Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why an agent decides to self-publish

On Monday I shared the exciting news that I am releasing my debut novel, Rite of Rejection, on December 4th. Woohoo! Since that might be confusing, I set aside this whole blog post to talk about how I came to this decision. I'm also going to stay on top of the comments all week to answer any questions that I might accidentally leave out. I'm ready to lay my cards out on the table

This story actually starts almost two years ago. Because we all know books aren't born in a day. In Spring of 2013 I queried my YA Dystopian novel. I already knew going in that Dystopian was on its way out the door and I had an uphill path to walk. But I really believed in this manuscript. I had several other manuscripts under my belt, but this one just felt different. 

So I queried and much to my surprise I got a really great request rate. Unfortunately, that's where the good news ended. While every agent I queried had really lovely things to say about my book, they all eventually turned it down, citing the current market. I understood. After all, the market they spoke about is the same one I work with daily. Editors were filled up and, honestly, a little sick of dystopian books.

I trudged on for several more months before I gave up the ghost. In November 2013 I decided to self-publish. I loved the book too much to let it sit on a shelf and the feedback I got convinced me the book had a shot. I got my ducks in a row with editors, cover artists and a proofreader. If I was going to do this, I wanted it to be as professional as humanly possible. I also wanted to be professional in my work situation.

That's when I called up Marisa Corvisiero, my boss, to let her know about my decision. Since I had decided to publish under my own name, I didn't want it to be a surprise to her. Marisa was wonderfully supportive and even offered to read the book to give me an additional set of editing eyes.

Marisa read the book and then promptly broke her own "don't represent co-workers" rule and offered to sign me and submit my book. So, surprise, I have an agent, the talented Marisa Corvisiero. While I was delighted to have another professional see what I saw in the book, I didn't get my hopes up. After all, editors were still not showing interest in new dystopian projects. However, Marisa is amazing and got a lot of interest in the book. And in the end, we got an offer.

I can see you scratching your head from here, but stay with me. Of course, I was delighted that someone believed in my book. There really is something to be said for that sense of validation. I did a lot of research and took my time to consider all my options. In the end, spoiler alert, I decided to turn down the offer. While they are a wonderful house that has put out some great books, I didn't feel they could offer me what I really needed.

Before, you jump to any conclusions about value from publishers, keep this in mind. First, I had already paid for and received professional editing, proofreading and cover design. Second, while we were waiting to hear from publishers I figured out how to format my book for ebook and print (I learned from a talented lady you'll hear from on Friday). Third, I have an extensive background in marketing and have had an active role in several authors' marketing plans. Not everyone has the same experience I do or has the funds to pay for professional services. I still believe in traditional publishing and what it has to offer authors. Okay, I'll step down from the soap box now.

All of this took place in the past month which has been a complete whirlwind. Between this, my theatre production which goes into the final run starting tomorrow and an overly elaborate Dr. Who birthday party for my oldest daughter, I'm pretty much running on coffee and excitement. But I really am excited. I've already kicked off my marketing efforts, and starting next week I'll be sharing more of the nitty gritty details of what I have planned.

This post is already long enough, so I'll close by, once again, saying thank you. Seriously, you guys are amazing. :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Now this is the story all about how...

My life got flipped-turned upside down.

No, I am not the new Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Though I do feel a bit like a princess. 

I'm finally ready to share the exciting news I hinted at last week. Ready?

I'm self-publishing my debut YA novel on December 4th! I'm Goodreads official and everything.

So I realize that many of you might be thinking 'Wait, isn't she an agent? Why is she self-publishing?' And those are great questions. I'm going to talk about my very weird path to publication and how I decided to go it on my own on Wednesday. I tried to include it all here, but it was too much info to include with this post and I didn't want to leave anything out and leave you with questions.

For today, I want to talk about WAM, that's right, What About Me, or really, you. Because I personally think this is going to be awesome (and not just because it's my book). 

Here's the deal. We all read the guest posts from authors that talk about how they market and get the word out about their book. But you can't really do justice to an entire marketing plan in a single post. But what if an author shared all their action steps and results in real time so you could follow along and get the full picture of what works, what doesn't work, and what might be crazy enough to work someday? Wouldn't that be cool?

Yeah, I think so, too. In fact, I've gone so far as to stalk research authors during their releases to see what they are doing. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to share every step I take, what I do, how I do it, and (when it's possible) how it worked. You guys will get to see the good, bad and the ugly all right here.

And here's where it gets even better. Do you have a marketing idea, or a platform, or program you've always wondered about, but didn't want to risk trying it? Hey, there. Let me know, and when it's feasible, I'll incorporate it into my marketing plan and tell you all about it. And if it's not something I can do (or believe is right for my book), I'll talk about why.

The idea is to be an open book and give you guys a backstage pass to my marketing efforts. To my knowledge, I've never seen an author do this before so I'm really excited about it.

So, for now, send me any ideas of marketing efforts you'd like to see me implement. And feel free to check out my Goodreads listing. I've also updated the Author tab on the blog to include all the book info. The cover is still a place holder until I figure out how and when to do the reveal. And when I do figure it out, you'll be the first to know.

And while we're on the subject of first to know, you guys are not actually the first to know about this. All my newsletter subscribers are. In fact, anytime I have big news or secret info, the awesome people who get my newsletter will always hear about it first. Including, opportunities to get an early review copy. So if you aren't signed up for my newsletter, do it now. You'll also get a free copy of my DIY Blog Tour handbook, so it's a win-win-win.

Finally, let me say thank you. The well-wishes I've already received have been so lovely. I can't wait to share my book with the world, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun without all of you there to share it with me. You guys rock my face off, red lipstick and all.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gorilla Snot: Because words matter

A few weeks ago I mentioned this product in one of my videos:

In case that's too hard to read, it says gorilla snot gel. Yep, it does. And in case you think this is a product typo, here's another one.

Yep, it got worse. That is a picture of a gorilla with snot coming out of its nose. Before you ask, yes, this is a real product, and yes, you can buy it in US.

Now, to be fair, there is a lot of truth in advertising here. If you open up the container of gorilla snot, that's exactly what it looks like. A big tub of snot.

Had this particular jar of hair product not been in the dollar bin and was I not such a penny pincher, I would never have picked it up. Why? Because there is nothing even remotely tempting about a product that openly compares itself to animal boogers.

I have to guess there is a reason this product (which works pretty well, actually) was in the dollar bin, while similar products are selling off the shelves at ten times the price. And that reason would be the words used to describe it.

Words matter.

How you talk about yourself.
How you talk about your books.
What you title your books.

For a prime example of this check out the twitter meme #badmoviedescriptions. Here's one of my favorites.


The point is that words matter. If you refer to your book in general terms or don't talk about it with gusto, then don't be surprised if readers aren't lining up to read it. Don't talk about yourself as a hack or a part-time writer or anything other than the professional that you are (or that you're aiming for). Give your book a title that draws readers in. Don't call your hair gel Gorilla Snot.
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