Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Do I only represent Christian Writers?

Well now, that's a good question.

I'm not sure, because I don't ask people about their faith in the submission process. I suspect since people can clearly see that this is a Christian agency (even though we do work in the secular market as well) that they would probably be comfortable with that if they were going to submit to us.

But I don't ask.

I do know one thing, an atheist or non-Christians might be decidedly uncomfortable in my client group. You see, I require all clients to be in a private online group which gives me the ability to contact them all at once. The group offers three options, priority messages only (I'm the only one that can send a priority message), on digest, and on full access where they can talk directly not only with me but with other clients as well.

I do watch what the group talks about and do participate, maybe more than I should. Once the group was set up another interesting aspect came out. They turned out to be an amazing group of prayer warriors who genuinely care for each other and pray for one another with great effectiveness.

See why I think a non-believer would probably not be comfortable in the group?

Then there is the fact that I am drawn to content that has a good faith message. Yes, that narrows the possible places it can be submitted but that is after all why I decided to start doing this. Will I represent something that does not have faith content in it? Sure, we need good family entertainment as well as Christian books. Saying that you can tell I don't park my beliefs and morals at the door even if I am doing general market books.

My mother has passed on now, but she is still my measuring stick for projects. If it is something that would have offended my mother then it isn't something I want my name associated with. It's a measuring stick that I'm comfortable with and I don't mind if people shake their head and say I'm giving up sales. Of course I am, but they aren't sales I want to make. There are plenty of agents that do those, they don't need me doing it.

But I'm taking the long road around the mountain answering the question. Do I only represent Christian authors? Probably. Is it intentional? No, I just think all of my clients are Christians, and whether I actually ask someone or not, that is who I am likely to end up with.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

a sample chapter online

My client group is discussing the in’s and out’s of putting the first chapter (or more) of their work in progress online. Work that is put online for a critique group such as our own ‘crit room’ or any restricted access forum is not considered published, but any work that is put online and is accessible by the general public IS considered published. Some of these sites have a major number of followers, maybe even more than a printed version would sell to.

Why would an author want to do this with an unpublished work anyway? The usual justification is hoping an agent or editor would run across it, like it, and contact them asking for more. This has happened, but it is very rare. For the most part agents and editors have enough to wade through without going online searching for more. A majority of agents and editors won’t even go online searching when someone gives them links to material instead of providing it in a proposal as requested, but that’s a different topic. I believe the potential of ruling a work out by publishing it online outweighs any potential on accidentally interesting an agent or editor in the work.

As to the weight any particular publisher would give to material that has been published online, that varies from paying no attention to it to having it rule the project out for them. It would probably depend on how much of the work had been put up. For some publishers if any at all has been put up they don’t much like it.

My own opinion is that I don’t like to put any work online until it is contracted for publishing and even then after consulting the publisher. Some would not want it to be done at all unless they do it themselves and others have rules about how it can be done. I believe they feel there is no point in courting a potential problem when they have plenty of submissions by people who have not made their work public. Most if not all of them who wouldn’t mind restrict it to a maximum of one chapter.

It can make a difference if a work is entered in contests. In contests the judges are sent the contest material without the author’s name attached. If the work has been published online WITH the author’s name attached it can contaminate the judges pool for the work. Many contests will not accept a work if that has happened.

How about blogs or social media? Publishers used to pay little attention to them, but that isn’t the case any more. Audiences for these now go up into the thousands and most publishers consider them a significant marketing tool. The number one sales tool for a book is name identification or “buzz” and having a strong online presence is a major way of doing that, hopefully beginning long before there is a book to promote.

Let’s talk about nonfiction. It used to be that non-fiction books were much easier to sell to a publisher than fiction. Not so much these days, and I believe the reason for that is just what you are talking about, the amount of material that is online for free. If someone pitches me a project and I know all of their research was done online I know all of the material in their book is available for free. It may still have value to a potential buyer since that research has been done and all of the material assembled in a logical order . . . or it may not. There is no telling which way a publisher would come down on that question.

Is an author who has a regular blog now considered ‘published?’ Actually, yes, and the degree of the publishing credit would depend on the number of regular followers. We can look at it like this, a blog with a couple of hundred followers would be like having a writing credit of writing something like a church newsletter. One of my clients has a twitter account with over 40,000 followers. That is the equivalent of being a regular columnist in a small magazine.

The bottom line is that online publishing has changed or evolved in the past few years and many aspects of it are looked upon in quite a different manner. But then that’s the only constant in the publishing industry . . . change.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Getting Away

We talk about the need to find writing time, carving it out from a crowded schedule. For those of us who are immersed in it 10-12 hours a day six days a week occassionally we need to figure out how to get away for a while. We just did exactly that. We went directly from working a great conference at Estes Park Colorado (Colorado Christian Writers Conference) to drive to Seattle and catch a cruise to Alaska. That put us on the road for nearly a month.

Saundra wanted to see the country, not fly over it, she wanted a road trip. We surely did that, counting the 2000 miles of the cruise we covered nearly 6500 miles on the trip. We watched Old Faithful blow its top and were trapped in the middle of a herd of a couple thousand buffalo at Yellowstone as they surrounded us going to their bedding ground for the night. One passed so close she could reach out and touch him. She got a great picture.

The Grand Teton mountains were amazing.

We really enjoyed the cruise, with ports of call in at Skagway, Ketchican and Juno on Alaska then on to Victoria British Columbia.

We saw whales and Eagles but the cherry on top was the Butchart Gardens in Victoria. Saundra got to spend a half day in a special class with a professional photographer. On the return trip we went down the Pacific Ocean shoreline, saw miles and mile of HUGE redwood trees and spent a day in San Francisco riding cable cars, photographing the Golden Gate Bridge and eating at Fisherman's Wharf.

We had a compromise. I didn't work, but I did have my laptop and downloaded my email each day to keep from getting so many that it shut my server down. OK, maybe I did handle a couple of emergency items, but for the most part I left it to do when I got back.

It was good to relax, to decompress, and even the hassle of having to dig through all that was waiting when I went back to work was definitely worth it. We all need that sometime.