publishing

THANK GODDESS FOR CHOICES––AND FRIENDS TO HELP MAKE THEM

Today I planted a dozen pink and red geraniums in the pots on my deck after I clipped away the dying greens from the tulips that greeted us on our return from our cruise. We had never gone on a cruise and luckily chose one that suited us just fine:  great food, free wine (me) and multiple desserts (Don) at each gourmet meal. We cruised to celebrate our mutual eightieth birthdays after we noted that in each port we could choose to walk around the town if we opted not to climb the volcano. It’s important to have choices when one’s choices in life are narrowing in many ways.
The geraniums were a choice, too, after my attempt at blueberries on a sixth floor terrace failed. No one, even a cruel winter, can kill off a geranium, at least here in Oregon, if it gets a little water and occasional kind words.
I’ve made another choice also. I have chosen to sign with a new publishing company which has offered to redesign my three books, make them a “set ” of books that resemble each other and market them as a series. I will still have to help market the books and am obligated to join a list of social media sites to make my and their presence known. This kind of publishing, which includes paperback, e-book, and auditory versions, also uses the Print on Demand sources, but not Amazon or Createspace. Companies like this call themselves “hybrid publishers,” and do much of the upfront work of putting out a book as well as support with websites and advertising as their authors market.
Two problems with my choosing to sign this contract. I will be spending many hours tweeting and  Facebooking, not to mention Tumbling. But my son Peter says all this a activity will keep my brain active, like crossword puzzles, so there will be an upside to this effort. The upside for him might be that it may prolong the time before I end up living in his basement.
Also, I need to decide which genre my books fit into. If I indicate Women’s Fiction, they may end up next the Romance books. Or pecking away in the Chick Lit trough. My books have a little romance in them, but my women don’t consider romantic love to be number one on their to-do lists any more. An intent look and a whispered, “Bella” works pretty good for most of us. A genre called Contemporary Women’s Literature seems to indicate ambitious women characters with good hair and glass ceilings—and maybe about thirty years younger than my Ellie, Edith, and the pals in the beach house.
A number of phrases describe my women:  women of a certain age, older women, hens, old ladies, boomers (these are the more positive terms), and I’m being asked to direct my marketing efforts and my choice of genre toward this market.

So, I am again faced with a choice. Except I don’t like any of the possibilities. Geraniums choices were easy. The genre of my books isn’t. I need some help from anyone who knows what I’m talking about–the age thing–the importance of choice thing. Please.

One More Time. . .

            I’ve just finished a novel that I like a lot. Edith! Finished!

            This morning I found myself copying down information on fourteen agents who say they are looking for fiction.  Already. I have begun the mental process of composing the hook of the first line of the query letters I will send out. Edith, a disappointed old woman, doesn’t much care that her husband of forty-seven years is laying dead next to her.  Her mind is on the Christmas strata she’s to bake in an hour or so.  Too long? Too depressing?  Not appealing to anyone except maybe other cranky old women? Try again.
            This research, mulling, word crunching is not an unknown activity to me.  I’ve sent out hundreds of queries in the past.  And received hundreds of rejections which were stuck in a desk drawer until I realized how much negative energy I was absorbing from them, coupled with the anxious weeks of silence that followed my electronic submissions.  I’m not sure why I’m thinking of trying one more time to find an agent.  Perhaps I just need the ego-boost an acceptance would bring. Or perhaps I remember the several lonely year-long efforts I’ve plowed through to sell my books.  Or maybe I’m looking for a knowledgeable hired hand who knows how to find the best publisher for Edith.  And once found, it’s possible I would benefit from the publisher’s experts in the design process, in the distribution to bookstores and airport terminals, and even in getting of a newspaper review or two. 
            All these reasons for sending out query letters ring true as I evaluate them, but one more thought keeps rising unbidden to the surface.  “Yes,” I would really like to say. “Yes, I have an agent–she’s terrific!” when friends and fellow writers ask.  I know, this is shallow, very shallow, but that is where I am right now, as I shuffle through Agent Query one more time. 
            But I do wonder.  Am I alone in this compulsion?  Do any of my other writing acquaintances, mostly self-published like me, ever spend a day wondering what it would be like to have a sympathetic partner, an agent, in this process? If so, what have they done about it?  Did they find one? Or did they come to their senses and return to the realities of indie publishing?  Will I?

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