Month: December 2011

Nowadays There Are Two Kinds of Publishing Advice to New Authors

I’m keeping this one as short as I can.

I read a blog post where an unpubbed author stated he follows all the advice about querying agents, never insults them or misspells their names, and does absolutely everything he possibly can to get his query right. And yet he never receives requests for partials or full manuscripts.

I would imagine he’s not alone. I would also imagine there are thousands and thousands of other unpubbed authors who feel the same way he does.

I also know that novels like THE HELP were rejected dozens and dozens of times by literary agents. I even know an agent who rejected it.

I also know that a several novels that were rejected by every literary agent and publisher in the US went on to become huge hits on Amazon Kindle.

And, I also know that publishing is subjective and when you’re querying a literary agent you’re also querying the agent’s personal taste in writing style, storyline, and what he or she thinks can be sold to an editor who also has his or her own personal distinct taste in fiction.

But I also know this, a well kept little secret with some. I’ve read where some literary agents believe nothing has ever come from unsolicited queries…for them personally. They’ve either nurtured their authors with big books or they’ve actively gone after them. I’m not saying this is the case across the board…far from it. But it does leave room for thought about the subjectivity of the query process.

The advice given to the guy who was seeking advice from this publishing professional was that he should seek out writers conferences and try to learn more about querying.

I’m not saying this is the wrong advice. Who knows? Maybe spending a small fortune, when gasoline prices are going to hit the four dollar mark this spring, is worth his time. Maybe he will, indeed, at least get a request for a full manuscript from an agent if he does go to a conference. I’m sure he has a slim chance.

But my advice to him would be to check out what’s going on in e-publishing right now and start taking control of his own career. If you’re an author, there hasn’t been a better time in the history of publishing than right now. I would tell him that he’s not the first author to experience tons of rejections from literary agents and he’s not going to be the last.

Then I would ask him how many other great manuscripts like THE HELP are being turned down on a daily basis because they don’t resonate with literary agents…or editors. The cycle has been going around for many decades. I would imagine there are plenty, and I would hate to think about how many great books like THE HELP I missed because my reading list has been so dependent on the taste of a select few…people who I wouldn’t let decorate my bathroom let alone pick my reading list.

I’m not knocking agents and editors. I don’t want it to sound that way. I’m sure the advice given was what the publishing professional believes is accurate. We need them all, especially literary agents. And we’ll need them more in the future. I’m just pointing out that there are two viable sets of advice nowadays for authors, not just the advice that’s been handed out for the past fifty years or so. And before an author spends their hard earned money schlepping to a writers conference, he or she might want to take advantage of other opportunities that seem to be working out quite well for more than a few authors.

In this case, I speak from personal experience. It isn’t hearsay. I can tell you right now I have no regrets about getting into digital publishing eight years ago when everyone else was still laughing at it. As an author, I never would have had the chances I’ve had in “traditional” publishing. I would still be sending out queries and wondering if I should schlep to a writing conference. And I truly believe there isn’t a conference or workshop on queries designed that would change anything for me.

Church Related Incident Considered Gay Hate Crime

Though I’ve never been very religious, I do respect the rights of those who choose to worship, absolutely and completely. Evidently not everyone else does. As you can see from the article below, a Methodist church was vandalized because it depicted silhouettes of gay couples holding hands.

CLAREMONT, Calif. — Vandalism of a church’s Nativity display that includes depictions of gay and lesbian couples was being investigated as a hate crime, police said.

The damage at Claremont United Methodist Church occurred late Saturday or Sunday morning.

Read More Here…

Update: Fred Karger for President

For those who have been following my quasi political posts, here’s an update about Fred Karger, a gay Republican running for President. That’s right: he’s gay and Republican. Most of you probably don’t know there are a lot of “them” out there. You’re certainly not reading about it or hearing about it from the mainstream media…which I will talk about in another post.

I refer to my political posts as quasi because I vote independently and never follow any party lines. I’m not a political zealot. I like bipartisan candidates and people who can bring America together, not divide it. This is partly why I find Fred Karger extremely interesting in many ways. It’s not just because he’s the first openly gay Presidential candidate I’ve seen in my lifetime. If you read more about him you’ll see what I mean. It’s very interesting.

Here’s one of the regular e-mails I receive from his campaign:

This has been an exciting year.

Twenty-two months ago, Fred Karger began running for President of the United States. Since then, Fred has traveled from state-to-state laying out his independent vision and demonstrating that he is uniquely qualified to turn this country around.

And thanks to supporters like you, we’re ready to take on Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann in 2012.

But before we can turn our attention to 2012, we need to finish 2011 the right way.

We are 48 hours away from a crucial fundraising deadline. It’s important that we end this year strong and head into the New Year with the funds necessary to continue to compete in the upcoming primaries and caucuses.

And here is a link to his web site, where you can read more about him or donate a small amount of money if you are so inclined.

Talk About Switching Gears: The Little Baron’s Christmas Angel

I know it might appear peculiar to see a book like THE LITTLE BARON’S CHRISTMAS ANGEL above a post promoting a book about foot fetish, but this is a good example of how I like to switch gears without warning.

The author of this book was an editorial client of mine, and I’ve read and edited this story many times, as well as many of his other books. He’s not a client of mine anymore, though. When he wanted to get into Amazon publishing I told him I didn’t know enough about it to do him justice and he found someone who did. So I don’t know how the book has been changed since I last edited it. But I do know this author worked for years on this one and I have no problem recommending it anyone. It’s a great read, for kids and adults. And the price is certainly very good, at least compared to what’s going on with the big six. Besides, up until recently you wouldn’t have had a chance to read a story like this because it would have been considered too short to publish by literary agents and all large publishers. In the digital age of publishing, it works very well.

You can check it out here, and download it to your e-reading device. And, for those who still don’t have e-reading devices, you can download it to your computers and read it right on your PC. You don’t need an e-reader to read e-books. All you need is a computer.

The Little Baron sat silently in the seat of the large leaded, glass window and peered out upon the grounds of the old manor house. He watched the snowflakes gently blanket white the garden below including the tall distant evergreens. This was his most favorite room in the house, it was the library. Although in the evenings it was often occupied by his grandfather the Baron, in the afternoons it was his own private land of enchantment. There were books with pictures of faraway places and stories of adventure, which almost seemed impossible to really exist. It was the day before Christmas and the air was filled not only with great aromas coming from the kitchen and pantry, but also with the anticipation which comes only at this time of year.

The manor had been totally decorated earlier in the day by the loyal household staff. This had been an occasion which the late Baroness always enjoyed, unfortunately the Little Baron never knew his grandmother because she had passed on a few months before he was born. Garlands gracefully hung from the railings of the balcony above and poinsettias were placed upon around table in the entrance hall to act as festive, silent greeters. A tall Christmas tree had been chosen from the Baron’s forest with utmost precision, for it was the focal point in the drawing room since it was to stand guard over the gifts later that evening.

High Concept: Four Feet Under…

As I posted earlier this week, I remember watching an episode of Sex in the City that handled the subject of foot fetish and it stuck with me for a long time. I wanted to write something about it but nothing ever came to me so I kept putting it off.

Those who know my fiction, know that I don’t always remain in the same venue all the time. Because I sometimes switch gears, so to speak, I feel obligated to let readers know what I’m doing in more detail so they don’t think they are buying one thing and getting another.

Sometimes I do write books I think are far more romance oriented than others I’ve written. TAKE ME ALWAYS is a good example of this. As you can see from this review/comment on allromanceebooks, a reader thought so, too.

OH MY GOD!!! I CRIED MY EYES OUT!. This was a very touching love story with alot of steamy sex. Make sure you have plenty of time to read the entire book in one sitting and a box of kleenex by your side. It was a very close adaptation of The Notebook except the character that was writing the story used a computer. Maybe we should call the book “The Laptop” (tee-hee). Seriously though, it is a great read.

There are times I like to have fun and take a Debbie Macomber trope and add a lot more spice and heat to it. I love Debbie’s books; don’t get me wrong. But just because there’s a basket of puppies in a book doesn’t mean there can’t be good sex, too. And there are just as many readers out there who want to read the sex scenes as there aren’t. There’s room for everyone.

In some cases, I’m often amazed at the double standards sometimes. I read about a popular book reviewer editing an erotic BDSM anthology and then I see on her blog she uses the word “heck” instead of “hell.” I know this is small, maybe even petty. But if you’re bold enough to edit BDSM, which is territory where even I’ve never gone in fiction (seriously,) give me a break with the “heck” bullshit. You’re clearly no saint; you’re allowed to use the word “hell” (smile).

I’m explaining FOUR FEET UNDER WITH MY BUDDIES because it’s not the most romance oriented book I’ve ever written. It’s more new adult, high concept erotica if anything. I’m certain fictionwise will classify this in “fetish.” There is a happy ending, character development, a storyline that would stand alone without the sex, and there could be room for a possible relationship in the future with the characters. But you’re not going to find a basket of puppies in this one.

The gist of the story is focused on one thing: foot fetish. And I tried to keep it lighter, without laughing at it like they did in Sex in the City. It’s one of those awkward topics late night comedians love to joke around about. I can just hear Chelsea Handler now. But the truth is there are obviously a lot of people, gay and straight, out there with foot fetishes and it’s one of those taboo topics no one will ever admit to aloud. And, we tend to laugh at things that hit too close to home and make us a little too nervous.

Here’s the blurb, and if anyone has any questions, please e-mail me.

Young Max is living at home and going to community college to save money. But his social life is nonexistent; he hasn’t been with a man in months. Then one Friday night he decides to go to the school gym and work out because there’s usually no one else around. That’s when he finds two of the hottest guys on campus shooting hoops in the empty gym. He pretends to be disinterested and they eventually follow him into the locker room. When he finds out they are a gay couple looking for a third, he’s stunned. And when they tell him what they want him to do to their feet, he can’t wait for them to take off their shoes.

Thank You Amazon…

I just saw a blog post thanking a brick and mortar bookshop, which was clearly meant to promote the bookshop, on a publishing blog. It’s a sneaky little thing I’ve seen alleged publishing professionals do, letting readers know in a subtle way they don’t like or care for digital publishing. Trust me, you never see them promote Amazon, Kobo, or any other form of digital publishing.

So I decided to say my own small thank you to Amazon. They don’t need my help with promotion, but I’m doing it anyway. Last I checked, a good deal of my own sales come from Amazon, so I’m more than qualified to thank them.

I posted earlier about a friend who is re-releasing his novel, which is LGBT fiction set in the year 1961. The title is “Camping in the Backyard Going Forward.” The author is Anthony Zatti. And he’s doing this on Amazon, as a trial promotion with free books.

He’s doing this as a free Kindle download on Amazon for a limited time, and from what I’m hearing the free downloads have been flying off the cyber shelf. Like I said, it’s free, so check it out. And, when the promo is over, the digital price is only $2.79.

No author would ever have been able to do this at a brick and mortar bookshop. And I find it amazing and spectacular to see that authors are now capable of doing this on Amazon. But more than that, it’s also amazing that readers now have options to read for entertainment they never had in the past. And that we don’t have to depend on the questionable taste of a handful of people what goes on our reading lists.

Lori Perkins Talks About E-publishing

I’ve been following Lori’s blog for at least six years now…might be longer. We’ve worked together in a strictly author/editor/publisher relationship many times, and she’s been responsible for having the final say with a few of my titles at Ravenous Romance. She also helped brainstorm the concept of the Virgin Billionaire series when I wasn’t even sure I wanted to write the first book in the series. I’ve posted about how that book freaked me out many times.

And now, Lori just wrote a great post about e-publishing you should check out. This isn’t someone just blowing smoke up your butts either. There’s a lot of that going around these days. This post is based on personal experience and facts that I know Lori has learned first hand through a great deal of hard work, not to mention hard knocks.

You can get there from here.

Here’s an excerpt:

Ebooks now outsell mass market titles, practically putting paperbacks out of commission. Borders went out of business completely. But more and more people are reading, and that includes a whole new generation of readers who now consider reading entertainment again.

Who is Your Agent?

When you’re a writer, whether you’ve been published or not…it makes no difference…and you don’t have a literary agent representing you, you are your own agent. You are representing yourself, on your own behalf, always looking out for your own best interests. This is important to understand, especially with so many changes happening in publishing.

This is the wiki definition of a literary agent, here. It’s easier to just link than explain, because that’s not the reason for this post.

For a few brief months in my 20 year writing career, I had a literary agent. It didn’t work out. We parted amicably when I wound up sending her checks at the end of each quarter. I was basically shopping and selling my own work faster than she could get out an e-mail reply. My books were being released faster than she (bless her dear little slow beating heart) could tweet them. And other than that experience, I’ve always acted as my own agent. I’ve made mistakes along the way. I’ve also been lucky enough to have good friends in publishing who can, and have, advised me when I didn’t understand something. But for the most part, I’ve been winging it on my own. And I’ve learned how to think before I act in every single situation I encounter.

The reason I’m writing this post isn’t about me. It’s not about literary agents either. I’m writing it because I’ve heard more than one author in the past six months make statements I’m not sure they understand. Several have said they are releasing their books through Amazon as Kindle e-books. Almost all of them used wording like, “Amazon is acting as my agent.”

I’m all for what Amazon is doing for authors. Amazon is empowering them and giving them chances the so-called “gatekeepers” would never have done. And almost every author I know is now taking advantage of this opportunity, as they should. But Amazon is not acting as an author agent. Amazon is looking out for their own best interests, and that’s what the author should be doing, too.

There are many books and web sites out there that discuss self-publishing or Indie Publishing, whichever you prefer. There are also books and web sites that help unagented authors. I’ve learned a lot just by reading literary agent blogs in the past ten years. But it’s important to understand that if you don’t have a professional literary agent looking out for you, you’d better be looking out for yourself. And you’d better start learning how to do that. It’s just as important with Indie Publishing, digital release first publishing, and e-publishing in general as it’s always been with “traditional” publishing.