Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is it time?

After putting it off for the first seven months of the year, I finally finished revising my novel. Now, to send it out. Again.

Oh, boy.

Time to face rejection again, or at least its possibility. I know I write decently, but it's not a book of great moment or even a charming cozy. It's a silly vampire story I started before the market began drowning in vampire stories. It's not a mystery or a paranormal romance. No sparkling, brooding hunks, no sophisticated femme fatales.

How can I possibly sell this?

I've wanted to be an author since at least fifth grade. Before then, even, but that was when I was first asked in class and the words came to my lips. To give myself credit, I said 'science fiction writer', not 'the next Faulkner' (yecch). Vampire astronomer probably isn't that far off the mark.

The anxiety is horrible to endure, though, as is the pain of rejection. I shouldn't be surprised at how long it took me to revise, considering what I have to face. My baby is funny-looking and has fangs. Maybe only a mother can love it.

But, like a parent, I must send it into the world. This is the proper endpoint of parenthood.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lessons I learned from Gwen's launch party

Gwen and I at the book launch!

Monday night, Gwen and I threw the launch party for Circle of Dishonor. It was wildly successful, especially in comparison to Parnell Hall's lament (detailed in an earlier post). We had well over fifty people drop by the ultra-hip bistro Natasha's to celebrate with us and, in most cases, purchase a copy of the book.

We made back the money we invested in the first shipment of books, which will of course go immediately towards purchasing another shipment for Gwen's next signing. I also learned some important things to pass along to folks who haven't had the pleasure of launching a novel yet:

  • Bring plenty of pens. The author needs at least two good pens, and the person writing the receipts needs one, too (you will be writing receipts to show when you get audited, right?). You will also need spares to set out for check writers who have nothing to write with. None of our pens walked away, but it's best to be prepared.
  • Bring change, and lots of it. Unless your book is really expensive or a hardback, people will give you a Yuppie Food Stamp (aka a $20 bill) and you will need to make change... again and again.
  • Try to avoid the night before school starts. Some of your customers will need to attend parent meetings instead of your event. No, my parents never did this either, but things have changed.
  • The unexpected is not always a bad thing. Natasha's had scheduled a pianist for the same time slot as our book launch. I was worried that this meant no one would be able to hear Gwen or each other, but the music proved a pleasant background for our munching and socializing guests. Gwen spoke to the pianist before things got rolling and he 'took five' while she greeted everyone and read an excerpt from the book. Later, our gathering was referred to as 'classy' by one guest.
  • You will be mistaken for staff. You're sitting at a table in a central area, you have inventory, and a cash box. Of course you work there. Be nice to these people; they don't know you're a soon-to-be-famous author. Plus, the site host doesn't want you wrecking their usual business. Just fetch the waitress.
  • You will need to go out for food or have something to warm up at home, because you will be too busy to eat any of the spread you've set out for your guests. Gwen got two cubes of cheese, I got a sprig of grapes. That was it.
  • The caterer will add a gratuity charge to his/her quoted price. This is for the aggravation value of pouring drinks, refilling the platters, etc.
  • The key to the lockbox will drop to the most inaccessible spot in your purse or pocket, just when you need it. Tiny, isn't it?
And, finally...
  • Your bank is more alert than you think. The day after the party, Gwen got a call from her bank requesting that she verify a large charge to Natasha's made on Monday night. Yes, she owned up to it.

We had a great time; I hope you do, too.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Acting on the Intent to Sell

Jeffrey Marks and Carolyn Melvin

Gwen Mayo and I drove up to Columbus this past weekend to see Jeffrey Marks' presentation based on his third edition of Intent to Sell. The presentation and subsequent book signing were hosted by the Columbus chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Many authors dream of the day when a publisher will accept their novel for publication. Once that Big Day comes, though, their work is not over. Instead, they find themselves taking on a new job: promoter. J.B. Fletcher may have had publicists and handlers, but in the real world authors are their own first advocates.

Jeff touched on several aspects of promotion, including the necessity for the author to have a web site, and began enumerating its contents. Naturally, I thought of the site I've been working on for Gwen.

  • Good photo on the site? Check.
  • Pic of book cover? Check.
  • Three versions of what the book is about? Er... three? Where do I fit them?
  • Two versions of the bio, one short, one long. What about one that's in between? Hmm. I might have to get back to him on that.

Obviously, Gwen and I still have some work to do.

As one of our exercises, Jeff asked us to sit down and write a bio for ourselves, choosing which length we wanted to try. I have a few short snappy ones, so I decided to try for a longer one for myself. It certainly wasn't as impressive as Marks': books published, awards awarded, etc. Humble as it is, however, I present it here:
Sarah E. Glenn wanted to grow up to be Kolchak. As an adult, she got a B.S. in Journalism, which is redundant if you think about it. She specializes in weird stories of all sorts. They’ve appeared in G.W. ThomasGhostbreakers series, Mystery in Mind, an anthology from the Rhine Institute, and two will soon appear in Daily Flash 2011, a flash fiction anthology from Pill Hill Press.
Sarah is also a member of Sisters in Crime and belongs to the Ohio River Valley chapter. Her story “Party to a Fall” appears in the chapter’s Low Down and Derby anthology, and she’s also had stories published in Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine. "Patch Test", a medical mystery, was a finalist in Crossed Genres' 2010 "Science in my Fiction" competition.
Sarah E. Glenn’s novel, All This and Family, Too, has very little to do with the above except for Kolchak, because it has vampires in it. Please don’t cringe.
If only I had the book contract to go with the bio... At least I'm getting a head start on the publicity.