Writer Wednesday – Decoding Agent Lingo.

As I continue down this journey of finding an agent, I have a hard time finding agents with an #mswl (Manuscript Wish List) that includes Steampunk Romance.     Steampunk, yes.  Romance, yes. Not necessarily both. 

Romance is a broad genre and it includes a lot of subgenres.  I usually end up looking for Paranormal Romance, Fantasy Romance or Sci-fi Romance.    Arguably Steampunk fits into all of these but forms don’t usually account for the historical piece of steampunk.   Sigh.  

 

BTW – If anyone out there is writing Steampunk that has YA(Young Adult), NA (New Adult) or even MG (Middle Grade) elements – Agents are looking for you.  

Women’s Fiction seems to be making a come back but I’ve seen these variations; Women’s Commercial Fiction, Women’s Literary Fiction, and Women’s UpMarket Fiction.   I was starting to wonder if these were all snooty code for Romance.   For Your Information they are not.   

UpMarket Fiction is a phrase that bugs me…once I looked it up,  it bugged me even more.  According to my Google search as an adjective it means, “relatively expensive and designed to appeal to affluent consumers.”   Okay… I still have no idea what that means. 

I was speaking to another author recently and she was telling me that she’d received over 83 rejections in a year and then just last month found an agent on a Twitter Pitch Party.    I’ve only sent out a handful of queries…so I have a long way to go. 

I imagine agents are much like readers, they know what they like, and they probably have an easier time selling what they like to read.   So here’s crossing my fingers that I find that agent who loves what I write and can sell it into the market. 

~Tina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writer Wednesday – The importance of options

Since starting my Agent Quest at the beginning of September, I’ve sent out 11 queries and received 5 rejections and 1 No response (although the website said if I don’t hear from them in 3 weeks, it was considered a pass).   I’ve only had one agent request a partial, all others have been rejected simply on Query or the first few pages. I currently have 5 queries out there and am prepping another letter to send off, as I like to have 6 queries out at once, since this is a time-consuming process. 

I admit I wish I was getting more feedback, like “we aren’t searching for a Steampunk Romance”, or “No one is looking for this,” or “You’re writing needs work specifically in these areas.”   Unfortunately most have simply been, “we are going to pass on this project.”   

“Why?  Why are you passing?” I wonder. 

Last week, I talked about my looking for Beta Readers and this is why.  So I can find out if its something in my writing that isn’t working.   My concern is that the writing is fine, and I’ve missed the market on Steampunk.  If that’s the case, even if I decide to go direct to the publishers, I may have a difficult time finding a home for this manuscript.   It makes me question if I should write something saleable for NaNoWriMo or work on the next book in this Steampunk series.   

I have been researching Indie publishing for the very concerns I listed above regarding the market for Steampunk.  I personally love the genre mixed with romance and feel there aren’t enough books, but maybe I’m in the minority on this one.  Although by all accounts, this seems to be a loyal fan base if you get “it” right, and there is a significant amount of self-published (indie) books in the genre.  I feel if I did go the self-published (Indie) route that I’d at least have a chance to succeed (or fail) based on readers. 

But I digress as this post was about Options.   Even though this process has been long and tiresome, I do still have a good portion of my agent list to work through and then after that my editor list.  I’ve decided to give my agent search until January and then I’ll be querying publishers directly.  That list is pretty long too. 

To give myself options when I go to find either an agent or publisher I make an excel spreadsheet of what they are looking for and what is important to me, so I can expedite the list, so really when I can the rejection I’m not so dejected. 

I admit my experience with publishers (especially digital presses) is that they know exactly what they want and the turn around on query, and usually the manuscript is much faster.   Many publishers now take the full manuscript so there is very little waiting.  

Well I should write that next query letter, so I can hurry up and wait. 🙂 

~Tina

 

 

 

 

 

 

AuThursday – Tina Holland (me)

BirthdayI figured since today was my birthday and I’d already have comments on FB and Twitter (at least I hope I do), it might best serve to hog the spotlight, so next week another author can have the limelight to themselves.  🙂   I’ve sent an FB interview out  a few weeks ago, so the format below will feel very familiar. 

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I was born on October 26th (today) in Frankfurt, Germany.  We moved to North Dakota when I was seven, and I have lived here ever since.   I married my high school sweetheart and we currently live on a hobby farm with two horses, two dogs, a cat, a catfish and a parrot.

How do you make time to write?

I have a full-time job, so I tend to write in the evenings or on the weekends.  I’ve written before work and on my lunch hour too when I’m trying to finish a project.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

I do.   Not in the sense of I’m just not feeling it, but in the sense that a life-event can interrupt your flow on a project.   I believe stress creates true writer’s block.  Writing yourself into  a corner or reigniting passion for a project can be fixed.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

I write in both contemporary and SFFP (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal) subgenres of romance.  I love writing contemporary, because it makes for a quick write, as it doesn’t require the level of world building that SFFP does.   SFFP is fun to write because I love exploring legends, myths, and fairy tales, putting your own twist in for readers is wonderful.   They say you should write what you read.  I love historicals, but have not tackled them because I’m so intimidated by the history aspect.   When I discovered Steampunk, which usually requires changing history and including fantasy elements I knew I discovered a niche that I’d love.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (e.g.  Indie, traditional or both).

I just finished a Steampunk Novel, titled The Courtesan of Constantinople and am currently seeking representation for the traditional publishing market.   I’ve been digitally published in the past with both Liquid Silver Books and Resplendence Publishing, but am looking for a different (and hopefully expanded) market for my current story.

Are you an Introvert or extrovert?  How does this affect your work?

I’m an Extrovert.  I learned recently that how you get your energy is what determines whether you’re an Introvert or an Extrovert.  I get mine from people.   It makes it very easy to write in noisy (like coffee houses) environments.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? swimming

“Just keep swimming.” ~Dory from Finding Nemo.   It’s simplistic but when I don’t feel like writing, it puts my butt in chair.   I have a goal to write 200 words a day, knowing if I write 200, I’m just as likely to write 500 or more.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

No one cares more about you and your story than you do.   I think knowing yourself and what you want out of writing is the most important thing you can do for your story.

Creating a work of fiction is a tremendous success and what you want when you in type “The End” is just as important as publishing (if that’s what you want).    I would recommend each writer get to know themselves and figure out their own path, which might be similar to other writers or completely different.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.tinaholland.com

https://www.facebook.com/

https://twitter.com/haveubeenaughty

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3122975.Tina_Holland

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003OLKLA6

I hope you enjoyed this insight into my writing life.  Next week we’ll get back on track meeting other writers. 🙂  Until then be Naughty. ~Tina

 

 

Writer Wednesday-Beta Readers

Beta Readers are becoming more popular as authors go Indie and want a reader to look over their work rather than an editor.

As I’m looking at a more traditional publishing model via an agent, I’ve considered looking at Beta Readers as well.

When I digitally published, this wasn’t as much of a concern as there was enough editing done in-house, I worried less about content as there were so many eyes looking at it, and I had really good editors. 🙂

I’ve asked my fellow authors who use beta readers how they go about finding them.   There seem to be a number of ways to do this:

  1.  Post to FB, Twitter, etc and ask for Beta Readers to read your latest book.  I think there are Beta Reader Groups out there.   I plan to post to a Local Steampunk group as I think they might be interested in reading my story. 
  2. Readers you meet randomly – I actually found a reader at a Con last year, and I think she will work out well.  I’d like more beta readers, but one will do for now.
  3. Friends and Family – I’ve heard reason’s not to use friends and family, but my argument would be that you are looking for continuity in your story.  That being said, make sure you pick a friend who is an avid reader.   Also,  if you write Mystery and your sister is a hard-core YA reader, you may want to take that into consideration when reviewing her feedback.  She can likely still provide great character insight, but may not enjoy the read as much as she might a YA read. 

I’ve heard Indie authors who use Beta Readers prior to Editing and some use them after.   Obviously I will use them before hiring an editor.  I’m looking for Beta readers to review for content, character likeability, plot holes to some extent and the like.   I’m looking for an overall critique, not editing.  I believe that should be done by the publisher, as I’ve experienced in the past.  Honestly, if an agent tells me to hire an editor – I will likely skip the agent process all together. 🙂 

Until next Writer Wednesday, be naughty. ~Tina 

P.S. If you are interested in being a Beta Reader for a Steampunk novel, go ahead and comment below. 🙂

Writer Wednesday – Writing the Synopsis

The synopsis is an integral part of most submission packets, including my most recent agent submissions.   This was a struggle for me, as I hadn’t written one since I published “The Pilot and the Pinup” with  Liquid Silver Books.   A fellow author told me to break each of the chapters down into paragraphs.   I did exactly that and it was quiet the disaster.

The Acquisitions editor at the time informed me I suffered from Dreaded Synopsis Syndrome.  Boy did I ever.   LSB requested a love scene (probably to make sure I didn’t purple-prose the hell out of it) and the last chapter (likely to make sure the book was done).   They accepted my full ms and I never had to write a synopsis for them again.  Thank the writing gods.

Thankfully, My other digital publisher, Resplendence Publishing, didn’t require the synopsis.  Whew.

Now that I’m looking for an agent I’m back in the land of having to write a synopsis.  Ugh!

Luckily, there is a ton of info on the interwebs on how to write one.   I found this site to be very helpful.

http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/

After writing said one page synopsis, I find some agents now want 3-5 pages.  Ugh!   And I thought I’d mastered the dreaded synopsis.

~Join me next week as we continue the query journey.

Writer Wednesday – Request

Last week, right after I posted my rejection post.   I received a request for an additional 50 pages from another Agent.   The Universe must have a plan.  

I had met this agent at an RWA conference a couple of years ago when the manuscript was just getting started in my head and on paper.    She had given a talk on agents and how they help you in the business.  That talk made me look at querying agents for this book that was an idea in my head.     Especially since what I had written was such a bit of a departure from my current work.   

I will still have to wait a few more weeks before I hear back, but this is exciting news.  I remember listening to her talk, and getting a good vibe.  

As you read this, I’m heading to the airport to go on my annual retreat with the WZG Founders.   And plotting my next book.   More on that next Wednesday. 

~Tina

Writer Wednesday – Rejection

I got my first rejection from an agent last week.  Less than 24 hours after I sent my query.

Was I surprised?  Yes and No.   Yes that it was so quick, and No that it happened.   It was a form letter and I likely received for one of two reasons:

  1. The agent is not  acquiring new authors
  2.  My packet wasn’t proper.   And my packet was incomplete…I noticed after I hit send.

I can not stress the importance of following the rules when agents and publishers lay them out for you.   In my case the agency wanted the first 5 pages and I misread it to be query letter only.    Now was I rejected for not following the rules, possibly.  I’ll never truly know, but I guarantee I always wonder.

Some of you may think this is nitpicky on the publisher’s or agency’s part, and maybe it appears that way.  But the rules are an indicator of what will maximize an agent or editors time.   And truthfully if my query sang all on its own, perhaps I would’ve received a gentle reminder about the missing pages.  Or I stated my query well enough that they knew a Stempunk Romance was not on their #MSWL.

Unfortunately for me, at this agency, a rejection from one agent is a rejection from all.  It is too bad, as the agency represented many authors I love and respect.  Sigh.

There are more agents ahead, and I assure you I will be diliegent in following the rules going forward.   🙂

~Tina