Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ins, Outs, Ups, Downs

What I'm reading: More Deaths than One, by Pat Bertram

Thanks to Jane for yesterday's post. I expect I'm not the only one itching to get up and go somewhere.

In a follow-up to Monday's topic on the marketing side of writing … a brief follow-up to sales after Read an eBook week is over. No longer am I getting ten or twelve purchase notification emails from Smashwords every few hours. Since Sunday, there has been no action on any of my titles there. As discussed on Monday, that promotion was a "loss leader" and I can only sit back and wait (or find more venues of promotion) for people to read the book, like it, and buy something else.

Curiously, on Amazon, one of my short stories, A Summer's Eve, has had a few sales after a long dormant period. Promotion seems to be a crap shoot at best. And patience is rule #1.

And now a brief sojourn into more of the ups and downs of the business. Some of you might remember that I had a project underway for a cozy mystery series. I'd written a sample, my agent made suggestions, I made changes, she submitted it. The editor came back with a request for revisions. (She wanted the discovery of the body delayed) I made them. My agent loved it. She submitted it. The editor said "although the changes were exactly what I asked for, and more, I've decided it's not right for me."

Does that sting? Yes. According to the agent, when that editor asked for revisions, it usually meant you were 90% there. So, did the editor actually read the first submission? Or merely skim it and decide the body was found too early without really getting a feel for my writing? Because, bottom line, what probably got the deal rejected was that elusive thing called "voice." Yet my voice was the same in both versions. I didn't do much other than add about 20 pages before the body was discovered, and she liked that. So hopes were raised, then dashed. But if the editor didn't like my voice and HAD accepted the project, we'd probably have clashed during edits.

Then, to add insult to injury, the agent said that she'd only agreed to represent me for that one project (despite her having asked for my other manuscripts), so we've parted ways, and I'm agentless again.

However, I said this post was about the ups as well as the downs. On Saturday, I received the executed contract for Book #3 in my Blackthorne, Inc. series from Five Star. This was heartening, because my first 2 books with them were written under their Expressions line, which they discontinued. The third book will go out under their mystery imprint, although it's still a romantic suspense. You can look for that one in April of 2012.

And, another up. Monday, Publishers Weekly reviewed my upcoming WHERE DANGER HIDES. Now, I've had positive buzz about the book, BUT, Five Star's target market is the library trade. And libraries rely on publications like PW to decide what books to buy. (Even my own local library told me it would accept a donation of my book, but unless it got a PW or comparable review, it wouldn't buy one—I guess that falls into the 'down' column.)

And, because it's my blog, I get to share that review with you.

Odell follows 2010's When Dangers Calls with this sizzling suspense tale. Dalton, "just Dalton," is a sweet-talking Texas black ops contractor equipped with a sharp mind, big muscles, an intriguing background tragedy that makes him cry over babies, and boatloads of sex appeal. Miri Chambers, manager of a shelter for wayward teens, is just his type: "proud, strong, intelligent, compassionate, and one hundred percent female," with a past she'd rather not reveal. Odell spins a somewhat unlikely tale of drug trafficking and illegal immigration around them, but the real action is in Miri and Dalton's passionate mutual attraction, and not even his cold showers and her idealistic do-gooding can douse its uncontrollable flames. Romance fans will drool over Dalton and his fellow camo-clad helicopter-riding commandos as they look for runaways and love.

Read it for yourself here (I think it's cool to see that PW banner at the top of the page. Makes me feel legit.)

And when you get there, click the "like" button. Make me feel good! Or the "tweet" button. Or both!


Jess said...

tweeted and such, tho i think the tweetmeme code is still wonky.

Jan Morrison said...

arghh! how frustrating! Have a cuppa tea and remember that patience isn't just a virtue - it is a neccessity.
Jan Morrison

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

So sorry about the agent and cozy series, but major congrats on the PW review (which is major, as you know) and the new 5 Star book!

Terry Odell said...

Jess; I'm clueless about html codes. I saw your tweet, so something worked. I think you have to agree to give the meme your twitter name or something.

Jan - definitely.

Elizabeth - thanks, and thanks. Such is the business.

Maeve said...

Ugh! Doesn't it just make you crazy sometimes?

Terry Odell said...

Maeve - my husband might question your use of "sometimes"!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I don't have an agent (wish I did!), but that fact that yours is sending your work out is great. You never know with the publishing business. The next time the proposal is sent out,
the editor could grab it and offer you a nice deal.

Maryann Miller said...

Terry, what a frustrating roller-coaster ride this has been for you. But, you are focusing on the high points, which is good. Congrats on the PW review. I know the PW review for my mystery with Five Star tripled sales from my last book, and that was just in the first few weeks.

As for the cozy series, have you thought of just going straight to e-books and paper via Smashwords and CreateSpace?

Terry Odell said...

OK, I just popped over to the review site, and there's no 'like' button anymore. Maybe you have to be registered? Dunno. I saw it yesterday for sure.

Terry Odell said...

Jacqueline - no, I don't have an agent. She was only looking at this single proposal, and when it fell through, that was that.

Maryann - thanks - yes, it's a crazy world, and changing faster than anyone can follow. I'd have to write the cozy--it was a 50 page sample, but yes, I've considered doing it myself--after changing it to avoid conflict of interest with the publisher who provided the concept.

Kristi Helvig said...

The world of publishing seems like a never-ending roller coaster ride, but at least that means there are highs to balance the lows. One of my critique partners is on submission right now through her agent, and it sounds nerve-wracking. Congrats on the PW review, and hope you have more good news soon!

Deborah Melanie said...

I think you're very brave to share your downs, as well as the ups :) I admire you for it. Wishing you lots of success in the coming months.

Terry Odell said...

Kristi - I hope so, too.

Deborah - I waited some time before posting the 'down' events, but it seems wrong to mislead people into thinking that writing is a fun and games business. It requires a thick skin. And patience.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I admire your willingness to share so much of your publishing history, and your stick-to-itness. This is not an easy business, but persistence does pay off. Congratulations on the contract for the third in your series, and congratulations on keeping a long-range perspective. These roller-coaster rides are exhausting.

Terry Odell said...

Susan - it's only fair to show both sides. People shouldn't assume everything is in the bag when they have an agent, or an editorial request.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hey Terry,

You and I share a similar writing journey with sales to small presses and library presses. I've had that request for revisions and I've had the revised version turned down.

I've also followed you into the world of smashwords. I need to figure out more about it because my sales there are less than stellar. And I've got a print release coming through createspace as well. Lots of directions all at once when I just want to write. Not to mention the conference circuit, the loops, blogs, etc.

Its a racquet all right. Are we crazy or what?

ps if you want to commiserate offloop, I'm at maggie toussaint at darien tel dot net

Terry Odell said...

Maggie - it is a strange business, isn't it. More time to write would be nice.