March, 2010

THE CALL!

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“This just in, breaking news from the blog site of JA Souders:”

Okay, so I was going to do another blog on how to avoid being scammed, but I’m going to take a break from our regularly scheduled show to tell you about THE CALL!  Yep, you read that right.  A few weeks ago I received the call.  Some of you already know this, but a lot of you don’t, so I thought I’d share. 

Now onto the deets.  My “call” was actually an email, because my story is a bit different and a bit long so I’ll cut it a bit to get to the good stuff. 

Okay, so I sent off my queries to my agents via email with every intention of only hitting the ones who accepted e-queries, but I was on absolute write where I heard about a newer agent that had started her own list.  To avoid confusion we’ll call her NF.  Immediately I felt a little buzz and went to take a look at the site.  And became disappointed.  Not only did they only accept snail queries, but also they wanted the first 50 pages with it and they only respond if interested.  Since money is a limited resource around my house, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the chance of sending it off, without even a response if they didn’t like it.

I put it off to the side as a maybe. But I just couldn’t get this agent out of my head.  It was almost as bad as when I first met my husband and developed a MAJOR crush on him.  This too I thought would never be reciprocated. So I decided to just go for it.  I’d just get a delivery confirmation so I know it got there and try to forget about it.  What harm could it do?  So, I might be out a few bucks if she didn’t like it, but if she did…

In the meantime, I’d kept on querying.  And after a really complicated and confused few weeks and another long story got “the call” from a different agent–we’ll call her CF–but she needed to approve it through her partner and asked if I’d wait a few days.  I agreed and waited until she called back.  Which she did, but she still didn’t answer.  She asked if I’d wait a little longer and I agreed.

The minute I hung up I received an email from NF telling me she had LOVED what I had sent her and would I snail the rest to her? The only thing she asked for was an exclusive.

I didn’t know what to do. I was excited, because she was my “dream agent.” So I decided to snail the full to her and then emailed her to let her know I wasn’t able to grant her the exclusive, but I’d let her know if the other agent offered.   She replied immediately thanking me and yes she’d still love to read it.

So, I waited another day or so and CF called back and made an offer.  However, now I couldn’t make a decision yet.  I asked for a week and immediately emailed NF back to let her know about the offer. 

She replied immediately and asked since the snail mail full hadn’t arrived would I please email the rest to her and give her a few days to read and respond?  I was floored.  I hadn’t been expecting that, so of course, I sent it right off and waited.  And waited.  LOL.  That was the longest 4 days of my life. 

Then the unthinkable happened.  She LOVED my story and wanted it.   She offered representation right then and there.  After asking a bazillion questions via email, which only confirmed she was my dream agent, I accepted her offer and emailed the other agent, apologizing and letting her know I was signing with NF. 

Now onto the information you all have been waiting for.  Who the heck did I sign with that would be so great that I’d be this giddy about it.  It’s none other than Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.  You know, the agency that represents Amy Tan (Joy Luck Club) and Kate White (Hush)?  Yep, that one.

That night Natalie emailed me all her notes and a few days later they sent me the temporary agency agreement to sign and fax back.  And then on Tuesday, I received the actual contract and I signed and sent it back the same day. 

In the almost 2 weeks I’ve been working with Natalie, I couldn’t be happier in our “relationship.”  She is so excited about Mirror Image and she’s always quick to respond and her comments on her notes always crack me up.  Not to mention the changes she suggests are usually spot on.  The best part is, she “gets” it and is always open to questions.

Personally, I’m looking forward to working with her for many, many years and I hope that the rest of you find an agent that is just as wonderful. 


I’m hoping to get her here to do an interview, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it.  We shall see.  🙂  In the meantime, I’ll keep you all posted on any news that comes my way.  

And now back to our regularly scheduled program.  


~JA

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Author Interview Lynn Rush.

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Well we’ve had a slight change of plans.  Today I’ll be interviewing Lynn Rush. 
BIO:  Lynn Rush began her writing career in 2008, since then producing thirteen paranormal romance novels.
She enjoys posting to her blog, Light of Truth (http://lynnrush.wordpress.com/), six days a week and actively participating in FaceBook and Twitter.
She is actively involved with Romance Writers of America (RWA) and its special interest chapter Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FF&P) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW.)
 Lynn has both an undergraduate and graduate degree in the mental health field and has enjoyed applying that unique knowledge to developing interesting characters. She is a member of two online critique groups, comprised of both published and unpublished authors, specifically focusing on fiction for the younger adult. In addition, she enjoys volunteering in her church bookstore.
When Lynn’s not writing, she spends time enjoying the Arizona sunshine by road biking with her husband of thirteen years and going on five-mile jogs with her loveable Shetland Sheep dogs. She always makes time to read a good speculative fiction novel, her favorites being Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, PC Cast, and Stephanie Meyer.
Lynn, thank you for joining us today.  First I’d like to congratulate you on not only winning the Write Your Name Across the Sky Author Contest for 2009, but also securing a publishing contract AND obtaining a wonderful agent!
JS:  When did you begin writing, and did you always envision being an author?
LR:  I didn’t really start writing until a few years ago. Way back, around 2002-ish I had a little idea and did a little jotting down (by hand) in a little notebook on lunch breaks. But I was totally just goofing around. I lost the notebook, never really gave it much thought after a while.
See—I’d never wanted to be a writer. Heck, I hated reading, how could I ever be a writer, right?
Yeah. Blame the not liking to read thing on graduate school…ugh, reading all those textbooks would kill anyone’s desire to read EVER again. Just kidding (well, sort of.)
No. It was back in summer of 2007 that I decided to get Light of Truth (first book ever) on the computer. Finished it November 2007 but had NO clue what to do next. So, I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) in May 2008 and got into my first crit group.
After that, the stories flowed, and I’ve written 13 novels since then.
JS:  What have been the most rewarding aspects of being a writer?
LR:  Meeting so many amazing people has to be the first one. The second would be, learning a new skill. I never took a writing class or anything before I started writing, so I learned as I went (as evidenced by the first couple books, which will probably never leave the shelf…LOL.) There are a bunch more rewarding aspects, but the last one I’ll mention is how much fun I have losing myself in the worlds and characters I create. It’s so much fun to laugh and cry with them and torture them with crazy obstacles to overcome!
JS:  The most challenging?
LR:  Hmmm, not really sure. I don’t see much of anything that’s challenging, probably because I never really expected it to go anywhere. I guess the waiting can get tough sometimes. There are often long waits associated with agents, editors, and even contest results.
Oh—wait—I thought of one. . . A challenge is the cost of it all. Money-wise, it’s expensive to go to conferences and buy learning-the-craft books. It can get costly. So I’d say that was a challenge. 
JS:  Tell me a little about Violet Midnight.
LR:  It’s the fourth book I ever wrote and one of my favorite characters. I even had Emma host my blog for a week recently. She’s just so fun. Tough, yet broken. Oh, but can she kick some demon butt!!
The easiest way for me to describe the book is to share the back cover blurb with you. Is that okay?
The blurb:
Three years ago, Emma Martin awoke in a hospital, forever changed. Her brown eyes turned violet, and she had a mysterious tattoo on the inside of her wrist. With the help of Gabriel, a mentor turned love interest, she discovered she was a hunter of the undead. After he’s brutally killed by the very evil he trained her to vanquish, she rejects her calling and seeks out a new life.
Emma pursues a normal existence by attending college. Hiding her unique powers proves difficult because the mystical tattoo on her wrist burns when evil is near, and the heat does not dissipate until the evil is vanquished.
When Jacob Cunningham witnesses Emma using her powers and isn’t afraid, the walls she’s erected around her come crashing down. Her draw to him is intense, but she’s not sure she can trust him with her secrets or her heart.
JS:  Can you tell us a little more about how you conceived the story of Violet Midnight?
LR:  Much like how I came up with all my novels, I woke up one day with an idea. Maybe it was a dream that I didn’t remember having, but I just woke up one day and started writing. It’s been that way with almost all my novels.
The writing starts with what’s called a mind map. It’s just like an organized form of free thought. In the center of the page I had “Emma Martin” in a circle, then started drawing lines out from it with ideas, obstacles, etc.
As I wrote, the rest just kinda fell into place.  J
JS:  When you write, do you always know where you are going, or do your characters lead you in their own directions?
I RARELY know where I’m going with a story. My characters pretty much drive my stories.
LR:  What advice do you give to budding writers?
Write on. Yep—I often put that down when I comment on blogs or Facebook status’ because it’s true. Just write on. Keep going. When you’re waiting for a response from an editor/agent/whoever-write. When you’re waiting in the doctor’s office-write. When you’re waiting—okay, you get the idea. Any free moment you find-write. J
JS:   What were some of your favorite books when you were growing up?
LR:  Ahhh—I hate this question. J I see it asked all the time on blogs and such, and technically, it’s a really great question. But for me…I really don’t have a favorite, because I didn’t grow up reading. I watched a ton of movies, though. Like all the sci-fi and paranormal-type movies. Probably where a bunch of my ideas started percolating, huh?
Heck, I read Frank Peretti’s book, “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing The Darkness” April of 2006 and that’s when I really started reading.
After Peretti, I fell in love with Ted Dekker’s books, and then found Charlaine Harris, PC Cast and Stephanie Meyer. So I really don’t have a long track record of reading, that’s for sure.
JS:  What’s a typical day like for you?
LR:  I’m a creature of habit, that’s fore sure. Get up around 5-ish, do a quick Bible devotion, go running or biking, do some writing, go to the day job (write over my lunch break), then come home and cook dinner for me and my sweet hubby, then write the rest of the night.
I’m sooooo boring—ask anyone.
My weekends pretty much look the same, but instead of going to the day job, I write. J
JS:  How long does it generally take to write one of your novels?
LR:  About 7-21 days, depending on the circumstances. When I was unemployed for four months, I wrote four novels. Each took about 7 or 8 days. But that’s writing full-time. When I’m working a day job, it takes about two to three weeks, depending on how full my weekends are.
Now remember, that first draft is a mega rough draft. The real fun starts during the edits.  J
JS:  How many have you written?
Fourteen
LR:  Can you tell us more about your journey?  (How did you find out about the contest?  How did you find your agent?  How long you’ve been writing, etc.)
I found out about the contest on the FF&P loop (Romance Writers Association’s Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal group). So, I checked it out, sent in my entry, and let me tell you NO ONE was more shocked than me to see Violet Midnight won!
Seriously.
I still can’t believe it sometimes and I’ve even seen the book cover for Violet Midnight!!
Within three days of learning about the contest win, I signed with Super-Agent Cari Foulk from Tribe Literary Agency. I found TribeLit by following them on Twitter. I loved what they and some of their authors tweeted about, so I queried her. My writer friend, Frank Redman, was represented by her as well. So it all came together through a query and a referral!!
JS:  Is there anything else you’d like to say?
LR:  Write on!
No, seriously, thanks for interviewing me. This was fun.
Thanks again for taking the time for this interview and good luck with your first book.  Make sure to keep us all informed so we know where and when to buy it!
If anyone is interested in doing an interview with me, please feel free to contact me at j.souders (@) jasouders (.) com.  


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The Number One Rule to Avoid Being Scammed in Publishing

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Okay guys, I’ve been focusing so much on the legitimate side of publishing that I haven’t focused on the other side.  And part of this reason is because it’s heartbreaking to me.  But in the past few days I’ve had a ton of questions about publishing and how I found my agent, what the aspiring author should do, etc. and I felt it was time to talk about it.

The biggest thing in publishing is this, an author should NEVER (note the bold, italicized capitalized lettering) pay for anything to do with publishing.  How real publishing works is this:  You submit your manuscript to an agent/editor and then they decide whether to accept it or not. 
Now here’s where it gets a little bit tricky.  Let’s go down the path I went first.  The agent route.  Okay, so you’ve submitted to Ms. Dream Agent and she responds with a yes.  She sends you her agency agreement; you hash out a few logistics and then you both sign it.  Then she offers editing advice, you fix the manuscript and then she takes over and starts submitting to editors at different publishing houses. 
An editor comes back and makes an offer on your book and then (after many, many things) it gets published.  They send you your advance and royalty check to your agent, who takes her 15% and sends you the rest. 
Going to an editor first is the same as above, minus the agent.
Notice that the only time I mentioned money was when I talked about getting an advance and/or a royalty check.  That’s the only time money should EVER exchange hands.  Also note in which direction it’s going.  Money ALWAYS flows to the author. 
Here’s things you should know about money:
The publisher: 
1)  Buys your book.  That’s why they offer an advance.  (NOTE: Some of the smaller publishers do not offer an advance, but sometimes they offer better royalties.  That doesn’t make them bad.  Unless they want you to pay for something.)
2) They pay for everything that goes into your book (ie cover art, editing, marketing, etc.)
3) Will NOT ask you to buy your own books.  Most publishers will give you a few “author copies” (this can vary from 1—at small presses—to 50—at the big boys).
The agent:
1)   Does not get paid until you do.  That means that they won’t ask for a reading fee or any such garbage.  They collect their percentage (usually 15% for domestic sales and 20% for foreign) and that’s it.  This is the biggest reason that agents are so picky about what they pick up.  NOTE:  Sometimes they will ask for basic expenses( i.e. photocopying, postage, etc.  But this is usually very small—less than $250–since most things are done electronically these days and it’s usually taken out of your royalty and/or advance checks. 
2)   Work for you.  It’s better if it’s a partnership since you’re both after the same thing, but in essence they are offering a service to you.  Much the same as a plumber or electrician.
So now you’re asking me, what are the big red flags to help me avoid being taken advantage of?  Well, the biggest ones are to not pay a red cent.  If they want you to pay ANYTHING up front, run.  Run as far and as fast as you can. 
Second, do your research.  Go to Absolute Write’s Bewares and Background checks; do a search on anyone your planning on submitting to(yes I know I ended in a preposition  J).  Read what other’s have said and heed their advice.
 Even if an agent/editor is “new” they should have a publishing “footprint,” which means you should be able to find them somewhere.  They need to have experience somewhere.  For instance, a new agent should have either done an internship with an established agency and/or have been an editor for a publishing house. 
Editors should have a few years interning or working for a house, so they know how it works and what makes a great book work. 
Check out Writer’s Beware.  This is an awesome site that is dedicated to helping aspiring writers educate themselves on how to not be part of a scam.  They list all the bad publishers and agents/agencies. Don’t forget to check out their blog.
Go to Editors and Preditors– they also keep an extensive list of agents and publishers with recommendations or warnings.
 You can also contact either of these websites for more detailed info on a particular person, if you so wish. 
Now the reason I’m specifically posting this today is because of this “publisher.”  Publish America.  They say they are a “traditional” publisher, which in fact they are not.  They have scammed over 40,000 aspiring authors and the numbers keep climbing.  Please do NOT be one of them.  I will go more into another post on Wednesday about why to avoid this “publisher” specifically, but in the meantime, please check out Janet Reid’s blog on their latest “deal.”  And don’t forget to check out the other resources I listed so you can learn how to avoid being scammed.
Until next time…

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