It’s been a while since I put on my blogging cap. I’m back, having packed and unpacked a gazillion boxes, taken a million trips to donate stuff, and having finally found everything we packed . . . somewhere.
Yet, with all the commotion, I was able to progress with self-publishing my next book in the Knoll Cottage Series, Silent Grace. It should pop up on Amazon shortly.
Suddenly, I have time to relax and get back to a normal schedule. Do writers have a normal schedule?
I wanted to get back to you on my And the Agent Said: blog. While I waited to hear from her, I was actually feeling two ways about having an agent. I’ve been to panels of authors, agents, publishers, and they all have good points. Some traditionally published authors (which an agent would lead to) felt pressured. A book a year. Deadlines. Alterations in the story. I once attended a debut book signing by a mystery writer. She was traditionally published after years of trying with the same book. Her contract included seven more mysteries as a series to follow the original book. She told us this with deer-in-the-headlight eyes.
In the time I’ve waited for a response from the agent I met with at the writer’s conference I attended, I gave some good thought to which manner of publishing I’d prefer. The answer for me was: Being able to work at my own pace; being able to write in different genres; receiving a greater portion of the book royalties; hiring my own peeps to work on the book, was self-publishing. The caveat: One Must Market! But one must market even with a traditional publisher.
In spite of the fact that I met with the agent at a conference, which in the past meant a reply of some sort, I never received an answer on the two queries she requested. The agency’s website clearly said if you don’t hear in thirty days, there is no interest in representing your work.
Querying agents is hard. A negative answer, or no answer, is rejection. But a rejection doesn’t mean the book isn’t great. The agent’s choice is a subjective one.
After much thought, I am happy being an indie publisher. My book bravely heads to Amazon with a zillion other new books. The difference will be Marketing!
I’ll start here. If you go onto my website: http://www.gerrileclerc.com and sign up for my email list, you’ll be notified when I do give-aways of either Missing Emily or Silent Grace. They are two women’s fiction novels that stand alone, but are part of a trilogy. In about three or four days, check them out on Amazon, and read the great reviews!
Last week I attended a terrific writer’s conference put on by the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. If you write women’s fiction, you need to be a member of this great organization. The classes were fun and informative. The networking with new friends was enjoyable and educational. I took the opportunity to pitch an agent.
No matter how often I pitch an agent, I get sweaty palms. I told myself I am self-published with great reviews. I am about to publish the second book in my Knoll Cottage series. So, I had no reason—being the mature, accomplished woman that I am—to be nervous. And why pitch an agent at this point?
I wanted to chat about the new world of publishing. I came armed with a paperback copy of Missing Emily, book one in the series; comments from my editor; a synopsis of Silent Grace.
The young agent from Trident Media Group, L.L.C. was very professional and took notes. I told her I am self-published and I have done all the hard things right, based on the reviews and comments from readers. She asked me about sales. I said they aren’t good, which is why I am nervously sitting in from of her. I need guidance! All of the information I’ve read about marketing, driving sales, email lists haven’t helped me. And I wondered if, in this new world of publishing, I could still have an agent represent me.
And the literary agent said: Yes! She said having a published book would not stop an agent from representing the author.
I told her the stories of both Missing Emily and Silent Grace. She asked me questions, and I answered. I accomplished none of this with grace because my throat was a little tight. In the end, she asked me to query her on both novels. I offered her the paperback of Missing Emily and the literary agent said: Yes.
In truth, I’ve never pitched an agent at a conference who didn’t ask for more material. Even on my very first book. But the space between the query sending and rejection sending is a warm and hopeful place. I will let you know what happens!
So you’ve written nearly 100,000 words. You’ve revised the manuscript 100 times. You’ve had 20 people read for you, then you revised it 50 more times. It’s perfect! It’s ready!
All you have to do is write down the 100,000 words to about 250 or less and slap it on the back of your book.
I struggled for hours yesterday and came up with a bunch of words that convinced me no one would ever read Silent Grace. Yuck!
Thank God for the internet! Today, I visited two websites: http://www.blurb.com, (who knew blurb would have its own website!) and http://www.digitalbookworld.com. Thank you to all the folks who bring writers such terrific information on the web. I highly recommend both of these sites if you’re struggling with your own blurb. No charge, just have at it and go back to work. I did. I rewrote the blurb based on the data I mined from the two sites. I am so much happier and confident it will intrigue readers.
Next, I send it off to my trusted and capable critique partner. If she likes it, it’s a go. And Silent Grace is one step closer to publication.
It has been a little over three months since I self-published my novel, Missing Emily. Some musings on how I feel now.
Every resume I put in for my many nursing positions–as my husband’s career involved frequent moves–contained the words “detailed oriented”. I also listed problem-solving and organizational skills. Those attributes were not my natural talents; they were learned, beginning with my nursing education. You must be sure you are administering the correct medication. You must hand the correct instrument to the surgeon. In order to care for multiple patients on a hospital shift, you must be organized.
When I began to write, I utilized those same skills. It was a huge learning curve. Writing is not instinctive. Over centuries, published writing styles have changed right along with the changing societal mores. Charles Dickens’ writing style gives me a blood sugar spike. Hemingway’s less-is-better started a whole new diet of written words. But few writers make such tsunamis when they publish a book. Most of us write because we must. Because we have stories to share, or a memoir of all or a bit of our lives we want our family to read.
I learned about writing novels. Current trends in reader popularity. I had great helpers along the way, coaches and teachers and conference speakers. When my first manuscript was ready, I began the agent search. More to learn. Query letters, synopses, credentials. I was moving forward, made it to semi-finals and finalist in some contests. Had some exciting manuscript requests, and some bummer rejections. A lot of bummer rejections. I was still climbing the hill when a dear friend, who has 11 million books of her own in print, offered me a hand up to self-publish. Her peeps became my peeps. I formed my own tiny publishing company (another learning curve), worked with a book designer, David Seager, who is fabulous; an eBook converter, Diana Birdsell, who is also fabulous. My friend, Donna Green, the artist with all the published books, who runs a foundation for children with cancer, took time to do an extraordinary illustration for my cover.
My Amazon reviews are all good, even the ones from people I don’t know. No Hemingway or Dickens, just a writer who learned her skills and lucked out with a story people like.
Self-publishing is a huge job. There are years before it that are filled with learning, wins and losses, ups and downs. There are something like 8 million books on Amazon—the absolute best place to sell a book. But think of yourself as a grain of sand on a beach, not a sand sculpture. A star in the sky, not a super nova. It’s wonderful to see your book page on Amazon! The problem is there is no filter for books that are not ready to be published. The filtering that agents and editors do for publishers. So, how do you make your book stand out?
The stigma of self-publishing is way less than it used to be. But because many not-ready books are for sale, barriers exist for self-published writers. One I recently experienced is with our local weekly newspaper here on Cape Cod. They restrict all “author published” books. I get that.
Good News. The industry is still changing. A group of book bloggers are helping to sort the good from the bad. Some publishers offer self-publishing assist and may take on the writer if the book is good enough. Agents are working with self-published authors whose books stand out on Amazon.
Bottom line: Learn your skill. Work at it and don’t be impatient. Enter contests that give you reviews; query agents who may give you some advice or encouragement. Have fun! Go to conferences and yak with fellow writers. Keep learning and keep working.
I may be a wavelet and not a tsunami, but publishing my book is one of the best things I’ve ever accomplished. It’s amazing fun. I wish the same for all of the writers out there!
I AM PUBLISHED! Finally!! After years of work and preparation, I was not ready for the onslaught of delight! To see my book listed on Amazon, after combing the site for books to read written by others, now there is a choice for others to read my book. I have heard from family and friends who celebrate the book’s launch with me. If I can figure out the system, I bet I would find purchases of Missing Emily already completed.
Thank you to every hand that was reached out to help me reach my dream!
Every single minute of my time in learning and writing has been worth the extreme feeling of joy I have today!
Missing Emily is available on Amazon. And from here . . . I will begin to polish Silent Grace, the next book in the series.
Is the road to self-publishing lonely to you? I’d love to hear from other writers who published their books by themselves. I actually know of one person who did all the work herself, so I realize there are others out there. I am not one of them. For me, self-publishing is a misnomer. Since I am not traditionally published, I must come up with a different word.
My critique partner and friend, Sandy, IS self-published. She fearlessly plows ahead through any dilemma that raises a roadblock, and finds the solution. She is an amazing person in so many respects. I was alone when I pressed the button on Create Space to submit my novel for review. (I am moving ever so closer to a published book!). However, the day before Sandy spent hours with me showing me the ropes.
But it started much earlier with another friend who is a beautiful artist, but an even more beautiful person. Donna Green, who spends her days working with children ill with cancer to realize their dreams, to work her Magical Moon Farm, to stay in her farmhouse of sacred wonders, offered to help me publish. Donna has millions of books in print, and I own a copy of many of them. Not only did Donna put me in touch with her own publishers and designers, she took precious time to do the illustration for my cover. You should buy my book just to have that cover! And because a portion of the proceeds of Missing Emily will go to Donna’s foundation.
My book designer, David, has been such a delight to work with that I don’t want to finish. He is the kind of person you meet and know in the same moment. First he read my women’s fiction novel, then he put together a lovely font and layout. He had made my book so beautiful you will want to read it just to see how pretty it is.
The Missing Emily file is off to another designer who will set it up for an eBook. Not there yet, but that’s next.
Besides those people to whom I am so indebted, I have had help from the folks at Create Space, GoDaddy (setting up my website), other writers, marketers, who spend time teaching us newbies how to get our books out there.
What shall I call my method of publishing? I’m going to work on that, but I’m happy for any suggestions!
Life can slow you down
When you’re rushing into town
And fast you’ll lose control
Cause a tractor full of petrol
Makes you crawl
You’re full of frustration
Hey, life’s not a vacation
Your foot is riding the brake
You’re surely going to be late
Go with the flow
Publishing is like a trip
Along the way the road might dip
Still hold the dream you have inside
The future book you see with pride
You’ll get there!
If you study the pictures above, it will take a nanosecond to see which of us is the artist. Creativity is wholesome, healthy, individual, and diverse. It took me a long time to find my own creativity–writing. My daughter’s is almost any form of art.
My friends once sat chatting around a dinner table discussing how lucky the people with a talent to pursue are. I believe we all have a creative talent. It doesn’t have to be a financial success, it doesn’t matter if no one else appreciates it, it is all about self-fulfillment. Two of the women in the discussion felt they lacked the passion of others who were immersed in creativity. They didn’t see that improving a golf game or decorating a house was their own creativity. My husband can put together a few pieces of sea glass and make a lighthouse on a slate. My son learns new languages and studies things I don’t understand. Two other artist friends shine at local shows. One artist I know uses her talent to help children with cancer.
Most of us aren’t judged only by our success in creativity, unless it provides a living. I know as I prepare to publish my first book, which is actually my fourth novel, I am subjecting my creativity to public judgement. I’m ready, just waiting for the wheels of publishing to catch up!
What is your creative talent?