Publishing

Amazon for Authors, Part Two: Tools and Thoughts

Book_books_pages_265007_lThe first part of this post, Amazon for Authors, Part One: Opportunities, ran last Monday.  You can read that here, and you probably want to do that before proceeding.

Ever since I wrote part one of this post, I've been obsessed with worry that I'm misrepresenting Amazon.  As in, presenting this rosy view of everything that you can do on the site without also showing the down side.  So, here's an article that does that.  And I want to state again that I fall down somewhere in the middle on the Amazon issue.  I like to think I can see both sides of the issue clearly.  In some ways, the issue is about much more than Amazon.  It's about the collision of the old style legacy publishing and the new digital revolution. But, of course, since Amazon spearheaded the revolution, it is difficult to take them out of the picture.

What I see is that each side often knows little about the other and it is my job on this blog to tackle the big picture–tackling all aspects of the writing life.  So I do my best to share what I learn.  And what I learned at AWP was that Amazon, love it or hate it, offers quite a range of tools and programs for writers.

Tools

Amazon Author Central.  Once you have a book or two published, you can create your own page for them.   The cool thing is that you can put whatever you want to on it, such as links to your site or sign-ups for your mailing list, an author bio, a rant about politics–anything.   You can also link to your blog so that posts automatically update, and your Twitter feed.  For an example, you can see my page here.   You essentially get your own web page for free.

Metadata on your book listing page.  I'm essentially clueless about this, but as I understand it, you can list keywords (and lots of 'em) of your own choosing in order to drive Amazon's search engines to your listing.  Read more about this here.

Amazon Programs

Create Space.  This is Amazon's service for creating hard copies of your book through print-on-demand technology.

Kindle Direct Publishing.  And this would be the Ebook arm of the indie publishing services.  Many authors start here and branch out to other formats.

ACX.  You can now also create audio versions of your book.  This website is essentially an exchange where you can find actors to read your book, and audition them.  You can then pay them upfront or with a cut of your royalties. Cool, huh?

Their own publishing imprints. Amazon also has their own publishing imprints, covering mystery, romance, women's fiction, science fiction, fantasy and horror, literary fiction, young adult, self help, non-fiction, memoirs and short stories.  In other words, just about everything.  Note, however, that their submissions page says they are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts at this time.  My idea is that they look for indie publishers who are doing well and offer them contracts.

Kindle Worlds.  Fan fiction now has a legitimate outlet that you can actually make money on.  I don't get it–either why you want to write in a world that someone else invented or how exactly this works.  But if you're interested, click the link and find out more.

Amazon Associates.  You can earn money just by putting links to Amazon to your page.  I used to do this years ago but it never amounted to much and didn't seem worth the time.  But I probably ought to revisit it.

Goodreads is a book-lover's site, and yes it is now owned by Amazon.  There was a big stink when they bought it last year.  People say Goodreads is great for authors, but I myself have never gained traction on it, which probably says more about me than them.

Kindle Singles.  The tag line for this is compelling ideas expressed at their natural length.  Ebooks have renewed enthusiasm for short stories and novellas and this program takes advantage of that.  And the good news is that you can submit to them manuscripts from 5,000 to 30,000 words.

No doubt, by the time this post is published, there will be even more programs and services for authors offered by Amazon.  You can see why people believe they are out to conquer the world.

And bear in mind…that many other publishing platforms exist, such as Barnes and Noble, Lulu, and Smashwords, to name only a few.  As far as I know, however, none of them offer quite the extensive range of services for authors that Amazon does.  If I'm wrong, please let me know.

My take.

Okay, that's it. That's all I know.  Over the next few months, I plan to experiment with Amazon publishing myself.  My novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, was published by a small press that took advantage of Amazon's CreateSpace and Kindle Publishing.   I think the book looks good (I'm not biased or anything).  But the marketing part has been hard.  And I'm hearing over and over again that the best way to market is to make sure there's more work up for people to buy, so…I have a few short stories that I'm going to publish myself to bolster my presence on the site, so we'll see what happens. And I have a few ideas for genre pieces, as well. I'll keep you all apprised on my progress!  I'd be crazy not to give it a whirl.

I also have a new novel I'm working on that I would love to see published by a legacy publisher.  Unless something drastic happens to change my mind, when I finish the book by the end of the year, I'll be going the traditional route and looking for an agent.  So I'm a believer that we need to be open to all the opportunities we have available to us as writers.

What's your take on Amazon?  On indie publishing?

Image by white_duck.

Amazon for Authors, Part One: Opportunities

In my previous blog post on my time at AWP, I promised an article on how you, as an author, can utilize some of the many services Amazon offers.  So here it is.

First, let's get clear on a couple of things:

1. I am by no means an expert on this topic.   Many others, who have actual publishing experience with Amazon, are far better versed on the subject than I. Over the last couple of months I've been educating myself, however, and I've accumulated a bit of knowledge.  I also attended two panels at AWP last week and gleaned more information to share.

2.  I am not an apologist for Amazon, nor am I a hater.  I do not subscribe to the view that Jeff Bezos is the devil and his website the Evil Empire.  I think we have to admit that Bezos has changed publishing forever and that Amazon offers fantastic opportunities for writers.  On the other hand, I also lament the ongoing demise of bookstores, especially independent ones, that his reign has hastened.  In other words, I get both sides of the debate.  And I believe one of the reasons it is so heated is that we are standing smack-dab in the middle of a revolution in publishing.  Revolutions are always hard, because one side triumphs and the other slinks away.  But I take the view that there's room for both the old and the new.

So all that being said, let's look at what I've learned.  At one of the panels I attended, the moderator put up a slide with a quote from Jeff Bezos that encapsulates his goal: "Any book ever written in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds."

Yeah.  That tells you something right there.  Bezos wants to get every book ever written anywhere on his site.  This means he's probably going to some day rule the world.  Kidding.  Sort of.  But it also means:

Opportunities for writers on Amazon are incredible.

Not only does Amazon widen the reach of legacy published books, it offers the chance to others who are tired of knocking on the doors of New York houses to publish their own work.  (I'll write more about the actual programs to do this in part two of this post.)

Self publishing, now more often called indie publishing, is no longer quite so frowned upon, especially with the success of authors such as Amanda Hocking, J. A. Konrath, and Hugh Howey. Some stats I picked up from one of the panels: 

  • In 2013, 1/4 of the top 100 on Amazon were indie-published titles.  In 2014, the company expects that figure to go higher.
  • In Germany, the number of indie published books in the top 100 was more like 50%.  In the United Kingdom, 30%.  In India (where Amazon has only been established a couple of years) it was 20%.

Those figures astound me.  As some have said, it's the wild west for authors these days.  (I'm also not good at looking beyond the obvious with statistics.  I'm a writer, not a mathematician.  Though I did manage to raise one.  Anyway, if you see a way we should dig deeper into those figures, let me know.)

And I'm about to divulge some stats that will make you run for your nearest computer to upload your work.  The afore-mentioned Hugh Howey, a writer of science fiction, sold 40,000 Ebooks of his title Wool in May of 2012, to the tune of $150,00 income.  In one month.

Hugh Howey is the current poster boy for Amazon success.  He did so well with his Ebooks that when legacy publishing came knocking at his door, he decided to sell them only his print rights and hang onto the rest himself.  (That a writer was able to negotiate such a contract with the big boys and girls is somewhat of a revolution in and of itself.)

Hugh sat on one of the panels I attended and he's a lovely man, gracious and willing to share his ideas about his success.  He writes an informative blog about his writing and publishing and his books are pretty damn good–I'm currently reading Wool.

By the way, Howey recently created waves a tsunami across the internet, with his report on genre indie author earning.  Read it here.  You can also read a story about it here.

And, all those wonderful, mind-blowing figures aside, there's this:

Discoverability is still a crap shoot.

Discoverability is the new buzz word in indie publishing circles.  It refers, as you have no doubt inferred, to the process of getting your books found among the noise.  I consulted the Google for advice on how many books are published on Amazon and other sites each year, and wasn't able to come up with a definitive answer (though I did read some fascinating articles when I should have been writing).  But we all know that there are a lot of books out there, some excellent, some mediocre, some awful.

The question is how to make yours findable in the midst of the field.   The answer to that deserves a post of its own, one I will no doubt write soon.  But Howey said on the panel that spending time writing good work is the most important thing.  He had put up multiple titles before he actually spent much time marketing his work (and then he used mostly social media).  Many genre indie publishers are finding success with old-fashioned serials, releasing their novels one segment at a time, as Howey did with Wool.  Others augment their novels with shorter works set in the same world.  And most all of them write in series and write a lot.

Amazon says it is working on the discoverability issue.  And one thing I came away from the AWP panels feeling was that they really do have the interests of authors at heart, especially when said authors are making them lots of money. (Because, at the end of the day, Amazon is, after all a corporation, and corporations exist to make money.)

Okay, that's it for part one.  Look for part two in the next few days.  In that post, I'll talk about the various programs that Amazon offers.  And by the way, I'm certainly not against the other indie publishing platfroms out there, including Kobo, Lulu, Smashwords and a gazillion others.  It's just that I've learned more about Amazon, and let's face it, our buddies in Seattle dominate the market.

So what about you?  Are you planning to indie publish?  Or are you dedicated to going the legacy publishing route?  Do you have experience with either?  I'd love to hear in the comments.

PS.  I'm experimenting with the font size on posts.  It suddenly occurred to me the default font size was a bit smallish.  But this font looks big to me. Weigh in, please–which do you prefer?

7 Tips for a Fabulous Book Reading

School-person-literature-15648-lI did my first in-person reading of Emma Jean's Bad Behavior last night (I did one on the telephone, which was a bit trippy, for the virtual release party).  It was at at local coffee shop and I'm happy to report that it went really well.   People laughed in all the right places and after the initial rush you get when you stand up in front of a group, I relaxed and settled into it.

I've done a lot of public speaking, presenting workshops on various aspects of writing, and yet reading my own work is a bit of a different beast.  While I've read pieces in manuscript form through the years, now I'm getting used to reading from an actual book.  I thought you might like a few tips.  (I'm probably writing these nearly as much for myself, as a reminder, as for you.)  Because once you are published, and maybe even before, you will get asked to read.

1.  Plan your reading.  Figure out what you are going to read.  I've gone to lovely readings where the author read in an organized flow, segueing from a piece of chapter one, to chapter three and further in, which can give a good idea of a book.  When I tried to do this, it was a disaster–I got confused, and I wrote the book.  So I settled with several passages with chapter one and that worked great.  If you are reading in chunks, be sure to provide connecting information to your audience–and plan it out ahead of time.

2.  Plan your attire.  This sounds vain, but it isn't, really, because you are going to have a roomful of eyes on you and you don't want to be fussing with pulling your shirt down while they watch.  Last night I chose one of those cardigans with long tails in the front precisely so that I didn't have to worry if my stomach was hanging out.  (I thought if I wore my Spanx I wouldn't be able to breathe.  See #5.)

3.  Suss out the location.  Check it out ahead of time.  The coffee shop where I read has a regular Thursday evening reading series and I'd been there a couple times to hear friends read.  I knew there was no podium and that I'd be speaking into a standing microphone.  And I knew this meant that I was going to have do practice reading with my book held in front of my face.   See next tip.

4.  Practice, practice, practice.  This is far and away my most important advice.  Practicing will give you confidence, the confidence that comes from familiarity with your material. It will alert you to potential minefields–the word you've never been sure exactly how to pronounce, the swear word that might not be appropriate for your audience, the sex scene you might want to save for another venue.  Your work sounds different when you read it aloud–do it ahead of time to find potential problems.

5.  Breathe.  Once you've walked onstage, try to remember to take a deep breath.  As mentioned early, there is a rush of energy that comes in the act of getting yourself up in front of others and it can make it hard to catch your breath.  Nerves make you breathe faster, too.  This didn't happen to me last night, but it has in the past, and then I struggled to overcome my shallow breathing.

6.  Make eye contact.  Look up at your audience once in awhile, instead of keeping your nose buried in the book or manuscript.  This was something I could have done better last night, but since I was reading from my book with no podium, I had to wear reading glasses and it was awkward to peer over them.

7.  Enjoy.  You might not be able to actually utilize this tip until you've done a few readings and gotten used to them.  But you will feel the rush of relief when you are done, and people are applauding.  Soak it in!

 Your turn.  Do you have any tips for readings?  Do you enjoy them, or dread them?

(And by the way, if you feel so moved to buy a copy of Emma Jean you can find info on online outlets here.)

 Photo by svilen001.

Win the Publishing Game: 7 Steps to Getting Published

Chess_game_bishop_266216_lIt's the holy grail, the reason so many of us write: publication.  Whether you're writing a book, or an article, or a poem, everyone wants their work to see the light of day.  After all, if you're writing, there's an assumption that some day, somewhere, somebody will read your work.  If nobody does, the process feels incomplete.

And, really?  It's not so hard.

HAHAHAHAHAHA.  I just fell off my chair because I laughed so much.

Because while the steps to follow are not particularly hard, getting your book (or article, or poem) to the right person at the right time can be a challenge.   Rejections ensue.  We get discouraged.  But then we pick ourselves right back up and do it again, right?  

I hope so.  Because a huge part of this business is playing a numbers game.  As in, sending your work out over and over and over again. Here are the rules of the game to follow:

1.  Write an awesome book.   Work that baby the best you know how.  Edit it and revise and rewrite until you are so proud of your work you could just burst.  Because your ego might a few times during this process, and its helpful to feel secure that you've done your very best.

2.  Package it correctly.  As in, learn standard formatting, which does not include, um, single spacing.  I have actually been at writer's conferences where people raised their hands and asked if sending in hand-written manuscripts was okay.  This was quite a few years ago, but still.  Imagine.  If you don't know how to format ask the Google.  It knows everything.

3. Do your research.  This article assumes you'll be submitting books to traditional publishers and/or small presses.  If you're hitting up traditional publishers, this means you'll be going through an agent first.  And agents have certain things they are looking for, as do small presses.  It is up to you to figure this out.  Do not send a non-fiction query to an agent that only accepts fiction, and vice-versa.  C'mon, you're smart, you can figure this out.

4. Follow instructions to the letter.  I don't do well at this–I'm the sort of person who gets a new gadget and starts pressing buttons rather than reading instructions.  But in the case of the publishing world, you want to read up on exactly what they want you to send them and then do just that.  Don't send your full manuscript when they've asked for five pages.  Don't send an email query when they've requested only snail mail submissions (rare these days, but it still happens).  Send exactly what they ask for.

5.  Think good thoughts.  Really, mindset is three-quarters of the battle in this game.  Stay as positive as you can throughout the process.  When you get a rejection–and unless you are God, you will–take a few minutes to weep and wail and then get over it and send out to the next agent in line.  (By the way, forget that crap about no simultaneous submissions.  You could be 89 when you get published otherwise.)

6.  Keep track.  I mean of your submissions.  Though this can be difficult, since some agents refuse to deign to respond to queries if they are not interested.  (This is a pet peeve of mine, because it is just plain rude.  How hard is it to hit reply and say no thanks?)  But I remember getting confused, as some agency descriptions sound similar, as to which agents I had queried, even though I kept good records.

7.  Rinse and repeat.  For as long as it takes.  Once your manuscript is finished your job, at least part of the time, is to send out ships and see what comes back.  You should always have at least 5-10 queries out.  Take heart–there are a lot of agencies, and a lot of publishers.  You could play this game for a long time.

And then will come the day when you win!  The day when an agent emails you and says she would like to represent you or a publisher emails and says they want to bring out your book.  And then it is all worth it.  Trust me.

How many times have you sent out your book?

Photo by elvinstar.

Publishing Really Is Worth It

Flower_soft_play_250199_lTo paraphrase the immortal words of Sally Field:  I like it, I really like it.

What is it that I like so much?

Being an author.  Let me explain with a couple of stories.

Story #1. Years ago, I began working with a coach.  I told her that my deepest desire was to publish a novel.  My coach mentioned that she'd worked with another client who had published a book and decided she didn't like it.  Didn't like the hoopla that went with it and decided to not write any more books.  I took this under advisement, willing to be open to the fact that I might not like being published. 

Story #2.  Also years ago (I've been at this game a long time), I read an interview with a best-selling author, whose name now escapes me.  She said something to the effect that she really liked–and missed–the "scrappy little life" she enjoyed before she got published.  Once again, I was willing to be open to the fact that this might happen to me, too.  That I might prefer my life before I was published.

Not.

I adore being published.   I love reading reviews of my work, and I love hearing through tweets and emails that readers have enjoyed my book.  Unlike that client my coach told me about, I'm loving this stuff.  I loved my virtual release party and my in-person party.  I loved signing books.  I've got a reading coming up and I anticipate loving that. 

Let's be clear: I still have a "scrappy little life," one that I love.   But publishing a novel has just made it a better scrappy life.  Because, here's the deal: writing is an act of communication and when nobody reads the words we write, part of the loop is missing.  Which is why, I believe, we worry so much about publishing.  Why some writers put the cart before the horse and worry about publishing before they've finished writing.

Because we yearn to communicate.

And let me tell you, it is worth it.  So for those of you in the middle of writing a novel, despairing you may never get to the end: keep going, it's worth it.  For those of you sending out query after query, and piling up the rejections: keep sending them out, it's worth it.  For those of you who've had blips in your publishing process (I've heard of two recently): keep going, it's worth it.

For anyone struggling to get their creative work out in the world: take heart, it will all be worth it.

I promise.

Where are you in the creative process?  Starting out?  Finishing a project?  Marketing?  Leave a comment, I'd love to hear about it.

5 Tips To Getting Published

 

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The advanced proof of my novel!

So, as most of you know, my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, debuts on February 12th.

 

The road to getting published was long.  Veeeeerrrrry long.  And I learned a few things along the way, like what it takes to get a book out into the world.  So today I look at 5 tips that allowed me to finally succeed at that. 

Here's the deal: you all know the basics of how to get published, right?  You research agents and publishing houses that might be a good fit for your book, write a stellar query letter, and then you send it out.  And send it out again.  And again.  That process hasn't changed, even with the advent of indie publishing (which is a whole different process), and it's not likely to any time soon. 

But what you might not know is what lies beneath the above process, the mindset that you need to develop in order to find success in the publishing marketplace. And that, my friends, is what this article is about.  This mindset is in some ways as important if not more important than anything else, because developing a strong underpinning to what you do as a writer will carry you through your career.

So, here's to a publishing mindset, which takes:

1.  Willingness.  You need to be willing to do the things you think you don't need to do–like establish an author's platform while you are writing the book.  You need to be willing to master social media, start a blog, begin connecting with your future audience.  Long gone are the days when all writers had to do was sit back, write and let their publishers do all the marketing.  You'll be expected to participate, and it's going to be a lot easier if you get a head start.  Agents and editors look at things like your blog, and your social media presence these days.

2.  Consistency.  There's nothing sadder than coming across a blog whose last post was six months ago.  Or a year ago.  Start your blog and be consistent with it.  Get on Twitter, and keep tweeting.  Polish your query, and keep sending it out, even after you've been rejected a gazillion times.  Work on your WIP regularly, as often as you possibly can. It's the writers who keep at it who eventually get the win.  I know, I'm one of them.

3.  Determination.  Are you going to quit the first time it gets hard to accomplish your daily quota of pages or word count?  Are you going to stop the second you get a rejection?  Are you going to give up when you can't figure out how to format your novel to indie publish it?  You better not, because both of those things will happen a lot.  To be a successful writer takes determination and perserverance in spades. If you don't force yourself to do whatever it takes to send the work out, your words will remain stashed in a drawer.

4. Creativity.  You can be the most lyrical writer in the world, but if you don't
find ways to plant yourself in front of the computer, the words won't
get written.  It all begins and ends with the writing and if you put the writing first, everything else will take care of itself.  Master techniques to get your butt planted in that chair.

5.  Craziness.  To commit yourself to a writing-centered life and vow to get published takes a bit of craziness.  It just does.  It's ever so much easier to be content at a 9-to-5 job, come home, eat dinner and turn on the TV.  Not you, because you come home, eat dinner, and turn on the computer to write, with no guarantee that anyone will ever see those words.  That's crazy, isn't it?  So be it.  I happen to believe it's also the most important thing you can do, crazy or not.

How about it?  What do you think is the most important mindset a writer needs to have?

**If you're interested in learning more about publishing, I'll cover what I've learned in the bonus session of my Get Your Novel Written Now class.  Registration is now open, with early-bird pricing in effect until the end of the month.  Register now.

Now It Can Be Told

VPWebsiteBannerClassic-600x230So, the contract for my novel is signed, sealed, and delivered.  And I now feel comfortable revealing the name of the publisher.

It is Vagabondage Press.   If you go to the link, you'll see they are looking for "literary quality quirky romance and love stories, fantasy, horror, and women's fiction."  What's not to love about that?  I adore that they have such a varied list and that they use the word "quirky" in their description.

I'm pretty excited about being allied with such a staunch member of the independent publishing world.  So far all my dealings with them have been great and I'm looking forward to beginning the editing process soon.  We're on track for a February 2013 pub date!

Now I want to direct you to 5935f7efe4ed0e8e9bee8f38dfba37db700155f3-thumba Vagabondage Press publication, that of the novel Facing the Furies, by Dan DiStasio.

I love this book.

I read it in manuscript form, more than once.  Dan and I met when I returned to my alma mater, Spalding University, to work as a graduate assistant.  Dan was in my workshop and when it was over he asked me if I would read his novel.  I'd enjoyed the story he'd submitted to workshop, so I said yes.

I had no idea the treat I was in for.  It's an amazing novel about storms within and without, beautifully written, with characters you'll fall in love with.  I can't wait to read the edited version and see the changes that publication brought.

Dan is the reason I'm with Vagabondage.  When he told me his novel had been accepted by them, I decided to check them out, liked what I saw, and you know the rest of the story.  I felt confident submitting to them since they'd accepted his high quality novel.  So check it out, you won't be disappointed. 

Another note: one of the participants in the Diamond retreat last week had read some of my posts on getting accepted for publication and looking for an agent and come away thinking that I had to have an agent to sign the contract. 

Not so. That's the beauty of the indie publishing world, they are much more open to writers.

I just thought it would be a good way to nab myself an agent and have a pair of eyes from the publishing world look over the contract.  So here's the upshot of all that: I did have an agent look over the contract and pronounce it good and viable.  And, (and this is my favorite part), she's very interested in my next novel.  So keep your fingers crossed for me.

And go check out Dan's book.

And in the meantime, I'd love to hear what's on your reading list.  I'll start: I just began A Game of Thrones.  You?

Create a successful, inspired writing life: Read.  As a writer, you should be inhaling every book, magazine, short story, article, essay, and blog post you can get your hands on.

***PS, if you're writing a book, don't forget to download my free Ebook, Jumpstart Your Book With a Vision Board.  It'll help you visualize the book no matter what stage you're at.


Getting an Agent

I've promised to be forthcoming about every aspect of the process of getting my book published, so here goes another post on it. 

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Last week I off-handedly mentioned that I was looking for an agent.  Later, was speaking with my buddy Square-Peg Karen (keep an eye out for a cool collaboration we're working on) and she asked me for clarification about the publishing process. 

"Don't you usually get an agent before you get a publisher?" she asked.

Yes, indeed that is true.  At least when you are dealing with the big New York publishing houses.  Most of those folks won't even talk to you unless you have an agent.  Think of agents as the gate-keepers in an industry that is overwhelmed with authors trying to claw their way through the doors.

Twenty years or so ago, the big New York houses had their super-star authors, and then those on the mid-list, and then the ones they'd take a chance on, the books that might sell only a few copies but whose authors might eventually rise to the top.  Not so much anymore.  Due to the vagaries of the publishing world, the big houses really want a sure thing.

Like there are any sure things.

Enter the small publishing houses.  Once the big boys stopped taking so many risks, they opened the doors for small publishing houses to spring up and assume that role.  Then, with the advent of digital and Print on Demand publishing, it became even easier to start a small press.  And so the small presses of the world fill an important part of the overall publishing world.

And they don't require agents to submit.

The press (I'm getting close to being able to reveal the name) that is publishing my book doesn't offer an advance, but instead a much higher royalty.  The big boys offer an advance but small royalties.  I kinda like this arrangement because it means my earnings are proportionate to my efforts.  Sometimes with the big boys, your book gets lost and then you're stymied.  I've seen this happen to a couple of my good friends.

But back to my agent search.  Last week I corresponded with a lovely agent whose name I'm protecting because I'm not sure he wants to be inundated with submissions.  I had written him to inquire if I needed representation.  He asked me some questions and then got back to me, explaining that I'd already done the hard part, gotten the book accepted.  He further explained that it probably wasn't going to be worth my while or the agent's while to have him negotiate a contract.  And here's a nugget: most agencies have a minimum commission of $2500, which would be on an advance of $18,000.

So I'm abandoning my search for an agent for now.  The plan is to get good sales with this book and then leverage them to get an agent for my next novel.  Unless I decide I like the independent publishing route best, which is a distinct possibility.

I'm in contact with my editor, and once I get a signed contract, I'll be naming names.  Yay!

Do you have experiences, good or bad, with agents?  The publishing world?  Please comment.

Create a successful, inspired writing life: Think about what kind of publishing experience you want.  Do you want to have the control?  Or do you want to give it up to someone else?  We're lucky to live in a time when both options are possible.

Photo by brokenarts.  Plus, Typepad's photo editor is wonky which is why the image has so much room of its own.  And by the way, its an image of a gate.  You know, gate=gatekeeper=agent.  You probably got all that without me explaining it.

Lessons Learned Along the Way

 

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So by now everyone in the North American hemisphere knows that I've gotten an offer to have my novel published.  (If they haven't, I'll do my best to make sure they do over the next couple of days.)  On Monday, I wrote an initial post about the news.  Yesterday, I wrote a bit more.  And today, I'm writing about lessons learned along the way.  Because, there have been many of them, starting with….

Determination.  First of all, let me explain.  I finished this book two years ago, maybe longer.  And I've been marketing it off and on since then, mostly to agents.  As a matter of fact, the publishing house that accepted me is the first publisher I sent it to. I've lost count of how many agents I've sent it to, probably at least fifty.  Yes, fifty.  I love this novel and I've been determined to have it see the light of day. So there you go, first on my list is determination. Never underestimate its power.

Clarity.  Last fall, I parted ways with a coaching program I had contracted with.  It wasn't working for me, and I had some chronic pain issues that made it difficult to keep up with the program.  This led to deep soul searching on my part.  Why hadn't the program worked for me when it was so very successful for others?  Which led me to the answer: because I was trying to be something I wasn't. So that made me think long and hard about what I was and what I wanted to be.  What did I love doing, above all else?  The answer was writing books and blogging.  From that moment on, I redoubled my efforts in both areas.  The results have been gratifying, with more traffic to this blog, and now, my novel about to be published.  Let me just tell you, clarity rocks.  Rocks, baby.

Discernment.  Along the same lines as above, I've had to gently learn the fine art of discernment.  This, not that.  That, not this.  Resist the latest bright shiny thing that is not exactly allied with my areas of interest and stay the course.  This means, to me, not buying the latest glitzy course in how to run some area of my business.  Instead, I'll put time into either my blog or my book.  (Or my coaching.  I do love coaching and teaching, too.)

Serendipity.  I think its important to allow for the unexpected to happen.  After I submitted to this publishing house last fall, I didn't hear from them.  Then I assumed that I wouldn't hear from them.  But then I did.  Never underestimate the unseen forces that are working on your behalf in the background.  And finally,

My spiritual practice.  This may well be the most important lesson of all, because it underlies everything.  Since I returned to church last year, I've learned a whole new way of thinking that makes everything better and easier.  It is based on faith–faith in our ability to create our lives, our health and our prosperity.  Some may sneer and call it all positive thinking, but that's their issue.  I say it's a lot more pleasant to think positive thoughts than negative ones, no matter what the outcome.

So there you have it–the lessons I've learned along the way.

Create a successful, inspired writing life: Identify the life lessons that have guided you.  Because once you've identified them, you can more readily call upon them.  Inner knowing is half the battle.

Would you be willing to share your life lessons in the comments?  We'd love to hear them.  And if you liked this post, please tweet it or post it on other social media.  Thank you.

 

Photo by austinevan

How I Finally Opened the Publishing Door

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The press that will print my book. Kidding.

On Monday, I told you that a small publishing house has agreed to publish my novel.  Today, I'm going to tell the story of how it came about.  (It feels a little weird to be writing so much about it, seeing as how all I know so far is that they have agreed to publish the book.  But I'm determined to share the entire process with you guys, so on I go.)

 Years ago, after I got my MFA, I returned to my alma mater, Spalding, to be a graduate assistant (also fondly known as a grad ass).  Part of my duties were to assist in the workshop.  I had the honor and pleasure of helping my dear former mentor Julie Brickman, but that's another story.   In that workshop I met a wonderful man named Dan, who lives in Key West.  He asked me to read his novel, Three Furies, which I did, and fell in love with.  I loved, loved, loved this novel and told him so repeatedly. (I'm not ignoring him by not linking to him, he doesn't yet have a website.)

Dan and I fell out of touch for a few years, but last Fall he wrote and told me the exciting news that Three Furies would be published by a small press.  He was excited.  I immediately looked up the press.  Turned out I loved what they said about publishing literary quality fiction and focusing on the "anti-heroine," as I previously noted.  I was pretty sure that fit my protagonist, Emma Jean, she who sleeps with handsome younger men, gets drunk on airplanes, and pretty much says whatever she pleases.  And so, on a whim, I submitted to them.

Now, the website information says they'll get back to you in six weeks.  Dan said he heard back from them in two weeks.  So when I didn't hear I pretty much forgot about it, figuring it was yet another no-go.  Until Saturday, when the cryptic email came saying that they want to put my novel on the list for 2013.

What's the lesson here?  Well, the obvious one is that who you know counts.  Please note here that I didn't ask Dan for a recommendation (though I've not hesitated to ask others in the past) and he didn't even know I was submitting to the same press.  But, I never would have known about this press if it weren't for Dan.  Networking is vital for sharing information.  Also, let me just say that I've had personal recommendations to agents that have put me on the top of their piles.  It all helps.

Tomorrow I'm going to publish my "lessons learned" post.  But another one that occurs to me as I write today is that patience is definitely a virtue.  I ofen joke that you could get married, have babies and die before hearing back from some of these folks in the publishing world and there's a ring of truth to it.  So don't enter this business if you're looking for instant gratification!

Create a successful, inspired writing life: Find a way to make some new writing friends.  Join a local writing group.  Start commenting on a forum online.  We're lucky to live in a time when it is easy to get connected.

Please comment.  How have you made connections in the writing world?  Also, if you liked this post, please feel free to Tweet it or share it on other social media.

 

Photo by rammag.