Archive for 'agents'



What Stace had to say on Thursday, June 24th, 2010
The sky is falling?

Yesterday on Twitter–I guess for the last couple of days–there’s been a discussion going on regarding agents, and how they’re paid, and how that affects their work. And then it morphed or branched off into a discussion about advances and whether or not writers would accept a no-advance model, and the end result seems to be another one of those discussions where everyone sits around like mummers at a Victorian funeral and tells us The Publishing Sky Is Falling, and it’s The End Of Publishing As We Know It, etc. etc. etc.

And you know, I understand that to an extent. It’s scary. The economy is scary. Hell, everything is scary right now; our ocean is filling with oil and all anybody with the power to do something seems interested in doing is pointing fingers and sitting around talking and whatever. There have been earthquakes and tornados and volcanos and shit all over the world. Am I terrified that the world is ending? Honestly? Kinda, yeah. But then, I’m a bit of a pessimist when it comes to this sort of thing; I’m the only person I know who is terrified of outer space and doesn’t even like seeing pictures of it because it reminds me that the earth is this one small rock floating in nothingness and something could go wrong at any second and we could start plummeting, but there’s nothing to land on so we would just keep plummeting through the darkness forever. That’s not a pleasant thought.

It probably won’t happen, either. But I wonder if I start insisting often enough that it will, and get a bunch of people to also start talking about it and how the earth’s field of gravity is thinning, people will start to believe it.

Because it seems to me that everyone is talking about the demise of publishing, but there’s actually no real evidence that it’s dying. Everyone is claiming that ebooks will be the death of publishing, but I honestly don’t understand that at all; how is providing books in another format for people who like that format killing publishing? (Aside from the issue of piracy, which don’t even get me started on.) Aren’t we hearing about people buying more books now that they’re started reading ebooks?

I know a lot of it is just to get website hits, or because people have a specific axe to grind. And you know, none of us are without bias. I certainly don’t want to see publishing die, because it’s how I make my living. I don’t want to see us all switch to self-publishing, for reasons I’ve stated many times before but will recap quickly:

1. Ease of finding something worth reading (low when trying to go through thousands & thousands of self-published books with no quality control or vetting process)

2. Ease of publishing (sure, right now you can go to Lulu and set up a book for free; it’s what Jim Macdonald did for me with the Strumpet book. But do you really think if publishing fails, and self-publishing becomes the norm, those companies won’t start charging, or charging more?)

To be perfectly honest, my feeling is and has always been that if publishing “dies,” and everyone is self-publishing, you’ll soon have people offering to vet books for other people. You’ll have someone who realizes they can make some money by taking the best books out there and printing them for a cut of the money, and setting up some sort of nationwide distribution, and…lookie there, you’ve just reinvented a publishing house.

When people want a book to read, they want a book to read. They do not want to spend hours hunting around for something readable. (Don’t believe it will take hours, or be difficult? Here’s a site where people can post shirt stories for free, called Bibliofaction. It’s a nice site; it’s a fun idea. And I don’t link to it to pick on or put down any of the stories posted there; I link to it to show you how much there is on just that one site, and what a variety of quality there is too.)

Now I’m veering off into my big self-publishing rant again, and I’ve already covered that, so I don’t want to do it again. What I do want to say is that yes, times are a bit hard right now. Yes, I’m seeing good writers whose series don’t get to go on because sales that would have been good enough three years ago aren’t anymore, or if they do get contracted for more books their advances are lower. It’s awful and it’s sad.

But for every series that doesn’t do so well, there are series that are big hits and make tons of money. I’m tired of seeing that ignored. I’m tired of seeing specious statistics bandied about all the time, like the “95% of published books don’t sell more than 500 copies,” which sounds terrifying until you realize that the people who came up with that statistic were including every single book published, including self-published books, technical manuals, employee guidebooks, specialist textbooks, souvenir books, and whatever else. The idea that most NY published books sell less than 500 copies is simply incorrect.

This study by The Association of American Publishers estimates the publishing industry sold $23.9 BILLION worth of books in 2009. Yes, that’s down almost two percent from 2008 (although apparently in the last seven years overall it’s grown), but when you consider how the economy took a swim in Lake Shitty in early-mid 2008 especially, that’s really not that bad, is it? How much have other industries lost? If we can use this CNN article as any indicator, auto industry sales/profits dropped about 30%. Freddie Mac says home prices fell almost five percent in 2009 (it was a much bigger percentage in ’08).

Yes, it’s a scary time right now. Yes, we’re all watching it and keeping an eye on what’s happening. Yes, advances aren’t as high as they once were–at least so I understand. But we’re still getting deals. We’re still getting advances. Every day.

But that doesn’t mean we all need to start desperately casting around for some other way to earn a living, or start pontificating on how publishing is “broken” and it’s the end for it. It’s not. As long as people want to read books, there will be publishing. Quite frankly, for all the “publishing is dying” talk I hear online, it seems to be pretty limited to online; the average person–the average reader–has no idea this discussion is happening, and they care even less. And why should they? The only thing readers should–or should be expected to–care about is that they get books they want to read when they want to read them and in the format in which they want them, at an affordable price. (Readers are of course welcome to care more about it if they want, but it’s certainly not a requirement, is my point. I don’t want to bore my readers with talk about how my life will end if they don’t buy my books and I’ll end up selling matches on the street and how expensive everything is–like they don’t know that–and how I really need their help or whatever. As I’ve said here before, entertaining readers is my job. Yes, I want and expect to be paid for it, but beyond that they have zero obligation to me, and I certainly don’t expect them to give a shit about my financial situation. Remember how I’d rather not have people buy my books because I nagged them into it? Yeah. I’d rather they not buy them because I guilted them into it, either. I’m fucking lucky I get to write books for a living, and I try not to forget that and act like it’s some kind of burden.)

Anyway.

Whether the agent commission goes up to 20%, as the lovely Victoria Strauss suggests in this post (which also links back to me, making a nifty linky circuit), or whether more agents branch out into different areas of the business, or whatever…I think reports of publishing’s death are greatly exaggerated, and to be perfectly frank I’m tired of hearing about it. I don’t know if that’s me being sensible or being ostrich-like, but I’m tired of constantly feeling like the sword of Damocles dangles over all of our heads. I’m tired of feeling like there are crowds of people rubbing their hands together gleefully and waiting for publishing to fail, for whatever reason; I don’t understand it, as I don’t see why anyone would want to have to wade through slush for hours, but people can certainly do what they like.

I refuse to feel that way anymore. I refuse to listen to alarmists and bone-pickers. Will I keep in mind that things are tough all over? Absolutely. Will I remember how tight money is? Again, absolutely.

And I will use that knowledge to inspire me to write more and better books, to challenge myself more, to not take sales for granted but to remember that I need to push myself to be great, to be outstanding, to put everything I have into my work. I’ll use that knowledge to inspire me to write bigger stories, bigger worlds, bigger characters; to remember that “good enough” isn’t good enough. And so even if I don’t achieve that greatness and never get to be outstanding I at least wasn’t lazy. At least I tried. At least I didn’t forget that what it ultimately comes down to are readers, and what they want, and that my job is to try to give it to them, to impress and entertain them and make them think and feel.

So everyone else can sit around in the doom-and-gloom corner and decide the end is coming and there’s nothing we can do about it. I’ll be over here writing more books.

Because that’s what I do.

What Stace had to say on Friday, December 11th, 2009
Agent Appreciation Day

(A side note: I was supposed to post Simon Wood’s second guest post yesterday, but the day got away from me. Sorry. It’ll go up Monday. Also, sorry this is so late. I slept until almost one o’clock this afternoon; hubs has been out of town for ten days (he got back last night) and I don’t think I slept more than five hours a night the whole time he was gone, including weekends, so I was totally exhausted). Anyway,

Today is Agent Appreciation Day, in which we writers blog and tweet about how much we love our agents, in an effort to make up for not giving them Christmas presents. (Ha, actually that isn’t true. I sent my agent a present last week, and I’m sure most of us send gifts anyway. But still.)

I talk about my agent a lot here, I know. So I actually debated whether or not I even should post anything today. But then I decided, why not. It’s fun to talk about him, and it’s fun to be involved in something like this.

My agent is Chris Lotts from Ralph Vicinanza Ltd., and we’ve been together (in the working sense, of course) for almost two years, which is kind of weird to think about. I queried Chris with UNHOLY GHOSTS on a Monday, and signed with him two days later on Wednesday, which still amazes me. To be honest, I queried him thinking I didn’t have a chance in hell of even getting a partial request, considering how highly regarded he and the agency are; the idea that he would want to work with me and my creepy little “junkies and ghosts” book seemed like a total impossibility.

But I sent the query anyway, because as I said a while ago, “either you think the book is publishable or you don’t.” I did, and I sent the query, and I have never stopped being thankful that I did. In the almost-two-years we’ve been working together he’s sold UNHOLY GHOSTS to Del Rey (US), HarperVoyager (UK), Egmont Lyx (Germany), Amber Publishing (Poland), and Blackstone Audio (audio rights US). He also handled the contracts for DEMON INSIDE and sold the third Demons book, DEMON POSSESSED, to Juno/Pocket. I think it’s safe to say he’s an awesome and very effective agent.

So, to celebrate this most important of Important Literary Holidays, here are the top five things I love about my agent, Chris Lotts:

1. He’s always there. He always takes my phone calls, on the rare occasions I do call (I prefer email). Not only does he take the calls, he’s actually happy to hear from me! He tells me he’s glad I called. He calls me, too. He emails me, and replies to my emails. I once had a problem pop up on a day he’d taken off work. He still saw my email and got involved.

2. He knows how to talk to me. Okay, this one sounds a little weird, so I better explain. It’s not that I need some sort of special white-gloves treatment or anything; if I did he probably wouldn’t be so happy when I call him. But he knows how to calm me down when something upsets me and I decide my career is over. He knows that when I send him a proposal or an idea for a new project, and he hates it (okay, I can hear him in my head right now saying, “I don’t hate it!”, so read that as “he doesn’t think it’s as marketable as some” or whatever) he can come right out and tell me; he doesn’t have to beat around the bush. He knows I can take a joke and that I’m annoyed by hesitation and wishy-washiness. And when I ask questions, even questions that feel to me like they’re probably kind of stupid questions, he answers them and tells me they’re not stupid questions.

3. He’s willing to step in and handle stuff I don’t wanna handle. He stays on top of things like payments I’m supposed to get. He offers me advice, thoughts and opinions. It’s all very professional and makes me feel well taken care of. Which is nice.

4. The agenting stuff itself. Aside from all the personality things and the warm fuzzies and whatnot, he knows how to sell my work. He knows how to get me the best deal possible. He knows what editors are looking for, and when we talk and brainstorm on the phone (yep, see, there’s that talking thing again!) he has great ideas and advice. It’s very cool. It’s nice to feel that through him I’m connected to the industry, and to learn more about it.

5. In April hubs and I went to the Mai Kai in Ft. Lauderdale (this huge, awesome Polynesian restaurant where we used to go all the time when we lived there). The Mai Kai has a gift shop, and in that gift shop I saw two little Hawaiian/Polynesian dolls; you know, the tacky plastic ones with the really big eyes, where the girl is in a grass skirt and the guy in short or something, and they’re both wearing leis? Anyway. I saw these and purely on impulse bought them for him and sent them up, hoping he would get the joke. He did. Not only did he get the joke, he told me he was putting them on his desk. Seriously, how awesome is that?

Of course there are a lot more reasons. But what it boils down to is I like the man, and I like working with him, and I think he likes working with me. I have compete trust in him, and that’s hugely important.

I know discussions pop up from time to time on the internet about the role of the agent. I know there are discussions about what the relationship should be. I know there are people who feel that the agent works for the writer, and so the process of getting a agent shouldn’t be so hard and agents “shouldn’t have so much power” and blah blah blah.

To me the writer/agent relationship is more of a partnership. When looking for a partner in anything, whether it’s business or a work project or your love life or whatever, you don’t just grab somebody and say, “You’ll do,” and get down to business. You get to know them. You talk. You see how it feels, if you click. You can’t just grab any agent and “hire” them, and if you could I don’t think that would be a good thing. Because the relationship is about so much more than “Here’s my book. Go sell it,” or “Go write this book, and by the way you’re not allowed to do X, Y, or Z.” Chris and I discuss things. We plan things. I tell him how I feel about things and he tells me what his feelings are on it, and I usually take his advice not because I feel like if I don’t he won’t like me anymore but because he’s the one with the experience.

To put it bluntly, I pay him (in commissions) to sell my work, and to give me the benefit of his expertise. Why in the world would I pay him for his advice and then refuse to take it? That’s like hiring, I don’t know, a very famous, very expensive interior decorator, then handing them the paint, wallpaper, and furniture you want him to use and telling him to get to work. You know what I mean? What’s the point in getting an expert if you’re going to ignore everything they say?

This is turning into a longish rant, and I only meant it to be short. Oops. So anyway. My agent. He’s awesome, and I appreciate him.

(For a long list of other writers participating in Agent Appreciation Day, go here.

  • What Stace had to say on Thursday, November 12th, 2009
    Yes, Virginia, you need an agent

    For those of you who haven’t yet heard, yesterday Galleycat published a rather ridiculous opinion piece about how agents are unnecessary and they don’t do anything and they’re just evil old vultures and blah blah blah. The same crap we’ve heard before, in other words, although I find it fascinating that this piece was written by someone who last year–obviously unaware that I already had an agent and two book deals–offered to query agents on my behalf for the low, low price of $500.00, and yes I still have that email exchange saved. He’s perfectly entitled to run such a business and I’m not calling him a scammer, but it’s interesting, isn’t it?

    Agent Miriam Goderich rebutted it here very nicely. So, I’m sure, have others, but I’m about to add my voice to the chorus simply because that’s the way I roll, baby.

    Do you need an agent?

    Yes. Yes, you fucking do.

    Period.

    Okay, sure. If you’re planning on having a career in epublishing, you probably do not need an agent. If you’re planning to self-publish, you do not need an agent. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things. I started out in epublishing, without an agent, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I’m glad I did it and am grateful to Ellora’s Cave for treating me so well and enabling me to make some decent cash. Working with them was a pleasure for me.

    But–no offense–I wanted more than that. I wanted books on shelves. I wanted advances. I wanted a bigger career. I wanted to move out of genre romance/erotic romance; not because I didn’t enjoy it or don’t enjoy it (writing and reading), but because the more of it I wrote the more a little voice inside me told me it was simply not quite the right fit for my voice or the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.

    To accomplish those things (aside from moving away from writing romance, which of course is a huge genre in all forms of publishing: ebook, mass market paperback, trade paperback, hardcover, audio, whatever) I needed an agent.

    Here’s what fascinates me (and infuriates me) about the original Galleycat article (aside from the fact that its author apparently also runs a website devoted to helping writers self-publish; again, legal, but certainly interesting). It’s this paragraph here:

    One published author who asks to be unnamed disagrees, “What do you need an agent for anymore, really? Why? To negotiate a meager advance? You can’t get them on the phone anyway. You’re stuck promoting the book yourself because publishers don’t put any marketing dollars into your book unless you’re John Grisham. I don’t see the whole point when I can hire an attorney to negotiate my publishing contract for a flat fee or just upload the book to Kindle myself.”

    Let’s take a look at these points, shall we?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    What Stace had to say on Thursday, May 21st, 2009
    Agents = People. Not fish.

    Okay, okay. I know it’s a figure of speech. I know people use it all the time. And I know they use it for different reasons, and that I could very well be the only weirdo who sees it this way (hey, wouldn’t be the first time).

    But it drives me nuts when I see people posting or blogging or whatevering about “landing an agent.”

    I’m not sure why the phrase gets under my skin so much. It just feels…braggardly (a word I coined on Twitter last night. Feel free to use it. Someone else probably invented it first but I’m taking credit, at least until they step forward).

    Seriously? I picture a writer posing for one of those Prize-Marlin pictures, with the hapless agent suspended by a large hook, a dribble of blood down his or her chin and wide, staring, frightened eyes. It’s just not a good image, guys. It kind of creeps me out.

    And here’s the thing. Landing a fish implies a sort of physical battle; a test of wills between the fish and the fisherman. It implies mastery over a wild thing; that a contest of strength and endurance was entered into and victory was achieved. Getting an agent, or interesting an agent, or signing with an agent? Not remotely like that.

    Now, I do see the analogy. I do. Querying agents can feel like a test of endurance, certainly. And it does require some strength. It’s tough to send out those letters and not know what will come back. It’s tough to get rejections from people you really thought you’d like to work with, people who you really thought would “get” you and your work. It can be exhausting. It can be soul-crushing. And while I am, as you know, a member of the “suck it up” school, I do understand and remember how hard it is, and how it feels when you think this book you love so much, this book you really think is special, isn’t going to go anywhere or do anything. Yes. It hurts. (I just don’t think we need to talk about it.)

    But querying agents isn’t You Vs. Agent. It isn’t, any more than finding a mate is You Vs. Them. (Which is another phrase I hate, for basically the same reasons: “catching” a husband. Hardly anybody says it anymore, because it sounds so silly and antiquated. Something to think about, huh? Anyway. “Catching” a husband makes it sound as though I set up a snare in the woods and waited in the bushes with a club and a wedding ring for some hapless guy to wander along and step into my trap. It just sounds…ech.) When you date, you’re looking for the Right Fit.

    And so are the other people.

    You don’t hear agents talking about “landing” a new client, do you? (I certainly never have.) No. They sign new clients. There’s no implication that they have somehow Mastered The Wild in finding a new writer to represent.

    It just presents an image I dislike. I didn’t “land” my agent. I didn’t haul him onto the deck of my pontoon boat and gut him while he gasped and writhed. I don’t look at what happened that way. I don’t see the getting of agents as me setting some kind of pheromonal Venus Flytrap and hoping an agent would blunder into it. I don’t see myself as being some kind of victor, the Teddy Roosevelt of Big-Agent Hunting, with heads mounted on my wall.

    (Someone on Twitter last night mentioned this in relation to record contracts, like how bands are said to “land” a record deal. But it doesn’t bother me so much in that instance. Why? Because record contracts, being printed paper agreements and service deals, are not human either.)

    I adore euphemism. I love the images words can create. It’s fun, and exciting. And yes, “landed an agent” can be a very vivid one. But it’s also one that implies some sort of trickery, a painful struggle in which an unwilling victim is finally brought down through force of will and heavy fishing line. And it just grates on me when I hear it used in reference to agents or other human beings. It sounds a little pretentious, a little braggy (or braggardly, if you like).

    It’s just a pet peeve. Take it as you will.

    What Stace had to say on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
    I think about stuff

    Okay, lots of stuff to cover and get through and all of that.

    First, the other day I cam across this cool blog/site called Best Fantasy Books.com. Another site had a link to this post about ARCs and reviews that I thought was really interesting.

    Most of my thoughts on the subject are covered in my comment, which is the fifth comment down:


    I think the disconnect comes from something I’ve seen a lot, which is the idea that reviews are written for the gratification of authors, or solely in order to provide them with pretty shiny quotes they can put on their websites and blogs. But they’re not. Reviews are for readers, plain and simple.

    And more than that, reviews don’t sell books if the books aren’t readily avilable either. I might see an enthusiastic review somewhere. I might then jot down the title of the book and look for it on Amazon or next time I go to the bookstore. But when I do those things, I’m looking for something to read THEN. If the bookstore doesn’t have it I’ll grab something else. If Amazon or B&N.com or Borders or whatever is going to have to order it for me and I’ll have to wait three weeks or six weeks for it, I might very well not buy it then either, especially if I have the money in hand and don’t know if I will when the book ships and I’m charged for it. Or heck, I don’t know I’ll get the book at all.

    A really, really stellar review for a book that speaks to a very specific interest of mine might inspire me to go the extra mile. But in general, if the book isn’t readily available, I’ll buy something else. Reviews are for readers, to help them choose books at the store. While it’s always fun to get a shiny quote, and it’s always nice to see small-press books get some attention and reviews, the fact remains that if the book isn’t available there’s little point.

    See, here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure that the good reviews Personal Demons got contributed directly to the nice level of sales the book had; certainly it sold more than I’d expected it would. But that’s also because those reviews were backed up by the book being available in stores. The book had a professional (if small) publisher, with professional distribution that got it on the shelves. So when people read one of those nice reviews, they could go to the store and buy the book. In that sense the reviews were extremely helpful.

    But they were also legitimate reviews. Well-written reviews, which stated what the reviewer liked or did not like. Those ego-stroke reviews you see vanity press authors giving each other in a big, sloppy, “This book is the most wonderful thing ever, it totally swept me away and I couldn’t put it down” circle-jerk? Useless. You think readers don’t see through those things? Of course they do. Readers by definition are not stupid; they read.

    But I do seem to see more and more the attitude the Best Fantasy Books gentleman describes: entitlement. I sent you a free book, so you owe me a review. More than that, you owe me a good review. If you read any of the review blogs or websites you’ll see this more and more; reviewers being harrassed by authors, called names, yelled at, argued with, all because they either did not review or did not like the book in question.

    This is an unprofessional attitude, frankly. Nobody owes you shit.

    Which brings me to Agentfail.

    Here’s what bugs me about things like Agentfail. It’s a great idea. It could be a really useful and informative discussion. Instead, it ends up becoming much like the last discussion the lovely BookEnds ladies (I really like them, and their blog; I had occasion to deal with Ms. Faust back when I was querying Personal Demons and was left with nothing but positive impressions); a gang of unagented writers complaining–raging–about the query process, with such viciousness it makes the stomach churn.

    And in doing so they obscure the legitimate points that have been or might be made. The “No response=no” policy, for example. I don’t have a problem with it. I never have. I certainly don’t understand why it inspires such fury in people, or why they feel entitled to a response from people they don’t know. If I send JK Rowling a fan letter, I don’t expect that she’s going to respond to me. Just like if I send the guy who lives two streets over a letter asking if he’d like to meet for a drink, I don’t expect him to respond to me. Because neither of them owe me shit. Why would you not only expect that a total stranger go out of his or her way to speak to you, but then get angry because they don’t use your name and include a few lines about how special you are?

    Yes, I know the agent/querier situation is different. It’s a potential business relationship. Okay, then. Here’s an example. When we were planning our wedding I bought a box of chocolates. The company who made the chocolates was a small company that apparently does custom work as well. I emailed them and asked if they would be interested in making chocolates for my wedding. They never replied.

    Oh, well.

    I didn’t feel the need to burn them at the stake. I didn’t feel the need to start spreading their name all over the internet because how dare they IGNORE me when I sent them an unsolicited email for a job which did not interest them.

    Here’s the thing, guys, and I know it might be hard to believe but it’s true. When your project is sellable, agents will respond. It really is that simple, and I knew that two or three years ago, long before I started seriously querying. If you’re not getting replies, it’s because nobody’s interested, and while that’s tough to deal with it is the simple truth.

    That isn’t to say I approve of “no reply=no” as a policy, or rather, I don’t have a problem with it but do think agents who have that policy should set up an auto-responder for their email so the querier knows the thing was received. It’s not hard and it saves everyone a lot of trouble.

    But again, that reasonable request–have an auto-responder–gets lost under piles and piles of “You’re not giving me feedback/you’re not using my name/you’re not calling me up to say hello/how dare you ask me to write your name on the query and then send me a form reply,” comments, couched in combative and abusive language.

    I realize I look at this from a different perspective now. Quite frankly, I want my agent reading the stuff I send him and working on deals for me, rather than spending extra time giving feedback to people he doesn’t represent. Every minute he spends on that is a minute during which he could be doing something for me. Sorry, but it’s true. I (and all his other clients) pay him 15% to work for me, to read my submissions and work on them, to vet my contracts, to use his connections on my behalf.

    You, on the other hand, do not pay him a dime to query him. Which means, to put it bluntly, I’m paying his salary during the time in which he’s reading and responding to your queries.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind this. I don’t even think of it this way; I’m just using this as an example of how my view of it is different now, and why agents handle queries the way they do (because it’s first and foremost in their mind, as well, or at least it should be; clients should be the priority). I don’t begrudge the time it takes for him to handle his queries–or do things for his other clients–and I don’t know a single writer who does. But again, I never thought I was entitled to anything from an agent. I never thought I deserved feedback (although again, I agree that a personalized response on requested materials–at least on fulls requested after partials–would be nice).

    My point isn’t that writers don’t have the right to complain or be upset or hate the way things work or be irritated or have opinions. My point is that when the opportunity comes up to discuss issues in which agents could handle things differently or better, the anger doesn’t do anyone any good. The sheer hatred permeating that thread, leaking from my laptop screen in a choking mist…does nothing to make the points expressed look better or more valid. It just makes it easier to dismiss all of the comments and complaints as the frustrated rantings of a mob of wannabes.

    And it’s depressing.

    Okay. Moving on. Yes, we leave here next week; the movers are coming on Monday. My Monday post will be a short one; I’m going to open the blog to book recommendations from all of you, and I’m hoping that you’ll all have a great discussion while I’m away, so please, link to the post, tell your pals, whatever you want to do. (Or don’t, in which case I’ll just feel unpopular and unloved because nobody’s commenting on my thread.)

    I’m not sure what my internet access will be. I will try. Later today or tomorrow I’m going to try and download Twitberry (or Tweetberry, whichever it is; I have it written down somewhere) so I can Tweet from my phone. So if that works, you’ll still be able to follow me on Twitter.

    I am able to update my Facebook page from the phone already, so if I don’t manage to stop in here, and you’re not on Twitter or whatever, you can check in there if you like.

    (BTW, yes, I am fully aware that your lives will move on exactly as before while I’m away from the internet, and that it’s not like my absence–or at the very least, very sporadic presence–for the next month or so is going to cause a huge gaping hole in the internet from which no one will recover until I return. :-) But A) it makes me feel better to list this stuff, as I then feel as if I have some control over the move and all the Big Scary Changes; and B) some of those who follow me or keep up with me in various places online are real-life friends or family members who might reasonably be expected to want to keep tabs on me and make sure I’m safe and sound.)

    Turned in the final draft–or rather, my final draft–of the third Downside book yesterday. Final word count: 105,761. New title (yes, another one): GHOST BOUND.

    We’re currently looking for a new title for the second book; we want to change the title structure up a bit with the second book rather than doing it suddenly with the third. Still want the word GHOST in there if possible. I know you guys don’t know much about the story or characters, and I’m not going to tell you because that would be a big old spoiler, but make some suggestions anyway, huh? Maybe it will spark something, who knows.

    Goodness this is a long post! And I could have sworn I had something else to talk about too, but I don’t remember it.

    What Stace had to say on Friday, January 2nd, 2009
    A few bits before I “officially” return

    Yes, I know. You’re all waiting with bated breath, right? Ha.

    Okay. First, yes, I am messing about with the template. I attempted to download the new CSS template I’m using for my shiny! new! website!, but Blogger kept insisting something was wrong with that code. Nothing was wrong with the code; I’ve run it through three different programs to make sure. The problem, I guess, is that it’s a webpage code and not a blogpage code. I dunno. Anyway, it blows, because I love my shiny! new! website! template. (Above is a sneak preview of the header.)

    Anyway. Feedback is appreciated. I can already see the sidebar fonts are too light; I will fix them over the weekend.

    Second.

    I hope the person in question doesn’t mind me posting this, but a friend said something to me earlier–and I said something in return–that I felt the need to repeat here publicly.

    In a nutshell, my friend is getting ready to begin the query process. I sent her a list of names of fantasy agents I esteem–Jim McCarthy, Rachel Vater, Miriam Kriss, Kim Whalen at Trident, Katie Menick at Howard Morhaim, to name a few–to add to her list.

    Of course, at the top of the list I put my own agent. :-)

    My friend thanked me for the suggestions but mentioned she probably wouldn’t query my agent because she didn’t think she had a chance at interesting an agent with such a prestigious agency (Look, this is what SHE said, okay. I’m not trying to brag or anything here, I’m really not, so I hope I don’t sound like one of these people who’s constantly running around talking about their agent and how their agent is the greatest agent who ever lived and how other writers would kill, yes, kill, to be repped by my agent because my agent gets a billion queries a minute and is clearly The Most Important Person In Publishing and the business would stop dead if this person were ever to leave it because they are so, so, so important and amazing and thus by extension so am I. So please don’t think I’m doing that.)(Although I do obviously think my agent is pretty fucking cool.)

    Anyway.

    She told me she didn’t have a chance with him, because she didn’t have any prior publication credits and she’s not writing in a “hot” subgenre, and this is what I said in return:

    Don’t be ridiculous. Prior credits have nothing to do with it and you should know that. Chris signed {another cool writer} and I don’t think {writer} has any prior credits. I know my prior credits didn’t matter one bit to him.

    Query him. Query him, unless you just don’t think you’re good enough to get a really good agent; in which case, why query anybody at all? Believe me, if I’m good enough for him–me, of all people–so is anybody else.

    What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll waste under a minute cutting and pasting a query letter? You’ll get a polite rejection? Oooh, scary. :rolleyes

    Yes, I’m being deliberately harsh here in an attempt to show you that you’re being silly. Query EVERYONE who can give you proper representation. EVERYONE. So they say no, so what? Chris isn’t some sort of beast; he’s not going to come to your house and throw poop at you if your query isn’t for him, or send out an email to every other agent in NY making fun of you for having the effrontery to think *he* might be interested in your work.

    Either you believe you’re publishable or you don’t. (Yes, I use boldface a lot; so? You got a problem with that?) And if you do, you query everyone. Period.

    Hugs, dear. I’m trusting that you know I’m really not trying to be a bitch here; I just don’t want you to limit yourself like that. Where would I be right now if I hadn’t decided to go ahead and query him? Maybe I’d be repped by somebody else, sure; I had five or six other fulls out when he offered. But you know, maybe not. Who knows?

    Just send the fucking query. At worst you’ll get a form rejection. At best you’ll get a great agent.

    And that goes for you too, readers. Don’t give me that shit about how The Big Guys aren’t going to be interested in you. Either you’re ready or you’re not. Either you think your work is publishable or you don’t. Why limit yourself at the query stage? If they say no, they say no; big damn deal. What if Bigtime Agent is the one, and you never find out because you’re too chicken?

    There are LOTS of great agents out there. Try them all.

    Thus ends your new year inspiration for the day.