Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21st

I've decided to be frightfully well organized about the whole thing. The publishing thing, that is.

So, I've come up with a folder in Microsoft Word for each organization I'm thinking of sending my work out to. I will slowly work on compiling all the documents in the way each of them requests it, which, by the way, is not at all uniform.

For example:

The literary agent wants only a query letter, and by query letter, they mean a mini synopsis. If they like said mini synopsis, they will request sample pages. If they like the sample pages... I don't know, to be honest. They don't say. I assume they'll want to read the whole thing at that point.

The publishing house wants a query letter, by which they mean a copy letter, with short description of the book, myself and my credentials, and then a second letter containing a synopsis, not to exceed five pages long, and the title page with the exact word count, and then the first three chapters.

These are just two. I have identified three other literary agencies that, according to their websites, are interested in the sort of thing I write. All of them have different requests and steps to take.

One of the successful query letters included the statement "I have a popular blog."

Nightmares like sugar plums danced in my head as I envisioned what the agent would think if they ever, for any reason, stumbled across my blog.

Which leads me to my first publishing commandment: Thou shalt not misrepresent thyself.

I mean, it would be tempting to try and hint at or let them assume that I'm a bright, vivacious conversationalist, capable of hosting a wildly popular blog and kissing children at book signing venues.

However, this would only make things that much worse when they realize that I am, in point of fact, a neurotic, anxiety ridden introvert, prone to political rants of the wrong persuasion and in the habit of talking to Jesus.

In short, just not the most highly sought after candidate for a successful book promotion. And, as one of them said on one of their websites, the days of someone deep in obscurity and sitting hunched over the typewriter, punching out a masterpiece and then sending it, tattered edges and all, to be accepted and published at Houghton Mifflin, are well and truly over.

I guess I'll just have to have faith that someone out there will figure they can make enough money off my writing to make up for the fact that I'll never come up with a platform.

Or, I'll never get published. I googled platform, by the way, and came up with ten utterly laughable, completely impossible pointers, the point of which is to get my name to come up when the publisher googles me. Here are some of them:

1. Attend Literary Readings and Book Launches.

2. Give a business card to everyone you meet.

3. Create short video presentations.

4. Write a Readers' Guide for your book.

5. Once you have a book to sell, hire your own publicist.

This has got to be for writers of nonfiction, right? They also suggested that I plug into an already established series, like Chicken Soup for the Soul, or the Dummies line.

Who would do that?

Doesn't that just take out all the joy of writing? There's already one Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Do we need a knock off brand? Isn't there something original to the person that the person wishes to write out of themselves? Isn't that why they want to write?

Who gets up in morning and says, "I want to write a knock off version of Chicken Soup for the Soul?"

Its one thing to finish writing and realize, "Hey, this is very similar to CS for S. I'll use that comparison in my query letter; it'll help the agent conceptualize my work." After all, no one has an entirely original idea; all our stories are like something else already published.

It's another to try and aim directly at the knock off.

Anyhow, one publishing house is looking for fantasy that has: depth and insight, great writing, original ideas, interesting characters who have believable behaviors, motives, and relationships, believable dialogue, strong plots, unique settings and richly detailed and original cultures.

Oh my god. Everytime I read that, it's like I'm back in elemantary school, and I know I have the right answer, and I'm practically on the edge of my freakin' seat, wildly waving my hand in the air, eyes wide.

My writing has all or most of that. People who have read Ceallach tell me so. My editor friend described it thusly: "It's got an even greater level of depth to the writing than even your last story. It comes across as real: layered, nuanced, gritty, textured, surprising. Like life."

Who could ask for better feedback?

Maybe people in real life as not as witty as my characters, but how can that be a bad thing? It's so entertaining. Surely some small publishing house like that one will pick me sometime or other.

Sure, I clearly have a hangup over garish cover art, but I can get over that real easily. I have only one stipulation: do not put Ceallach, shirtless, on the cover.

I am resigned to the fact that if they put him on the cover, they will do so with his hair loose. What else can you expect when you have a character with waist length silver hair? Who could resist putting that, all windblown, on the paperback cover? Not the cover artists we all know and love.

It doesn't matter that this would deeply embarrass Ceallach to be represented this way or that he never wears it loose unless it's for a specific purpose. I can't expect others to be that in tune with my character's character.

But I do draw the line at shirtless. That's just too much. I don't care how fantastic a picture that would be. It's just not allowed.

So now that I've settled that obscure point on an issue that will probably never come up at all, I should get back to writing. I didn't write at all on Torii yesterday, and in the evening, I realized that I missed their company.

Tenshio has cast down the Ganges and they must meet up with Lord Fushi on the fertile banks of the Kosi river. They must bid farewell to the crew of the Unabara Maru and begin their ascent into the Himalayas.