An Offer I Can’t Refuse

On Monday night, my husband purchased a drink for a newly agented author at a bar near our house. Furthermore, Mr. Kiddoc informed me this author was “a cute redhead.”

But I am not the least bit jealous.

Because I am that newly agented author.

I am delighted to announce that I’ve accepted an offer of representation from Katie Boyle at Veritas Literary.

H. L. Dyer: Now With Agency Contract!

I’m so excited to be working with Katie, and can’t wait to get The Edge of Memory out on submission!

I’ll be working hard to make that happen, so if I seem uncharacteristically quiet here on Trying to Do the Write Thing, you’ll know why.

Advertisements

Always a Silver Lining… The Upside of the Great Pager Swap Fiasco

If you read my last post, you might think the Great Pager Swap 2009 was all hassle and no payoff. But you’d be mistaken.

I have an unpredictable schedule that can keep me away from a computer for big chunks of time. I also have in-laws with dial-up whom we visit frequently.

Like every other author seeking representation, I don’t want to miss a reply from an agent when I can’t get online. So I set up an email filter that forwards messages with “Query” or “The Edge of Memory” in the subject to my text pager.

This works great, overall, but it did backfire on me once.

An email reply on my full manuscript was forwarded to my pager from an agent who’d requested my full after reading my partial. My pager displayed the beginning of the message:

From: Awesome Agent

Re: Requested Full Manuscript of The Edge of Memory

Dear Heather,

Thank you so much for letting me review The Edge of Memory. I’m really intrigued by the premise and definitely think it has appeal in today’s market

<snip>

As you’ve probably guessed, I thought this might be good news, but the next sentence (which didn’t make it onto my pager display) started with “However.”  When I finally made it back online, I was crushed.

It turned out to be a great response nonetheless, since her feedback gave me a Eureka moment that made my manuscript much stronger. But I could have done without the false hopes.

Well, my new pager displays more than twice as much text as the old one did. And I doubt any agent will beat around the bush that long before lobbing a “However” or an “Unfortunately” at me.

So, you see… there is a reason for everything. Even for the Great Pager Swap Fiasco.

U Got the Look: Novel Marketing and Prom Ensembles

Well, Prom season is upon us. You may wonder what the heck that has to do with marketing a novel. Well, I’ll tell you.

But first, I’d like to introduce this into evidence:

That’s me (with my sister) on my way to the prom circa 1992.

Now, if you’re like me, after looking at this picture, you’re rubbing your stinging nose with one hand while wiping the coffee off your laptop with the other. Which is hard to do when you’re shaking with laughter. I mean that is really quite the look, right?  Check out the asymmetric hair-do and the “floating pearl” necklace. Not to mention the white iridescent tights. And when you’re uberpale, the best look is almost always baby pink patterned satin over white tulle, natch.

Here’s the thing:

At the time, I thought I looked awesome. Other people thought I looked awesome, too. I overheard my date’s younger sister whining that her brother must have bribed me or something cuz OMG, she’s actually pretty!

Unfortunately, I believe writing is a bit like fashion. I finished the first draft of The Edge of Memory in 7 weeks. I did a quick grammar edit, and then shipped the manuscript off to a bevy of test readers for feedback, while I took a month away “for perspective.” (yeah, right.)

Over the next several months, I completed several major edits. I then decided I was done tinkering and ready to seek representation. I read the blogging agents mantras of “Don’t Query Before You’re Ready” and “Write a Great Book” and felt confident. I loved my manuscript. I didn’t think it was perfect, of course, but I thought I’d reached the point where I needed professional feedback to progress further.

I was both right and wrong.

Since that first stopping point (when my book was titled “Still Haunted”), I’ve done at least six more rounds of editing. And each time I finish a round of edits, I cringe to look at the previous drafts. Just like that prom picture, I look at those versions and wonder, “what the heck I was thinking?”

In February, an agent who had requested a partial and then my full manuscript pointed out a plot detail that bothered her. She gave me a eureka moment and I subsequently rewrote several scenes. I am very pleased with the resulting manuscript, and have not edited again since (which, of course, shatters my previous record of approximately nine minutes between edits). I think this time I finally have reached the most polished version I can produce.

Naturally, I wish I had known that I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was when I first began querying. But then, I’m not sure I would have reached this place without the submission process. Certainly, I might never have had the eureka moment without that agent’s input.

The take-home point here is that I’m glad I’ve never been a Query Player (much as I’ve tried). If I had queried a zillion agents when I first thought my manuscript was ready, I’d have burned all my bridges.

But since I’ve only queried a few agents at a time, I’ve got a chance to show my best work. And I’m grateful for that.

I Have Finally ARRIVED!

I received a google alert for my book title, The Edge of Memory, this morning. The link led to a chatboard discussion comparing various social networking sites.

At first, I thought the alert was related to the series of Social Networking posts I’ve started on the Querytracker Blog. But then I remembered the flag was on my book title, not my name. So I followed the link and snooped around.

Hmmm… nothing about me or my book that I could see… just someone complaining that he didn’t have enough memory to run a particular social networking site.

And then I saw it. My book title, linking to my ABNA entry.

That’s right. Thanks to Amazon.com, I’ve become a stealth ad, triggered by the keyword memory.

Awesome.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist

I feel like the father on A Christmas Story: “I’ve won a major award!”

If you’re the sort of folk who reads my blog, you are probably well acquainted with the ABNA contest. For 2009, Amazon accepted up to 10,000 entries of finished novels in February.

They narrowed the entries down to 2,000  on the basis of the Pitch (basically the meat of a query letter). Excerpts of the 2000 novels were then reviewed and scored before the 500 quarterfinalists were announced.

And The Edge of Memory was one of those 500 novels.

At this point, the contest gets a bit American Idolish… the quarterfinalist excerpts are posted on Amazon.com for Amazon customers to review. Based on these reviews and a formal score/review of the full manuscript by Publisher’s Weekly, the entries will be cut to 100 semifinalists on April 15th.

So, if you have the time and inclination to read and review my entry, I’d greatly appreciate it. You can download the excerpt here, and then click “Create your own review” to leave your thoughts and star-rating (the button to leave a review is on the right side of the page, just below the “Customer Reviews” heading.

Talk to Me: In Deep Smit (03-06-09)

So… um… it’s Friday again. Actually, it’s been Friday more than once now. I think with my posting on the QueryTracker.net blog, my In Deep Smit posts will become more biweekly-ish.

But I definitely have something I’m deeply smitten with to share this week.

I’m in the middle of another manuscript revision. An agent who loved my partial and requested my full manuscript identified a plot point that didn’t work for her later in the story. Her comment gave me a eureka moment for a small backstory change that I believe makes the novel stronger.

I rewrote the chapters primarily affected, and now I’m finishing a detailed line edit to make sure I haven’t missed any inconsistencies along the way.

And since I’m going through word by word, I figured I’d take the opportunity to tighten my manuscript wherever possible.

Now, you might think this post would be about the agent who inspired the idea. And I am indeed, deeply grateful to  her for her time and insight. But the object of my affection for discussion today is the Narrator tool on my PC.

I had heard that text-to-voice software was included on most recent PC’s, but I’d never bothered looking up how to use it before. I find reading aloud to be a great editing tool, but have noticed that when I read from my manuscript, I sometimes miss problems like missing or repeated words anyway because I know what the text is supposed to say and my brain corrects it without my noticing.

I wanted something that would read my text to me, so I looked up where to find the preinstalled software.

And there she was… Microsoft Anna, the robotic narrator, hiding under “Ease of Access” in my “Accessories” folder.

Together, Anna and I have obsessed over each word of the first 3/4 of my manuscript. Despite frequent careful editing by myself and hundreds of beta readers, I still found a few small typos. I’ve also found a few overuse quirks, like my apparent fondness for starting dialogue lines with “Well,” which each of my characters indulged to some extent.

Hands down, this is the best edit I’ve done. So I’m deeply smitten with Microsoft Anna, and I’m not afraid to shout that to the blogosphere. 🙂

Now, if you don’t mind… Anna and I would like to be alone for a while. 😉

An Open Market: Back on the Chain Gang

So someone needs to start off the next round for the blog chain gang.

So all of us on this blog chain gang have worked feverishly on what needs to be done before a novel gets published. Some of us are quite close to publication, including the next link in our chain, Jessica Verday whose debut novel The Hollow will be released later this year. But lately I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to the work that needs to be done during and after publication.

Besides writing new stuff, of course.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about marketing.

Now, many aspiring authors I’ve encountered dread the idea of marketing. So you might think I’m getting ahead of myself, but I see this as sort of like wedding planning.

I mean, after all, I’m going to notify all my family and friends of the date when I’ll finally be able to walk down the aisle (of the bookstore) and hold my handsome love (whom I’ve been seriously involved with for a year or two) in my arms.

So why wait until I’m officially “engaged” to start planning?

But seriously, I don’t think it can possibly be too early to start thinking of ways to market your project. Although certainly a publisher might have different ideas and choose to go in another direction, but it can’t hurt to have your own plan developed and ready to go.

So, blog chain buddies…

What plans do YOU have to market your novel? How will you make sure the public finds your work?

(Pssst, gang… this would be an ideal time to show us your book trailer, if you have one)

Naturally, I plan to use the tried-and-true marketing methods (guest blogging, conferences, maximizing my online presence, bookmarks, etc.), but I also have a couple of ideas I’m very excited about that are specific to The Edge of Memory.

First of all, my novel features a silver charm bracelet, which my protagonist discovers with the hidden letter from her birth mother. For a contest prize, I would like to create a similar bracelet. I would also have some less pricey prizes available. To enter the contest, people would have to view my book trailer.

Speaking of book trailers, I already have a mock-up one:

When the time comes, however, I will produce a professional version. And I’m especially excited about that, as my diverse group of test readers includes photographers, actors, musicians, make-up artists/stylists, and an amazing videographer. They might even give me a discount. 🙂

But the idea I’m really excited about doesn’t involve flashy trailers or prizes. It involves a concept I think will help generate interest with a specific group of readers: book clubs.

Book clubs usually involve three main activities: reading the book, discussing the book, and EATING. So all the better if I can create a food connection to my novel, right?

My protagonist Beatrice cooks when she’s stressed… and I gave her a lot to stress about. So there are a few dialogue passages where she’s preparing a meal during the conversation.

A friend of mine runs a fabulous cooking blog (seriously amazing… more drool-worthy pictures than most mortals can handle) and has graciously agreed to some guest blogging with recipes for the meals my character prepares.

How much fun is that? I’m anxious to cook them myself.

Anyway, I’m excited to hear how the rest of the gang envisions themselves marketing their novels. And our next blog chainer will have extra cool insights, since marketing her debut novel is not just a fantasy for Jessica Verday.