Saturday, May 29, 2010

I Know Its Already Been Done To Death But...

How much did the last episode ever of Lost suck? "And they were all really dead. The End. PS, anything we never explained can be explained by the fact that this island is a death limbo where people stop to work out their issues before they go towards the light. Which explains it all. What? Never mind."
That's so brilliant, I'm totally going to steal it and use it as the ending to one of my novels.
NOT.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Query Resolution

I received an immediate answer from Kensington on yesterday's query letter this morning. While the editor like the sound of my manuscript, she's looking for something 80,000 or longer and since my manuscript is aimed at category publishers, its only 55,000 words long.
But see how well that worked? Within twenty-four hours I had a definitive answer, instead of waiting months and months for my manuscript to make its way to America, find the editor's desk, wade to the top of the slush pile to be read and then sent back to me here in Australia again.
I was thinking about shooting an email back to ask her if I added twenty-five thousand words to it, would she be interested in seeing it then, but I might think about doing it anyway and re-querying her in a couple of months.
And just like that I have a new direction and possibly a new opportunity.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Querying the Publisher

I'm going to risk the wrath of other aspiring authors and just come out with the truth, I like the query process.
Sure, I've done my share of complaining in the past, but if I had to pick out of submitting to a publisher's slushpile or sending a query letter to determine whether the editor wants to see my manuscript in the first place, I think I'd pick query letter every time. Unlike some other authors, I don't have a complex about writing query letters. They seem pretty straight forward to me and I must be doing something right because I've had more hits than misses with my query letters when it comes to getting requests from agents. What I do have a complex about is the synopsis. I totally suck at those. If it wasn't for my CP, I'd never have a workable synopsis. In fifty years, when I'm a best selling author and have penned a hundred-odd books, my CP will still be there, helping me with the synopsis because I will still suck at them.
But back to the query letter. They're just so straightforward. Sure, it can be a challenge to cram a whole plot's worth of story into a couple of paragraphs and make it sound interesting enough that an agent/editor will want to read it, but what's so different to writing a blurb for the back of your novel?
Usually response times for query letters are far quicker than waiting for your manuscript to float to the top of the slushpile and even with some agent's policy of 'no response means no' at least you have a silent answer within a somewhat short time frame. I'm an impatient person. I don't want to wait a year to find out whether or not an editor or agent might be interested in my work. If they want to read a sample, I want to know about it tomorrow.
So today, I appreciate the querying process. I sent a query off to the editor of Kensington's Brava imprint today. Fingers crossed for a request. At least that way, I'll know for sure that the editor had some interest in reading it, instead of sending an unsolicited package off to the slushpile-blackhole like I did with Silhouette.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Not So Difficult Editing

Either I'm slacking off or I'm becoming accustom to the hard slog of editing. This week, I've edited the newly revised chapter 1 of my SOAP manuscript and sent it off to my CP. I was quite happy with the end result, though I know she's still going to rip it to shreds, fill the page with little red boxes and question every single sentence or character's expression or piece of dialogue or description I thought was brilliant. But that's what I want. That's what will help push my manuscript into the stratosphere and make my chances of getting an agent even higher. Yesterday I got half of chapter 2 done and I left my desk without the usual head-pounding.
The reason I started editing the newly drafted version is because its not taking as long to write since a lot of it is just being integrated from the old version. As soon as I hit the halfway point, I want to start querying agents. I figure by the time I query them, get a response, send out any requested partials, get another response and need to send the full ms, months and months will have gone by and I should have the whole thing finished. So that's the plan of the moment. I'm off to do some re-writing and finish editing chapter 2.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why I Prefer Submitting to Agents

Before I started doing the agent rounds, I did the publisher slush pile thing. And now I'm reminded of why I turned to querying agents instead. Sometimes a publisher would take at least six months to get back to me. And that was a very quick response. In most cases it took over a year and in one memorable case, it took a certain publishing house three years to write back to me about a submission.
I should have remembered this when submitting to Silhouette in New York. I've seen some stories from other RWA members about how long its taken them to get anywhere with the HM&B lines, submissions dating back to 2007 they're still waiting to hear from.
I beginning to think I should just submit my manuscript to Harlequin Intrigue in London and maybe also the Kensington Brava imprint. At least that way I won't have all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. The other thing to do would be to get my SOAP manuscript finished and fixed up so I can begin querying agents again.
And I'll tell you why I prefer submitting to agents. Because you actually tend to hear back from them in a decent amount of time. Sure, sometimes its a couple of months, but not a couple of years. And okay, sure, some of them have a policy of no response means no, leaving you wondering if it is a 'no' or if your query actually ended up in their spam filter. But still, in most cases you know where you stand.
So while I plan on getting a couple more slush-pile submissions together, here's me resigning myself to not hearing anything about them until 2014. Who knows, maybe my SOAP books will have become a best-selling series by then.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Un-Deletable

Over at the BookEnds blog this week, Jessica Faust wrote a post about Internet presence and how much social networking has changed in the past 3 years alone. She questioned as a professional, should an author have 2 separate profiles on places like Twitter and Facebook, a personal one and a professional.
While I've always been aware of keeping this blog strictly business based, never posting about my personal life, family problems, etc, I'd never thought about it in terms of Facebook or Twitter. I know that while I remain unpublished, this blog reads like a dry bit of toast. "Sent out a query, got rejected, did some more editing, wrote 4000 words, edited some more, entered a competition."
Very occasionally I've spoken about issues in the media, but even then I'm reluctant to say too much, because down the track when I 'make it' I don't want anything to come back and bite me in the proverbial butt.
I have a Facebook profile, but after wasting waaaay too much time on it when I first joined up, I banned myself from going on there and managed to kick my addiction. My Facebook account was all personal stuff, obviously and I never went looking to make potential agents/editors my 'friends'. More recently I joined up on Twitter and confess, once again, don't use it very much. There, again, I'm wary of saying anything not business related, so it read a lot like my blog, kind of boring.
This post that Ms. Faust wrote really got me thinking, its had me thinking all week. Those of you who regularly read this blog know that about a year and a half ago, I had a scare with some random crazy person calling me up in the middle of the night. This prompted me to wipe myself off the Internet as much as I possibly could and for a while I wasn't blogging under this name either. But then I accepted the fact that by choosing this career, I'm putting myself out there, making myself available to people I don't and will never know.
One of the reasons I never talk about my personal life here is because that's what it is, my personal life. I have a family to protect. In fifteen years, when I'm a best selling author (wink wink) I don't want people to be able to go back and read this blog, find out how many kids I have, their names, where I send them to school, what my husband does for a living, where we've moved to a new house, etc etc. I might be totally over-reacting, but its like filling a gun with ammo. Its something bad waiting to happen. I will respect my fans, but that's no guarantee my fans will respect me or my privacy. The more they think they know you, the more they think they have a right to invade these places.
I think a lot of would-be authors forget this when starting out. Their personal selves are so invested in these books they write, they can't see where the separation needs to occur. I've always been big on treating this as a career, not as me putting my soul onto a page. This is just one more aspect of that.
Once something is on the Internet, it spreads like dye in water. You can't take it back, you can't erase it. Its there forever and somehow, if someone wants to, they will find it (and use it against you...! Ok, now I'm being paranoid.) So with every word I write, every time I click that publish button, I'm trying my best to be aware that one stupid comment, one dumb word, could spell disaster for my career somewhere down the line.
I think the post over at BookEnds is something ever aspiring author needs to consider very carefully.