My Agent

I was asked today how it was going with my agent.  I had to really think about my answer.  My agent is cool.  My agent is friendly.  My agent has been extremely forthcoming with advice and encouragement.  I have no problems with her and the effort she’s (and her entire company) has put in on my behalf.  I have nothing but compliments for my agent even though our relationship has not produced a deal.

I was one of those guys who thought getting the agent was the hard part. I honestly thought that having an agent would break down all the barriers for me.   Boy was I way off.  Getting a book deal is much, much harder. Granted, I’m not making the inquiries, or fielding the rejections.  She’s doing all that, and I’m grateful for that.  We’ve literally been together for years now.  That’s right years.  So when the deal does come, you won’t be able to call me an overnight success.  I’m just delusional enough to hang in there despite the odds.  My wife is wonderful enough to support my delusion despite the occasional hardships, and my agent is awesome enough to keep fighting for me despite all the no’s.  She’s gotten really, really close a few times.  I’ve had the car keys in my hand on my way to buy the celebratory champagne on at least one occasion, but alas the Krug, Clos Du Mesnil 1995 remained unpurchased and behind glass.

This is the reality of publishing.  I’m not bitter.  I’m not daunted.  It is what it is.  The person I feel really bad for is my agent.  She’s never received a dime for all the time she’s invested in me and my books.

So, how’s it going?  We’re right on schedule, and I have no complaints.

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Book Four of the Oz Chronicles – The Land of the Dead – A Candid Look at the Publishing Industry

Book Four is coming.  I promise!

Book Four is coming. I promise!

Ok, I have been fielding questions now for about a year concerning Book Four of the Oz Chronicles Series.  First, I want you to know that I really appreciate your interest.  It means a lot to me that you care enough to keep needling me about the release of the next book in the series.  Second, I appreciate your tolerance for my cryptic answers.  I haven’t felt comfortable enough to tell you what’s really going on behind the scenes because it doesn’t just involve me.  It involves my agent and about a half dozen major publishing companies.  I have spent a lot of time responding to comments and suggestions from the big boys just to show them that I’m willing to play by their rules.  Don’t worry, I’ve pushed back on major plot points that I thought were essential, but I’ve also given ground on things that were more aesthetic in nature.  So far, I’ve gotten pats on the back for my flexibility, turnaround time, and skill at applying suggested edits.  What I haven’t received is a book deal.

Breaking down the doors of the mainstream publishing industry is the hardest thing I’ve ever done from a professional standpoint.   I’ve heard that getting a book deal is akin to winning the lottery, but I think it’s much easier to win the lottery.  Getting a book deal is as hard as winning the lottery, discovering a cure for cancer, and having your Youtube video go viral all on the same day.   I am in the fortunate position of having an agent who is my advocate in this process.  She’s been terrific, and I now know why they are necessary.

I have been at this for a long, long time.  I am one of those writers that has five manuscripts and 12 screenplays sitting in a drawer somewhere.  They’ve been viewed by an elite group of people, and by elite, I mean people who were willing to read something written by an unknown bum like me.   I’m not counting the three Oz Chronicles books in this count.  They’re not sitting in a drawer.  Thanks to the POD and ebook world, they have been read by literally thousands of people.   In fact, I have been perfectly content with offering my books through these low-cost, high-tech vehicles.  From what I’ve learned about the industry, I’ve made enough money and then some to cover the typical advance for a first time author.  I’ve done it with a marketing budget that hasn’t exceeded $1,500 since I first self-published in 2005.  I have what the mainstream publishing industry calls a working platform to get the word out about my books.  Essentially that means I’m an active blogger, Facebooker, and Tweeter.  In short, if you’re reading this, you’re a part of my platform.  Please, don’t feel used.  This is less a marketing tool for me than it is a release.  Call it my place to vent and make a fool of myself.  The marketing part is just a byproduct at that venting.

I have been asked repeatedly if I’m doing so well with POD and ebook publishing, why even try to get a traditional deal.  It’s a valid question.  I have a few answers:

  • There is no question the mainstream publishing industry can offer me a level of prestige that the self-publishing world cannot.  To be totally crass, this means more money coming in.  My platform will broaden, and other doors will open for me.   I consider my writing my career.  What I do to earn a living, supports my writing.  A mainstream deal means I am one step closer to my writing also being how I earn my living.
  • I have always seen the Oz Chronicles as a multi-media project.  It is not just a series of books.  It is a video game, a graphic novel, a series of films, action figures, maybe even an online role playing community.  A mainstream publishing company could give me access to all these different avenues for the Oz Chronicles.   I can publish a book on my own, but I can’t produce a video game on my own.  I’m not that smart or financially fluid.
  • I have to finish this thing.  I started this “publishing (or selling a script) as a goal” journey 20 plus years ago.  I have been rejected time and time again.  I have been told I am so close over and over again.  I have been ridiculed on a few occasions (very few).  I’ve even been called evil for my writing.  It may seem petty and pigheaded, but signing that dotted line will justify every turn I’ve taken and every word I’ve written.  It’s not like I’m dodging bullets to get published.  I’m just fielding a lot of no’s.

    What does all this have to do with Book Four of the Oz Chronicles?  Everything I’ve written in this post to this point has been one big excuse for why I haven’t published Book Four yet.  I’ve let it languish in limbo while the major publishers weighed in on Books One – Three.  I’ve placated my writer’s soul by writing another book in the meantime (which I’m planning to publish soon), but I’m not willing to wait anymore.  Book Four is officially on deck.  I’ve had a hard time getting back into it, but I had a breakthrough the other night that gave me the direction I needed.  I’m actually excited about getting it done.  Always a good sign.  I also realized that I have five other books I want to complete, and I have forbidden myself to get back to them until I’ve finished Book Four.  I will keep you updated on word count as I go.  Right now, I’m at 7,500 words.  My goal is 65,000.  So, you can see I have miles to go before I sleep, but the outline is done, and I’m ready to turn this march into a sprint.

    Thanks for your patience and if you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to help.  There is.  Spread the word!

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    The Deal – A Reality Show for Writers

    This week on the deal writers read prose at a nudist colony.

    "This week on The Deal writers pitch their books to 4th graders."

    I am floating this idea out on the interweb ether knowing full well that someone will take it and run with it. Writers are made for reality TV shows. We’re quirky, defensive, insecure, opinionated, and flat out weird in most cases. The airwaves are just begging for a show featuring 12 writers living in a house vying for a lucrative publishing deal. Can you imagine the number of train wreck moments that will be captured on tape? I know it’s sadistic, and I should be flogged for suggesting such a thing. Writers are my people after all, but I can’t help myself. It would be immensely watchable.

    Writers would be chosen for their writing samples, their interview, and their marketability. Take that last qualification, and apply whatever meaning you wish; looks, personality, sense of style etc. The tasks would include completing edits on deadline, building a social network, readings, making pitches, how they handle themselves doing interviews, getting blurbs from well-known authors, typing pages on an actual typewriter etc. The winner will be chosen by the online community and a panel of three judges. At the end of the process, a six-figure contract with one of the major publishers awaits the winner. The Judges? They would be as follows:

    Judith Regan

    Stephen King

    John Ridley (No relation to me)

    Your host would be anyone but Ryan Seacrest. The guy’s got like four jobs and he’s annoying on all of them. Personally, I think the perfect choice would be Ira Glass. He’s smart, funny, and people would take the show seriously if he were involved.

    Why do I think people would watch it? Well besides the reasons I gave in the first paragraph, the NEA did a study recently that revealed a whopping 81% of Americans think they have a book inside of them. They all think they can do it, and I’m betting they would watch a group of writers be put through the wringer, living vicariously through the contestants, all the while thinking, “I could do better than them.” It’s perfect reality show fodder.