Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: agents

The other day, amusingly obscene penmonkey Chuck Wendig posted a prompt about Terrible Minds nicknames to Google+. His note at the time was that one’s first name was the object immediately to one’s right, while one’s surname was one’s greatest fear.

Which is where the title of this post comes from, as mine was Remote Control Mediocrity.

Because it got me thinking about success and how we define it. Years ago, I thought six-figure (or any-figure) book contracts were required for validation, because I thought for sure that if one wrote a “good enough” book–meaning a book that is technically competent in all ways–one could get an agent and attract a corporate publisher like Random House.

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There are lots of ways to share a book and, in doing so, improve as a writer. Not all those ways are created equal, and some work better than others.

I’m pretty sure there are various websites that basically serve as online writing workshops, and I’m nearly certain that part of Richard Nash’s Red Lemonade has some of that functionality, wherein writers post chapters and stories and the best rise to the top. I’ve participated in both writing groups and online writing workshops in the past, and they all share one thing in common: all are best with a smaller amount of material, and honestly most effective for short stories.

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Recently, a friend of mine, Nina Perez, who maintains Blog It Out B, decided to bite the bullet and publish her new novel without the backing of a major corporation or the “advocacy” of a literary agent. This coming Friday, her novel, The Twin Prophecies: Rebirth will launch, and I for one am looking forward to it. She’s been working with a guy named Steven Novak on design and illustration, as well as concentrating on formatting and lay-out.

Launching a novel, especially independently, is an anxiety-filled endeavor. Every author faces the stomach-churn that comes with the launch of a novel, but I’d stake a claim that anxiety is doubled for an independent author, who not only faces the daunting challenge of both reaching new readers and hoping those readers don’t respond negatively, but also faces the general negativity of the publishing industry–including literary agents and editors associated with corporate publishers–as a whole.

As Nina has been prepping her novel for publication, we–we being myself and several of her other friends–have been discussing writing and publishing. We’re a diverse group of writers still emerging, still building, still working, still aspiring. We don’t have contracts with big corporations. A couple of us don’t have books out. But we write, and that’s what counts.

And given that we write, and given that we’ve been discussing writing and publishing, lately, we’ve been discussing Amanda Hocking. How can an aspiring writer not, nevermind to what said writer aspires to. Regardless of whether a writer wants millions of dollars or millions of readers, Hocking seems exemplary of a case study of success.


(There’s always an “except,” isn’t there?)

Now, I’m going to break from discussion, because I’ll not put words in other writers’ mouths. But I’ve noticed Hocking, and her work, and her story, and I’ve gotten a couple samples of her work, and I’ve got to be honest: I don’t get it.

Then again, I didn’t get Twilight, either.

Still, a million teenage girls (and their moms) and the millions of dollars they spent can’t be wrong.

Or can they?

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Now that the holidays are behind and most people in most places are actually back at their desks, I’ve been giving a lot of thoughts to stuff that needs accomplishing. I decided a while ago that, just like with LA and then again with Denver, regardless of whether I managed to get into NYU, I still wanted to return to Manhattan. In the meantime, however, I of course need to make some coin, and so I’ve been looking into temporary but long-term assignments, including subbing again.

In the meantime, though, there are other things that need doin’.

Like querying. Now that the holidays are over and I’m a little less frantic than I was during the autumn, and now, too, that The Prodigal Hour is well-polished (I thought I had to give it another go-over, and so I did, and oddly, there wasn’t anything I thought I had to change. Which is pretty amazing). Today I gathered a list of agents to continue querying; the last go-round had a few requests for partials but never got beyond that (this is, of course, excluding agents who never responded to queries. There were several, from agents who surprised me. And, I mean, I know it takes time, but we’re talking several months out, now), so now it’s time for a new round. With a new query/synopsis.

And I turned my hat backward, which of course means I mean business. Like whoa.

So there’s that happening.

Admittedly, however, the idea of querying right now is daunting. Always conflicting reports about publishing; seems like every publishing company in the nation is downsizing, laying people off, and closing their doors to considering new writers and their manuscripts, but news of high advances keep filtering down the pike. Tina Fey is reportedly getting $5 million, which sort of makes sense, considering the ’08 she had, and Laura Bush apparently got high six if not low seven figures (reports vary), which also makes sense given that that novel about her the other year made a lot of coin, but I have to admit, I can’t understand Sarah Silverman’s $2.5 million advance for whatever she’s working on. I mean, the most interesting thing about her was her “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” video, wasn’t it? Is her show even still on? I haven’t read anything about it (or her, for that matter) in ages.

Still, the thing about publishing is that it’s a longer term investment even than the stock market. A novel picked up right now, even if fast-tracked, probably wouldn’t be published until the middle of next year, at least, and that would be fairly speedy.

And hopefully by then the economy will be somewhat better.

In the meantime, though, that’s what I’ll be doing. And, of course, working on new stuff.

Late at night, I wonder if she ever really had feelings for me. That’s what’s been most difficult: not her leaving, but rather wondering if she was honest.

What’s most difficult is . . . did she really look at me, try to get to know me? Was she open to it? Does she really not have time, or did she look at me and realize, nah, not this one (and then there’s the nagging, well, if I’d handled my feelings better, would it have changed anything, but no, that way lay madness)?

That’s what counts, mostly.

I’d say that she was the first girl in a while I felt anything for, that she was the first girl since my ex- that I really wanted, but that’d be a lie. There were three years between my ex- and her, and those years weren’t filled with girls, no, but they were filled with misplaced emotions.

Misplaced emotions. Not like I lost anything. Just kinda stopped thinkin’ about where I was puttin’ shit.

I fell for her. Girls will only play the games you let them, will only hurt you as hard as you let them, and she crushed me and hollowed me out because I let her. I let her get inside me, and why?

Because one day I saw her smile, and one day she kissed me back, and one day I let her in.

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I finished my novel, The Prodigal Hour, earlier. At final count, I had trimmed nearly 15,000 words from the previous draft–the final clocks in at a brisk, crisp 90,000 words.

All of which, I probably don’t need to tell you, are awesome.

(well. That’s the hope, anyway. Ultimately, it’s for you to decide. And heck, you even show up in the book. Because you’re just that rad)

Given that, I’ve begun to submit it for representation. Just a couple of queries so far to a couple of agents I think would be a really good fit for it.

Actually, really, to a couple of agents I think would fall in love with it.

And can I just ask: in this day and age, what’s with any agent who doesn’t accept e-queries (or any editor/publisher, for that matter)?

Come on: it’s 2008.

(wow. 2008. Yaysh)

Anyway, a few queries out. First round.

Wish me luck!