We interrupt Friday’s regularly scheduled hero fiction appreciation (which I wasn’t even able to come up with this week anyway, as I’ve had my nose in my own book and haven’t gotten a whole lot of fiction myself, except for Dean, and we just talked about him the other day and I’m sure SOME of you [cough]Kait, Cher[cough] could deal with a weekly Dean segment, but…I digress) to bring you the following update on the writing life of me.
So, yeah, it’s been one of those exciting yet surreal weeks for me. A lot of this post is going to be about why I wanted an agent because I know there’s some sentiment that we don’t need them. Personal choice. You know that my friend and crit partner Kait is indie an has an agent. She’ll eventually have work both traditionally and self-published. The plans that she and her agent are making for her career make absolute sense for what she wants and it seems to be a beautiful arrangement. My friend Zoe is fiercely independent. She loves the business aspects of this job at least as much as she loves the writing. She thrives on it and doesn’t want to give any of that over to someone else. Totally valid and I totally get where she’s coming from. There’s no right answer.
I have been very interested in representation for last few months, ever since I had that incident of interest in the translation rights that I didn’t know how to deal with. Advice I got from those ahead of me was to get an agent, but of course I had no idea whom to approach. I think there’s been this clear feeling in the indie community that the industry sees us as damaged goods and no one wants to pick up a used commodity. (Actually, I read that, with nicer words, on an agent’s blog once.) Weird, huh? Clearly that’s changing, and like the rest of the changes that are going on around us, it’s changing fast.
But I couldn’t tell who was interested in representing self-published authors, and couldn’t find help to figure it out. So it’s one of the many things I just let go as too complicated for the moment, even though I have very much felt that I’m at a point where I could use the guidance of people with more experience than I have.
Honestly you guys, we’re all monumentally busy, and it just keeps going. What did Amanda say recently? “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.” Bless her heart, I can only imagine. But really, isn’t being you a full-time job already? A huge part of my trouble this year has been in trying to take my already inefficiently-run life and suddenly trying to shove a full-time author/publisher/book-marketer/manager career into that.
My daughter made a calendar in school last year. It was one of those Home Depot kid projects they do on Saturdays, but they do a lot of those in the class my daughter was in last year. Anyway, it’s a perpetual calendar with blocks you turn to show the date. It sits on my stove. One day this winter I looked at that calendar and it said August 2, 2010.
The date I first uploaded Hush Money.
The date that time stopped.
Or at least that I stopped being able to focus on stuff in my home. Susan, you just signed with an awesome literary agent, what are you going to do next? Scrub my bathroom. That’s what I did this week. I gave my bathroom some quality time. I washed the walls and the baseboards. I’m going to have to re-caulk. And I’m going to have to figure out a way to do everything I need to do. And unlike a lot of you guys, I don’t even have a 9-5 job I have to do 40 hours a week. (Really, did I mention I’m inefficient?)
I’ve wanted someone who could be there when questions like this foreign rights stuff come up, so I wouldn’t have to waste a couple days with Google and then another day with an attorney–only to have nothing come of it! I’m going to want sound editorial advice on this book I’m working on, and I don’t want to waste time trying to figure out whom to hire for that. I think we’ll [indies will] get to a point where we have reputable editors for hire, but I don’t know who they are now. It seems like so many of the writers I know are so monumentally busy they’ve hardly got a brain cell to spare these days to answer questions for me, let alone read a scene and tell me why it sucks. I love the idea of having someone to go to with this stuff, and someone who has an interest such that I don’t have to feel like I’m just sucking their time.
So anyway, last week Jane sent me an email and then we spoke on the phone. I have to tell you that “the call” was kind of a series of brain mines, followed by an aftermath of disbelief and the certainty that there would be a phone call from a receptionist informing me of some unfortunate error. I mean, guys, I’m just now getting to the point where I can start paying my credit card bill with my royalties instead of hoarding the royalties in the bank in case someone calls to tell me about an unfortunate accounting error and demands them back.
My serious issues aside, a huge thrill in all this is that I love to learn, and I am so excited about the opportunity to learn from someone with this much experience in the industry. That’s freakin’ awesome! Some people are pretty negative about different editorial perspectives, you know? They feel like they’re being told what to do and forced into this and that. I know that my own perspective is very narrow and that I don’t see everything. I love it when a fresh opinion opens me up to thinking about something in a way it wouldn’t have occurred to me to think before. At the end of the day I may not change the work, but I’ll know that I covered another angle in terms of looking at it and that that was an informed decision.
The opportunity to discuss my work with experienced people who actually have time and give a shit about it? That’s an opportunity I absolutely want and am very excited about.
I love that Jane contacted me. I understand how the query process came to be how it is, but eep, it’s rough. Being thrown out of the running for a novel on the basis of not being able to write a stand-out letter is something I think a lot of us are uncomfortable with regarding things as they stand now. I’m hoping that we’ll continue see more agents willing to scout.
Anyway, sorry this is long, but as far as my thoughts on the whole business, you guys really got short version. Trust me.