Thursday, October 30, 2008
Of course, I suppose it also doesn’t help I don’t write for the mainstream audience either. I am graphic, use coarse language, and write dark poetry. In 1999, I submitted a poem entitled, ‘The Midnight Express’. This was for the fun of saying, there I did it, now I can move on.
A small time magazine got a hold of the poem, and paid me $20 to go ahead and publish the poem. I went ahead and purchased the magazine, now years out of print, just to hold a copy of something in my hand that my name was on, outside of the school newspaper. I thought I was pretty good at that moment, and submitted the same poem to the International Library of Poetry. They were great for stroking my ego, and as long as I paid them $60 for a hard cover book, I too could enjoy the benefits of being featured in one of their collections.
They were the hard way of learning, that in the literary world, not everyone wants to be your friend, some are out there to take advantage of others and stroke their egos enough to lure them into a fantasy world, where money is shelled out to a frivolous end.
I continued to move forward though, and I continued to churn out poems and short stories to publications. I had plenty of poems get published over the years, and oddly 13 short stories. Most of what I wrote, I told while it was good, it would not appeal to a general audience. Again, it was too dark and graphic, and controversial. I took a stab at writing poetry from a loving stand point, and although, I don’t feel a part of me was in it, it turned out to be a bit more successful than what I previously had written. It was at that time I realized, I will still writing, but not where my heart was. If you sacrifice your soul to find happiness, you find out you end up with pain and regret.
So I folded my hand, and cashed in my chips. I was thankful for all I had learned through the journey, and I took that away with me. I started to write ‘A Death at the North Pole’. I killed off Santa Claus and tormented his family and friends with a vengeful female cop. Instead of going mainstream, I went independent. I knew it wasn’t something a publisher was going to print, it was violent, killed an icon, and was brutal and graphic. I loved writing it, and I received some great positive response to it.
But one thing still baffled me, when a recording artist goes independent it is great, they are showing courage and strength. When a writer goes independent, they are considered a hack, and talentless. Some of the best authors I have read have been independent authors, not following a mold is a very powerful thing.
The point that I am making, is don’t rule out independent publishing to get your feet wet in the publishing world. If you got something you believe in, chances are other people will take an interest too. The work is harder, but the pay off is greater. You get the blood, sweat and the tears of the whole process. You get a chance to find your soul, and take a stronger sense of pride in your work.
Joel M. Andre was born January 13, 1981 in Cottonwood, AZ. He began writing back in 1994 on a personal level, discovering the passion and feeling the words brought him. Although more of a hobby at the time, he collected his works and in 1999 released the poem The Midnight Express. It received positive feedback, and was quickly followed by For the Salem Witch. To date Joel has released over 60 poems, and 3 books.
Pray the Rain Never Ends was the first book, which includes the poem he wrote for his nephew Christopher Andre. A gripping work that shows a different side to the creator of work that usually holds a darker flair.
The follow up book A Death at the North Pole brought a new side of Joel out. This was a dark journey through a winter wonderland, and provided a more in depth look at Joel and his long form writing.
Most recently Joel released the book Kill 4 Me, a technological ghost story, of a woman haunted by a vengeful spirit through the use of a cell phone and computer.
With a passion for writing, you can tell Joel loves what he does. Although some would say his imagination runs more left field, there is no denying his original thoughts and ideas will provide enjoyment for years to come.
You can visit his website at www.joelmandre.com.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Yeah, I’m lying. I did none of that.
But I do admit I was tempted to do something wacky. I knew that half the time, queries languished in the slush pile without ever having been read. I knew there were gazillions of other writers in the same boat I was in, and we were all competing for the same agents. There were rumors of agents receiving hundreds of submissions a week. If I did something wacky, someone would AT LEAST notice me. What if I let my creativity fly with the query process? Cookies, tchotchkes, singing telegrams!
Well, I’m sure most of you have more wisdom than I did when I entertained these ideas. You’re probably all aware that if you do something wacky, you tend to be known as a wacko. Fortunately, unaccountably, I did nothing drastic. I clung to the notion that if I proceeded with dogged professionalism, things would work out. Oddly enough, they did.
In the beginning, I read several books about the publishing process so I could get as much perspective as possible. This was a good move—I learned a lot. I also read message boards and got a sense of how other writers were doing. I then followed the industry conventions and wrote query letters. I think I sent out about four or five. Of those, I received two rejection form letters and the others just sort of vanished to the wind.
At this point, though I was willing to write a million letters if need be, it dawned on me that I might learn more if I got face time with other writers and discussed ideas and experiences. To do this, I attended a few conferences. This turned out to be the most brilliant move of all. Not only did I meet lots of writers at these conferences, but I also met agents and editors. I learned how to pitch in person, and I learned how to zero in on those who were possible matches for my work. Some of the editors and agents requested my material, and when I sent it to them later, the fact that they’d requested it meant I had a much better chance that they’d actually read it. The odd thing was, after meeting these people at conferences, I realized that they really were, well, people. They’re people who are sometimes overwhelmed by tons of nervous writers vying for their attention. I found that I was most successful when I was relaxed, friendly, and above all, professional. And the beauty of it was, I was making so many contacts at the conferences that I actually had choices. I didn’t have to follow-up with anyone I didn’t like.
The first real nibble came from an editor—one from a major house. I even went so far as to do some re-writes based on that editor’s request. At the same time, another editor I’d met at a different conference was also interested, as were three agents. I’ll tell you what: agents take much stronger notice when you’re already in talks with an editor or two. I wound up signing with an agent who was my absolute top choice.
In the end, I didn’t make deals with either of those two original editors. Fortunately, however, the leverage I gained from their level of interest did help me to sign with the agent, and he went on to sell my first novel.
So I’d have to say that my original publishing success came from a combination of networking, diligence, and luck. It took me about two years from the time I started looking to the time I actually I signed on the dotted line with my agent—and another year before I actually had a publishing contract. But as agonizing as that period was, I learned so much about the industry, the process, and the craft that I wouldn’t shorten that timeframe even if I could. And most importantly, I resolved to focus my creativity where it matters most: the story.
Sienna Skyy comes from a long line of storytellers, and from the moment she learned to speak she began telling tales of her own, many of which were reflections of the beautiful city where she lived. She got her start by exploring lyricism in the form of song, and was inspired the combination of literary fantasy and rock music that was prevalent in her early years. (Nowadays they call it classic rock.) She believes that art and music and literature are different forms of the same wonderful thing. She also believes that knights exist today though they’ve stopped wearing shining armor, and that magic is waiting just beyond the surface of the things we see. Sienna Skyy lives in Gotham City, and is surrounded by animals, of both the human and non-human variety. She is currently working on the next novel, Otherworld Quest.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Getting books published was a daunting task! I ran the gamut of queries to big and small publishers, big and small agents although I have to say I never get a good feeling about focusing on an agent for some reason. I think it's because I just didn't want to restrict where I could my work.
Then a few years back a book publisher accepted my first book, Gifts Of The Spirit. The publisher was PublishAmerica and therein began the nightmare. No aspect of the contract was honored including assistance with placement in bookstores. The discount to bookstores was also prohibitive so bookstores would not purchase copies. In addition, there was no returnable policy. All of these detriments meant one thing: I was not able to get my book in bookstore. The book was online but, with a no return policy interest waned. Then there was the royalty: forty-nine cents one quarter! How could this be? After all ten per cent of $19.95 was $1.91 per book so how could a royalty be forty-nine cents? Incredible. Add to this that the book's pricing was also more than for a standard paperback trade book.
Soon, I connected with other writers who had also been led down the primrose path by PublishAmerica. We organized and began a campaign to get out of our contracts which PublishAmerica was unwilling to do. After a year of coordinated press releases urging the public NOT to buy our books, articles about the fraud that had been perpetrated and even television appearances by myself and another author we were all suddenly released and in the same month! This was absolutely necessary in order to pursue other publishers with our books. We won.
Three of my books had then been accepted by a small publisher and then after some months, the publisher folded. The thought of doing all the letter writing and proposal sending all over again to the possible end of finding another publisher of the same cloth of PublishAnmerica was something I simply did not have the patience to want to do.
Encouraged by the successes of Dan Millman, best selling author of "Way of the Peaceful Warrior" which was self published and the success of my friend and contemporary Janet Elaine Smith who is a bestselling author and self published I chose the self publishing route.
The truth is many authors are choosing this venue and I believe it is a movement for creative control over what is written rather than assuming one can only be recognized if "published."
The truth is big and small presses are inundated with so many queries, proposals and manuscripts I believe most of them are never even looked at. This is my personal opinion. Secondly, there is nothing wrong in investing in yourself and your work much as one would invest in a business venture in which there is confidence.
The world of publishing has changed and so has the breed of writers who are less dependent on the parochial conventions that used to measure success. Today's writer has more confidence in themselves and their product.
I chose Star Publish LLC for my publisher and I have not regretted it. Like all publishing houses you do need to research who you are considering as some are on the par of PublishAmerica which some of my colleagues have shared.
I do not regret self publishing. I am pleased with the quality of my book and the turnaround time from submission to availability is very quick which frees me to work on other projects without continuing the time consuming and often frustrating task of trying to submit as I have before.
I know my work, I know I am excellent and I deserve to be in control of my own career.
To view my book trailer, please visit quantum spirituality.tripod.com and my blog: something magicalinourmists.blogspot.com
Cate is a published author, GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, as well as a syndicated columnist in the spiritual and metaphysical genres. In addition she is a published print columnist in
Friday, October 10, 2008
Laura Grossman graduated from Lehman College with a degree in English literature and won several awards from poetry contests. She has attended poetry readings and has enjoyed positive feedback on her work.
You can visit her website here.