Tuesday, June 30, 2009

last waltz

Of the blog tour, that is.

In a word, WOW.

What a blast I've had. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, as a result of this blog tour and May's Massachusetts visit, I've sold approximately 100 books in print, download, and Kindle form; made all kinds of new contacts; gotten my book stocked in two new stores (the latest being Canio's Books)and the UMD library; and just plain had a lot of fun. I couldn't have done it without you. Thanks to every one of you who hosted me, visited each site, followed me from blog to blog, left comments, asked terrifc questions, and most of all, bought FAKING IT. I am truly touched and grateful that you showered me with so much attention and affection.

So, without further ado, please join me at one final blog: Tales and Troubled Times of the Hungry Writer. There I answer the popular question of who would play Devin in the movie version of FAKING IT, and tell the story of the very first story I ever wrote. Enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

"break's over"

For those who don't know, my blog posts get routed to Facebook, and it was there that the majority of conversation took place regarding my previous post. I want to thank everyone both here and there who were so encouraging and offered advice and insight. I feel quite refreshed and ready to take on the world again.

Oh, and I got another print sale last night. Go figure.

For one thing, at the end of the day, it is all about the writing. You all reminded me of and affirmed that. For another thing, you just never know. Some people get discovered after literally selling books out of the trunk of their car. Others spend years building that so-called platform. But I've seen through the lens of my brothers' musical careers: there really is no formula, no one right way to do it. You just keep doing what you do well and be as determined and persistent as you can.

Tomorrow marks the last day of my blog tour. Join me at Roberto Scarlato's (great name!!) blog Tales and Troubled Times of a Hungry Writer. Rob contacted me last week and quickly convinced me that he is both passionate about writers and writing. I can tell he's going to be a longtime supporter, and I'm honored not only to add his blog to my list, but to welcome him into the fold. Thanks, Rob!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

a bit sobering

I've had a good month. A good two months, really. I've sold close to 100 books in Kindle, download, and print forms combined, made a bunch of new contacts, received favorable reviews, and increased traffic to almost every blog on my tour. All good. I met David Sedaris. I've made new friends. Even better. And yet, I read this blog post about authors needing a platform before they're even considered by a publisher or agent, and suddenly all my strides feel like feeble, fumbling baby steps.

"...if you’re not bringing some media vehicle or even lecture circuit audience with you on your way to the publisher, I would highly recommend starting to build some inroads there. Not all at once, don’t get yourself overwhelmed, step by step, effort to start creating your platform.

"That means, what media or other experience do you bring to the fore. And, what are the odds of having that media welcome you back another time. Or, do you have your own radio show, are you a regular columnist for a newspaper or magazine, do you have a blog that has a jillion subscribers? Or, better yet, do you have a radio show, a column AND a killer blog? Not to mention a regular guest spot on one of America’s favorite tv talk shows."

Oy vey!! I thought my guest spot on The Artist's Craft was impressive!

This could be just my feeling overwhelmed at the moment, or sour grapes, or both, but isn't that a lot to ask of an author? Does every author have to be a journalist? Does every author have to have some kind of media experience or background? Does every author have to have submitted a story to Glimmer Train? What if they're not technology-savvy? What if they simply don't have the contacts? What if they're computer software anaylists and by day and single parents by default?

One of my brothers calls me periodically to argue with me, mainly about the destruction of capitalism as we know it. He wants gov't out of education, health care, banking (especially banking), you name it. More and more I'm conceding his point of view (that's another post for another forum), but my point is that he makes a bold claim that no one has to settle for their financial standing or circumstances. In any case, he poses the question: What do you want, and what are you willing to do to get it?

I certainly think the question applies to my own situation. How big a platform do I need in order to be worthy of an agent or publisher's attention? How much more do I need to do? Am I willing to do it?

Add one more question: What excuses are holding me back?

At this very moment, plenty.
- No journalism experience.
- I don't write short stories or "literary" fiction.
- Need to keep teaching in order to pay bills, keep health insurance, etc.
- Don't know Oprah.

And those are the ones off the top of my head. All excuses, though. Underneath all that is just a tightness in my chest: Fear.

How long is it going to take for me to get where I want to be? And what if I never get there? Aren't they going to keep moving back the goalposts? Aren't the platform requirements going to get bigger and bigger and bigger? Say, sell a gazillion copies, start your own social networking site and put Facebook out of business, write unplagiarized articles for the NY Times, get your picture taken w/ Hugh Jackman, and get Oprah to follow you on Twitter.

That's not asking much.

This blog tour has been a blast. It's also been exhausting, like any other tour might be, I would imagine. I'm glad it's coming to an end. But promotion doesn't stop. My platform can't be abandoned. And apparently I don't have a platform as much as just a small stoop. With a pet door.

I'm overwhelmed. The naive dreamer in me thought it was all about the writng.

And yet, I hear a faint voice, striving to be heard in the midst of the panic: Be patient.
Be patient, she says. Step by step. You're doing everything you're supposed to be doing. You're on the right track, and you'll get there simply because you want to and because you can.

In the meantime, what's next? I hear my to-do list calling my name.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

it's Brenda, not Barbara

First off, thanks to everyone who came to Writers Inspired. Yesterday's appearance was by far the most successful stop on my tour. The unexpected endorsement from Lululdotcom on Twitter certainly helped. I can't wait to find out who wins the signed copy of Faking It! Come back to the site just to check out all the great conversation that took place in the comments. I just love when readers ask questions!

Today's appearance is at the brand new website of Brenda Bartella Peterson. Brenda has written an inspiring book about the twenty most important values that shape our being, and she accompanies each mini-lesson with her own powerful stories. Learn all about her while you're there, and check out some of her own writing!

My guest post is a lesson in memoir, straight out of John Trimbur's The Call to Write (my rhet-comp friends will smile at that!). Among other things, I speculate what kind of memoirs Andi, a self-proclaimed memoirist, writes.

Last night on Facebook I noticed that Brenda accidentally spelled my name as "Eliza" (just like David Sedaris!). So I politely corrected her. Moments later, I checked my emails and found a gracious note. "Loved your post. Hope you don't mind that I made one change. You kept calling me Barbara."


When I'd drafted the post, I hadn't even realized that I'd accidentally referred to her as Barbara throughout. Didn't even notice it when I proofread it! We had a great laugh over it. What goes around comes around.

Enjoy, folks. I've got one more appearance to wrap up the blog tour next week that I'll post tomorrow. A great young guy who's passionate about writing and writers. In the meantime, if you haven't had a chance to do so, check out my evening with David Sedaris below.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

an evening with David ( w/ a spoiler alert for Pam)

I've just gotten back from Quail Ridge Books after meeting David Sedaris, getting two copies of his book signed, and laughing for an hour while he read unpublished work revolving around an email exchange between two women, the presidential election, and what has become a theme on this present tour, breast milk.

I had stopped by the store last week to buy a copy of Sedaris' latest book for my cousin Pam and secure a spot in the signing line. My ticket read "G". Good spot. Real good spot.

The reading was to start at 6:00. Anticipating that it was going to be crowded (this is Raleigh's most celebrated homosexual, after all -- I mean that as a compliment), I figured arriving by 5 would secure me a seat, figuring the signing was going to follow the reading.


The parking alone was worse than the Smith Haven Mall at Christmas. Worse than church at Easter Vigil. Worse than a State vs. Carolina game. I found a spot where no one thought to look, then hoofed to the store, already PACKED, the signing line already up to "N".


Not to worry, though; they let me on the end of the line, and as it slowly moved, I wondered if I was going to have the nerve to give him my book. I'd signed it (not inscribed, though) and had it tucked away in my "Think Globally Act Rhetorically" tote bag from the 2007 Conference of College Composition and Communication, but there were so many people and the line was moving so slowly that I honestly didn't think I was going to make it to the signing table by 6, let alone chat about my little novel.

While on line, a QRB employee announced the signing rules: ticket, books, CDs, yada yada, no memorabilia or photos allowed... no memorabilia?

Did that mean no presenting signed self-published books?

It was almost 5 minutes to 6 when I finally made it to the signing table. I knew the woman behind me was thinking, please don't let this girl talk on and on (because that's what I was thinking about the three women before me), so I decided to play it by ear.

The first thing he did was look in the vicinity of my chest. I was wearing my Wonder Woman t-shirt. People often look in the vicinity of my chest when I'm wearing my Wonder Woman t-shirt. Even women. Even me.

Then he made small talk. We had a little debate about my name after he read it on the post-it to ensure proper spelling.
"Hi, Eliza."
"El-EE-sa," I corrected politely and jovially.
"That says Eliza," he said.
"It really doesn't," I replied.
"Oh, I guess not. There's no Z."

He drew a kitty cat on the title page.

"Ooh goody, a cat!" I exclaimed.
"Do you have a cat?"
"I don't."
"You will," he predicted, squinting his eyes. "I'm a see-er. On Septemberrr... 4th. You're going to get a cat."

I handed him the next book to sign.
"Who's Pam?"
"My cousin. She just got married on the Outer Banks."
"Oh, nice. You probably don't know her husband at all."
"We've met several times. He's a cool guy."

I decided to say something.

"So, I'm a published author as well."
"Yes, I wrote a novel."
"Really! What's it called?"
"Faking It."
"Faking It?"
"Faking It."
"Faking It..." He smiled curiously. "When did you release it?"
I told him. Then told him about the protagonist (although I think I used the words 'main character', or just plain 'character') mentioning him and one of his essays in the book.
He smiled.

I knew that what he's really thinking was, I have never heard of you or your silly little book. Are you for real, you and your Wonder Woman t-shirt?

I might have mumbled the words "self-published" in there somewhere, and also mentioned it being in my tote bag, but time was running out, and the woman standing behind me was thinking, please don't take out the g--damned book, and there were just so many people there, and the moment just didn't feel right. Where was he going to put it? What if they yelled at me and said, "no memorabilia!"? What if he laughed out loud and said, "you're kidding, right?"? All these things went through my mind.

Thus, I chickened out. In my tote bag it stayed.

By the time I got my book signed, it was minutes before the reading. The store was filled to capacity. Seriously. The entire store. I managed to secure a place behind a bookcase where I had a perfect, unobstructed view and could rest my elbows on the shelf to boot. And so I did. Between waiting on line for the signing and the reading, I was standing still for two hours.

But it was worth it.

Better still, I was able to get the heck out of there with my signed books afterwards and be home by 8:00. It felt good to hoof it back to my car and get the blood flowing from my knees to my feet. They were predicting that he'd be there signing books until 1am.

There's a voice inside me yelling at me right now for being so chicken, especially when, at the end of the reading, he held up two books by two other authors that he was plugging, unbeknownst to them. it turned out that of the two books was put into his hands -- you guessed it -- during a signing. What can I say. Maybe, when he's sitting in RDU waiting to take off to the next city, he'll think, What was that about Faking It???

With my luck, he'll get the Jennifer Crusie novel of the same title. And love it. And start plugging her.

When I opened Pam's copy to see what he wrote, I couldn't help but smile:
To Pam,
with the pleasure of meeting your enchanting cousin

It was the Wonder Woman t-shirt, I'll bet.

Writers Inspired and inspiring writers

Today I appear at Writer's Inspired for another Q&A as well as a book giveaway in which a lucky reader will win a signed copy of FAKING IT. One of the biggest perks of this blog tour has been connecting with new people. Mary Jo Campbell, proprietor of Writer's Inspired, has been a delight to work with; clearly she is passionate about writing, and she has the same love of reciting movie lines with her family as I do! ("Have fun storming the castle!") Please do check out her blog.

Speaking of inspiring writers, David Sedaris is appearing at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh this evening. You must purchase his book to get a ticket to stand in the signing line (if there are any left). Davide Sedaris is one of my favorite writers, just hilarious when it comes to the personal essay. I learned a lot about comedy just by reading his work. I've assigned his essays to my classes, even.

Several years ago, Sedaris had appeared at a book store on Long Island. My twin brother and his then-girlfriend attended the reading. My brother listened intently while Sedaris read. Afterwards, when he brought up his book to be signed, Sedaris looked at his girlfriend.
"You must have dragged him out here," he said, gesturing to my wombmate.
"Quite the opposite!" she said. "He's the fan!"
Sedaris (face turning serious): "Then why weren't you laughing???"
Wombmate: "I didn't want to miss a word."
Sedaris: "So you thought it was funny?"
Wombmate: "I thought it was hilarious."
Sedaris: "I saw you in the audience, not laughing, and it got to the point where I was trying to make YOU laugh, no one else."
Wombmate (now laughing): "I loved it, really."

Sedaris signed his book: To... So nice to finally meet you in person.

I can't wait to meet him!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

in defense of the f-word (and I don't mean food)

Come visit me at Weave and Sew Dust, a breath-of-fresh-air blog that allows us to contemplate the authenticity of ourselves as spiritual beings having a human experience. Hmmm, seems like a strange place to promote a book called FAKING IT! Nevertheless, Barbara has been a supporter who so appreciates the craft of writing, and I am grateful for her blog-hospitality.

In today's guest post, I offer a defense of "the f-word" in response to a reader's question about Andi's use of profanity as contradictary to her character. It's a post not only about language, but about the writer's responsibility to make conscienscious word choices.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

blog tour resumes: the foods of Faking It

Our blog tour resumes this week at MitMoi's blog. MitMoi and I met through the Raleigh Write2Publish group, and I have her to thank for intoducing me to Gina Elizabeth! MitMoi also happens to be a terrific cook, so my guest post focuses on the foods of Faking It. Buona Appetito!

Other appearances this week:
June 23: Weave and Sew Dust at http://www.weaveandsewdust.typepad.com/, where I discuss the motivation behind Andi's colorful word choices.
June 24: Mary Jo Campell (Writers Inspired) at http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/, a terrific interview about self-publishing.
June 25: Brenda Bartella Peterson at http://brendabartellapeterson.com, another peek into the memoir vs. fiction discussion.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

biting the hand that feeds me

Here's where things get tricky.

I'm a huge fan of independent bookstores. Huge. Their staffs consists of smart, bookwormy, geeky people (and that's a compliment) who know everything and put me to shame. Who could collectively go on Jeopardy and beat Ken Jennings' record. I love the hospitality of indy stores. They say "Welcome! Won't you come in!" They practically sing Mr. Rogers' "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." I love their size--not too overbearing. They've also been incredibly supportive of me. FAKING IT is in three indy stores in as many states. And counting.

I am equally a fan of the tactile book-- the smell of the pages, the feel of the cover, the way they stack like skyscrapers, or stand tall like trees. I love book covers--portable art, and skimming pages with fingertips. I even love the word book. I love the phonics of it, the look of the letters.

To say nothing of reading them, of course.

Before I released FAKING IT on Kindle, I asked around about it. Do you like it? Is it really the bookseller's biggest enemy? Am I biting the hand that feeds me by releasing my book on Kindle? Most of my own bookwormy friends said that owning a Kindle didn't diminish their love (or purchase) of the tactile book one iota -- but it did make traveling w/ them more convenient.

And I gotta admit: I've sold the same number of books for the Kindle in two weeks as I have of tactile books in eight months. I'm sure a lot of that has to do w/ the price. I'm able to sell my Kindle book for under two bucks, a bargain. How can I say no to that when it's allowing me to sell books and, even more importantly right now, find new readers for FAKING IT, which eventually leads to an audience for ORDINARY WORLD? To quote Tom Hanks' character in You've Got Mail (who, incidentally, was the owner of a mega-chain bookseller), "It's not personal; it's business." A copout, maybe. But hey, I ain't making Stephen King numbers here.

My twin brother works for a bookseller, and I know that one of the reasons why he loves his job is simply because he loves being surrounded by all the books. There's an actual comfort to that. The older I get, the more I understand this feeling. I look around my apartment, and I see books spilling out of my bookscase, piling up on my coffeetable, cluttered on my counter, stacked on my end tables in my bedroom, etc. It's a pleasant mess.

I'll continue to plug my Kindle sales because it's making me money and building an audience. And what I need more than anything else is an audience. I'm hoping that one day I'll sell enough Kindle copies to actually buy a Kindle. But I'll never give up on the tactile book, and my first love and true devotion is still to the indy bookseller.

But I have to hedge my bets. It's business.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

special book club offer

Today's blog appearance is at my good friend Gina Elizabeth's Journal. There I ask for your feedback about what makes a good summer read, and I'm offering two specials: A free PDF to everyone who makes a comment on the site, and a special book club offer: Email me and request four or more copies of FAKING IT for your book club -- not only will I send them to you at a discounted price, but I will also sign them and, if you are local (within 10 miles of Raleigh-Durham, NC), appear at your book club discussion! If your book club is not local and you have a speaker phone, I will participate via phone.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post right here: biting that hand that feeds me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

blog tour update, new Kindle goal, and my wombmate

Come follow me to sarahfim's live journal, where she asks me questions about the writing process for FAKING IT, including number of drafts, character names, the comedic process, and annoying writing quirks, to name a few.

Meanwhile, I have a new goal regarding Kindle sales this week: I wanna sell 40 copies of FAKING IT for Kindle by the end of this week. Don't forget-- it's UNDER TWO BUCKS! Keep telling your friends. Or heck, pull them off the street, canvas neighborhoods, spraypaint it on the side of your office building...

Finally, it is my pleasure to announce that my twin brother joins the ranks of published authors in the literary science fiction genre. Read his story published online in Big Pulp magazine.

Monday, June 15, 2009

today's blog tour stop: the role of rhetoric

Today's blog tour stop takes us to A Mediated Life, the blog belonging to my good friend Susan Miller-Cochran. Susan is one of those rhet-comp superstars I wrote about in FAKING IT and is the kind of writing program administrator I envisioned Andi to be.

This time I discuss how rhetoric came to play a role in *Faking It*. I was never schooled in literature or literary theory (even though I took a couple of lit classes as an undergrad); rather, I write fiction rhetorically. And I like it that way because I think it brings a new dynamic to the novel, although I couldn't put my finger on what that is, exactly.

Anyhoo, enjoy A Mediated Life. Tomorrow, onto the wonderful sarahfim!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ask Wendy

Earlier this week Wnedy Burt-Thomas was my guest blogger. Today I'm hers at Ask Wendy.
Another interview, and some unusual tidbits about me that most of you know. Plus, my Aaron Sorkin friends will be sure to enjoy this one.

I'll resume the tour on Monday with a new photo and more fun!

Friday, June 12, 2009

follow me to Alice's blog!

Today I'm at Alice Osborn's Write From the Inside Out blog. I met Alice through the Write2Publish group in Raleigh. In addition to being a freelance writer and workshop facilitator, she's an excellent networker. If you're in the Raleigh area, check out some of Alice's workshops!

Today's guest post is an interview with Alice. I discuss my favorite books, writing space, rejection, and give some tips to aspiring writers, among other things.

Yesterday's conversation at Henry Hutton's Publish and Sell was terrific. Commenters asked some great questions and I hope I was able to dispense some helpful information. Go to the site just to read the comments, and add one of your own!

Here is the most recent list for the rest of the blog tour:
June 12: Alice Osborn at http://www.aliceosborn.blogspot.com/
June 13: Wendy Burt (Ask Wendy) at http://askwendy.wordpress.com/
June 15: Susan Miller-Cochran at http:

June 16: saraphim at http://sarahfim.livejournal.com/
June 17: Gina Elizabeth's Journal at http://ginaelizabethsjournal.blogspot.com/
June 22: Mit Moi at http://mitmoi.blogspot.com/
June 23: Weave and Sew Dust at http://www.weaveandsewdust.typepad.com/
June 24: Mary Jo Campell (Writers Inspired) at http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

Thursday, June 11, 2009

today's blog tour stop: Publish and Sell

Join me at Henry Hutton's website Publish and Sell. Henry has been a terrific consultant these last few weeks. There I'll be discussing tto keys to my success: Facebook, and mistakes! Facebook has been instrumental in helping me sell books, especially the Kindle version in just one week. But it's also to discuss how mistakes made along the way also leads to greater successes. Every entrepreneur makes mistakes -- it's the ones who see them as weaknesses rather than strengths that truly fail.

Also, special thanks to Mia for the kind review posted at Amazon Kindle -- keep 'em comin'!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

today's stop: "Writing is About Putting Yourself into Words"

Today's blog tour stops at author Anthony S. Policastro's blog Writing is About Putting Yourself into Words. There I discuss a crucial piece of advice for writers: releasing limitations. A published author himself, Anthony does a wonderful service for independent authors by educating them on how to make the most of marketing tools such as Google Analytics, thereby removing the limitation of "I don't know how to market my book"!

In the meantime, attention moms! I'd like to introduced two books to you: one for you and one for your kids! The first is Heather Grace Stewart's Where the Butterflies Go,currently available on Lulu.com. This book is a collection of poems that any mother is sure to appreciate. Heather's style is a mix of elegant, graceful, and fun. She definitely has a good sense of humor about herself and the world, but she also has a good eye for beauty.

The second is Olivia Morris' children's book The Big Blue Bully, "an engaging story about what happens when the tables are turned and the bully finds out what it is like to be bullied." Olivia's books are for kids between 6 and 12. Like Heather, Olivia is smart, funny, and a great person who cares about kids and the world they're growing up in.

Please be sure to stop by Anthony Policastro's blog and leave a comment. Have fun!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

next stop on the blog tour: vicarella

We had a great conversation at Mystic Lit following yesterday's post about listening to the voice that whispers the "what-if" in your ear. You can still check it out!

Today I'm at my good friend Vicki Nadal's blog called Vicarella. Vicki and I met on Facebook earlier this year through a mutual dear friend of ours. On Facebook, the term "Friend" is typically superficial, but Vicki is the exception to that. We finally got a chance to meet in person this past weekend, and I think she'll agree that we've surpassed the superficial part and have indeed become honest-to-god friends. I'm so grateful to her for her support.

Today's blog tour post discusses the importance of chemistry between characters. Think about which characters who possess a certain chemistry that you love, and then tell us about it! What makes them click, or spark? Why are they your favorites?

See you there!

Monday, June 8, 2009

blog tour debut, and guest blogger Wendy Burt-Thomas

Today my blog tour kicks off -- please go to Mystic Lit and read my guest post.

In the meantime, my special guest is Wendy Burt-Thomas. She is a full-time freelance writer, editor and copywriter with more than 1,000 published pieces. Her third book, "The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters" hit stores in January 2009. To learn more about Wendy or her three books, visit www.GuideToQueryLetters.com. If you have a writing-related question, you can also post it on http://AskWendy.wordpress.com.

1. Q: Can you tell us about your book?
The book was a great fit for me because I'd been teaching "Breaking Into Freelance Writing" for about eight years. In the workshop, I covered a lot of what is in this book: writing query letters to get articles in magazines, to land an agent, or to get a book deal with a publisher. Since I'm a full-time freelance magazine writer and editor with two previous books, this was incredibly fun to write because it didn't require tons of research. I was lucky enough to receive lots of great sample query letters from writers and authors that I use as "good" examples in the book. I wrote all the "bad" examples myself because I didn't dare ask for contributions that I knew I'd be ripping apart!

In addition to the ins and outs of what makes a good query, the book covers things like why (or why not) to get an agent, where to find one and how to choose one; writing a synopsis or proposal; selling different rights to your work; other forms of correspondence; and what editors and agents look for in new writers.
It was really important to me that the book not be a dry, boring reference book, but rather an entertaining read (while still being chock full of information). I was thrilled that Writer's Digest let me keep all the humor.

2. Q: Why are query letters so important?

Breaking into the publishing world is hard enough right now. Unless you have a serious "in" of some kind, you really need a great query letter to impress an agent or acquisitions editor. Essentially, your query letter is your first impression. If they like your idea (and voice and writing style and background), they'll either request a proposal, sample chapters, or the entire manuscript. If they don't like your query letter, you've got to pitch it to another agency/publisher. Unlike a manuscript, which can be edited or reworked if an editor thinks it has promise, you only get one shot with your query. Make it count!

I see a lot of authors who spend months (or years) finishing their book, only to rush through the process of crafting a good, solid query letter. What a waste! If agents/editors turn you down based on a bad query letter, you've blown your chance of getting them to read your manuscript. It could be the next bestseller, but they'll never see it. My advice is to put as much effort into your query as you did your book. If it's not fabulous, don't send it until it is.

3. Q: You're also a magazine editor. What is your biggest gripe regarding queries?

Queries that show that the writer obviously hasn't read our publication. I'll admit that I did this when I was a new writer too – submitted blindly to any publication whose name sounded even remotely related to my topic. One of the examples I use was when I submitted a parenting article to a magazine for senior citizens. Oops! A well-written query pitching an article that's not a match for the magazine isn't going to get you any further than a poorly written query.

4. Q: There's an entire chapter in the book about agents. Do you think all new writers should get agents?
Probably 99% of new writers should get an agent. There are lots of reasons, but my top three are: 1) Many of the larger publishing houses won't even look at unagented submissions now; 2) Agents can negotiate better rights and more money on your behalf; 3) Agents know the industry trends, changes and staff better than you ever could.

5. Q: You've been a mentor, coach or editor for many writers. What do you think is the most common reason that good writers don't get published?

Poor marketing skills. I see so many writers that are either too afraid, too uniformed, or frankly, too lazy, to market their work. They think their job is done when the write "the end" but writing is only half of the process. I've always told people who took my class that there are tons of great writers in the world who will never get published. I'd rather be a good writer who eats lobster than a great writer who eats hot dogs. I make a living as a writer because I spend as much time marketing as I do writing.

6. Q: What are some of the biggest misconceptions that writers have about getting a book deal?
That they'll be rich overnight, that they don't need to promote their book once it's published, that publishing houses will send them on world book tours, that people will recognize them at the airport. Still, you can make great money as an author if you're prepared to put in the effort. If it wasn't possible, there wouldn't be so many full-time writers.

7. Q: What must-read books do you recommend to new writers?
Christina Katz (author of "Writer Mama") has a new book out called "Get Known Before the Book Deal" - which is fabulous. Also, Stephen King's "On Writing" and David Morrell's "Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing." Anything by Anne Lamott or my Dad, Steve Burt.

8. Q: What's the biggest lesson you've learned as a full-time writer?

Seize every opportunity - especially when you first start writing. I remember telling someone about a really high-paying writing gig I got and he said, "Wow. You have the best luck!" I thought, "Luck has nothing to do with it! I've worked hard to get where I am." Later that week I read this great quote: "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." It's absolutely true. And writing queries is only about luck in this sense. If you're prepared with a good query and/or manuscript, when the opportunity comes along you'll be successful.

9. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Writing the "bad" query letters. I've read – and written! – so many horrible ones over the years that it was a little too easy to craft them. But misery loves company and we ALL love to read really bad query letters, right?

10. Q: What do you want readers to learn from your book?

I want them to understand that while writing a good query letter is important, it doesn't have to be overwhelming. You can break it down into parts, learn from any first-round rejections, and read other good queries to help understand what works. I also want them to remember that writing is fun. Sometimes new writers get so caught up in the procedures that they lose their original voice in a query. Don't bury your style under formalities and to-the-letter formatting.

Thanks so much, Wendy!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"separate but equal" discrimination of indy authors

I am absolutely ired by the blatent discrimination against self-published authors as untalented hacks, who are self-published for the sole reason that they weren't good enough for a trasditional publisher. On a kindle forum, one reader went as far to say that indy authors should be classified as a separate genre so other readers wouldn't have to sort through it all. "Separate but equal," the person said. Then he (might be a she) went on to say:
"Note: I'm not making a judgment about the quality of indie books. Well, actually I am. _On average_ I think they are less deserving of attention, and I think most indie authors need to get real and realize this is the reality before the next step of promoting the genre can be taken. Being defensive about this reality is not useful."

Here's my response:
I'm sorry you make this judgement, and I'm sorry you find it so acceptable to be so discriminating. Respectfully, I couldn't disagree more.

It wasn't too long ago that many had the same attitude about the indy film industry. How many indy films in the last five years have been nominated for or won oscars? Why is the Sundance Festival drawing the same crowds as the Canne? Many indy film makers are so because the mainstream conglomerates turned them down.

This is also no different from telling someone of lower income that they might as well accept being poor because there are so many lower income people just like them.

I'm tired of the stigma that indy authors are untalented authors, or that the reason why an indy author is so is because he/she wasn't good enough for a major publisher. Before "Carrie" was accepted for publication, Stephen King nailed a stake to his wall, and it caved from the weight of the rejection letters that he put on that stake. Ray Bradbury also received rejection letters. In fact, I'm willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of traditionally published, bestselling authors -- commerical or literary fiction -- at some point was told by an agent, editor, magazine, or literary journal, more than once, "Sorry, but it's not for me" before finally landing their publishing contract.

Heck, even the Beatles were turned down.

Rejection is a part of the arts. Emmy winners Phil Rosenthal and David E. Kelley just got their pilots dropped. Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" was cancelled after one season. Academy Award winning actors audition for roles and lose out to another talented actor. "Sorry, not for us."

And by the way, many mainstream actors are acting in indy films. And many traditional bestselling authors are now self-publishing.

Media has gotten so big on every front that filtering is going to take place no matter what. I have no problem with Kindle classifying an indy author genre. But I refuse to be categorized as sub-standard simply because I'm an indy author.

I stand by the integrity of my work. Every reader is free to like it or dislike it. But NO ONE has the right to judge it without having ever read a word of it.

I only wish that I said, "In fact, I KNOW these authors got rejected."

Frankly, I don't want such readers. And if that's the kind of reader a traditional publisher is going to get me, then no thank you.

Friday, June 5, 2009

the key to Kindle sales

I learned from following Stacey Cochran's Kindle success that the key to selling your book on Kindle is conversation.

Stacey has initiated discussion threads that have generated an impressive response. Getting the buzz out about your book translates into sales and reviews.

And don't just stop at Amazon: Just one friend on Facebook plugged *Faking It*'s Kindle debut on her page, and by midnight my sales total doubled.

Call on your Twitter followers. Post discussions on Amazon Kindle discussion groups. Post reviews. Tell everyone you know. There's an iPhone app that lets you download the book as well.

Here's my goal: a minimum of 10 Kindle sales per day for the next 30 days. Help me exceed it!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

FAKING IT is now on the Kindle!

Faking It is now available on the Amazon Kindle! If anyone owns a Kindle or knows someone who does, please ask them to buy my book -- it's ridiculously affordable -- under two bucks!!

And, if you haven't done so yet, PLEASE post a review at any or all of these sites: Lulu.com, Amazon Kindle Books, or WeRead on Facebook. They really do make a difference.

I can't wait for my first guest blog appearance this coming Monday. I'll be appearing on the Mystic Lit blog. In the meantime, I'll also be hosting special guest blogger Wendy Burt. Stay tuned -- June is getting hot!