Saturday, January 25, 2014

What about William Tell?

Think William Tell . . .

You know the story. Threatened with death, the only way you and your son could live is if you are able to shoot the apple off the head of your son. You're an expert with the crossbow . . . but it's your son!

I can imagine looking down that crossbow at that tiny apple so far away but having trouble seeing it. Seeing only the head of your son.

What does this have to do with writing or being an agent?

Sometimes I feel this way targeting opportunities for my clients. At any given time a project may only fit at one place in the whole publishing industry. Within a short period of time that place may be gone but now it only fits at one place and that place is at another house. It is all about getting the right product in just the right hands at just the right time. That sounds to me like as small a target as that apple.

Even finding the right hands is not easy. There may be a number of acquisition people at each house that might be a possibility for the project. All of them have the ability to turn a submission down but maybe only one of them is right for it, who might decide to accept it. If I send to the wrong one I've shot my client instead of the apple.

That's why I spend so much time simply trying to see who is publishing what, what genre's they are interested in. Not only what the publishing house is, but what specific editor was interested in it. That's important because personal tastes enter into it. There are editors that are good friends of mine but who have never acquired anything from me. Our tastes are different. Things I decide to represent are not what they like to read. Other editors have similar tastes and we work very well together.

It helps when I get feedback from submissions other than "not a fit," something that tells me more about what they like and what they don't care for. Otherwise I have to depend on other sources to better understand who is interested in publishing what.

It's all about trying to make the apple bigger.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


In writing groups, online groups, at conferences and other places writer's gather we talk a lot about the importance of networking. It is important to build relationships with editors and agents and other writers and maybe even more important building a base of readers who will follow our work.

But that's not the only networking we should be doing.

Maybe the most important such network is family. From a writing standpoint some authors are lucky to have family that understands their need to write and what they are really accomplishing with it. Some don't, and I've found if that is the case that the understanding we seek there will come when the time is right. That's why we network in the first group I mentioned, to have interaction with people who really know and understand. No, the support from this group is much more important to us than just understanding our writing, they are our base, our anchor. My wife Saundra is the center of this network and the center of my life. From there it moves out to five kids, ten grandkids and three great grands then on to our extended family. We should all be working very hard on the relationships in this network.

For me the most important networking of all is constant contact with the Lord through daily prayer and Bible reading. And strongly related to that network is my church family. I am lucky to have a church family that wants to celebrate with me when there are glad tidings, but who are also there for me when there is illness or when I am facing other problems. And Saundra and I are there for them as well.

My client group is an important network. I require them to be in an online group where I can contact them all at once but they have a choice as to whether they are full access on the group or only receive priority messages from me. Most are in the full access group where they can talk to one another and where I can see what they are talking about and respond to them when appropriate. They have a very close bond, rejoice in each others success, and have become a tremendous group of prayer warriors when prayer is needed. They support each other and are very strong support for me.

I have a large number of acquaintances,  particularly counting the number of 'friends' on facebook, twitter and other social media. I tend to accept friends from family members and from the writing community. Others who send me friend requests I don't accept which automatically makes them a follower. We need followers too, and hopefully that will keep me from going over whatever that number is that we can't exceed on friends there.

But there is a huge difference between acquaintances and real friends. I have had few real friends in my life and they are very precious to me. There are a lot of people who will come running for a party or celebration, who love to celebrate and rejoice with us, but the real friends are the ones that come running when we need help. And we have to be there for them as well.

We talk a lot about our writing networking and I think most of us work at improving those connections. Are we putting as much effort into these other networks?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Welcome to 2014

Another year. They seem to be coming around faster and faster.

The popular thing to do this time of year is to make a set of resolutions that we plan to get done in the coming year. I don't know how well you do with that but my record is abysmal.

I think the only resolution I have ever kept was a number of years ago that I resolved to not make any more dang fool resolutions. Now that one I could keep and have done so for a lot of years now.

The problem with resolutions is that we keep them or we don't. Pass or fail. I don't do well with that kind of test.

But it doesn't mean I don't have plans for the New Year. However, instead of resolutions I have GOALS. Goals are different, we can work toward a goal. There can be progress even if the goal is not reached. Not just pass or fail but we can have degrees of accomplishment. We can even exceed the goal. We can do better than we planned. Hard to do that with a resolution.

Many of these goals are captured on my to-do list. Family goals, financial goals, faith goals, work and writing goals, honey-do projects and household repairs, all on one list. I constantly try to whittle that list down but it often seems like I take one thing off and put a dozen things back on in its place.

I'm convinced that life is that list, and while I know I have eternal life thanks to my Lord and Savior, that list has an immortality of its own here on earth. It can never be finished. Even when it comes time for me to make my heavenly trip, the list still survives. Only now it has to be added to someone else's list, along with the task of making my final arrangements.

Some things on the list survived last year too and will go into next year. Some have been on there for several years, but as long as they are on the list I fully intend they get done, and they will eventually be resolved one way or the other. A few of that type of goals has been resolved over the years by finally admitting I'm just not going to do them and taking them off the list. Yes, that does resolve them, just admitting we aren't going to do it. Not ideal, but it does work.

How about you? What's your record on resolutions? If you do them I hope your record is better than mine. Or if you are a goal person I hope you see a lot of them accomplished or even surpassed in 2014. I hope you have a great New Year!