Saturday, October 23, 2010

Prophet Without Honor

     Jesus talks about "A prophet is not without  honor save in his own country, and in his own house." If there's anything I'm not it's a prophet, but I get it. It's possible that the ones who had the hardest time believing He was really the Son of God were those who had watched Him grow up every day, maybe even saw Him running around in diapers if they did that back then.

It's that way for us. Those who have the hardest time realizing that our writing may be more than just a little hobby that we are fooling around with are family and friends who have watched us grow up our entire lives or at least a large portion of it. 

My pastor was not a big fan of Christian fiction. He had even mentioned from the pulpit several times that he didn't read books except for the Bible and books written to amplify his understanding of the Bible. Even after I gave my testimony about my writing, how I was called,  and how Christian Fiction can reach out to people, sometimes in ways that Biblical material, pamphlets and tracts, and other materials sometimes cannot do.  They do it in same way that Jesus often used stories, parables, to help people relate to his teachings.

Then his wife got him to read one of my books and he changed his mind. But he's a big enough man that he said that from the pulpit too and became a big supporter of my work.  I had an uncle come up to me at a family get-together and said in front of the entire group that he was in a bookstore in Atlanta getting something to read on the flight home and saw one of my books on the shelf. He was amazed. The whole family was fascinated to find out how my books were out there.

Most family and friends had no idea my books were available through bookstores if not shelved there, and in libraries all over the country. How could that be? I was just the guy that sat in services with them and talked too much in Sunday School Class.  I was just the kid my family had watched grow up and get into mischief.

I think most writers go through this. If we begin making some headway becoming known, the last people who will realize it are those closest to us, and even then they'll always underestimate the extent of our success. Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming to be a best selling writer,  but I guarantee I have much more of a national reputation than any of these people ever thought, particularly criss-crossing the country doing programs, conventions and workshops.

I believe this is something they have to discover for themselves. Like Jesus, we can tell them but they don't quite come to grips with it until they figure it out for themselves. But they eventually will. I just wish the whole world could finally figure out the truth about our Savior.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Agents and eBooks

Things they are a-changing, and nothing is changing as fast it seems as the face of publishing these days.

I was over on the Smashwords site while ago. I have the rights back now to my Mysterious Ways series and I am looking to put them out for the Kindle. This site had a paragraph addressed to literary agents that intrigued me. It said:

"The next chapter of the indie ebook revolution may very well be written by literary agents.  Literary agents are trusted business advisors to the world's most commercially successful authors.  As a business advisor and
author advocate, the agent's role is to help the author maximize the commercial potential of their work.  Indie ebook publishing via Smashwords represents an exciting complement and/or alternative to traditional
publishing.  Agents can help authors bring their reverted-rights works back to life as ebooks, or can publish an author's unpublished works that for one reason or another cannot be sold to a commercial publisher."

Now, I don't know that this is the route that I want to go, but the concept of what they are talking about interests me. It isn't the first that I've heard of it. Historically, any agent that charged for other services was in violation of the basic tenents of being an agent, particularly if they happen to be an AAR member. But I keep hearing that this may be changing in regards to sole select options that agents may be doing for their clients and this is one option I hear brought up a lot.

I know a number of agents that are holding back ebook rights and trying to negotiate them separately to someone set up to get them to market on the new e-readers. This market is exploding, and can no longer be considered just something we throw in the deal for a publisher. Is the next logical step to actually be involved in the upload of the books themselves?

What do you think? 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How do it know?

So how does a writer know before sending a manuscript off if it will appeal to an editor? 

That is the question.

Two men were about to have lunch on a jobsite. One, not the sharpest knife in the drawer looked over at the other and said, "What be that?" 
The man responded, "It's a Thermos." 
"What do it do?"
"It keeps things hot or keeps them cold."
"How do it know?" 

I was asked the question about how to know before we submit if something is right for an agent or editor, and the answer is as simple as the answer to this guy's question. Doing it is tough, and the people that do it well are the ones that publish. Writers want to write, period. We don't want to research or market or promote or do all the other things that go into developing a career. We want to write.

But the key to doing a good job with queries to an editor or a agent is knowing before we ever put it in the mail that they are a real possibility for the product that we're pitching. Too many people buy the big market guide and go through it sending off a letter to everybody that even lists their genre in their listing.  That's a guarantee a huge number of rejection letters will soon be on the way.

The ones that know their business look for indicators that the person they are querying really has published or handled some comparable work. They find other books and writers that are targeted at the same people they figure to be the reader base for their book. The numbers and products they develop that convince them this is true is the same thing they need to give to an agent or editor to demonstrate they know who their reader base is and have really written a book that will reach them. This goes a long way toward selling an agent or editor on a proposal.

What are these indicators? That's the hard part, because it's different for every book and may differ for each editor and agent we pitch. We search the market and search the bookstore for products that cause us to believe we'd be right for a certain agency or publishing house and we try that pitch on them. If we've figured right we've got a good shot at it. If not, well, there's always the next one.

"How do it know?" That's the key question all right.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Life is working down your list

The key to life is working down your list. 

We've all got a list. Life starts getting the best of us when our list gets out of control, but all we can do is take the items on it one at a time and try to take care of that single item. 

Sometimes we can't seem to get that done. That often means we have a task on our list that is too large to get done so it defeats us, confounds us. That's when we need to break it down into parts, small pieces that we can accomplish, and work it down that way.

A list is immortal. We never finish it, and when we die someone else has to take over what is left on our list and finish the items on it, along with the task of planting us. But what if there's something on our list we simply can't do? We all know the Serenity Prayer, "Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."

This is a classic, and it became a classic because of the eternal truth contained in it. We have to know when to turn things over to God. I'm bad about that. I was raised as many men were to saddle my own broncs and take care of my own problems, to accept responsibility for taking care of those in my charge.

The Lord has taken me to the woodshed several times for that, let me crash and burn for trying to do things myself instead of turning them over to him. I do have to learn what I can and should do and what I need to turn over to the Lord, and I need to seek his counsel and guidance in the rest of it.

I have a lot of trouble breaking myself of riding that old horse named pride. I've ridden him far too often.