Thursday, May 31, 2012

Never. Give. Up.

Two things that I have read today have motivated me to keep trying at this writing thing.

The first was a rejection letter.   Sounds wrong somehow, but there are three types of rejection in the world of query letter and manuscript submission.

  1.  The first type is very anti-climactic: no response.  It's annoying, but doesn't hurt that badly unless it's from an agent or publisher that you were really sure was going to LOVE what you have written. 
  2.  The second type is the form rejection letter.  It's more respectful than the no-response rejection because you get closure and can move on, but it hurts a bit more.  Form rejections basically thank you for your submission and tell you it was not right for that particular agent/publisher and encourages you to keep trying.  It's not actually very encouraging.  
  3. But when an agent or publisher takes the time to write you a personal e-mail rejection, it can be encouraging.  It tells you that somebody actually read what you sent them and cares enough to respond.  Here's the one I received this morning.  It's from a publisher, in response to the query and MS I sent them of The Solstice Dance, a children's picture book I wrote quite a long time ago:
Thanks very much. Very charming material. But I'm afriad we're not in a position to do this kind of book currently, particularly if an illustrator is not involved with the submission. Particularly with this book, getting the geography, customs, garments, and other details correct requires specific knowledge in order to avoid cultural gaffes.

Perhaps a publisher with more extensive connections with illustrators would be a better choice? Thank you in any case for you interest and for sharing your submission.

I really feel like writing back to him, begging him to reconsider, offering to find an appropriate illustrator... but I won't.  I'll write back to thank him for taking the time to write me a personal e-mail.

The second thing that motivated me today is something I read on the website of a publisher's editorial guidelines.  They likened getting a book published to becoming a famous actor, and I thought about all the stories of actors going to auditions with hundreds of others, and getting rejected for years before getting a break.  Sure, some actors get lucky the first time, but those are in the extreme minority.  Some of them may go on to write scripts and produce their own movies, which is similar to self-publishing.  Instead of being discouraged by this comparison, I'm encouraged by it.  At least I don't have to live in Hollywood and try out in front of impatient directors.  

It is pretty exciting to hear back from agents and publishers, even when it's a rejection.  If you want to be a writer: Never. Give. Up.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Recording an Audiobook & Waking a resting project

As I've mentioned before, it takes a really long time to record an audiobook.  My book has 28 chapters, and each takes about half an hour to record.  So 14 hours, which doesn't sound long except that I really have other exciting stuff to do, like laundry, taxes, and tidying up.  So if I manage to record one chapter a day, I am happy.  Some days, I've recorded two, but that won't happen today because I promised myself I would work on the taxes, and I've also promised myself that I will write at least one blog entry a week, and it's already been a week...  And if you think that recording takes a long time, consider this: I am not capable of reading from my book for half an hour without making mistakes.  I mispronounce words, skip words, read in the wrong "voice"... the audio has to be edited.  The way I've been doing it is to just repeat the messed-up sentence and remove them later.  My lovely husband has offered to do the editing for me, but it takes a really long time for him, too, even though he's much better with the equipment than I am.  So I've asked OpenBookAudio if they do that sort of editing, and at what cost.  Worth asking, but I'm guessing it's probably more than I'm willing to spend.

There's also a question on my mind, of whether I should offer the audio as free podcasts until the audiobook is complete and for sale.  This could build interest and an audience, but I don't want to simultaneously offer my book for sale and for free.  So I could only do this if it's possible to delete the podcast once the audiobook is on Audible.  Something to look into.

Meanwhile, I've decided to continue querying a project that has been resting for about a year - it's a children's picture book I wrote about Nardugan, a celebration of the winter solstice, and the book is called The Solstice Dance.  I had some interest when I queried it to agents, but no bites.  I'm not even considering self-publishing this one, because the cost of self-publishing a picture book is prohibitive.  In addition, I'm not a great artist, so I'd prefer to have a real artist do the work.

I had a friend, who is an artist, do the artwork of three pages, and offered it when I queried, but I later learned that in fact it doesn't work that way.  You are either a writer who is paired with an illustrator by an agent or an editor, or you are an author-illustrator.  They don't seem to want you to find your own artist.  Unless you're famous, probably, but I'm not famous.  Rather than querying agents this time, I'm going to directly query small publishers.  I don't know how that works, either, but a few of them do accept unsolicited queries, so I'll try that once I've written myself a list of the publishers that might be interested.

So much to do, and so much fun!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Going International

An awesome blogger and prolific reader and reviewer in India has posted about my book on her blog:  As cool as that is, even cooler is that we have become "pen pals" for lack of a better word, with my book as the catalyst. 

My husband has his regular day job, and also has a side business selling fine wine over the internet.  I don't think we've made back the initial investment yet, but it's enriched our lives because it has helped us meet interesting people we wouldn't have otherwise met, and learn something new that we likely wouldn't have learned. 

The book seems to be life-enhancing in the same way.  Good reason to publish a book, and I'm not joking!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Blog Tour?

A blog tour is like a book tour or concert/album tour, except that the author doesn't actually have to leave her/his living room.  There are sites that organize blog tours for authors, but I haven't had the luck to "go" on one yet.  Instead, I'm slowly organizing guest posts for myself, finding blogs that are looking for guest bloggers via LinkedIn,, Twitter, and internet searches.  Reviews of my book are also trickling in. 

Today, I received links to my new blog guest post for an Australian writing website:

as well as fabulous reviews on Goodreads:

and on Flipkart (think: Indian
by a reviewer in India whom I have never met in person. 

It is exceptionally hard for authors to get publicity for their self-published books, no matter how great those books are.  The effort does not end when the book is finished - that's when the hard part actually begins.  Every single day, you've got to do something to get and keep your name out there.  I don't know if my random guest blogging can really be considered a "blog tour," but at the moment it's the closest I can get to one!

I am so grateful to all you out there are supporting me, by reading my book, by writing reviews, and by sharing my book with others!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Audiobook and book trailers

That's write, I'm recording one.  I could have paid thousands of dollars to have someone else do all the work.  Time is money and it does take a lot of time to make a DIY audiobook, but I am not willing to spend thousands of dollars when I can probably do a decent job myself.  There is a great company called Open Book Audio that can make the audiobook for you, OR take a book you recorded yourself and take care of the distribution on Audible, for a small cut.  They require that the recording be of a high quality and that the book be broken down into 30-minute segments.  That's what I'm up to right now.  It may seem like a piece of cake, but I am completely unfamiliar with the technical aspects of recorded sound.  As if that's not enough, it's really hard to read out loud without making mistakes, especially for 30 minutes!  My book has 28 chapters, and each one will take me approximately half an hour to read, half an hour to edit.  That will add up to 14 hours of reading and 14 hours of editing.  28 hours of work... And let's not forget that everything takes longer than we expect. 

So far, I've recorded one chapter.  After dealing with some major technical difficulties (take one: recorded chapter one, forgot to save it, program crashed, lost it. take two: program crashed when I tried to export the file to .wav format, figured out that Firefox and Pro Tools are not friends.  take three: tried to send the file to the nice, helpful Open Book Audio people, but it's way too huge to attach to e-mail, finally uploaded it to Dropbox), I've sent Open Book Audio the Dropbox link, and hope they'll be so kind as to let me know if the sound quality meets their quality standards.

In the meantime, I'm also working on creating a book trailer for YouTube.  Apparently, this is what all the cool authors are doing.  I am so cool.

Sailing new waters, friends!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Live to write

I don't live to write, nor do I write to live.  That is not what this post is about.  When giving advice about writing, many authors (including myself) say that it's important to read and to write.  What they so often forget is to remind us to live.  Without traveling, talking to friends and family, eating, loving, laughing, crying, fighting, getting sick and getting well again, agreeing and disagreeing, being too hot and too cold, we aren't living.  And without living, how will we have anything interesting to write about? 

So, what have I been doing for the past 10 days?  I've been living.  I haven't done any writing (though I cannot stop my writer brain from recording visions, smells, and sounds for future books...).  I feel refreshed and ready to start typing again.  Got writer's block?  Live a little in order to write.