Monday, January 11, 2010

We’re All in the Same Boat.

While I'm over at Carole Ann Carr's blog, introducing myself to her readers, please give a warm welcome to William R. Park Sr, author of Coma, The Franciscan, The Alpha Search, Overlay, and The Missing Hair Shirt.

Like me, most of you probably could paper the wall with rejection slips from literary agents and publishers. In today’s ‘profit-at-any-cost’ literary business world—very few are willing to take a chance on a new and unknown author as they may have in bygone days. If they do not immediately recognize your name, or an existing client doesn’t say, “You should take a look at this person’s work,” forget it. Your query or MS goes in the destroy-without-delay file.

I once received back a card from a publisher that featured a wide black border on all four sides. I didn’t know if it was a rejection slip or a death notice. Perhaps the CEO died. A top author in the suspense-thriller genre gave me his agent’s email address and said to contact him and use the author’s name. I did. The email reply said that the agent was not interested in representing another suspense-thriller author because he believed the genre was all but dead. And he represented one of the best and most successful suspense-thriller authors in the business. Give me a break.

After all four walls were plastered, I decided to go the route that most of you have taken: seek out a small publisher or self-publish. The first publisher of book one and two of The Franciscan Trilogy taught me a lesson. Watch out where you decide to place your trust.

I self-published the third book in the trilogy because I wanted it to drop a year after the second—so the trilogy could be complete. Then I went the small publisher route again. They did an excellent job with OVERLAY and The Dacian Resurgence—but in the end stiffed all their authors by closing down and keeping the royalties due. The publisher of COMA also did an excellent job—but now I’ve decided to give the major publishing houses another run. My New York literary agent loves and believes in all my work and is attempting to sell both unpublished novels and past work. Only time will tell how that works out—and in the meantime I continue writing.

During the past ten years I’ve had dozens of local and out-of-state book signings with varied success—including being interviewed on Public Radio and FOX-News. One highly successful book signing was at a winery. I mentioned their wine in my second novel, The Alpha Search. The winery invited all their customers to attend and served their wine, cheese, and chocolate. The author presented his case for the novel from the podium with a glass of wine in hand. Forty three books were sold that evening. Books and wine just go together. I suggest you try it.

Book signings were supported by Barnes & Noble and Borders Bookstore. They may claim their home offices refuse to carry novels and do not approve of book signings by novice authors. That’s not entirely true. I’ve always met with the manager or book buyer personally and invited them to coffee to begin a friendly conversation—and presented a signed copy of my novel. This eyeball to eyeball contact is important. In every case, they ordered books to stock and an additional amount for the signing. I prefer that the books appear in the correct genre area in the store as well as a few copies placed in the local author area. Hopefully they may even feature it near the checkout to see how well the book sells.

In my case, I have an advantage. My English-teacher wife edits my work (being a teacher, she doesn’t call it editing—but rather—correcting) and she does it with a red pen. When complete, it looks like she bled all over my manuscript. I’m certain she does mentally as well. My editor/wife attended one of my first Borders booking signings/readings. After a few minutes I pointed to the back of the room and introduced her. At a little over five foot nine she was hard to miss. Then told my story. We first met in that very store a few years earlier. I went on to say that obviously I was attracted to her and when I learned she had two degrees—one in English literature and the other in nursing—I know I had the best of two worlds. She could edit my work and when I sit drooling in my wheelchair, she could take care of me. Needless to say, she’s shrunk in size attempting to hide. That was the last literary event of mine she’s attended.

One thing I learned many years ago when writing advertising and television scripts is—don’t do the final proofread on your own work. We all read the work in the way we wrote it—and become blind to misspelled words and correctly spelled words but with the wrong meanings. Find someone with a keen eye to take the last look before sending it on to an agent or publisher. I did. Errors are an immediate turnoff to those you are hoping to impress.

Today’s book business is tough. But if we truly enjoy expressing ourselves on a white sheet of paper—we cannot quit. We can write and hope to rock the literary boat.

I’ll leave you with the old saying: When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go. Only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly!


  1. Yeah, I love it when you get the post card. That's bad enough, but to put a black border around it? Oh my, my.

  2. It is good to hear about other writers and their struggles, makes us feel that we are not fighting alone! And such an upbeat post, thank you.

  3. @Vicki, more and more friends are suggesting I shake off the cobwebs and start querying agents again. But honestly, I think of "those" postcards and wonder "Why?" Contrary to popular belief, rejection never gets easier. Thanks for your comment.

    @Carole, all we are in the end is a community helping each other. When I feel cold, lonely, and discouraged, that's what I focus on. And that's why I enjoy my guests so much. Thanks for the comment.

  4. This is so much help to me as I am a novice writer. I have written two books, one in a month, actually it is the better of the two!
    I never realized that the writing is the easy part. I have an editor and he is just wonderful so now the rewrites. (haha)
    Thanks so much for all the information.

  5. Terri, I've been writing for 26 yrs, and I'm still learning. I love my craft. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I loved your comment about your editor/wife English teacher making corrections on your manuscript. My hubby/editor former teacher/Superintendent of schools also CORRECTS my ms in red ink??? Must be a teacher thing. This is a great blog--- we all love those rejections! :D

  7. What frustrates me is after all these years I still don't get commas. It's like I'm brain frozen when it comes to the intricacies of placement.

  8. Hey Katt, I'm a retired teacher and would you believe I edit my own mss with a red pen?

    I do like the comment that "if we truly enjoy expressing ourselves on a white sheet of paper we cannot quit. We can write and hope to rock the literary boat." Whatever way we end up publishing it obviously takes a lot of effort -- a lot of writing and a lot of perseverance.

  9. Carol, the first time he did it, I think I was upset. Now, I look for "his" red pen before I hand it to him. It's so much easier to find his "suggestions."

  10. We are all definitely on the same journey with the same stops. Great post! I also enjoyed the book trailer. The music and the content fit very well together to build suspense.Nicely done. :)

  11. Hi Dianne. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yes, it's comforting to know we're not alone.


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