agents

Unentangled

tumblr_lq1eqiCcil1qdwjb5o1_250At the UNVEILED launch party, I was asked when WILD CARD would see a print edition. This led to a brief discussion of my arrangement with Entangled Publishing. You can see that conversation in the questions here. As I've said time and again, I am nothing but thankful to Entangled Publishing for what they did for WILD CARD. However, after a few too many miscommunications and issues with them, the publisher and I are severing ties. The process began in December, and as of January 19th, the rights to WILD CARD have reverted to me.

Some of you were keen observers and noticed that WILD CARD disappeared from every possible sales outlet back then. You asked me about it publicly and privately, and I had to keep mum on the matter. And that sucked. I hated not being able to tell you guys, especially when asked point blank. It felt like I was lying to you in an odd way.

You might be wondering why it took so long to write this post. The answer to that is simple:  Because contracts are sticky things. And that's all I can really say on the matter publicly.

Now, rights reversion isn't something everyone typically talks about around the water cooler or dinner table, so a lot of you are probably curious about what this means in real terms? Here's a quick and dirty rundown. (If you have any questions that aren't addressed here, please, by all means, ask them in the comments and I'll respond if I am able.)

  1. tumblr_lq1eqiCcil1qdwjb5o6_r2_250WILD CARD's disappearance from the world is temporary. As Entangled no longer has rights to do so, they have stopped selling the book across all formats. The links on Kobo, B&N, Amazon and iTunes have all been taken down and it is, as of this post, not available for purchase.
  2. Entangled's rights to Wild Card included print, digital, audio, translation and film. Now that all of those rights have returned to me, I am in control of all of the above. (So anyone interested in producing a Cat Sharp film, RPG, or graphic novel should give my agent, Jennie Goloboy, a call.)
  3. Yes, I am going to self-publish Wild Card. I've been working on the formatting and grunt work of making that happen over the past few months while we've been struggling with the former publisher. A print version will be available via Amazon/Createspace for those interested in such a thing, but at present there are no plans to have it in stores with its sibling UNVEILED. (Why? Frankly, I don't have the bandwidth or resources to make that happen right now. I've got a lot of other projects demanding my time, energy and money. Another Kickstarter is just not something I can produce at the present time.) I do, however, hope to have print copies available for purchase at both Phoenix Comic Con and CONvergence.
  4. The cover art WILL change. The original cover image belongs to Entangled. The amazing artist who did the cover for UNVEILED last year, Nathalia Suellen, has already created a new cover for WILD CARD. In fact, you can see it below.

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None of this crazy back and forth is what I wanted for Cat, Marius, Flynn and the stories in that world. But it's what I've got. Gotta make the best of it and tell you the stories in the ways that are available to me. As long as there are people who want to know what comes next, I'll keep working at making them.

As an aside, I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the ladies of Red Sofa Literary, Jennie Goloboy and Dawn Frederick. Seriously, navigating this insane quagmire without these agents would be incredibly difficult, confusing and disheartening. Authors wondering if they should spend the time looking for an agent? Situations like *this* are precisely why you want someone in your corner. I could not have done this without them.

So yeah, this is weird. Feels like going tightrope walking without a net, because I no longer have a publisher backing my novels.

It's good news, though. It's terrifying. It's exhilarating. It's what's best for me and my work.

We'll figure it out. Any questions?

 

PS: And yes, this is one of the big bits of news I've been sitting on since December. 

UPDATE: 4/27/15, 4PM AZ time - WILD CARD is available again! The print version will take another week to go live, but the digital version is available on Kobo, Nook and Amazon. iTunes to follow in the next few days as it populates on the site. But it's live, baby!

So You're New Here?

NBC-the-more-you-know-300x197There's always someone diving into the writer pool. Some new, hopeful soul wanting to "make it", or "get published". Someone who decides they're going to be an Author-with-a-capital-A. All of us start off as rookies. And being the newb can be scary. I mean, traditional publishing already comes with this weird cloak of mystery. It can sometimes feel like you need to know the secret handshake just to follow someone on Twitter. So, here is some free Rookie Author 101 advice for those who are doing the writing thing and want to go pro. 1. Research.

Seriously, I can't stress this one enough. I know I've gone on and on about it at length before, but it's ridiculously important. If you're going to start submitting to magazines, agents, publishers, editors and such hoping for publication, your first job (other than writing a good piece) is to do your research. Follow publishing professionals on Twitter and other social media. Join up on the message boards on Absolute Write Water Cooler, QueryTracker, The Grinder, and Preditors and Editors. Whenever you're looking at potential submissions, check them out at the above places. Look up their submission guidelines and FOLLOW THEM. Find out how your favorite authors got where they are and learn from that. Above all else, you need to do this legwork.

2. Get serious about your social media.

blogthisIf you're on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, know that once you start submitting your work to agents, editors and publishers, other people are going to come looking for you. Those same people you've researched? When you submit work to them, they will probably check you out if they're interested in your work. They want to know that you're professional, that you can work well within certain confines of the job, and that you can also be discreet.

How can you appear more professional?

  • Don't flame other authors, professionals. Don't like something someone said or did? Get a rejection letter from that agent? Don't go plastering it on your Twitter feed for the world to see.
  • Did you get an offer of representation or publication five minutes ago? Sweet! Don't post about it on Facebook yet. In fact, many publishers and agents ask that you don't mention anything until after you've all signed the appropriate contracts. Hell, I've got amazing news that I'm still not at liberty to tell you guys. I've been holding on to it since before Christmas. Part of the publishing industry is keeping things close to the chest. It starts with your social media before you've even gotten your first contract.
  • Do NOT post screengrabs of rejection or acceptance letters. Why? First of all, if it contains a professional's email address, that's highly unprofessional. Many agents' emails are public due to the nature of the submissions process, but some agencies rely on a generic slush email and distribute to specific agents after that first contact. Editors? They can be EXTREMELY secretive about their professional emails and with good cause. Can you imagine if your already burgeoning inbox suddenly got a glut of slush stories because some author posted your email address on Twitter? Furthermore, not every acceptance is identical. Your letter may offer something different than the next author, and those terms can be sensitive. And, again, posting these things shows a lack of discretion on your part. Authors who can't be discreet can be harder to work with. Authors who are hard to work with....? They get less work.
  • Do NOT solicit advice from strangers on the Internet. You think you want your favorite author to read your story? Don't ask her. Did you get a contract and now you need another set of eyes on it? Do not go asking random authors/strangers on Twitter to do this for you. You're about to make a major business decision. Now, if you've met an editor/agent/author at a convention and they've offered to help you, or if a professional has a blog that is open to questions and such, by all means, use that resource. However, it is bad form to send a total stranger a message asking, "Could you please help me make a legal choice?"

3. Remember that people talk with one another.

judging you

That shit you talked online? Yeah, someone saw that. The comment you made at a convention? Someone heard you. The letter you sent to that agent who rejected you? She told her colleagues about it.

Publishing is a very tight community. We all talk to each other and word travels quickly. Remember that.

 

 

4. Talk to other people.

See that above comment? Make it work for you. Talk to other authors in the querying process. Get involved on forums, use private chats, and talk. Just as word about authors behaving badly will spread quickly, so will news of an agent being a dick. We authors talk. We know who to avoid, who is a total douche at conventions, who is an absolute dream to hang out with even though her Twitter is acerbic and vulgar....we know which editors get back to authors quickly and we know which agents take 6 months to request a partial. Make the community work in your favor by digging into it and being a part of it.

5. Remember Wheaton's Law.

Don't be a dick.

Seriously. Everyone has an off day. Everyone gets rejected, or pissed off, or confused, or scared. Writing can be lonely. Pursuing publication can be terrifying and isolating (because your friends and family don't always get it.) But remember that everyone you're dealing with is a person with their own story. That agent is just getting back from maternity leave. That editor who hasn't responded in the past two hours? Just had neck surgery. That author you're trying to talk with at a convention is on a deadline, stressed about family and really doesn't do well with crowds. One of the best lessons to learn early in your career is to treat people with respect and humanity. Be kind.

 

Not everyone has an Obi Wan Kenobi to show them the ropes of the publishing industry. A lot of people have learned by doing, making mistakes and getting back up. But a lot of resources exist to make your job a little easier. Blogs, message boards, books, social media feeds, websites... it's all there for you to use to your advantage. (You'll still make mistakes, but hopefully they'll be less painful than they otherwise might be if you go it alone.)

Author Resources

73939_577048382318763_336731172_nHi! So I just got home from my first stint at a con as a guest! Thank you to CopperCon and all those who attended. Very special thanks to T.M. Williams and Michelle M Welch for sharing panels with me. And to Sharon Skinner for hanging out and talking. I've posted previously about using the internet/social media to promote yourself and extend your network. Well, I did that at CopperCon, too. If you were at my two panels today--Writers and Social Media and Author Resources in the Digital Age--I promised that I would post the links I talked about. Here, my loves, is that post.  Other authors, please feel free to add your own resources to this list in the comments.

Also, if we met at CopperCon, say hi!

-j.

Social Networks:

Twitter Facebook Google Plus (G+)

Media/Image:

Pinterest - image sharing site Spotify - music sharing, playlists Instagram - image sharing site Flickr - image sharing site

Writer-centric websites:

Book Country - a workshopping website for authors to share work, find crit partners, talk about the industry on forums. Now has self-publishing options Absolute Write Water Cooler - forums that are a HUGE help! Preditors And Editors - watchdog site Writer Beware - watchdog site/blog Query Tracker - good info on what agents to query, forums, organizational tools Goodreads - book reviews Publisher's Marketplace - profiles on editors, agents; lists of book deals; good info on current events in the industry Hey Publisher - database of markets for short fiction

Some Twitter Chats: #askagent #yalitchat #writerchat #pubtip

Blog Hosting Websites:

Wordpress Blogger/Blogspot Tumblr

Some Authors/Professionals I Follow*: Chuck Wendig - author Paul Cornell - author Karina Cooper - author Cherie Priest - author Sam Sykes - author Peter Orullian - author Jim C Hines - author John Scalzi - author Delilah S Dawson - author Kerry Schafer - author Allison Pang - author Lou Anders - editor at Pyr books, author Lee Harris - editor at Angry Robot books Sara Megibow - agent Laura Bradford - agent Colleen Lindsay - former agent, professionally Random Penguin.

Podcasts:

Writing Excuses 

 

*If I didn't mention you here, I'm sorry. This list of people I follow is in the hundreds. If you want a comprehensive list, visit my Twitter page and check out all the cool people on my "following" list. <3

Thank You For Being A Friend

237419_600 I've talked here before about the importance of networking. As writers, we need to build relationships with not just readers but with other authors, agents, editors...people throughout the publishing process. It's important for many reasons that are beneficial to your career and further education, but also necessary for your sanity.

I don't know about other writers, but I live in my head. A lot. I'm home alone for many hours a day while my daughter is at school with an Internet, a couple of cats and a Word document staring at me with more expectation than a Jewish mother. If something is weighing on my mind, it's going to rattle around up there and my personal echo chamber will fill up with it. Meanwhile there are characters that need wrangling and deadlines to meet.  Often someone will offer the old chestnut of, "Focus on your work." For me that's not as helpful because my work is in my head, too. I don't get up and go somewhere else and put in a 9-to-5 somewhere. So that can be difficult as hell to deal with sometimes.

Unless you have people around you who are sympathetic to such idiosyncracies.

Thursday I was reminded just how awesome it is to know there are people out there who understand what it's like to have a Writer Brain.  Author and amazing woman Charlaine Harris has caught some flack recently for her decisions in ending the Sookie Stackhouse series. That's a completely different topic and I'm not getting into it. (I don't want the spoilers. I will read the shit out of that book next month.)  Anyway... commenting on those events, one person had this to say:

 Listen up, gang: Readers don't get to decide what a writer does with his or her characters; the writer gets to decide. Period. Charlaine has lived with Sookie Stackhouse in her head for more than thirteen years; I'm pretty sure she knows exactly what's right for the characters she's created. Also? GET OFF MY LAWN!

The part that really struck me was the bit about Charline living with Sookie in her head. I read that and thought, "There's someone who gets it."

Again, I can't speak for other authors, but there are days I question my sanity. I live with all these imaginary people in my head. I talk to them and about them...and it's socially acceptable. I lie on paper for your enjoyment. I'm picking apart conversations, movies, stories...mining reality for something to add to fantasy, searching for nuggets of truth that will get you to believe me when I spin my pretty lies. I am manipulating you into caring about people who don't exist. According to the screams from some of my beta readers, I've succeeded.

This is cool. This is weird as hell.

I'm so full of gratitude to the people who allow me into their heads, for those who accept my strange brew and get it that there are more people than me living in my head. One of my beta readers asked a question about Book 3 (currently in drafting) and I answered. In. Character. It was like there was this moment where a character just shoved me aside and started typing for me.

hannibal-lecter2When stuff like that happens, or when I cry because I just said goodbye to a character, or when I giggle at something one of them said... there are people who understand that while I'm writing it, it's not always me. They get the difference. It's like actors. You know that Anthony Hopkins is not a serial killer, but for a time, he has to wear that skin. Hannibal Lecter is speaking through Hopkins. We writers get to do something very similar, channeling these characters and living their lives with them.

I'm very thankful for the people who put up with me as a writer. For the people who get it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a book to write.

An Offer I Can't Refuse?

As most long-time readers know, I've been actively questing to build a writing career since 2008. In October of 2010 I signed with a literary agent for my zombie novel. That ended abruptly in June of 2011.

For many reasons, I put that book away and wrote another one, the start of my Etudes in C# series. In December, 2011 I started querying it.

Here it is, April of 2012 and I can finally share with you what this latest foray into querying has been like. Sit back (this one is long) and let me tell you a tale, a tale of a fateful trip....

I started querying TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES in early December. That month, I saw a lot of rejections. I revamped the query letter a couple of times, but other than a single partial request from one of my dream agents (awesome!) December was uneventful. Right up until the end. I found out about open submissions going on at a small press. The acquiring editor there is someone I've followed on Twitter for a while and I really respect her work. The chance to get my manuscript under her eyes was priceless, so even though it's generally frowned upon to sub to both pubs and agents, I took the shot. A couple of days before 2012, I sent a partial and a query to Editor A (a is for AWESOME!), just barely skirting the submission deadline.

January opened with a bang. The year was only two or three days old when Editor Awesome requested the full manuscript. Two days later, Agent A requested the first three chapters of the book. An hour later, she emailed back saying, "That was fun! Send me the rest!" Yeah. An hour. My flabber was well and truly gasted on that one, so I sent it to her tout suite. The next week? Agent B requested a full and Editor Awesome made me an offer of publication.
Seriously, we weren't even 2 weeks into the year and already I was spazzing out with epic loads of fantastic.
Ultimately, I passed on the offer from Editor Awesome. I know. I can hear the screech of tires as you go back to re-read. You did what? You rejected an offer of publication?! WHY? Look. She is fabulous and her feedback was priceless. I really hope she and I can work together on other projects in the future because she really is that awesome. However, I had to make a decision based on what I want for this series of books I'm writing. So, I passed.
Agent A requested some minor revisions to the manuscript, and I got them back to her at the end of February. Honestly, February passed much like December: nothing to report. In March, Agent B left the agenting biz, but the agency said they would still review my manuscript and get back to me. Meanwhile, Agents C and D requested partials. With the revisions done, I decided to try again with a few agents who had rejected the piece in December. I sent out four requeries and got a partial request from one that ultimately ended in a no. While I'm doing this, a rocktastic friend of mine who is multiply-published sent me a private message asking if I'd queried her agent. I told her I had in December and got a form rejection within a couple of days. My friend was adamant: query her. Query her right now. So, I checked the shine on my query and fired off one more to her. We'll call her Agent E.

Flash forward to my birthday, April 6. Agent A gets back to me saying, "I love the revisions. Can we talk on the phone next week." *blink* Really? Did I just get the "Let's set up a call" email on my birthday? Woot! I did. We did. And on April 9 that phone call ended in an offer of representation. I hung up the phone, ate the last piece of leftover birthday cake and sent out a barrage of emails to all of the agents who still had queries or submissions. Agent B (or rather her agency) bowed out immediately and I can understand why. Agent D also bowed out saying that while she and her colleagues enjoyed the writing, the manuscript just wasn't a good fit. Which is more than fine. (Remember: Having no agent is better than having the wrong agent.)

A lot of people might think that getting The Call makes the decision a simple one. Why query if you're going to say no to an agent? Well, I've learned the hard way that it is something to think about even longer than you imagine is necessary. That experience has made me gunshy, perhaps excessively so. I stayed up late April 11 with a brain that wouldn't shut off. I kept mulling over the hesitations I had. Now, I've talked about going with your gut. Part of that, though, is learning when your gut is talking and when it's just your gutless fear. Fear is the killer. Don't mistake it for instinct. I talked to myself, tried to untangle all the knots that snagged my thinking process. When I came to a conclusion, I slept on it. The next morning, it still seemed clear as crystal. So I slept on it again just to make sure.

I woke up Friday the 13th ready to make my decision and act on it. I just had to wait on confirmation from Agents C and F that we were not going to move forward. When they both got back to me, I emailed Agent A to tell her my decision.

Many were the squees heard that day. Had to wait a bit to bust out with the good news so that ink and paper could make their way across the country. But now? Now I can officially announce that I am represented by Jennie Goloboy at Red Sofa Literary Agency. I am beyond excited to work with her and can't wait to see how both of our careers grow.

What really made the decision easy? Jennie's excitement for the project is palpable. She really loves the book, believes in it and I believe she will do everything she can to make sure it's sold. That enthusiasm is paramount. As I've learned, contacts can be built, but a genuine love of a story is golden and damn necessary. Otherwise, what's the point?

To recap:

Between December 5, 2011 and March 27, 2012 I sent a total of 75 query letters to 68 literary agents and two publishers. (Yes, five of those agents received two queries from me because they rejected an earlier draft and I wanted to try again. I'm tenacious like that.) Of those 75 queries:

14 went unanswered. This happens for various reasons. Maybe my query got stuck in cyberspace somewhere. What's more likely, though, is that these agents have a "no response means no" policy. 9 came back with requests for pages.

  • 4 requested a partial manuscript
  • requested a full manuscript
  • 1 partial request escalated to a full request
Out of those requests:
1 publisher made an offer of publication.
agent made an offer of representation.
The rest were all rejections. That tells you what you should've known already: I'm batshit insane to put myself through this kind of thing. BUT, in the end it's those last two numbers that count, isn't it?Keep moving forward.