@knightauthor's place

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Querytopia: Are you there yet?

Now that I’ve finished my first MG book and sent out my first query, I await the forthcoming rejection. However, I am not afraid and look forward to placing it as the first in my inevitable stack that will prove that I’ve arrived.

Honestly, that’s a lie. No one wants to be rejected, but we have to accept the reality. So in order to reach what I call Querytopia, I have been making a detailed list of things that I want in an agent. It’s an exercise that is making me feel as if I am the one doing the inspecting (and it strokes the old ego too.).

First I got a copy of the 2014 Guide to Literary Agents. Next I read all the stuff in there I needed to know as prerequisites, then I began sifting through the list. I narrowed mine down to those that are:

1) Open to new / unpublished authors

2) Represent novels at least 50% (even better if they rep kids exclusively)

3) Are seeking ethnic or multicultural fiction

4) Rep authors I love (or know personally, because I do know a few)

5) Placed lots of books (or at least list what they’ve placed and with whom)

If this criteria is met, I visit the website to see if I like it. (Since I build websites the look of the site is important to me). I read the submission guidelines and make note of things I need to remember. I also note things that are missing, such as specifics for querying, not just telling me to send the query to an email address with no other information.

If the agency has an agent I follow on Twitter, that is a plus because I can troll the posts to see what they are discussing and if I like their personality. I also note if they do #tenqueries to see how they might ‘handle’ my submission (or manhandle it). ūüė¶

If Twitter and FB icons are on the site I like that too. It makes it easy for me to find their agents.

I don’t care about what conferences they attend because the ones I attend tell me who is coming. I do care about things like additional fees for making copies for me ( uh… I think I can make my own copies if you send me a .pdf or zip file).

Once I have narrowed my list, I document everything in a spreadsheet and determine who will be the next lucky agent to get my manuscript! LOL. Flipping the script in this whole querying thing makes me feel so empowered, no wonder people become agents!

Postscript: Forgot to mention I also check my agent choices against Predators & Editors, QueryTracker, AbsoluteWrite, and other sites to find out the inside scoop before I put them on the ‘legit’ list. Happy querying!



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Gordon’s Gift

There comes a time in every author’s life when they must decide who they are as a writer. Back in 2008 when I self-published my first book, I didn’t consider myself a ‘self-help’ or even ‘relationship’ author. I was just a journalist acting on a pressing need to get a message to women like me. The goal was merely to save them from my fate as a desperate dater. I was not trying to be an expert. I was not trying to build a platform. I was writing from my heart. Ever since then I have written books on several different subjects; still considered ‘self-help’ but not relationship focused. Up until now ¬†it has been easy to ‘do me’ because I never tried to get a traditional house to publish my books, and thus¬†I have¬†enjoyed writing for writing’s sake rather than trying to corner myself into one genre vs another. But I had a talk with an agent yesterday that made me reconsider my loosey goosey, ambiguous approach to publishing. He basically told me to ‘pick a lane,’ sort of what I always tell drivers to do on the way to work. They drift over to my lane without a turn signal, as if they don’t know what lane they want to be in. ¬†To tell the truth, I had been considering my dilemma for sometime but was not wiling to give myself the kick in the pants I needed to take the next step.

So in light of this impetus, I have come to a decision: I will release my last non-fiction book next year (the sequel to Desperate Dating), then proceed to focus exclusively on my other love, children’s — I am working on a MG novel and a picture book. ¬†I do not have to ‘pick a lane’ in the world of children’s literature, which is refreshing.

So, I am writing this post to say thank you to Gordon for his gift: forcing me to examine my intentions and putting me on a clear path to publication. Gee. I guess agents are good for something, aren’t they?

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Let’s Not Be Lazy

Taking on the task of self-publishing your book can seem daunting; especially when you consider all the work involved: you must first be a writer, then a proof reader (if you’ve hired an editor); art director (if you’ve hired a cover designer or illustrator) and project manager to ensure it all gets done correctly and on time for whatever print deadline you’ve set. You must also be an¬†administrative¬†assistant to yourself — after all who else is going to purchase your ISBN numbers and bar code (once you have determined a fair price), upload your manuscript to the copyright office, find a distributor to press and print the on-demand version, and the list goes on?

Today I am going to add one more task to the plate that you should seriously consider. The aforementioned list is not only time-consuming, it’s costly. My first book cost me $2,000 all told, and that was due to the fact that I had to learn all these things on my own and made some mistakes. Nowadays, it still costs me about $800 to put out a complete product, but I am getting smarter and the advent of ebooks is making it even cheaper for us do-it-yourselfers. The task I am referring to is what used to be called layout. Some call it blocking, but whatever you call it, it is the action of putting your book in a readable format for a paperback. Yes, even if you are creating ebooks, you have to consider that you will need a paperback at some point, such as when you hold a book signing. Are you going to hand out thumb drives with your book on them? ¬† — hmm, now that I think of it that sounds like a good option — anyway I digress. What I want to tell you is that you can lay out your own book rather than hire someone to do it for you. I am learning to use Adobe InDesign so I can do just that. The software is expensive but you can rent it by the month from Adobe for under 30 bucks. But you still have to learn how to use it. That can be solved either by buying a book (I like the Visual Quick Start series; it’s the easiest) or you can get a monthly subscription to lynda.com (about 25 bucks) and watch a ton of videos on how to do it. I have chosen the latter this time and am really enjoying what I learn. Now, I may not create all my books myself, but I at least want to know how to do it in case I am so financially strapped that I have no other choice.

So the the moral of the story is don’t be a lazy self-publisher, get out there and learn something!