What's this all about

Chronicling my steps to becoming a published novelist, and the randomness of my life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I've Got a Guide, But I Need a Compass

Am I crazy?

I mean, am I really crazy?

I follow literary agent Rachelle Gardner's blog, and she has a post about how to write both a fiction and a non-fiction proposal. I skipped over the non-fiction proposal for obvious reasons, and just read through the fiction prop. After reading the 11 part proposal outline, I found myself sitting here in front of my computer with my head in my hands laughing hysterically.  I have so, so, so much to do! Notice the triple emphasis of those words; do not let it be lost on you.

Let me tell you what getting published is not.

It's not toiling away at your keyboard in a coffee shop and coming up with a story that just pours out of you like an avalanche down a mountain, facing the trepidation of letting someone else read and criticize your work, pulling your hair out trying to make it better and then finally sending it away in a tidy little package to every publishing house you can think of allowing the chips to fall where they may.

You would think - I had thought - the hardest part of this journey would be actually writing the novel. And believe me, it is really hard to write a book and it takes a lot of dedication. But when you type that last period, the battle isn't even half over yet. Writing was the fun part. Writing was the part where I escaped from the real world into this parallel universe I had created where everything went exactly as I wanted it to.

Getting published is facing a hard, blunt reality where almost everything I am told, is something I don't want to hear.

Just look at this excerpt from Rachelle's blog about the fiction proposal (I'll highlight the part where I started to crack up):

Author marketing: This is where you'll talk about yourplatform. How are YOU able to reach your target audience to market your book? This is NOT the place for expressing your "willingness" to participate in marketing, or your "great ideas" for marketing. This is the place to tell what you've already done, what contacts you already have, and what plans you've already made to help market your book. A list of speaking engagements already booked is great; radio or television programs you're scheduled to appear on or have in the past; a newsletter you're already sending out regularly; a blog that gets an impressive number of daily hits. This is NOT the place to say that your book would be terrific on Oprah, unless you have documented proof that Oprah's people have already contacted you.

And that's just one of 11 points to focus on. For just the proposal!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not doubting my ability to do this. I've already started down this path, and when I fix my mind on something I really want I will do whatever it takes. What I'm doubting is my sanity; the fact that I really believe that I can do this and that I am going to try it. 

When I started down this path, I imagined it as a long, and winding road that would take me through hills and valleys and probably a couple circles and dead-ends. What it is turning out to be, is a steep and treacherous hiking trail up Mt. Everest. We're going to need oxygen, people!

Maybe I should change the name of this blog to The Delusions of a Crazy Psycho Person.

And yes, that is a clinical term.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

...That's the Sound of My Horn Tooting...

I've gotten to the point in my journey towards publication where I need to start working on my proposal. My proposal will go along with my finished manuscript when I mail it off into the world, and will give editors an idea of what my story is about. You know when a book catches your eye so you pick it up to read the back cover? Well that's what I have to come up with - a back-cover synopsis. I think the most challenging part of this for me will be making sure the synopsis is exciting and doesn't get overly detailed. But rest assured, once I do write it up I will be posting it to this blog and I will need your feedback on it, so don't be shy.

The part that's going to be the most difficult for me is the bio. I have to write a short bio about myself convincing the publishers that they should take a chance on me. According to The Guide, I have to demonstrate why I and I alone am the perfect author for my book. This is where I would tell them if I've been published before, if I've won any awards, if I'm an expert, if I have an incredible life story...basically it's time to toot my own horn. In the third person.

I think it would be difficult for anybody to step outside themselves and write up a page about how awesome they are.

I could pay a professional bio-writer to do this for me, but I don't have that kinda cash to burn.

So what do we have to work with?
I haven't been published before - with the exception of my two blogs, which I guess I could include.

I don't think anyone is the expert on fiction. And I'm certainly not the expert on vampires and werewolves. Consequently, if I ever start calling myself that please take me out back and slap me around for a while.

Awards...the last award I won was second place at the Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest in Louisiana. I'll probably include that in my bio, just because I'm pretty dadgum proud of that. Other than that though...I mean, I was on the Dean's List a few times in college. And I was Lion's Club Student of the Week in high school. I'm not sure that's what they're looking for though. Perhaps I should enter in to a bunch of contests right now just so I can have something to include here. I'll consider that.

I don't have a compelling life story. I was never homeless. I haven't had to overcome an addiction or racism or any sort of injustice. I've never saved anyones life. I haven't had to cut off my own arm in order to survive. I've never made an emergency airplane landing on a lake. I think the most exciting thing I've done in my life thus far is study abroad.

I'd love to use as a template my favorite author's-bio I have ever read on the back of a book. It's for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, and it goes like this:
"Jane Austen is the author of Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park and other masterpieces of English literature. Seth Grahame-Smith once took a class in English literature. He lives in Los Angeles."

Maybe mine could go:
"Jenni won second place at the Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest in 2010. She studied psychology at King's College, London. She is stuck in North Texas."

Then again, maybe not.