Monday, March 26, 2018

Juggling Four Chronic Illnesses And Waiting To Hear From Agents & Publishers

Dear Lit Loves,

I just want to begin by saying that I get the heebie-jeebies each time I check my email these days.  Seriously, I just wrote a manuscript about living with four rare, chronic illnesses that I feel is quite relevant for our times as currently there are 134 million people who have some form of chronic illness and by 2025, almost 170 million people will be welcomed to the world of chronic disorders.  To me, those are staggering numbers.  Heart disease is a chronic illness.  PTSD is a chronic illness.  Heck, to me, even cancer can be a chronic illness these days.  In my experience, you never really recover from a chronic illness; it is more like "continuous endurance" and remaining in a hyperactive state of vigilant awareness that some part of your body may turn on you or force you to sit up and take notice that life is often a never-ending state of expecting the unexpected.

So I decided to write about my experiences with chronic illness.  Now I am in the midst of grinding out the wait to hear if a literary agent is going to select to represent me and if there is an editor out there that can appreciate the relevance of my subject matter and the "plain spoken" manner in which I write.  I'm not the writer who went to Stanford or received an MFA from Sarah Lawrence; I am the writer for those who like a feisty woman who doesn't mind telling it like it is and leaving everything about my personal experiences on the written page.  I'm probably not the writer for you if you like lyrical prose that sings operatic notes.  I write about the nitty-gritty of life with a ZZ Top beat and in your face lyrics.  A lot of folks cannot handle that, but what the traditional publishing folks are missing currently is that many of my peers will not buy much less read books written in a high-falutin' manner and tone.  Seriously.  I had several people who read my first book, Brave Soul Rising, and then later said, "Thank God!  A female writer who doesn't bore me to death with detailed descriptions or background information!"  And from other readers I would also hear, "Finally!  A writer whose life and manner of writing I can relate to without having to go consult a dictionary or Google."

So I continue to wait.  Waiting to hear from literary agents.  Waiting to hear from acquiring editors.  Here's the deal though:  I'm not willing to wait forever on traditional publishing.  I will go it alone and publish the book on my own if I have to because I feel it's that relevant and incredibly important.
And I'm hearing a lot these days about literary agents and editors wanting to hear from diverse voices and women who have a #MeToo experience or two to relate.  Is that really the case?  I hope I get the answer I'm looking for soon because it would highly disappoint me if this is all talk and no action.  I want to see traditional publishers - all parts of it- agents, editors, publicity, etc. put their money where there mouth is.  Let's get this party started.  There is no time to waste.

Till my next post,

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Query Process Is Like A Non-Stop Merry-Go-Round Ride

Dear Lit Loves,

Well folks, I am at it once again.  That would be the querying process for literary agents as well as potential publishers.  As I recently announced, I completed my second memoir manuscript which totaled 305 pages and 92,668 words.  This does not include writing the query (cover letter for the book) and book proposal (book overview, synopsis, table of contents, marketing plan of action, competitive titles, and chapter summaries).  I get exhausted just recalling how much time I have spent completing not just the book, but all the other necessities related to either landing a literary agent, a publisher, or both.

This time around I am being more selective in my choices of literary agents.  If my research does not indicate a literary agent is willing to take on a debut author in nonfiction and memoir, I skip querying that agent entirely.  And this time around I am beginning to look at twitter statements made by literary agents along with perusing the website, manuscript wish list.  I found one agent that I thought might be a good fit for me and then I just happened to take a look at some of the retweets she had been posting and endorsing.  Once I saw the flippant attitude toward feminism and how she publicly and quite negatively dismissed potential queries from other writers, guess what?  I struck her from my list entirely.  So be careful what you tweet. And no, I do not use Twitter because heaven only knows I cannot limit myself to 147 or 149 characters at a time when it comes to communicating. 

If all else fails regarding obtaining a literary agent this time, no worries.  I have now located publishers that will look at my work even though I do not have a literary agent.  Personally, I like the thought of just having an intellectual property attorney look over any potential book contract.  I would most likely take that action with a literary agent contract as well.  No disrespect literary agents, but I have to cover my interests first and foremost. 

One thing I know for sure is that if I am forced to take the self-publishing route, I now have some experience under my belt so it is no longer intimidating.  It's actually a thrill to complete the entire writing, publishing, and book cover design yourself and have it arrive at your door or in your mail.  I screamed the first time I held a book written by me in my hand.  I also tried two cartwheels in the foyer of our apartment at the time, but that did not turn out well and I scared the hell out of my husband.  Next time I'll just clutch the book to my chest and run around our new home screaming for five minutes and most likely alarm all our neighbors, but hey, you have to let some of that excitement escape and be on display at least momentarily. 

So I have two more literary agents to query and three additional publishers to email with the book package.  So far so good.  Meanwhile, I just read the memoir titled Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I've Loved) by Kate Bowler which was an enlightening account of her own battle at a young age with cancer.  Presently, I am reading Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain, a Raleigh author, as a book club selection.  She most definitely has Southern style speech patterns nailed perfectly which adds genuine authenticity to the book.

Till my next update, happy reading!