Friday, December 27, 2013

Traditional Publication as likely as a Zombie Apocalypse?

We've taken the leap -- Larry and I are plummeting side by side wearing rose-colored parachutes into self-publication.

It didn't take long for me to become frustrated with the traditional trying-to-get-published process, query letters that didn't produce manuscript requests, and then the agents who actually accepted a portion of a manuscript along with the query...well...haven't heard from them, either.

Using the plural here, I'm giving the impression we've sent bunches of queries, but that's only because I don't want to admit to having submitted to only three. All those hours, days, weeks of research, and I submitted as many queries as I've had pedicures. Please don't look at my feet. 

What are the odds of a novelist publishing traditionally? As good as getting struck by lightning? Winning the lotto? Dancing on the lawn with the winning lotto ticket WHILE getting struck by lightning? Turns out, in traditional publishing, only 1-2% of manuscripts are picked up, so the upside is that the odds are slightly better than sizzling like bacon in your back yard. (I apologize that I don't have a link here supporting my claim of 1-2%, but I lost the danged thing after I wrote the blog!)

In my post-query-research frustrated funk, I began reading more heavily for escape, devouring books on Kindle, most of which I downloaded because they were free. I'm poor folk, that's just the simple fact of it. I'd love to spend buckets of cash on every zombie apocalypse novel out there, but you can't spend what you don't have. 

It didn't take long before I realized that most of the free books online fall primarily into two categories: 1) so old they're public domain, or 2) so young they're indies.  Somewhere along the way, I thought, "Hmmmm. Wonder if we could do that, put our book on Amazon for Kindle?" The question then was how?

So, I've spend the last few months reading about self-publication and listening to webcasts, and those messages have been far more inspiring than those of traditional publishing. The more I learned, the more I thought, "Yeah, we could do that. It certainly beats leaving our novel on my hard drive until my computer crashes." We might not make any money, but is that really the point? Is making money the reason we wrote this book?

No, it's not. Larry and I will be far more gratified by chuckling readers than being barraged by bales of money. Our goal, all along, has been to entertain. When I asked Larry about self-publishing, he said, "I trust you." So pulling him over the cliff with me is his fault? I can live with that. 

As an aside, I also I feel the need to prove, if only to myself, that all the time (years) and energy (boat-loads) Larry and I spent on this particular project hasn't been a waste. 

How many belly laughs will convince me I'm not a hank? Did I say we weren't in it for the money? Did I say I was poor folk?

I would like to print a retraction: I'm not a hack, and I want to be awash in waves of money so I can prepare for the zombie apocalypse by setting up a bug out location and appearing on Doomsday Preppers. Now THAT would be gratification. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

ideas, motivation, energy

Our blog has not been forgotten; it’s just that we don’t have too much to say.

I spend Mondays researching agents and try to get one query out a week. Right now we have two submitted and are awaiting responses.

In the mean time, we’re working on the next book, which is painfully slow. Not sure if we’re lacking in ideas, motivation, or energy, because it takes all three to plunk ourselves down and write. I got a scene from Larry yesterday, so it’s my turn.

Two weeks of 100 degree temps have driven me indoors, so I will have more time to do write. Now I just have to come up with an idea…

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Do you, too, suffer from irregularity?

Since we’ve been TERRIBLE about keeping up with our blog, a quick update: we’ve received our first rejection. Yes, it was a form letter, but it was extremely polite for a rejection. Sort of takes the sting out when people are nice.  
So it’s back to the drawing board researching and finding other agents to send it to. Actually, I should have been doing that all along, but summer has been really good to me, getting a lot done outside. Once the heat drives me indoors, I’ll be spending more time on the computer and hopefully keep up with the blogs a bit better. And agent queries.
Until then, thank you for keeping up with us even though we’ve been less than regular. Irregular.
Those of you who know me well might be expecting a Metamucil joke now. Ha! Fooled you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hiatus? No, not really...

“So, are you and Larry on hiatus?” a friend of mine asked at lunch.
I chewed my lettuce more slowly while I thought about the answer. “No, we’re just really, really slow writers.”

Which got me to thinking…I’m not really a slow writer. I’m a slow idea-generator. And Larry? You’ll have to ask him.
Since we started Book Two, we’ve been churning out a scene about every two weeks. At that rate, it’ll take us about five years to complete Book Two. Actually, that’s how long Book One took. Although, we did take a hiatus while I went back to school.
Maybe it just SEEMS slower than the first one. On it we didn’t pick up the pace and begin producing a chapter a month until close to the end. We were motivated. The end was in sight!
Right now, we’re at the beginning, maybe 30 pages in, and moving at a drunken slug’s pace. Sprinkled with salt. On a sunny day. It won’t last. Once we get a few more chapters under our belt and all of the characters introduced, we’ll be able to pick up the pace. Maybe instead of five years, it’ll take, oh….I don’t know…let’s go with ‘fewer’.
In the mean time, I’m back to researching agents and hopefully (this time, I know I’ve sad it before) get our manuscript submitted somewhere. I have a few names I’m considering and a query letter almost complete. Just a few tweaks.
And instead of spending five years on tweaks, I aim to actually take…

Monday, May 7, 2012

She purports...

“She purports that…”
“Wait, what was that word?”
“Oh, reports.”
“No, purports. P-U-R-P-O-R-T-S”
“Never heard that. What does it mean?”
“Claims. Well, claims implies it isn’t true. Says? Reports? Yeah, reports probably works.”
He sat there looking at me with his mouth open. “Then why not just say it?”
“It didn’t occur to me you wouldn’t know purports.”
Then that very night I saw purports in a book I was reading. See? I’m not the only one who uses it. Vindication is mine!
Word choice. The English language affords us endless opportunity to tweak a meaning or add connotation. The word “dispatch”for instance. Connotation implies a stressful, busy, loud environment. Which is why I didn’t apply for a job I was qualified for. Give me a quiet cube in the corner, and I’m golden.
New words are fun to learn, and generally you can glean the meaning from the context of the sentence. But every now and then I run across an author that really annoys me by throwing in LOTS of words I don’t know. Depending on my mood and access to a dictionary I’ll either tough it out and hope they stop or just put the book down.
So I guess the lesson I learned here is to keep in mind my audience when I’m both talking and writing.
And now I know my audience knows the word purports!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

“Excuses, excuses! Just sit down and write!” Not sure if that’s my own internal beratement or if somebody actually said that aloud but it’s been racquetballing around in my head a lot the last two weeks.
Blogs don’t come easy to me, but usually I have at least a germ of an idea that I can develop into something. Met with Larry yesterday and some germination finally took place. Maybe the disconnect of distance between us has dulled my creative blogging spark.
We’ve been working on our second book, and I use the word “working” very loosely. He’s mostly retired, but has a job, and I’m actively looking for work (preparing for and going to interviews is mentally EXHAUSTING, particularly when you keep getting Dear John letters). We both have other irons in the fire, so sitting at a computer and producing endlessly riotous passages slips to the wayside.
Maybe I haven’t been writing because of an annoying health condition that leaves me exhausted and/or listless after what most people would consider a “normal” amount of activity.  Also, there are the chronic migraines which are a separate health issue, but equally debilitating. So I might have two good weeks a month where I feel mentally sound and physically capable during which I race around catching up on all the chores I wasn’t able to do when my health had me down.
So, are my conditions excuses or reasons not to write?
Even for me, that’s hard to say. Are my headaches really always that bad? This week they have been. I’ve been fighting a string of them since Saturday (four days). Even now I need a pain pill, but keep putting it off because they make me loopy and I fear addiction.
Other days I just flat out forget. That’s right, those catch-up days when I feel well enough to be outside doing yard work I forget to fit writing into my schedule. Then I sit down at the end of the day, tired but feeling good about my physical accomplishments, and it occurs to me, “When was the last time I blogged?”
Reasons or Excuses?
Only I know for me, and only you know for you. Don’t let writing snobs make you feel bad when they say, “If you want to, you’ll figure out a way.” They haven’t jogged a mile in your Keds.
Only you know. Just be honest with yourself. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Who messed with my agent list?

Monday, March 25th, I decided: “This week I’m getting our book off to at least one agent!” Still in my pajamas, I tromped off to the computer full of committed drive and caffeine. Larry and I had already perfected a pitch, and I had a whole week. How hard could that be?
I decided to research agents as much as I could and select several potentials, because Rejection is Publishing’s middle name, right? A couple of days later I’d researched until my eyes ached and my back rebelled. Time for a break. Go outside and enjoy the sun. I had three more days. Plenty of time.
Unfortunately, Life has a way of interfering, and it did. A lot.
So last week I was back to, “This week I’m getting our book off to at least one agent!” I pulled up my list of agents, chose one, went to the website to confirm submission guidelines, and…
…couldn’t for the life of me remember why I’d chosen this guy. I scanned through the rest of my list thinking I’d just written down the wrong name. Turned out, I couldn’t remember why I’d chosen the next guy, either.
Frustrated, I sent an e-mail to a writing friend of mine, and she made me feel a tad better. She said, “Scary, isn't it? How you put all this time and effort and know-how into researching the perfect agent...then you leave it and come back and wonder who tampered with your list, 'cause else, What Were You Thinking?”
The following day, I went back to my list and found somebody I DID remember. So I reread through submission guidelines, and he said to include the target market and why our book is unique.
Our book is very unique, so that ought to be easy. Right?
Not so much when I tried to put it into words. It was easy to pick out ways that it’s similar to Tim Dorsey or similar to Dave Barry—quirky characters who get themselves into unlikely situations and we laugh while they take care of the bad guys.
This morning I decided, “This week I’m getting our book off to at least one agent!” I still have to write how our book is unique, but that’ll be easier having picked one of my beta reader’s brains over the weekend. I have a few more brains to pick for more clues, but by the end of the week I should have enough fodder to finish the letter.
Hopefully it’ll really happen this week. At any rate, once I produce the paragraph I need, I can include it in all pitch letters bettering our chances for acceptance. For me, writing can’t be rushed, which is why journalism never appealed to me. Paul Masson said, “No wine before its time.” Becky Lawson says, “No query before its time.”