Friday, June 20, 2008

"Houston, we have a publisher!"

This'll teach me not to whine.

I received a contract from OakTara Publishing for A Prophet's Tale: The Journey Begun! Looks like we're back on track. Jonah has a future!

Jennifer, you were, of course, right. The sweetest thing about God saying "wait" is what it means and how it feels when He says "yes".

Thanks to all for your prayers. I'll keep you posted on the production schedule.

(This is so cool...!)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rejection (No real writer's blog is complete without a post like this)

There's a favorite Dilbert cartoon of mine, where Alice is gloomy due to negative feedback she's received. Dilbert and Wally try to comfort her, to which she replies that it's easy for men to handle rejection because they have so much experience with it. Wally replies, "We're lucky that way." (Apologies to Scott Adams--he made it a lot funnier than this)

Assign an exponential factor to that experience and you have the typical author trying to get published.

As an update, I've submitted queries (usually single-page proposals by authors designed to sell their projects to a prospective agent or publisher) to around a dozen agents in the last couple weeks. My motivation is to sample various rejection systems employed by selected agencies. To receive a request for further information, or an outright offer to represent, would just ruin my experiment, so I'm relieved that so far no one has responded with interest in my project. I intend to write a book on rejection letters...oh, okay, okay! So nothing in the last two sentences was true. We all cope differently.

True to the adage, I'm collecting a nice little pile of rejection letters. Some are impersonal form letters, some are actually very nicely worded ("not for me, but best of luck!"). When I have enough to wallpaper my study, I'll have come close to paying my dues. My tender ego prompted me to only approach agents who I thought would reject me gently. So far, my strategy has worked out pretty well. :-) :-(

There is hope, though. This week I sent a package to a new, small publisher, from whom I think I have a pretty good chance getting a favorable response. They ask for 6-8 weeks to get back to you, though, so the waiting game has kicked off. Until then, I'll continue to probe the industry for a window carelessely left cracked open.

So, rejection becomes important. It builds character, I'm told. By the time all is said and done, I'll be an even bigger character than I am now (if you can imagine that!). So, really, I'm in a great position. Being a guy with Alice's averred history of rejection AND and author who goes out actually looking for more, I'm prepared to face whatever life throws my way.

I'm lucky that way.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Blogs Of Note

While waiting to hear the results of further querying on behalf of Jonah, I've done some customizing. No, not the nip-and-tuck kind--although that's probably not a bad idea, if I decide to post a picture on the cover of the next book. Nope, this is on the blog. You may notice an expanding list of linked blogs on the left side of the page. Stay tuned. It'll grow.

I'm mixing family and friends' blogs with writing blogs partly because it's an interesting mix, but mostly because I don't know how to do it any other way (at least not conveniently). There are a couple of literary agents' blogs I've linked, you'll notice. Whether you're a writer or not, these are really cool. I highly recommend bopping over for a moment or two and buzzing through their musings. ("Bopping" and "buzzing" are technical editing terms used only in the highest circles of literary critique. No, really!) The styles are hilarious--painfully so, if you're a writer; not so painfully, if you just like to read witty stuff.

Anyway, take a look. You'll enjoy the trip!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Well...Maybe A Little Longer

I received a very nice rejection message from the agent I contacted most recently concerning A Prophet's Tale. This is normal. I'm not bummed...

Actually, for those who haven't investigated the publishing industry, it's a very curious beast. There are different approaches to getting a work published:
  • Self-publishing - Do it yourself. There are several ways to self-publish--everything from going straight to a printer to hiring a middle-man organization to do some of the work for you. You also pay all the costs, of which there are many.
  • POD - Publish on demand. There are companies that will help you essentially self-publish, but offer a variety of associated services (editorial, artwork, retaining printer, obtaining ISBN number, etc.). As the name implies, copies of the book are only run off as they are needed/ordered.
  • Subsidy Publishers - These folks charge the author a fee, usually for a package of services similar to POD (indeed, some are POD outfits). A close relative to subsidy publishers are the "vanity publishers" (so close are they that some in the industry don't really distinguish between the two). They charge you for services and then it's up to you to do all the marketing and selling.
  • Traditional - This, as the name implies, is the way most writers prefer to get their works on the street. You contact a mainline publishing company (query, proposal, partial manuscript, full manuscript--don't get me started; there's a bunch of ways to try to get a foot in the door) and hope you hit the timing just right for the genre to interest someone who reads dozens and dozens and dozens of contacts every week. Many publishers don't accept "unsolicited" manuscripts--only those from established authors, referrals, from contacts at writers' conferences, or via literary agents. This last avenue is the one I'm probing at the moment. Trouble is, many of the literary agencies are just as swamped as the publishers they ultimately approach on the writer's behalf, and so to attract an agent can be as tough as attracting an editor at a publishing house.

And there are several shades in between each of these. Like any other private industry, the publishing houses are motivated by profit. What sells, what doesn't sell. The manuscript might be flawless, but if the various editorial and marketing committees it must meet don't think they'll make a profit--or at least get their investment back out of it--it goes into the rejection pile.

The bad part is that there are a lot of nefarious folks who take advantage of new authors who are either naive or overly anxious to get their book published--or both. The writer gets sucked into a really bad deal and is often left with a garage full of poorly produced books to try to get rid of. And they're broke. There are several Web sites dedicated to exposing the bad guys--e.g., Predators and Editors--but ya still gotta do the homework.

Ben Amittai was published by a subsidy publisher. That's okay--there are pros and cons of each of the above approaches, as long as the outfit you end up with is reputable. It depends upon your goals and the level to which you're able (or want) to immerse yourself in the industry. Do you want to eventually go full-time, or will it remain an avocation? How much marketing do you want to do? Is yours a niche book you really only want to get out to a few friends and family, or does it have broad appeal? You know, stuff like that.

As you may have surmised, I'm currently working the traditional route. I've been encouraged to do so by good knowledgeable folks who have read the manuscript and think it has merit. I've approached three agents thus far (one in person at a conference and two via electronic means). The first simply wasn't interested in the genre, and the second two--although complimentary about the project--couldn't take it on at this time. If you've ever read or heard stories of successful authors' experiences, they usually include a sizable stack of rejections before ever getting their first bite. My stack is growing, but there are still dues to pay.

So, this has been a Publishing for Dummies, entry (Hey! There's an idea! Naw, I'm sure there's already one out there). No insult to you reading this, by the way. The dummy is more likely the one writing it. As you may well imagine, there's so much more to the industry than the brief sketch I just tapped out, but I'll stop here. I'll keep you posted on how things go with further contacts, but there will be a time limit. I don't want A Prophet's Tale to come out ten years after Ben Amittai. Jonah can't run forever!