normal turnaround time for this kind of thing, but my offer came in during the Book Expo week, so the extra time was needed.

The strange and wonderful thing about having an offer on the table: for the first time, you can dictate a timeline and agents take it seriously. Though in a way those two weeks were far worse of a wait than the five weeks before that. I had ten queries still outstanding, not counting the no-responders from earlier in the process, and after getting off the phone, I started sending out nudges to those remaining agents. For a template on what to say in these emails, this is pretty good (the second half of the post).

And I then waited some more. Some got back to me rather quickly with congratulations on my offer and a pass on taking a look, and one told me that he couldn’t get to it by my deadline. There were still a few outstanding by the time the two weeks rolled around and they came in afterwards with congratulations and regrets they’d missed on the opportunity. When all was said and done, I gladly accepted Andrea’s offer.

While I was lurking on the Querytracker forum, I saw quite a few people who ended up getting multiple offers from agents, and as the post-offer rejections came rolling in, somewhere in the back of my mind I’d sometimes wonder if it was a bad sign that I wasn’t getting any other bites. It’s easy to fall into the misguided notion that if something is truly good it will be coveted by many, but as with love, all one really needs to find is the one right one. In the end, I was glad I didn’t have to write any rejection letters to anyone. I’m happy to have found the agent that not only appreciates my literary vision, but has faith in my ability to have a career. She wouldn’t have taken a chance on me if she didn’t.

Agent Hunting – Part 4

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Part 1: Sharpen Your Tools
Part 2: Learn About Your Prey So You Don’t Become Prey Yourself
Part 3: And Now you Wait

Part 4: Size Up Your Opportunities

I’d read quite a bit about “getting the call” on the Querytracker forum, and about what kinds of questions one should ask an agent who offers representation, but facing having to actually talk on the phone with an agent was both thrilling and terrifying. The email came in around 9am my time and though I was available to take that call immediately, I put it off until noon. I needed time to dig up those websites were I’d found those important questions one was supposed to ask, but mostly I needed time to calm down and pull myself together so I didn’t sound like a babbling idiot on the phone. I also needed time to call my husband at work and leave him a near-frantic phone message to call me so I could share the exciting news. I also emailed my faithful crit group–who’d endured three drafts of this novel–and promised a full report after the call. I’ve heard stories of agents cold-calling to offer representation and I’m grateful Andrea didn’t, for I would have been hyperventilating and completely unprepared.

So, with a 12 o’clock appointment for a phone conversation, I spent the three hours pulling my professionalism back together and compiling a list of questions to ask. At noon, we talked for an hour and though I’m not normally comfortable on the phone with strangers, within the first five minutes of talking to her, I’d forgotten to be nervous and knew we’d be a good fit, particularly when she mentioned books by one of my crit mates (at which point I actually did start babbling, I was so excited that she was familiar with Aliette’s books, which I love). We discussed her submission plan and she thought the draft I’d turned into her was very clean and nothing major needed fixing (she later reread it again, for a second pass and we ended up going on submission with the one I turned in.). She thought my title was weak though, that it lacked tension, something I agreed with (titles are my bane), and she talked a bit about what she liked about the manuscript and characters. I then rolled out my set of questions (most of them lifted from this very helpful blog post by Rachelle Gardner and this post at Literary Rambles). A lot of the stuff on my list she addressed in the normal course of conversation. She was very forthcoming with information, and I was thrilled to see that many of our philosophies about writing and publishing meshed. She also sent me a sample of the contract to look at and ask questions about if I had them.

I totally wanted to jump on this offer, but….