Tuesday, June 29, 2010
On our submission guidelines it says that Tamela and I do not take hard copy submissions and Diana prefers not to get them. When I get a query and send a request for proposal I am careful to point out that I do not take hard copy and instead point out what I'd like to see and how I want to receive it. I've talked about it in appointments at conferences or when I am on panels, when I've done interviews, it can't be much of a secret.
But here they come, all the time. Why? Why would anyone send a submission without checking the submission guidelines to see how to submit? Or worse, what if they did and took it upon themselves to do hard copy in spite of that? What am I to make of these envelopes that tend to annoy me when they clog up my small mailbox?
Why would I care? I care because I seldom work where these envelopes pile up so I seldom deal with them and I don't like to do that. I care because my office is where my laptop happens to be at the time and that is where I am usually working. I do have a study, but it seems I seldom get to work there and that's where that unsolicited manuscript would be laying. I care because more and more the business of publishing is being carried out online and I want to receive submissions in such a way that shows me how well an author can handle themselves in that medium. I've had some say they don't know how to use a computer and don't do email. It would be virtually impossible for me in today's electronic world to do business with them so that alone is grounds to pass on their manuscript.
I care because I work with a team of editorial assistants and we pass submissions back and forth to each other which needs to be done electronically. And finally I care because I'm not all that fond of spending postage and mailing costs when I don't have to.
There are publishing houses that want a hard copy submission. For them I want the manuscript on my computer so I can look over it before I send it, ensure that the formatting is correct, maybe catch typos or story problems that I can ask the author to deal with before I tie my reputation to theirs by sending it on. That is too inconvenient with a hard copy.
Mostly it's because it is how I asked people to do it. Whether it was because they failed to show me the respect of finding out what I wanted or disregarded the instructions and did it another way, it is a red flag for me or for other agents and editors. And maybe with another agent or editor it is the opposite, an email submission when they said not to do it that way. It isn't the way it was submitted, it's the fact that the guidelines are not followed. Or maybe the content requested was not provided. All the same problem.
The bottom line is that even if I chose to open one up and look at it instead of just returning it unopened, it would have two strikes against it going in. Isn't it just easier to follow the submission guidelines?
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Our sincere congratulations to Jill Williamson as her novel title "By Darkness Hid" is this years Christy Award in the visionary category. Even though Jill is no longer with Hartline I was pleased to be the agent on this book.
This is not only a win for Jill but for Jeff Gerke as his small press went head to head with major publishers and came away with the win.
We are bursting with pride for Jill and for Jeff both and wish them tremendous ongoing success.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Let me put my writer hat on. I met my agent, Joyce Hart, at a writer's conference. Yes, even agents generally have agents, but that was before I started working with her in that capacity.
The contacts I have made that resulted in my first getting published as well as deals since that time and the things I am doing for my clients now primarily come from conferences.
Writers can't write in a vacuum, but "normal" people like our family and friends generally do not really understand so it is important for us to get off and get in contact with other writers for encouragement and support.
We wouldn't try to do heart surgery without the training, or work on cars, or fix plumbing, or anything else so why would we think we could write credibly without learning the skills necessary to do so. Workshops and conferences are the primary place this learning takes place.
There are so many other reasons, but suffice to say we need to make conferences and workshops a central part of our writing efforts. Hartline puts notes up on our blog to help select such a conference and I encourage you to take advantage of those posts in the archives there.
But today I'd like to talk to you about two if you are close enough for them to be feasible. Frontiers in Writing is a two day conference put on in Amarillo Texas June 25-26th by the Panhandle Professional Writers. It's a good conference, quite economical, and I've been associated with it for many years. I recommend it highly.
I also recommend the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference in Philadelphia August 12-14th. Marlene Bagnull puts on an awesome conference and it is more than a writing conference, it is also very much a spiritual retreat. She puts on two a year and I was at the one in Estes Park Colorado a few months ago. This one will help you get your head, your heart, AND your writing in order.
I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is for you to get yourself to a conference if you are serious about your writing, and one of these two would be a great place to start.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Luke credits the success of his walk to all the folks he met along the way, his sponsor's as well as Malcolm, his dog he lost to cancer in 2006.
Two Thousand Miles
and still a ways to go in solving this heartbreaking disease for both Humans and their canine companions.
Luke announced at his gala event that finalized this part of his journey that he and his two dogs, Hudson and Murphy will walk across Europe to continue to bring together all the resources possible to fight this battle. Un- shared information has been one of the impediments to the solution and cure of cancer in both humans and animals. Luke hopes to unite the people in the know, their research and their passion. And he is off to a great start.
Please take a moment to view the above link, Luke's Boston TV interview. It is short and sweet and helps you get to know Luke a wee bit better.
Have a great Tuesday.
From my heart to yours,
Monday, June 21, 2010
Terribly important, and the publisher has the final say on the cover and on the back cover copy. I do try to get at least cover consultation for my clients, but I know the publisher calls the shots. We all know authors who have ended up with covers that they didn't feel represented the content of the book or that they were otherwise unhappy with. We also have a lot who are just estatic with the cover they ended up with. We’ve had a lot of interaction on covers here of late and have been pleased to have our input listened to quite a bit. These covers would come under the heading of covers the authors are very happy with and we expect them to be quite successful.
At the same time we got the cover for the second book in Tammy Barlow’s “Sierra Chronicles” from Whitaker House entitled “Hope’s Promise.” Book one, “Love's Rescue” is already out, and book three, “Faith’s Reward” has been turned in to the publisher. Another one for your must read list.
The cover for Roger Bruner's "Found in the Translation" is the first of a two book release from Barbour coming out Spring of 2011.
I got the final cover on my “A Writers Survival Guide to Getting Published” from Port Yonder Press. Developed in a month long online course taught for the American Christian Fiction Writers, this how-to book will be out in a few months. In can be pre-ordered now at my bookstore and while you are waiting I will send you a free smaller ebook version for free.
Covers are very important, and we try to be proactive and try to have as much input as possible. I think we have some terrific covers coming out, what do you think?
Saturday, June 19, 2010
The Final Mile and Diana is Tagging Along!
Today in Boston, a significant MILE stone is being accomplished. Luke Robinson, a client of Diana's, is completing a 2,000 mile journey he began March 2008 in Austin Texas. Two dogs, Great Pyrenees, Hudson and Murphy, two thousand miles walking, camping out in rain, snow and sleet, across America to raise awareness for Canine Cancer. Luke lost his beloved dog Malcom to metastatic Cancer in 2006. The impact of this loss and it's consequent emptiness prompted Luke to do something to eradicate this horrible disease.
Eight months ago Diana had the privilege of meeting Luke as he walked through Pittsburgh, PA. and it was after that meeting that Luke became a Hartline client. Luke has many incredible experiences from this journey and is now in the process of placing them into book format.
AT 7:00 AM, today, Dwight Ritter, (another Hartline author), his wife JoAnn and their dog Blue and I will depart Cape Cod, MA and head into the city of Boston. Our first stop will be to drop my bags off at the Fairmont Copley Hotel, then proceed to the Museum of Fine Arts, where a 9:30 am Memorial Service will be held in the Rose Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts for all those attendees that have lost dogs to cancer. I myself lost our precious dear family friend Sassy to Canine Cancer in 2005. After this service, at 10 AM, we will accompany Luke and 'The Fuzzybutts" on there final mile walk from the Back Bay Fens to the Boston Common where at 11:00 AM a festival celebration will be held at the Parkman Bandstand. There will be all manner of fun activities for the participants and their canine companions.
6:00 PM A special Gala Event, Puppy Up Party will be held at the Fairmont Copley. We will be entertained with special music, an auction and a debut song written and sung by Luke as a tribute to Malcom.
An unexpected benefit of Luke's walk has been a new collaboration with the Canine Hereditary Consortium. Luke will be meeting with the consortium Sunday and this will begin the newest phase of Luke's involvement and passion to fight Canine Cancer. This consortium is collecting DNA samples from all breeds of dogs. If you are interested in participating in this study, you can find the information at Luke's website linked below this.e time DNA sample is needed from all dogs with cancer - all breeds, all cancers A one time DNA sample is needed from all dogs with cancer - all breeds, all cancers
I wish you all could join us but Please be sure to stop by and view the pics at www.2dogs2000miles.org.
From my heart to yours,
Friday, June 18, 2010
I’m pleased to present a guest blog by award winning author, Jane Kirkpatrick. This was written on her blog on Mother’s Day. I liked it so much I asked Jane if we could put it on our blog. Father’s Day is next Sunday, and I believe this can apply to Step Dads as well as Step Moms.
I’m proud to announce that Jane is a 2010 Christy finalist.
SPECIAL OFFER FOR AN E-BOOK: At the bottom of this blog are some links to an e-book from Jane that is being offered for 99 Cents. The title the book is “A Clearing in the Wild.”
Stepping Into our Lives
By Jane Kirkpatrick
My last two novels grew out of a desire to discover my grandmother and what I call memory DNA, how we shared more than eye color or a love of the arts. She too married a man with three children. She too grieved with her husband at the death of a son. My grandmother shared time with her step-children’s mother and found a way through the mine field of powerful adult relationships keeping children from being further wounded by the choices adults had made.
She stepped up well. I was an adult before I realized that people I called Aunt Winnie, Uncle Bob or Uncle Russell were actually my mother’s half-siblings, my grandmother’s step-sons and daughter. Somehow she raised her children to understand the connection between each of them as children cherished by their shared father and children loved by God. Descendants of those half-sibs tell stories of my grandmother as someone who cared for them, someone they liked being around and adored.
She must have stepped over those moments of disappointment with a forgotten Mother’s Day card focusing instead on creating new memories. She must have cherished shared laughter over a bedtime story or stepped aside allowing her step-children to have alone time with their father accepting that these were requirements in a marriage not just between her and her husband but with his children as well. I know she stepped in at times of their mother’s illnesses, sharing her comforting love.
Thirty-four years ago, when I took on the challenge of becoming a step-mother, I was buttressed by great loves, too: mine for my husband; his for me and his children; and our shared love of God. I confess, though, I had a pretty romanticized view. I dreamed of erasing the image of Hansel and Gretel’s shrewish step-mom. I had high hopes like any new bride and any new mom had.
What I hadn’t prepared for, despite my background in mental health, was reality! The painful moments of confusion and exclusion and lack of recognition. I wasn’t their mother and yet I performed motherly duties, often. I didn’t share my husband’s memories with his children so easily spoken at the dinner table often leaving me shadowed in the kitchen. I was frustrated when we discovered the kids had managed to get the two of us arguing while they skipped out the door. This wasn’t fun at all!
Thank goodness for good friends who stepped in to offer counsel and prayer. They reminded me that what our three children and I had in common was a shared love for this man and a desire to heal the wounds of past decisions while growing new flesh to form a new family. When their mother lay dying, I knew my stepping and stumbling as a step parent had been worthy work as she told me: “You’ve been a friend to me. I leave my children in the best of hands.”
Our kids are grown now yet Mother's Day is still a celebration of stepping: Stepping over hurts, to find the loving core within each of us. Stepping forward, to assert the importance of marriage to model for our children what caring and commitment look like. And stepping aside without feeling displaced knowing my step-children share with me a desire to be accepted, to know that we are loved both by the man in our lives and the Creator of us all. It’s a day when I count the steps we’ve taken together to weather the storms and celebrate the many more days of sailing calmer seas.
The word “family” comes from the Latin word Famalus meaning servant. I think that’s what my grandmother must have figured out. To have a servant’s heart as a step-mother is to live the story of how God steps into our lives to bring healing and grace every day of the year.
Go to www.jkbooks.com to sign up for Jane's Story Sparks Newsletter.
Here are the links for the promo priced eBook.
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Clearing-Wild-ebook/dp/B001RLTFMK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1276525960&sr=1-1
Barnes & Noble eBook: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/A-Clearing-in-the-Wild/Jane-Kirkpatrick/e/9780307550699
Sony Reader Store: http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/jane-kirkpatrick/a-clearing-in-the-wild/_/R-400000000000000114721
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Who’d ever imagine that losing $20,000 and guaranteed publication of my novel with a powerhouse publishing company would be a good thing—a very good thing?
Certainly not me—at least not back in the days when I was one of five finalists for the 2009 Operation First Novel contest sponsored by the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and Tyndale Publishing House. That event stood, to-date, as the pinnacle of my writing career. Yes, I’d been published before, but this was the big time. This was the culmination of years of study, the completion of the manuscript I’d worked on for two solid years. Achieving finalist status in that prestigious competition was proof that somebody—somebody in the know, someone besides me—believed I could write.
I fretted for four months. But that all changed about thirty seconds after hearing Jerry B. Jenkins make the announcement at the Writing for the Soul conference last February that someone else (a very deserving man) had won, Misstep had not, and I was officially a loser. (Well, he didn’t say it exactly like that.)
Strangely, after my initial disappointment faded, a great relief washed over me. I was free! No more waking up to thoughts of winning. No more drifting off to sleep worried about losing. It was settled. I could get on with my life. Sure, winning would have been nice; I could certainly use $20,000 and I’d love to have my Christian novel published by Tyndale. But I realized it wasn’t the right time in my career to bypass the hard work of pitching my manuscript. I needed to speak with learned professionals from the publishing industry—the agents, editors, and publishers from around the country who were present at the conference. It was imperative that I hear what they had to say, soak up their knowledge, immerse myself in the atmosphere and camaraderie of like-minded individuals whose collective goal will always be to honor our Lord and Savior through our writing. It was up to me to prove I could deliver what they needed, that I had what it takes to be not only a writer, but also a published author. I had to believe in myself before I could ask them to believe in me.
So I hit the floor running and for the next two days, I pitched and smiled and asked questions and soaked up advice and acted the part of someone who had a product to offer that she believed in. I left the conference energized and optimistic (albeit sans the $20,000), returned home, and sent out requested proposals, manuscripts, and thank you notes. Then I prayed.
Four months later, Misstep and I are represented by Terry Burns, one of best agents in the business, and I’m now officially a proud member of the Hartline Literary Agency family. Through Terry I met Linda Glaz who not only helped me with my manuscript, but brought many a smile to my face in the process. I have a new batch of colleagues who have welcomed me into their midst with warmth and encouragement. Now that’s winning.
And I owe it all to being a loser.
Deborah Dee Harper www.deborahdeetales.blogspot.com
Monday, June 14, 2010
Anybody that knows anything at all about the old west knows of the infamous James Gang, Frank and Jesse. Well, the James gang rides again, and they do have a brother Frank but primarily it is mother Jean and daughter Mary writing as a mother/daughter team.
They just signed a publishing contract for their novel Sparrow Alone on the Housetop! from 4RV Press. I am told that Jean has been skipping around the horse pasture all week, but they said not to worry, the horses already know she's a little crazy! To celebrate this good news they have launched a new author's website: http://www.jameswriters.com/
The website is still under some construction but please check it out and if you feel inclined post a comment on their blog. Also, if you'd like to make friendly with the crazy lady you can also find her on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jameswriters
But it’s not just about writing books. Mary, also known as “Mean Mary” is an extremely talented musician and singer and can play a banjo like nobody’s business. She has a new CD out and just completed a live concert that was hugely successful. I’m lucky enough to be their agent, but only for the books. Being an agent in the entertainment industry is a whole different animal and takes a totally different set of contacts. Do yourself a favor and go over to http://meanmary.com/ and listen to her pick that thing. Get you a CD while you are there.
MARY JAMES’ life has been one long road show interspersed with TV, radio, and film work. She’s also a prolific songwriter, playwright, and the spirited host of Nashville TV show, MEAN MARY’S CAFÉ AMERICANA, where she brings music and pertinent “ Americana” topics to her TV audience.
Before becoming a fulltime writer JEAN JAMES collected live mammals and reptiles for US and foreign distribution and live venomous snakes for antivenom production, was involved in various wilderness construction and survival projects, and worked as a press agent and song writer. Brother FRANK JAMES was an author on their nonfiction project, BE STILL I AM GOD.
So if you hear the thundering of hooves, don’t worry, they aren’t off to rob a train, but if you are really lucky they may sell you a book . . . or a CD.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
For This I Have Jesus
John Hunter- one of Britain’s leading evangelists coined this phrase that provides a quick reminder of the peace and hope God gives in trying circumstances. For this I have Jesus.
A long awaited word comes to you from your agent via the ‘committee’; your novel has been rejected.
For This I Have Jesus
You have filled countless notebooks with your writing, your friends and relatives believe your writing is ready and has great potential for success yet you have had none when searching for an agent.
For This I Have Jesus
You are planning to attend a writers conference that offers excellent workshops and endless opportunity of face to face meetings with agents and editors but a financial 'crisis' just took the money you had set aside to go.
For This I Have Jesus
You have just completed that novel, paid a freelance editor to do a final edit and your new agent, "Can't wait to pitch it' just as the publishing industry takes a nose dive and new authors can't get their foot in the door.
For this I have Jesus.
Your royalties are due; you’ve heard the book is doing well. Your thinking you’d like to replace that 12 year old couch in the Family Room, or have that dentistry done you have been putting off, or trade in your clunker. The agent of record sent you an email; the checks have been issued by the publisher and should arrive any day. It’s here! There must be a mistake. Isn’t there supposed to be a coma in the figures?
For this I have Jesus.
The author is feverishly writing with a looming deadline in her focus. Looking good, just four chapters remain. A phone call informs her that a parent is in hospital out of state with failing health. She packs her bag, looks back to her desk, and walks out to the taxi- knowing she must choose family.
For this I have Jesus.
An author receives two glowing professional reviews, has a potential three book contract offer and opens her last email to find out from a friend that a popular blogger has listed her newly released title as one of the worst books she has read this year.
For this I have Jesus
Please feel free to share a line or two of an example when you could apply this phrase. We are not talking about simplistic matters such as finding an ideal parking spot but a time when you have been tested, disappointed and almost lost your hope of ever seeing your dream realized. It need not apply to writing or agenting.
May you find Jesus to be your all in all.
From my heart to yours,
Friday, June 11, 2010
I’m pleased to present a guest blog from Lisa Harris who is a missionary in Mozambique and has lived in Africa . Lisa’s newest book is Blood Ransom published by Zondervan. The second book in this series will be Blood Covenant. It will be released in 2011. There has been a huge response to Kathy Macias’s recent blog about human trafficking. Blood Ransom, set in Africa, is the story of a young man who sees “ghost soldiers” killing and kidnapping his whole village including his family. Even though this story is fiction, it is based on fact. Be sure to pick up a copy of Lisa’s book at your bookstore or library. It’s an exciting, suspenseful read.
A few days ago, I opened up my email and smiled. Not only were there two raving reviews about Blood Ransom, but an email from Joyce letting me know that an editor was requesting a series from me for possible publication. Not bad for one day.
But then I opened the last email. It was from a fellow writer friend of mine who was passing on some not so good news. Apparently, we each had a book we'd written that been voted on a site as being the two worst books this blogger had read so far this year.
I was quickly smacked back down to reality, but it also got me thinking. How often do we put our confidence in what we do? We win an award, receive a compliment, and get that pat on the back for something we did at work and we're on the top of the world. But that happens when our boss complains about our work, our best friend is mad at something we did (or didn't do), the kids whine about dinner, and the bathroom scale registers a few pounds to high.
It's like a yo-yo that never stops bouncing. Or when it does, it leaves us feeling as if the world has crashed in around us.
Here is what I was reminded of. I'm more than what I do. Yes, there are people who love my books, but there are also clearly those who don't. I've received awards for my books, but have never reached the best-sellers list in the CBA let alone the New York Times list, but that's okay, because that isn't who I am.
So who am I? Who are you?
We are children of the King of Kings, the creator of the universe. God has called us to follow Him, to serve others through His strength, to find intimacy with Him, and to discover that who we are is not based our accomplishments anymore than it is based on our regrets and failures.
Does that mean I stop trying to make that best-seller list? No way. But in the meantime, I don't ever want to forget who I really am.
Paul put it this way, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
I know there are a number of you who are struggling right now as you dream of signing with an agent. Or perhaps you’re still waiting to sign that allusive first book contract (or in today’s environment, your fifth, or tenth, or twentieth book). It can make finding contentment seem impossible. For today, I'm praying that God's peace, a peace that transcends all human understanding and logic, guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
God, we want to be more like you. Content to dream big, but also to enjoy the ups and downs of the journey while we get there. We want to be content to love family, friends, and those around us. We want to be content to serve others in Your name. Content to cry with those around us when our hearts are breaking, but also to never forget that true contentment can not be found in our circumstances, but only through you, because You are the one who gives us strength to get through each day.
Be blessed today!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Today we welcome Diana's client Sharon Elliot back as guest blogger. Sharon uses her writing gift to encourage her blog readers through God's word daily in addition to the many other hats she wears. In today's economy and challenges to all of us, Diana felt there was much to be gained from her advice.
1 Kings 4:1-7 relates a story that is very timely for many of us in the current economic recession our country is facing. A single mom finds herself in credit trouble. She articulates her problem to Elisha the prophet who asks her what she has. All she has is some oil in a jar. Elisha tells her, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors – empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones…
(When she returned to Elisha with the task completed, he told her) Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest” II Kings 4:3-4 and 7 (NKJ).
If you find yourself in a similar situation today – in bondage to credit – take the six steps this woman took to become free:
- Step 1: Express your need to God – Now is not the time to stop going to church, to stop praying, and to stop serving God. This woman expressed her need to the man of God. She didn’t turn to ungodly sources or get-rich-quick schemes. She needed help; she turned to God. You need help; turn to God.
- Step 2: Examine your assets – This woman had a little oil – something that everyone needed. What do you have that everyone needs? Maybe it’s not something physical like oil; perhaps you have strengths, talents, and skills. For example, I can write, teach the Bible, and multi-task.
- Step 3: Employ the family – This woman had two sons who she rallied to her aid. They helped to collect the empty pots from the neighbors. Get others involved with you gathering all you’ll need to position yourself to exit your credit problem. Put their strengths and skills to work for you.
- Step 4: Evaluate the emptiness of others – How can your assets fulfill the needs around you? This woman and her sons found people who had empty vessels, people who needed oil. Look around: who needs what you have, even if you have just a little of it? I could, for example, appraise who might need to learn to write, understand the Bible, or be better at organizational skills?
- Step 5: Exercise the entrepreneurial spirit – Go into business using your assets to fill others’ needs. This woman poured her oil into the empty pots until there were no more empty vessels. Her oil didn’t run out until the empty pots ran out. And her oil was worth money. Your assets, gifts, and talents are not to be cheaply prostituted. Set a fair price and don’t apologize. People will pay for what they want and need. As long as the need exists, you’ll be in business.
- Step 6: Exist on the increase – This woman sold her oil and she and her sons lived on the rest. She had not only enough to get out of debt, but she also had enough to sustain her family going forward. Her assets profited enough for investment for the future. Wisely handle the increase from now on to keep the creditor from coming back again.
What a wonderful plan to undertake when the creditor is coming. Try it.
©2010 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com.
Thanks Sharon, for sharing a post from your blog. I encourage our reader to go to Sharon's blog today as well. It takes us a step further and reminded me of who I am journeying with.
Monday, June 7, 2010
I’m in an invitation-only online group of western writers. I wasn’t sure why I was invited. This is a gathering of some of the most published names in the western genre and most have published books numbering up into the hundreds. My little thirty-some-odd bibliography didn’t really stack up. Then I discovered they were curious as to what it took to put books into the Christian market. However I managed to get invited, it’s a terrific group and I enjoy interfacing with them.
But right now they aren’t happy. It seems western writer Richard Wheeler (not a member of the group) wrote a blog pronouncing the “Death of the Western Genre” and basically saying good riddance. Can you say angry? This is a writer that has significant standing in the Western Writers of America organization, has won spur awards, and has written in the traditional western genre himself for years. This means many people think he is speaking for the organization itself. I am assured by the WWA President that he is not.
There is still a significant following for the genre, and some of us have intentionally been writing some western young adult titles to interest a new generation in reading westerns. You see, that’s the problem, those of us who grew up on Gunsmoke and Bonanza and Saturday mornings with Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey love westerns. Kids who have grown up on video games haven’t been introduced to them very much. Instead of writing off one of the most amazing periods in our history we need to be proactive about arranging this introduction.
There’s another factor involved here and that is the current trend to re-write history to suit ourselves. Don’t like the fact that slavery was part of our nation’s history? No problem, take it out of the history books. Think it is inappropriate that Indians and settlers fought and killed each other over western expansion? Simple, do away with the word Indians rewrite history to include little if any of this conflict. Don’t want to admit that America was a Christian nation? Re-write history to downplay the role of faith for our founding fathers and while you are at it try to take every reference to faith out of our government. I could go on and on. Are we interested in doing this to the old west as well?
I’m pleased WWA has reaffirmed their intent to continue to support and promote the genre western. Originally that’s what the organization was founded on. They have spread their net much wider since then incorporating all kinds of literature on or about the West. It has relegated the genre westerns to a much smaller role.
Further, There was a very interesting session on the future of publishing at the last conference I worked. A group of a dozen editors talked about where publishing was and where it was going. The bottom line was they felt the middle size publisher was disappearing. They think publishing is very much becoming a big versus small publisher situation with the smaller publisher utilizing non-traditional distribution methods, particularly online sales, more and more effectively. They also said that the ‘niche markets,’ that large publishers have always said were not worth their time, is the bread and butter of the small publisher.
I believe this why the large houses that have dropped the western lines are doing it. They have relegated it to be a niche market and not worth their time. It doesn’t mean the market is not there, but does mean that it is much smaller for them to do this. I recognized this trend over a year ago and started taking some of my debut clients into these developing small markets. Will it pay off? Is it worth the time of an experienced writer to be in this market? I guess we'll have to see how things develop.
But the thing about a niche market is this, it works the other way too. A niche market that starts doing well attracts the attention of a major publisher again. The major houses had Christian Fiction relegated to niche market status. Then the fastest growth area in publishing for several years was Christian fiction and they all started buying small Christian houses or forming Christian imprints in their house. If the demand for genre westerns increases in the small houses it could interest the major houses again.
These small houses operate on a model that allows them to make money virtually from day one, very modest revenue, but they keep their backlist in play for a long time. Maybe part of our strategy for advancing the genre needs to be recognizing the changes in the industry.
We hear about the western dying off a lot, but all genre fiction is cyclical. It has faded and rebounded before. Then along comes a high visibility western movie or TV show or such, and it bounces right back. I believe it is up to us to find ways to reach those readers.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Attitudes or Gratitudes — It’s Your Choice!
The dictionary describes attitude in this way, “a manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing.” When a teacher or coach says, “He’s got an attitude,” it is not a positive remark. No matter how you cut it “having an attitude” is not a good thing.
“Attituders” are complainers. They yell and moan about what is wrong and don’t get anything done. Attituders seem to revel in making everyone meserible. And you don’t have to look very far to find them.
Attituders can be heard almost any time of the day on talk radio. They often scream and find great fault in things the other side is doing. They almost always feel like someone is out to get them and forgiveness is not something that they embrace. They point out problems, but don’t outline solutions. If fact, attituders don’t listen, they are too busy trying to make their point, which, they believe, is the only one worth having.
It was the attituders who led the march to crucify Jesus, supported Hitler and tried to stop America’s integration.
The dictionary defines gratitude “as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.” It then states that gratitude is “the essence of good mental health and spirituality.” Now this sounds like a group we would have to have over for dinner.
“Gratituders” are those who see their blessings, look for solutions, lift up rather than put down and solve problems. Grattituders make life better from everyone around them because they care deeply about more than just themselves.
In other words, gratituders are doers. You may not hear them, they won’t be yelling on street corners or screaming out at radio broadcasts, but you can see their work. They are spiritual healers whose touch can bring comfort and understanding. They encourage and don’t judge. They don’t set themselves apart from others, but see all people are their brothers and sisters.
Each of us has a choice. We choose the team we want to serve. The choice you have to make is if you want to be an attituder or a gratituder. If you decide to be like those who have have brought light into a dark world then you will be a gratituder and the world will be a better place because your choice.
There are ten attitudes in the book GrATTITDUE that I feel we need to fully embrace to be a happy, productive influence. One of those is recognizing the importance of TEAM. My agent Joyce Hart knows this concept well. She has experience the importance of team not just in career as an agent, but in her current recovery from major back surgery. It has taken a team to get her back on her feet and put her back in the game that reunites her with those us who look upon Joyce as the captain of our book team.
Each of us is part of a team. Whether we like to admit it or not, we rely on others and others rely on us. What matters most is not how we stand out as individuals, but rather how we make the team better with our time, energy, and gifts. When we make the team better, that same team gives back to us in our moments of need.
The lesson that each individual is called to be more than an individual is exemplified by Shalee Lehning, a basketball point guard who played for four years at Kansas State University and now plays in the WNBA. Shalee is not a large woman. At a bit over five-feet seven, she is strong, but lean. She is quick, but not fast. She is not as much a pure athlete as she is ane example of a person who worked hard to enhance her modest God-given skills. If you were to line up ten women from the pro league in a row and ask someone to pick out the one was not really a pro player, she will likely be the first won chosen.
So why is this brown-eyed former high school homecoming queen constantly surrounded by young girls seeking her autograph? Why was Shalee so successful at making others look better that her college number was retired?
If you look through the Kansas State record books you will not find her leading the list of the school’s scorers. She also was never a great three point shooter. Where her name pops up first in as the school’s assit leader. What does that mean? Essentially Shalee was the person who passed the ball to a person who made the points. And she did it more than any else in school history and led all rookies in the WNBA in that often overlooked category in her first year in the pro ranks. In other words, Shalee became a star by literally “passing” the spotlight to others.
At the ceremony where Kansas State become the first player who was not a scoring leader to have her number retired, thousands cheered as Shalee’s number 5 jersey was lifted into the rafters of the gym. Over the deafening roar, a newspaper reporter asked the basketball player what it meant to have her number honored in such a way.
“I’ve always thought there were five on the court. There isn’t just one. There are five of us out there at a given time, which is why I picked number 5. For that number, I hope people know that this honor does not exemplify Shalee Lehning. That’s for the team, the program, the university, anyone who helped get me to where I am today. I didn’t do any of this on my own. It’s always been a team.”
Shalee’s attitude provided Kansas State with more than just wins. It gave the school an unselfish sports’ icon. Because she was seen on a national stage as someone who put others first and herself second, many parents steered their high school kids to attend the school she attended. Her values unknowingly made her a recruiter for the school. Yet that was just the beginning. Thousands, including many reporters, tried to find out why in the era of “me first” athletes that Shalee put such an emphasis on team. The answered proved to be a recruiting tool for another group.
Shalee explained that it was her Christian faith that caused her to look out of others. It was her faith that forced to her to think about giving before recieving. It was that faith that made her want to lift her teammates and dimish herself. And it was her faith that caused a number of folks to look at their own lives and then join the team she viewed as the most important in her life.
We’re all on a team—and those of us who embrace the gratitude of teamwork become leaders who make others, and ourselves, better. True team players also become the greatest and most followed leaders. And that makes understanding the concept of TEAM a very powerful GrATTITUDE.
If you don’t believe me, ask Joyce!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I get it. There are thousands upon thousands of authors submitting books right and left. I understand of necessity publishing houses adopting a “no response unless interested” policy to cut down on the work needed, particularly with staff cutbacks in recent times.
However, it seems to me the policy should be different for agents sending submissions. We are culling through hundreds of submissions picking out the projects we choose to send, and we do our best to determine what might be the best fit for the editor that we are submitting to. I would think it would be professional courtesy to answer agents even if such a policy exists regarding the general public.
I work for my clients by definition, however, initially it is more like I work for the editors that I interface with. I’m trying to find something that they might be looking for, something that fits that catalog spot that they are trying to fill. Once a potential fit is determined, then I am all about representing my client from that point forward.
If I get no response, or just a “not for us” that doesn’t give me any information that will allow me to do a better job of finding what that editor might or might not like. Fortunately most of the editors that I work with are great about this and they give me input that will help me help them. That’s why I work as many conferences as I do, to try and establish relationships with them and I count a lot of them as good friends by this point.
As I said, I really do get it, I just think instead of saving themselves work, those who adopt this policy are creating work for themselves by including the professionals as we continue to try and find out what works instead of better targeting our efforts.