Thursday, August 26, 2010

Being a Fangirl and an Agent

On Being a Fangirl

I have been very fortunate to be able to represent authors whose works I love and whose careers I want to see grow. Being a fangirl of many of my authors' works prior to representing them, I think, has given me the advantage in knowing their voice well and being able to translate that to my pitch is seamless. While I love to read queries and find great stories with strong voices there too, I have to admit having an author whose works you've loved for a while contact you and ask you to be their agent is mind-blowing! Recently, I added Sean Kennedy, Alex Beecroft, M. Jules Aedin and Heidi Cullinan to my list of clients and their works have been stories that when I first read them I was in awe and quickly ran to tell my friends of the new books they needed to buy.

On Being an Agent

Turning that relationship from fangirl extraordinaire to agent representing the author's best interest has been pretty easy for me. If I love the story, I can sell it. If I love the author, I will fight to the death for their success. I want their books sold, not JUST because I make money for my efforts but because I'm a fangirl, first and foremost, and can't bear the thought of not having their works out there for me to buy. I suppose being selfish in this business is a good thing.

So, am I still reading queries?

Oh hell yes, I am! I've received some rather interesting ones and am looking forward to diving back into my query pile later this week. I've got queries dating back to May 1st and am slowly going through them. I answer every query so if it takes me a while to get back to you, please forgive me but know you will get a response from me one way or another. If you have submitted a query prior to May 1 and have not heard from me, nudge me. It's very likely that your query ended up in my spam folder and I didn't see it. I don't want to miss an opportunity to become your fangirl too!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One Caress

Every time I see this meme, I do it. I just love it that much! Ha!

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, iPod, etc. on shuffle.

2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

3. You must write that song name down no matter how silly it sounds.

How do you feel today? Los Tenis (The Sneakers)

If someone says “you’re hot”, you say? Send Me an Angel

How would you describe your life? Spanish Doll

What is your life long goal? Boom Boom Pow

What do your friends think of you? Wolf_Howl (sound effects)

What do your parents think of you? Chiquitita

What do you often think about? Bella Luna

What do you think of the person who likes you? Hammering in my Head

What does your best friend always say to you? Circle of Life

What do you want to be when you grow up? See Saw

What is your favourite saying? Womenizer

What will you dance to at your wedding? No One

What will be played at your funeral? La Gota Fria (The Cold Drop)

What is your biggest fear? La Llamada (The Call)

What do you think of your house? Everything Counts

What do you wish you were doing now? Take a Bow

What was the last thing you said? Hey, Soul Sister [had to stop here and listen to the song all the way through and sing along. Love Train!

What are you thinking about? Moonlight Serenade

What are you wishing for? Fred's Dead

Describe your looks? He's a Pirate

Describe your personality? Goodbye Girl

Describe yourself as the whole package? It's in the Rain

If someone compliments you, you say? Prodigal

What do you think of this quiz? We Miss Quidditch

Your child’s birth song? Nothing's Impossible

Your marriage song? Dear Mr. President

Your breakdown song? Circus

Your death song? American Boy

Your funeral song? Rain

Your happy song? I'm the Only One

Your sad song? Push It to the Limit

Your suicide song? Sugar Pie Honey Bunch

Your divorce song? The Best Thing

Your graduation song? Sunshine Girl

Your sex song? I'll Stand By You

What will you post this as? One Caress

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Looking for a great cover artist?

I love Graphic Designers! They make the beautiful covers, banners and marketing pieces that makes us want to buy the books we love and drool over the lovely images they portray! ;)

Just wanted to share the amazing talents of Tuesday Dube who created an amazing banner for Kele Moon's upcoming Ellora's Cave release Beyond Eden.

From Blogger Pictures

She's pretty amazing, huh?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lessons In the Attic with a Borzoi

My parents are remarrying at the end of the month after being divorced for many years. In the process of recombining their households (Dad's moving back into the house) they have started clearing out closets, old trunks and the long-lost boxes in the attic.

Among the dust and debris are memories my sisters and I stored away in cardboard boxes eaten up by mold, mothballs & the occasional rodent no one dares admit to existing in my mother's pristine home. Today, I returned to look through dust-ridden boxes for memories from my youth. Among them were my marching band hat (the marching Grenadiers) along with my officer tassels and spats. Buried under TONS of dust-covered notebooks were some of the reference books I completely forgotten about. Among them my World Book Encyclopedia (c) 1986 and The Borzoi Handbook for Writers, (c) 1985.

The Borzoi is more than a dog Do any of you remember this book? It was a required textbook for my Freshman Comp class in 1991and I can't even remember how much I paid for it at the time. But like my World Book Encyclopedia, also dust-ridden sitting beside my old college textbooks, these reference books are ones I treasure above everything else. (Yes, even among my hideous marching band hat; the black Q-tip!) These books were my best friends when my mother would ground me for reading inappropriate material at a young age. (Damn you Dean Koontz and Patricia Cornwell!) My mother dictated what could be read and not read under her roof and she had no problem with my immersing myself in a reference tome. These reference books were my key to a brand new world... or worlds of my own making. With these reference books, I learned to write.

With gems like: Do Not Overuse the Verb to Be, Convey Action through a Verb, Not a Noun and Avoid an Unnecessary That or What Clause I learned how to communicate in prose. The Borzoi book in particular has advice I have used and shared with my clients and friends when helping to edit their works.

From Do Not Overuse the Verb to Be:
"Correct" But Actionless
It was clear that the soprano was no longer in control of the high notes that had been a source of worry to her for years.

Clearly, the soprano had lost control of the high notes that had been worrying her for years.

From Avoid an Unnecessary That or What Clause:

At the present time, the realities of nuclear terror are such that countries that possess equal power find, when they oppose each other, that the weapons that carry the most force are precisely the weapons that they cannot use.

In this age of nuclear terror, equal adversaries are equally powerless to use their strongest weapons.

Here thirty-nine words have been compressed into sixteen, and a slack, cud-chewing sentence has become tight and balanced.

Thank you traveling World Book salesman My encyclopedia taught me about the world beyond the Bible (I was born and raised in the Baptist church). Every night, I would read about the nations whose religions and cultures appeared foreign when spoken of from the pulpit with pity or disdain. When my mother would throw away my Dean Koontz books or make me throw away my romance books, she would give me two options for reading material: the Bible or the Encyclopedia. I'm not a preacher or a priest, though I'm a huge fan of their wardrobe, so I'm sure you can guess which good books I chose to read. The wealth of information contained in these tomes, coupled with my very active imagination, helped shape stories of tribal princesses captured by tyrannical Spaniards, priest-turned-vampire searching for his soulmate for centuries through Eastern Europe and Latina teenager coping with a friend's cystic fibrosis diagnosis.

Now, if I could only find the actual manuscripts to those stories... perhaps in another box!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The future is closer than we thought

I've been saying this for several years so really, it should come as no surprise when I use the cliche: The future is now and it's digital.

Why is this such a shock? Those of us in the digital marketplace can tell you, we've seen and lived in this new "scary venture" for years now and while the road's been bumpy, the journey has been completely worthwhile. Digital publishing is no longer the wave of the future. It's the new face of publishing.

When Dorchester, one of the oldest publishers of mass market trade paperback, announced today their decision to move to a digital sales model, leaving behind the mass market sales model and choosing a POD (print-on-demand) option, the outcry and shock hit the waves almost as fast as the announcement of a beloved artist's demise. Why the long face? Dorchester has simply taken a step toward improving their bottom line and in the process of doing so, will be able to provide authors with an opportunity to cut out the middle man.

No More Middle Man. What does this mean for authors? Higher royalties, less worry about returns and higher sales. How is this a bad thing? It's not the death of print. If I hear this cliché one more time, I think I'll scream. We're at a turning point in the publishing industry, a digital renaissance as-it-were and as it has been with every revolution, this digital one has opened new venues and opportunities for everyone. Yes, what iTunes has done for the music industry, the ePubs are doing for publishing.

There is a reason bookstores like Barnes & Noble put themselves up for sale. When sales via eReaders outnumber the physical sales at the brick-and-mortar stores, bookstores and publishers take notice. When the music industry changed, artists found themselves with the opportunity to make more money without having to loan out money to the record label for their talent. When books are not sold at the bookstores these return to the publishers who then charge the author a reserve against those returns. In digital, there are no real returns. Every digital download requested is what is supplied.

While the print world has looked for ways to change, digital publishers jumped into the fray with their eyes on the future and their heart in their hands. The leap has paid off handsomely. Today, Dorchester took that leap.

So to the naysayers and panic-stricken people who today were shocked by their announcement, I say, "Welcome to the Digital pool! The cabana boys are ready and the water's great! Take the leap!"

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Effective Writing and Blogging for Authors

Moo cards for blogging workshopImage by Mexicanwave via Flickr

The incomparable Sacha Illivych is guest-blogging today on the importance of effective writing and blogging for authors.

The big trend lately is effective blogging and that’s a topic many authors who write romances are unable to grasp.  We tend to deal in hard fiction, as it were and thus we tend to spout off on whatever random topic seems to come to mind without throwing a care to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or the mechanics of Google ranking.  Worse yet, we tend to talk about things that don’t really matter as they don’t forward our career.

The problem with this is that it may show us having versatile interests; it doesn’t always draw attention to our platforms.  When we speak of author platforms, we’re really trying to show how diverse our writing abilities are in a manner that does one of a few things.  Either our blogs need to reflect our writing style as an extension of our brand, or they need to show more depth of who we are as authors.

So many blogs I’ve seen do little to help the author. Yes, in some instances we’re trying to strike controversy but does that help us?  Take it from the KING of bad publicity (gay fish, anyone?) when I blog about my favorite oral fetishes on some romance blog, even if my language is appropriate for that blog, all I’m really doing is capitalizing on the short lived success of controversy.  When I discuss cross dressing on my own blog though, there is more relevance there due to my varied writing in erotic romance. 

Be clear about our content.  Ask yourself about the voice of the blog you’re writing for.  Is it fun?  It is quirky?  Is it serious?  Does it require a modicum of professionalism?  Tailor your voice to suit that of the blog.  On the Midnight Seductions Authors blogs for example, I tend to write about the process of writing from the standpoint of an established author.  I have been writing longer than any other author in our blog aside from some of our guests.  I have a lot of sage advice to offer.

Examine what topics you’re blogging on and why.  When I put out a post on cross dressing, my point at the time was to use SEO tactics in hopes of capturing some traffic for affiliate marketing.  I targeted that post to the few blogs I appear on where it’s appropriate. 

Spend some actual time learning the delicate yet simple art of SEO.  In this case I’m going to suggest you target your blogs to sites with a ton of traffic as I’ve learned from Student4Ever and a few others that back links from sites with a lot of traffic give Google the impression that you’re an expert.  Learn proper link placement.  It doesn’t make sense to use my name as a keyword.  Nobody’s going to search for Sascha Illyvich the author, my analytical tools prove this.  Sure I get hits based on that but it’s usually when I’ve said something of value. 
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