Monday, February 16, 2015

Still waiting

I'm still here! I've been having very frustrating computer issues which have been slowing down my rate of work. After almost five years of flawless behaviour my laptop is showing signs of age and running soooooo slooooooow. I've tried a few things that seem to have helped a bit but I have to face that I'm going to have to take it to be checked over. That's a pain since without my laptop I can't get any work done but it's so slow something that should take me five minutes can take 30, so something must be done.

That's my current peeve, feel much better for having a mini rant about it, thanks for reading :) As to other news, well I've started the author page and linked it to Twitter. Now I know that's very lazy of me and I won't keep it that way - I'll start putting things on twitter separately to those that go on Facebook. For now at least I'm more active on Twitter.

Here's the link to the author page, go take a look and 'like' it :) I'll be doing more interactive things as I go along. Once a week I'm featuring a selected author. It will be someone I like - sometimes well known, sometimes an indie author. I'll also have a gratitude day where you can leave comments on what makes you grateful. I know other pages do the same but I've found it's a very good exercise to sit and think about things you are grateful for. I believe it helps to retrain the mind to think more positively so I'll be doing it too.

Oh yes, the link:

Sheryl Lee

Hope that worked.

Other news, let me think. Oh yes, I've changed the title of Blank Canvas to Living a Lie. It's surprising what a difference a title and/or cover change can make. We all choose a book by the title and cover. We may not subsequently buy it, but it's the appearance of the cover that first attracts us to pick up (or click onto) the book. Since my publisher made the changes I've noticed my sales rankings on Amazon have risen quite a bit. It's selling - probably not a lot but it's selling and that's a good thing. Here's the link for the improved title too :)

The publisher changed the blurb a bit, which was a good idea. I was so focused on the difficulties faced by the main character over her memory loss that I didn't even think to add into the blurb the problems that created in her marriage. Not that the publisher added anything about that either, he added a bit from the epilogue which I like. It was those changes he made that got me thinking about the blurb and what I should have put - her relationship with her husband. This woman had to live with a husband she didn't recognise which was very hard for both of them. And then when her memory returned, along with a repressed memory, she had so many other issues to deal with that her relationship with her husband suffered. The book is as much about the path they took to find each other again as it is about the fallout from her repressed memory.

The blurb is important of course, it's what makes the reader decide to read a sample and ultimately to buy the book. I'm learning, always learning. This writing gig is so much more than just writing books. It's a constant learning curve. I know I'm much better as a writer and also as a self publicist than I was when I started. Like any skill, practice makes better - not perfect  because it can never be perfect - but better.

And the werewolf book? Still haven't heard and that's a positive thing. Most of the agents I submitted to promise to reply in 2 to 4 weeks. A quick rejection means that there's something wrong with your submission - either your writing or your query letter sucks, or they don't want your genre. That was the rejection I got, that agent wasn't accepting my genre so that's ok as it wasn't my writing that sucked.

A longer wait gives the promise that your submission has made it past the initial knee jerk rejection and it may actually be read. Maybe there will be a request for more. Who knows? But no news in a short space of time is good news. So I wait, and I hope, and I plan for self-publishing if I get a slew of rejections. Because even if agents think the paranormal genre is dead you only have to see the number of books of that genre on Amazon to know that it really isn't. People don't stop reading a genre they like just because there has been a glut of books of that type, they are just more discerning with a wider choice.

So I'm planning, I'm writing outlines for three books (the prequel, book 2, and another totally different one that's insisting on being written) and I'm planning to go and see the woman about the shelter book to talk to her about the direction I think it needs to go in. Yes I've just ended a sentence with a preposition - I'm cool with that :)

I will of course let you know when I get a reply on the submission, even if it's all rejections you will know, promise.

Oh, and I know it was yesterday, but happy Valentines Day. Remember there are more types of love than romantic love and you are loved, you are most definitely loved. I hope you took the time to appreciate those who love you, even if romantic love is not a factor this year :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The waiting game

Well, I feel like I've written an entire manuscript - and really with all the rewrites to the synopsis I almost have. But finally (and with critical input from my sister, bless her patient heart) I'm happy with it. Not that the synopsis is the end of it. There's also the cover letter and the query letter, and no they are not the same.

The query letter requires a kind of blurb, a bit like what you read on the back of a book. That means condensing the synopsis down even further and then trying to find the hook to grab interest. You get one paragraph to get the agent/publisher interested enough in your writing to request the synopsis or sample chapters. Some agents require the query letter, the synopsis and a few pages, some just the query letter, some the query letter and the first chapter -well you get the gist, it's different requirements for each one.

The cover letter is kind of the query letter but with even less room to hook the agent/publisher. Agents and publishers ask for much the same thing, but require it presented in different ways. You have to read their websites to find out their particular submission procedure and then adhere to it. It's time consuming, but now that I have the synopsis done, and a query letter and cover letter that can each be adapted to suit various needs it is at least not so stressful.

For me, the first query I send off is the hardest. I read that rewrite number about 147 of the synopsis that I was happy with and make even more changes. I hesitate, my finger hovers over the send button, I read and re-read everything and finally I press send. It feels like a momentous occasion and it is, that first time I send off my creation and prepare myself for rejection. Hope for a request for the manuscript - a really great feeling - but prepare for rejection.

I'm sending off a few queries a day, taking my time to get the wording just right and that the agency/publishing house I'm submitting to is actively looking for my genre of writing. I'm reading about the agent/publisher I'm submitting to, hoping that this particular one will appreciate my style of writing, has had coffee, a good nights sleep and is in a good mood.

And then I wait for about a month (and check my email account obsessively about 25 times a day). In the meantime I'm getting onto the prequel, since whether or not I'm accepted I still need to write that. I've written the overview for the next three books so once I've finished the prequel I'll start on book two. And I need to get moving again on the shelter book - remember that? I think of that every day and I've talked to a few people about it too, to get ideas on what will make it sell. I need to go and talk to the owner of the shelter again to get more information from her. I'm planning a rewrite on that too.

So I'm going to be busy, and I'm going to try not to obsess over the fate of my book. It's not the end of the world if I'm rejected, I'll just self publish and I'm not too worried about that. When I did a bit of research on Amazon I found that a large number of the authors I personally read in the paranormal genre are self published, and they do really well. My main issue with self publishing is that I must also self edit and make my own cover. But I'm not going to worry about any of that just now.

A big plus to writing a synopsis is that it makes you go through the story step by step. It shows up plot holes and continuity errors. It actually ends up making a better manuscript so it's a really good exercise all writers should do, regardless of whether they plan to submit or self publish. I made changes to my manuscript and tightened it up a lot as a result of going through the storyline chapter by chapter. So, even if I don't get accepted it was not a wasted exercise. And that's good since it's taken weeks of hair pulling, muttering under my breath and sleeplessness.

But today I'm giving myself a day off. I've sent off a couple of submissions and I'm writing this blog - that's because I like to write the blog and connect with you all out there. But after this I'm going to do some Sheryltangling (since I can't call it zentangling any more) and drink some coffee and chill. I'm feeling happy with my synopsis and my query letter. I'm really happy with my manuscript and the rest of the story waiting to be written. I like my main characters, Zora and Powers, and I'm enjoying writing their stories. I will even go so far as to say I'm excited to write book two in the series. I'm looking forward to writing the prequel which will answer questions I have about Zora's childhood (translation, I don't know what will happen yet but my subconscious does). Whether or not I get accepted I'm in a good place folks, one I wasn't sure I'd get to a few months ago so I'm going to savour it :)

Wishing you all a good place in your life, if you're experiencing it now enjoy it and live in the moment. If you're not experiencing it just now have faith and believe, you will.

Reading and writing both :)