Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Big Search

A couple of decades ago, writers had to pound on the closely guarded doors of the New York City publishing machine, whose defensive strategies seemed designed to keep even the best out in the cold. 
Today the industry is in flux. The paradigm is shifting. What’s emerging is an increasingly accessible publishing industry where writers can take charge of their own careers, sometimes even by-passing the traditional system altogether. Today there are doors and windows where sturdy walls stood just ten years ago.
But these doors and windows require more work. We have to: write advertising copy, design marketing plans, build readership, erect platforms and utilize today’s internet technology. It’s both exciting and frustrating because all this takes time. Time to learn new writing skills. Time to access and use social media groups, online organizations, blogs and websites. Time to build a platform and create a marketing strategy, both of which need to be started long before the book is even begun! And all this time must be snatched away from what we do best: write books. Like I said, both exciting and frustrating.
Take agent submissions, for example, since that’s where I’m at at the moment: finding an agent for my newly-finished paranormal suspense book. The internet made it quick and easy to search out those who handle my genre. But each agent wants my work submitted according to his/her own protocol. And each one is different. Some want traditional snail mail submissions with varying numbers of pages. Some want email only. Some require a combination. Some will accept email attachments, most won’t. They want the first 5 pages, the first 10, first chapter, first three chapters, first 50 pages, etc. All of which must be formatted for the body of the email or it’s unreadable. Or reformatting as independent documents if they’re attachments.
This search requires skilled organization, advance planning, and effective record keeping. None of these are my strong suits. This whole thing is going to be a steep learning curve, a gleaning of new skills. Maybe they’re not skills I’d choose to develop, but they’re necessary these days to play the “get an agent” game. 
All I can say is, it’s a good thing I write suspense. My mind is already churning, a new story in the making. All this time spent organizing, planning, reformatting and record keeping will serve double duty. Someday soon they’ll be instrumental in either killing off a character, or solving the crime du jour. Or both. Just wait and see...

Previous Word Count: 578
Today's word Count: 422
Week #1 Total Count: 1,000
Exactly! Week One down...and counting...


  1. Ah, but Susan, you weren't there when pages were typed with carbon paper for duplicates. Where editing meant re-typing entire manuscripts. Where Wite Out was a strange new product. You can't complain about technology without admitting that it has made your writing life easier.

    The days of publishers giving PR to new authors and doing all the publicity are over--if they ever existed. Yes, much is on the author's shoulders these days. There are more authors out there since writing a book is a breeze with a computer. Competition is fierce and the only way to stand out is to use the best tool available: the Internet.

    I may not be able to travel across the USA on a book tour, but I can reach audiences around the world with a blog. It's up to me to be more interesting, more creative than the next author. In reality I might be at home in a bathrobe drinking Dr Pepper at 10 in the morning, but I'm a professional on the cyber road marketing to the rest of the world.

    As for all the different directions from each agent on submissions: I suspect it's easy to weed out people who can't follow directions or ignore them altogether. Who wants to work with that type of author?

  2. I've quit looking for agents. In my genre - westerns - you can survive without them. Nobody does marketing for you anyway. My blog has kept me out there.

    -- Dac Crossley. (typepad.daccrossley)

  3. This age of internet marketing and self-promotion is the only one I've known. Typewriters and carbon paper were in my undergrad days, when I was just trying to get through school and not writing seriously yet. I guess it doesn't seem like a burden or at all strange to someone like me who doesn't know any other way.

    I feel incredibly lucky that I was signed by an indie publisher in 2008, with my book out in 2009, and always assumed it would be up to me to do the leg work for promotion. When Oak Tree signed me, I purchased a domain name for my website, even though I wasn't quite ready to set it up yet. I took my time setting it up, and in the meantime got on Facebook, I was already on My Space, and registered for Twitter. I eventually got my website set up, as well as a second one, and started a blog.

    When I first started promotion, I didn't have a mentor or help from anyone as far as what I should be doing, but the steps I took seemed the logical thing to do based upon what I was seeing on the internet already. I'm sure if I had tried to get published in my college days, my experience would be different and I might not see the whole online promotion and marketing situation as normal. But since I have no other point of reference, I can't complain.