Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Funny Wannabe Writer Stories

I should note that every single one of the following anecdotes is true, personally witnessed by yours truly.

Wannabe Writer No. 1: This wannabe is a (former) friend of mine. Shortly after I got my first book deal (a print deal with Random House's now-defunct Cheek imprint), this friend of mine asked my advice on how to write a novel. I told her first and foremost to read as much as she could, to write diligently each and every day (actual PROSE, not blog posts or emails or grocery lists), and not to expect to get her first completed manuscript published.

She then got flustered and upset. "But---but----don't I have to write seventeen character studies and eight plot outlines before I even think about writing my book?"

"Yes, you could do that," I replied. "But it's usually much more productive just to write the actual book." (To which she replied, aghast, that she didn't have time to write a whole book, because the new season of Six Feet Under had just started.) Note: I'm not friends with this person anymore.

Wannabe Writer No. 2: This person is an older sibling of a good friend of mine. This person waxed on and on about how she had recently discovered that she was a BRILLIANT poet. So brilliant, in fact, that she expected to get published by Random House and featured on the Oprah Winfrey show very soon as part of Oprah's Book Club. This nothwithstanding that a) she had never had a single one of her poems published anywhere; b) there is no commerical market for poetry books; and c) Oprah Winfrey has never once selected a poetry anthology for her book club (and if she ever did, she'd be far more likely to pick something by a household name like Maya Angelou or Rita Dove). When I pointed all of this out to the wannabe writer, her overzealous reply was, "But she'll pick ME! And since I'm in Chicago, I'm planning to go right to her office and talk to her about it tomorrow." Uh huh. I'm sure that went over really well, too.

Wannabe Writer No. 3: This person is a distant relative of mine. After working in PR and corporate communications for many years (to wit, this person actually was a professional writer of sorts, though not traditionally published), he decided one day to quit his lucrative PR job so he could spend a year writing the Great American Novel. He'd never tried his hand at any sort of creative writing before, mind you---not even a random short story or freelance journalism assignment. And he didn't read much, either (he spent most of his time harshly criticising well-known published authors, in fact). After he spent a year or so writing a highly autobiographical novel that was more of a therapeutic exercise than an artistic one (which also ended up pissing off several members of his family), he was out of money and desperate. He couldn't even get an agent, let alone a book deal. He ended up suffering a nervous breakdown and moving out of state.

And, my personal favorite, Wannabe Writer No. 4: About a year ago I got a random IM message from somebody I had gone to high school with. (Not a friend, mind you---this person was one of the "cool kids" in school who wouldn't even give me the time of day.) In this long, rambling, typo-ridden IM, this person went on and on about how she'd married someone who was secretly a small-time drug dealer, and was now serving time in prison. She seemed to think that the story of how her incarcerated husband fenced pot and speed from their trailer-park house would make for interesting reading, that it surely would become a worldwide bestseller, and by the way, would I write it for her since "she just didn't have the time?" (Of course, she also expected me to ghostwrite her totally irrelevant life story for free, and to allow her to keep the millions of dollars the book would supposedly make for herself.) I gave her a terse "no" and blocked her Facebook profile.

And tomorrow, I'll talk a little about what it means to be a playwright. Bwahahahahahhhaaaa!


Great review for A CAPITOL AFFAIR!

My novel A CAPITOL AFFAIR (Ravenous Romance, 2009) got a nice review today at Ramsey's Book Reviews. Check it out here. I especially like this review because the reviewer appreciated the book's allegory of BDSM as power-play in the politically charged world of Washington, DC.

More hilarious Wannabe Writer posts coming soon!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Wannabe Writer Week, Part Deux

In keeping with this week's theme of wannabe writers, I'm going to share a sobering statistic I got today from my agent Saritza Hernandez, a staffer at the L. Perkins Agency who handles my books for the epublishing market. (I am repped by multiple agents there, each specializing in different markets).

Some people think (erroneously) that epublishing is subpar in terms of quality and is essentially the same as self-publishing. (Hint: It's not). Granted, unlike print publishing, it is possible to get an epub book deal without an agent (for the time being, anyway), but as the digital market continues to grow by leaps and bounds, more agents are getting directly involved in digital dealmaking----and as such, more and more authors targeting the epub market are seeking out agent representation.

To wit, Ms. Hernandez recently announced she was temporarily closed to new query submissions so she can get through her current backlog of over 500 unsolicited author queries. When I asked her what her query acceptance rate was, she shared the following:

"Last month, I got through 131 queries in my inbox. Of those, I requested 4 partial manuscripts and 1 full manuscript." (Which she has yet to read and/or accept/reject, mind you). In other words, she expressed interest in less than 2% of the authors who queried her. (Saritza currently reps 21 clients and has sold 10 books so far this year. Full disclosure---two of those books were mine).

And mind you, Saritza is only agenting in the epublisher market, which remains a very small portion of the overall publishing market. (I should also add that Saritza is an AWESOME and very efficient, effective agent; she once sold a book of mine in less than a week.)

So those of you who think this whole publishing thing is easy, chew on those stats for a while. Then go have a beer.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

So you wanna be a writer

Had to share this little gem. Any novelist (published or aspiring, assuming you've actually completed a manuscript) has run into somebody like this. I'm reminded of several wannabe writers who've put their foots in their mouths telling me about how their not-even-written-yet books will be bestsellers. I'll share some of those amusing stories later this week.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fan mail versus hate mail

One of the definite perks of being a published author is getting fan mail. It's always cool to open your email account (or the good-old-fashioned mailbox) and find a letter from someone you've never met or even heard of who gushes about what a wonderful writer you are and thanks you for telling such a wonderful story that entertained them and spoke to their heart. It's even cooler when they ask you when your next book is coming out, and also promise to buy everything on your backlist, just because they enjoyed INSERT BOOK TITLE HERE soooo much. It's one of the reasons I keep writing. (God knows I don't do it for the money!)

But of course, the flip side of that is, the hate mail. Yes, the hate mail. For every twenty or so fan letters I get, I get one completely scathing, rage-filled letter/email/Facebook IM/whatever that says I cannot write, that I should cease and desist thrusting my "garbage" upon the world, that calls me a sex-crazed evil lunatic bitch, or even accuses me of Satan-worshipping witchcraft (seriously, true story.) More often than not, hate mail is sent anonymously. (Gee, I wonder why?)

Hate mail comes with the territory of being published. There are a lot of wackjobs out there, after all, and many of them like to read. Plus there's a huge contingent of hate-mailers who are frustrated writers who can't get published, and they take their anger out on people who are published. (They also probably need to be on medication, but I digress.)

I fully realize that dealing with the occasional wackjob is one of the prices you pay for having your writing available to the general public. But this week, I've received the King Cobra of hate mail. Not only did I receive this scathing anonymous letter, but so did the Board of Directors of an organization I'm a member of, along with Amazon.com and several book review sites. I mean, everybody's entitled to their opinion and all, but I think that's just a little over the top. Especially considering the book that the writer hated so much is a lighthearted comic romance novel. It's not as if I authored some controversial investigative journalism expose or an explicit sex manual or something. I wrote a sappy, funny, light-reading romance novel, and not even an erotic one. Romance novels are about as non-controversial as you can get outside of cereal-box copy.

I guess every published author out there has a story like this. I have to admit, after the initial shock wore off, I find this situation absolutely hilarious. Not to mention sad. I guess some people just don't have enough to do with their time.

Of course, I now reserve the right to base a nutjob character in my next book on this little incident. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Stop By The Decadent Blog for a TENDER IS THE KNIGHT Contest

I'm profiled today at the Decadent Publishing blog. Learn a little more about me and why I wrote my latest release, TENDER IS THE KNIGHT. Leave a comment for a chance to win some great custom Ren Faire artwork from Robert Quill!