Public service reminder – email addresses

October 6, 2010

When you begin your query adventure, always make sure you have a designated email addy. If I’ve asked for pages and I see, I have no idea who that is. I might think it’s spam and let my finger hover over the delete button.

However, if you have your name in your email addy, then I’ll recognize you right away. As scrambled as my brain can be at times, I need all the help I can get. Besides, it’s professional.

More on how “they” get you…

April 2, 2010

Seems I fooled no one with my announcement that we’d gone vanity. I was a bit nervous about being too convincing, as that sort of thing can travel faster than the beagle hot on the trail of an unopened bottle of tequila. Sadly, this post is all too true…

Some folks call themselves publishers, but what they really are is marketing machines to you…the author. This is akin to looking down the barrel of your own gun and squeezing the trigger. Here’s the latest attempt at promotion designed to separate you from your money – in a shameful display of igniting hope within the hearts of those who really oughta know better.

I’manidiotPublisher will submit your book to Regis and Kelly!

Many of you have seen authors appear on one of America’s top-three daytime TV shows, Live with Regis and Kelly. Famous and not so famous. Ever wondered, how is their book any better than mine? The answer is, it probably isn’t.

I’manidiotPublisher will submit your book to Live with Regis and Kelly. We will send your book to Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa’s staff for their consideration, several copies, so that more than one producer gets a chance to read your work and recommend you for an interview!

We’re not waiting for Regis or Kelly’s producers to ask for your book. [bolding mine] We’re donating it to them. And we will let your local newspaper, radio, or TV know that your book is being submitted to Live with Regis and Kelly. So they can put a spotlight on you as a local author.

Here’s how we do it:

If you want to have books on hand, order now, and we will donate up to five copies to Live with Regis and Kelly. And you receive a 50 (that’s FIFTY) pct discount!

The books for Regis and Kelly will ship to New York shortly after you receive your own copies, for consideration at their staff’s discretion.

Minimum volume is 9 copies.

Isn’t this lovely? I guess they had such a fabulous turnout when they offered to send a copy to Sandra Bullock, who is knee-deep in dealing with a philandering toolbox of a husband who has a penchant for silicone lungs and tattoos, that they decided to spam “donate” books to Regis and Kelly. Not for one minute will their producers look at these “donations.” They’ll simply go into the recycle bin – or maybe they have a team of beagles who love to rip things to shreds.

For starters, anyone submitting to TV shows need to submit a full media kit to the producer. It’s a drunkard’s folly to think that I’manidiotPublisher will take the time to write a tip sheet and cover letter on their victims authors’ behalf. More than likely they’ll simply box up the lot of the books into one box and send it, thus satisfying the spirit of their half-baked promise.

Folks, don’t be fooled when you see stuff like this. A real publisher won’t blackmail you into buying your own books [at inflated prices] so you can get a book sent out to someone. Real publishers send out books to media all the time in order to generate interest. These yahoos, OTOH, don’t get their books into the store shelves, so their primary marketplace is their own victims authors, and they’ll stop at nothing to pimp themselves into your wallet. Sadly, it’s quite effective because there’s a sucker born every minute, or more likely, a thousand suckers born every minute.

Resistance is not futile. Learn the industry so you can separate the skanks from the real kahuna. Otherwise, you’ll be like all the other sheeple, standing in line to hand over your hard-earned dollars so that you may have your book sent to Regis and Kelly.

‘Scuse me…I feel the sudden need for an antacid.

Alice Hoffman should have taken up tennis

June 29, 2009

It’s a fact that a bad review stings. This business requires a strong backbone and nonexistent gag reflex because, at some point or another, someone is going to say something about your writing that you don’t want to hear. That’s life; 100% of the people aren’t going to like your book. Get over yourself. How you react to it is what makes you gracious under fire or a rabid gasbag. How you are perceived should matter to you because it’s everything in this business.

This article is a shining example of what I’m talking about. Alice Hoffman’s over-the-top reaction to Roberta Silman’s review of her book reveals the intelligence of a bing cherry. She is a gasbag. There are people I would NEVER work with again because they proved to be bing cherry gasbags. Gasbags don’t sell books.

But Alice didn’t stop there. She blasted Roberta’s home phone and personal email over the internet, imploring others to contact her. Whoa. Now she’s no longer just a gasbag. She’s wandered into I’manutjob Land.

Alice, here is a newsflash, darlin’; there are idiots who don’t stop at sending nastygrams, and you need to know the risks you’ve placed on this reviewer. Idiots sometimes stalk and  do horrible things. I know because I’ve had this very thing done to me, and it scared the holy hell out of me.

And what about your publisher? Have they swallowed a carton of Rolaids for the embarrassment you’ve caused them? It’s no small wonder that you are suddenly “on vacation” and your Twitter page was pulled down.

I’ll tell you what; if you were my author, you’d be on something more permanent than a vacation. You’d be out on your butt. It wouldn’t matter how much money your book makes – who needs a psycho? You’ve ruined your reputation to the point where I’m hearing, “Whoa. What a bitch. I wouldn’t buy her book if it were the last thing in the store.” Your kind of nuttery doesn’t sell books, so who needs you?

Authors who feel the need to vent at a rejection or bad review should use that pent-up energy by smacking a tennis ball around or jogging. If you’re hurting, keep your feet moving and your mouth shut.

Keep the faith – Stacy Dittrich

June 14, 2009

Stacy Dittrich, author of the fabulous CeeCee Gallagher thrillers and two upcoming nonfictions was kind enough to write a guest post. I received a particularly sad email from an author who was ready to hang it up. I thought instantly of Stacy because she came to this blog not too long ago with the same lament.

Not long after those fateful exchanges on our blog (which is detailed in full in The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box), Stacy went on to experience her own Cinderella story. I asked her to tell her story here because she embodies the essence of never giving up, staying true to her dreams, and staying focused on the big picture. This is my answer to that very sad email of last week. Stacy even allowed me to kick her butt a bit, and said thank you! Crikey, how often does that happen? Stacy, you so rock. And you looked mahvelous on O’Reilly.

When my dear, dear, friend Lynn asked me to do a guest post on her famous blog I had to step back, smile, and reminisce. Back in the days as a struggling, unpublished, and chomping-at-the-bit writer, Behler’s Blog provided me with the relief I was looking for many a night (of course, those huge red bottles of wine may have helped too). Her humor, sarcasm, and straight-forward take on the publishing industry made me work that much harder—with a few laughs along the way. Never did I imagine my own words would be posted along side hers for others to read.

stacycoverartIt was only in 2005 that I began writing my first novel. I was a uniformed police officer fighting crime daily while trying to care for my two young girls, and police officer husband. Writing wasn’t something I had ever looked at as a career, but it was a sort of “stress reliever” for me. In fact, I had no intention of getting published—I just enjoyed the writing. So, when I decided to take the outrageous leap of getting published, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had read the stats: only 3% get published, it takes 40 years to get published, blah, blah, blah so I knew the odds were stacked against me. I had no “inside” to the publishing industry, didn’t know anyone famous, and had no formal writing experiences (except a lot of police reports).
An agent was the key—so said Google, and I furthered my research into the matter. A query? What the hell is a query? You mean I don’t just send a book to the publisher, they love it, pay me a million dollars and I’ll be sitting on the beach drinking Mojitos for life? My research led me to pawning over tons of example query letters, determined to make mine just right. I disregarded the advice of “5 query letters to agents at a time,” and decided to blast the agent industry with 30 queries a month to agents. When the piles of rejections came flooding in, I crossed their names off my extensive list and moved onto the next. I hated opening my mailbox and seeing the large pile of white envelopes stacked and stuffed. But, I persevered and got the phone call from a low-grade literary agency in December 2005.

stacycoverart1I figured I needed to accept the first offer I got—that was stupid. A week after I accepted the first offer, an offer from one of the most powerful agents in the biz came in and I had to turn him down. I didn’t bother to look at the fact that the agency I went with hadn’t sold a book in almost 7 years. Needless to say, the first agency did nothing for me and 6-months later I was groveling at Mr. BigWig to take me, and he did. Yay! Now it’s definitely going to happen, I thought. Nope again! Mr. BigWig sent off half-ass agent letters with the title of my book misspelled to seven publishers with seemingly no effort whatsoever. We were turned down and, in July of 2007, he cut me loose. Good luck to ya, missy!

I was devastated and back to square one. Months and months of waiting and I felt that all I had accomplished was time wasted. The thought of having to do queries and mailings again made me sick to my stomach. Stay away self-publishers and vanity presses! I won’t do it! Worse, I flip on the tube around this time and see that OJ Simpson has a book coming out. I was absolutely livid! All of these good writers out there (ahem) and they’re so desperate they take on OJ Simpson? So, what did I do? I downed some wine and ranted on this particular blog. This really lovely and nice lady, Lynn Price (wink!) responded immediately with words of encouragement.

It was difficult, but in October, 2007 I had an interesting phone call from a wonderful woman, Claire Gerus, who had found me on Publisher’s MarketPlace. She was an agent and interested in my work. The best part of it all was that Claire wasn’t a huge, bigwig, agent but she was reputable and had sold several books. And, most importantly, we connected. She saw my strengths, weaknesses, ins and outs and focused on those. We decided to give a try.
On December 13, 2007 at approximately 5:20 pm I was on-duty, standing inside of the county jail watching inmates (in their attractive orange jumpsuits) wash my cruiser. Claire called: “take a breath, girl, we’ve got a 2-book deal on the table!”

I started screaming so loud I scared all of the inmates back into their jail cells.
Obviously my crime fighting skills were diminished for the day so I went home, screamed the news to my husband, and went out for an elaborate celebration dinner. The bottle of champagne with the date written on it: December 13, 2007 sits on the desk in my office and will always remain.

From that point on, things pretty much exploded. I took an early retirement in June, 2008, and have six books coming out in the next two years. I had never considered writing true crime until Claire gave me a good push so we are focusing on that for now. Strangely, the news networks scratched their heads at a published, female police officer and I started doing commentary for them—and promoting my books. Still, it seems like a dream. As I left the television studio a few days ago after appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor,” I wondered to myself, “how did I get here?”

The answer was easy: never giving up, growing a 10-inch thick skin, and reading Behler’s Blog, that’s how.

Stacy is far too kind. The important thing is to find some good blogs or websites where you can learn the industry and ask plenty of questions. And never give up on yourself. Coming up next: Stacy’s talk about book promotion – the realities.

Know the market

March 15, 2009


Before you query, be absolutely sure you know the market. Otherwise you could find yourself with a serious headache.

Case in point: I received a query from an attorney. I wrote him back with the remark that his story was very reminscent of John Grisham’s The Rainmaker. His comment: “Who’s John Grisham?”

I’m thinking he’s the guy diving in head first.

Are you overcrowded?

March 2, 2009


I just rejected an “addiction” query. The story appeared interesting, but I’m not an expert in the addiction category other than I know there are bajillion books on overcoming personal addiction. The reason I didn’t ask for pages is because she didn’t tell me what made her book unique. These types of books are often great therapy, but they don’t necessarily make for big sellers unless the author is a Big Name, or the story has unique twists.

If you write in a crowded genre, please do yourself (and us) the favor of explaining the unique qualities of your story. Unique is why I bought Mommy, I’m Still In Here. Talk about a crowded category. The shelves are lined with biopolar books, but it was Kate McLaughlin’s unique voice and story that convinced me that we had a winner. She outlined her book’s unique elements, so I asked for pages. And she was right. There was nothing like her book anywhere. Still isn’t.

If you don’t explain how your book differs from what’s already on the shelves, then I go into what I call “The Dan Brown Hypnotic Trance.” It goes back to The DaVinci Code craze, and I began seeing knockoff stories to ad nauseum…heavy emphasis on the nauseum. It got so bad for us that I actually put up a warning: “Anyone submitting a DaVince Code knock off will be shot on sight. Dan already did it. Do something else. Please.”

What I meant by that – which unnerved more than a few authors – is that I don’t have too much problem with the general premise, but please don’t regurgitate Dan. Same goes for the writer sending me their bipolar/addiction/change of life/divorce/growing older stories. Don’t regurgitate what’s already out there. Analyze whether your story is unique. In order to determine that, you have to READ your competition.

See, genre buyers aren’t interested in handing out purchase orders for clone books, and I’m not interested in pitching a clone. It’s like saying those vegan, lo-cal Twinkie knockoffs are as good as the real thing. Puh. Lease. Anyone with a firing synapse knows this to be a grand lie. The real one exists, and there is no way you can improve on it, so don’t bother trying. However, I could possibly be interested in a unique twist to the origninal. Say banana flavored Twinkies. It’s still reminscent of the original, but it shines with its own unique differences. Yum!

And that’s what we’re looking for. Unique. Tell us in your query letter what elements make your story different from what’s already out there. You’re not only recognizing that you understand you’re writing in a crowded genre, but you’re also letting us know you understand this. This means that you’ve done your market research, you have analyzed your competition by reading their works and can persuasivly detail what those differences are.

It’s the difference between a rejection and “send me pages. Now!

I do care what you call me…

March 2, 2009

You know that old saying, “I don’t care what you call me, just don’t call me late for lunch.” Well, that ain’t me. I care what I’m called, and I really like it to be spelled correctly.

The same goes for compliments. It’s totally unnecessary, but my heart isn’t so black, shriveled, and cold that I don’t appreciate the odd niceties here and there. But if you tell me that you feel a real affinity for us, then it might make me believe you more if you spell our name correctly. It’s B-E-H-L-E-R. Not Beyler, Baylor, Beehler, Boiler, Barler, or Beiler.

It’s like calling your boyfriend by some other guy’s name while in the throes of passion. Not cool. Sooo not cool.

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