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The Agent-Author Relationship

Every writer out there wants to land their dream agent. EVERY author. Not just the aspiring ones. While attending the COFW conference earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending a session where well seasoned, successful authors and agents talked about what the agent-author relationship should be. The session was brilliant, eye opening and informative. I’m going to share some notes I took that day.

First of all, the relationship should be a real one. This is more than just business. While yes, business is what brought you together, with any luck, the relationship will be a long one where the two of you work together toward a common goal. The focus is your career. Not this one book. Not to be shopping besties. Not to sell a series and part ways afterward. You should enter into the relationship with a long term goal. So, ask yourself now if you have one of those and what is it?

You should talk with your agent openly about what you want from your writing career in the short and long term so there’s a path to start down and a direction to head. Where do you want to be in 1 yr, 5 yrs, 10? What are your goals along the way? What can you do to get there? Your agent has a different perspective and can offer advice to help you if you share.

A big mistake new authors make, according to the panel is to NOT contact their agent when something bothers them. Hey, I get that. We walk on glass to land an agent. It took a year to get them from query to partial to full to offer. We are somewhat conditioned to never-ever-never bother the agents. They’re busy. We can’t be needy or bug them. Well, once you sign, that changes. AT that point you become a team and holding back when something’s plucking at you will breed stress and frustration on both sides. If you’re not comfortable talking to your agent, you might not have the right one. It really is a relationship.

A few other items that caught my attention at this session:

Make sure you have markers to measure your success. Don’t set an impossible goal and if you do, set smaller ones along the way so you don’t become discouraged. For most writers, a career in the business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Challenge yourself. Grow your career.

Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Try not to miss anything in the beginning while you’re building your brand and image. These building blocks are the foundation for what is yet to come. Make em count.

Finally, keep your agent in the know. Figure out what he or she needs to know so they can stay on top of things, not duplicate your work and promote your efforts.

The agent-author relationship is a team effort and working together is the secret to your success.

NaNoWriMo Newbie Right H.E.R.E

I’ve covered NaNoWriMo with more than a couple posts since starting this blog, but I never considered taking part…until now. This year is the year I’m joining the leagues of writers every where. I am NaNoING. Sure, I have lots to learn. Like bunches. And bundles. But that’s alright. You gotta start somewhere. So, I went over to the site and set up my profile and filled in the deets of the sequel I need to get busy on, only to discover I’m supposed to start something completely new. Nuts. So, now I need a new idea. Bummer. My time is slipping away and I need an idea – a good one.

But I also learned about local groups who meet in person and shock upon shock – my little city has one! I am not even kidding you right now. My eyes are like saucers still. I’m following them on twitter and FB and watching them on the NaNo site. I can’t believe it. Also, I added a #NaNoWriMo column to my tweetdeck so I can tweet with other word warriors all next month and make some new besties too. I know my words won’t be quality at such a frantic pace, BUT I WILL have a nice framework and some characters doing things and a setting put together. I’d say after 30 days, I’ll have enough of a rough draft to hold a fully submittable ms in my hand before the snow stops falling in Ohio. That beats the fudge outta thinking about it until then :) What can I say? I’m a jump first look later girl. Now, to outline something….

That’s my deal. I’m holding my chin high. I’m gonna do it! I just need a story idea and some rough details in the next two weeks and I’m golden. LOL. No probs.

Now, how about you? Do you NaNo? Will you this year?

Review: Angel Burn L.A. Weatherly

I happened across this YA at the bookmobile. It was one of those moments, waiting behind 57 gradeschoolers to checkout when the cover caught my eye. Then the title. Then the blurb… I brought it home and stuck it on my treadmill where all hardback books go to wait for TREADMILL TIME!!! <– that was in my best DJ Paulie D voice. That guy’s a kick. Anyway…I rarely do book reviews, but I wanted to tell you about this one.

Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly

Angel Burn is about angels, yes, but unlike the trend, these angels aren’t of the heavenly good v evil variety. Oh no. In Angel Burn, the angels are some kind of alien beings. They feed on people’s energy source leaving them with “Angel Burn.” They see the angels in angelic form and feel all warm and special and gooey. The believers build churches around the country to worship them and humans come in droves to see the angels. Those who don’t believe just don’t bother with them. Those who do are in awe. Angels are yumming up the country on willing people and only one Angel Killer remains.

So, I hope that didn’t just spoil everything for you…but there’s also a girl and she’s very special. There’s a boy sent to kill her. Yeah, I said it. He was sent to KILL her. OMG. I flipped through the pages as I ran, I carried the book to the shower (left it outside) picked it up again. I HATED the alien soul sucking angel thingys. I ADORED Willow (that’s the very special girl) and I d-r-o-o-l-e-d over the would be killer. I swear when they finall…okay I know I’m going to spoil something…

If you love YA, pick up this book. It’s got all our favorite stuff like intrigue and romance and tension and lurve. It’s got action and panic and WTH?? It’s fabulous. PLUS it’s got a great twist on angels. I’ve read my share of angel YA in the last year and am looking forward to reading Becca Fitzpatrick’s Silence asap, but Angel Burn is a really great twist on something we already love.

Evil angel alien beings. I mean…isn’t that completely awesome?

Try it. Betcha like it.

Conference Sticky Topic of Interest: Does Social Media Matter?

While attending the COFW – Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s Conference early this month, I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people. Many are aspiring authors like me. Some were very well seasoned writers, best sellers even. I met editors and agents and the nicest lady ever born from the Publishers Weekly blog. During a Q&A session where the industry professionals played the role of panel, the audience had some great questions. I liked this one (and plan to share a few more in the days to come)….

Does social media really matter?

I watched them shift in their seats. They looked at one another. They passed the microphone around saying things that didn’t match their body language. From this I gathered social media is a sticky topic. There is the obvious problem with having nudey college pics and drunken college brawl mug shots to bite your career as a children’s author in the butt. Also, something I touched on earlier, maybe a past self pub endeavor that hit the toilet.  Bottom line: If you have nasty stuff online with your name on it, it’ll hurt you. On this, they all agreed.  But, you can always change your name.

Part 2 to the question:

Okay, but will you still want us if we don’t blog or twitter or otherwise clog up the social media circuit with our quick wit and irresistible charm?

Yeah. If your story rocks their socks, they’ll work with you on the social media front.

Part Three (Yes. it’s a complicated question & everyone had a follow up): But does it help?

Yeah. It helps.

The first thing they’re going to do after they realize they love your manuscript is tap your name into google. If you don’t come up they’re gonna rub their chin and wonder why? Social media is a sign of the times. While they won’t say ‘no’ based on this, it will make them wonder what you’re waiting for. Branding your self BEFORE you sell will help you sell bigger and this is still a business. Selling equals good.

Some on the panel warned not to “over do it” claiming they want you writing not tweeting all day. Legit. Okay. But what if you can do both? I say go for it. They didn’t. Julie said it. I love social media and enjoy the connection. I tweet while writing, editing, reading, anytime my mind wanders, I shoot out a tweet, crack my knuckles, stretch my neck, you know, then back to work.

Here’s the thing. The Harlequin rep told us Harlequin provides their new authors with social media training. Now all of you who just nodded approvingly that someone will teach you when its time….wait a second. What does that say about social media? It IS important. If it wasn’t why would a publisher waste time and money on training authors in it? Exactly.

Final thoughts from me:

  • Social media is ever present. People use it. People buy books. You should be using it to meet those people.
  • It is free. Free advertising, branding, meeting readers. Free. Free. Free. Why are you still waiting? It’s FREE.
  • I’m reading more and more agent blogs where the agent brags on their big score at finding a new author for their payroll who has mega-superstar-Klout. Making a niche for yourself online is brilliant. Market yourself now before you’re selling something. Get to know readers. Get to know the industry. Don’t miss out on ANY opportunity. They next letter in the slush might be from someone writing your genre who took advantage.

 

Can You Come Back From Self Publishing?

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a fabulous writers conference in Columbus, Ohio. It was my second trip there and I’m already making plans to return. If you are in driving distance, I highly recommend you attend in 2012. If you love YA as I do, you REALLY want to get there as the fabulousness that is Simone Elkeles will be in attendance as well *squeeee*

The conference kicked off Friday night with what every writer wants: A Q&A session with editors and agents. Let me tell you, the audience of writers had lots of questions. Top concern of the evening: What if I e-publish? or e-published in the past and it failed? Does that matter to you?

The resounding murmur told me, they didn’t love it. BUT as each member of the panel answered for themselves, they said – ultimately- if they love what you’ve sent them- and know they can sell it- they will work with any past publishing attempts that failed. The panel members said their first concern is your query, then your pages. If they want to sell it for you, they will. That’s the good news. Bottom line: you can go on to have a traditional publishing career IF you want to, even after a self publishing failure. With that said, I want to point out that more and more agents are eagerly representing authors with a good self publishing experience.

The other side of this is for those writers who self published a tome of yuk. Hey, we all think our first novel is the shiz-net. We send off those queries blissfully certain it’s the next BIG thing. Sadly, our first novel is normally nothing more than experience to build on and fuel to push us forward. But some writers, unwilling to be swayed by rejection, self published those novels or others like them, without really knowing all the rules and understanding the industry. As a result they sold 10 copies, one to each of their parents, grandparents, themself, and then they bought the others too and gave them as Christmas gifts, In those cases, more than one member of the weekend panel said “you can always change your name.” Ouch.

What to take away from this: If you choose to self publish, do it big. Make sure it is AWESOMESAUCE, read by betas, critiqued by as many as possible, polished to a reflective state. Then, prepare a marketing plan to push that baby into selllllll mode. I mean, you wrote a novel, now make it dance for you! Don’t just drop it and hope people find it and buy a copy. And if you are one of the many many many who are disappointed with a previous self pub, know it isn’t your defining moment. You can take it down. You can still change your path. Its never too late to either self pub again with all you know, or try the traditional route. The future – as always- is what YOU make of it. Decide what YOU want and shoot for it.

And remember, if you fall on your head, you can always change your name. LOL

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