Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Agent/Publisher Search

One of the hardest things for an "up-and-coming" author to do is choose which manuscript they think will be "the one" to get them at least a partial read, better a full request, and ultimately a contract. I have self-published four books and had an e-publisher for the fifth work, but even still, I know I have an uphill climb to go. I have five other manuscripts that I could shop (and even some people have said why not shop the novels you've already self-published?) but that's a tricky thing, isn't it? Nevertheless, I have NO idea which to shop. At least one that I'm considering has been to the second-ring of acceptance (the partial) but was ultimately passed over by an agent. One has a full request, which is a yay! , but I guess that means I can't submit that to an agent (although to be fair, that one is with a publisher also).Ironically, that manuscript has also been rejected by another publisher (but that publisher had also requested a full manuscript...hmm, I may have my answer!). Then again, this very same manuscript got rejected in full by another publisher (but they demand unsolicited queries to include the full MS, so it wasn't "requested" per se).

I then have two more manuscripts that I haven't really sent out yet, but I don't know how to label them. I think they both might be women's fiction, but I am not sure. The advice from authors is to just submit your strongest work, but the agents/editors want you to tell them what kind. One very nice lit agent said that my submission for RJC wasn't romance, but rather women's fiction. I can see what she meant by that, but for me, I am telling a love story. All of my stories are love stories...but they don't call IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK a romance even though Fonny is one of my favorite "heroes" ever. I don't know. It's like divining the future. The other complication is I'm actually doing very well with my self-publishing. . From all the articles I've read about "average" self-publishing sales, I'm doing twice as good--three times as good as those averages. Maybe the rules are different for AA writers? Word of mouth is huge, and I have a lovely crew of readers who do like to talk! And I don't know. I'm being pulled in several directions, but I don't want to "give up" and be content with the self-publishing. I'll just put my stuff out there and hope an agent likes it, I reckon. At the very least I know readers do!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Day, Some Day, Today: January 20, 2009

I have not cried once today. My smile has been permanent on my face. Even did the running man in the privacy of my own home lol. I'm a blessed young woman to bear witness to this, knowing that those who came before me fought, bled, lived, died, sang, laughed, cried, toiled, cussed, stood up, sat down, marched, carpooled, prayed, hoped...that someone would see this someday.

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

~From "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou

The son of a voluntary African immigrant moves into a house built over two hundred years ago by involuntary African immigrants who are the collective ancestors of his wife and daughters.

Well done, America, well done.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My e-mail @sjfbooks.com

If you sent an e-mail and got a bounce back saying the mailbox was full, it's not full anymore. Apparently, when deleting e-mails, they just go to the "trash"; they aren't really "deleted". I have to "delete" them delete them for them to be deleted properly.


Anyway, there should be no further problems!

Productive, I Have Been

I have finished two short stories (unfortunately, neither are the one that I'd lost on the AlphaSmart, but oh, well.). Well, one of them should've been finished years ago as I'd started it back in August of 2007...yeah, I eventually got around to it. Anyway, I hope to submit it to some e-pubs. Maybe you'll see that one around. The other is related to a novel I finished. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do with it yet as it's contingent upon what I ultimately decide to do with its parent novel. But the fact remains, I did some writing, and that's a big ole yay! if I ever heard one.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Lost the story I'd been working on. Am I pleased? Not really.

*mumbles under breath*

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Official Web Site

Hi, all,

I've updated the reviews page on my Web site with new reviews for Reconstructing Jada Channing and The Beauty Within. I hope you check it out! Also, please tell your friends and family about the new releases as well.

PS--go join Badazz Authors Yahoo Group. Yeah, apparently these other authors think I'm badazz. Holler!




Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Plethora of Publishing Options Perpetuates Panic

Okay, maybe panic is a strong word, but it's perilously close to it.  I feel gridlocked because I don't know what I should/shouldn't do in terms of how to get my name out there even further.  It's a chess game, one that gives me a headache, as I've never been that glorious at the game.  Yes, I know the basic rules and the objective, but actually executing a plan leaves me very perplexed.  So, I have all of these completed manuscripts that are languishing on my hard drive.  What to do?  I could either send them out to publishers and agents or I could just skip those middle men and put them out myself.  The obvious pros of self-publishing is I keep the lion's share of the money and I can put out whatever I want whenever I want.  But publishers have resources that me and my lonesome do not; and I have many people constantly encouraging me to get my stuff out there.

Yet when I do, it's a whole lot of "thanks, but no thanks."

I'll admit I don't write for a particular market, although I would say I'm a romance/women's fiction writer.  I can stand by that; however, the "rules" of those genres leave me, if I admit it, a bit irritated.  It doesn't allow for diversity, to the point I've read the same story by different authors (or even sometimes the same author!).  It gets a little stale; and if I'm at the point I can write the story in my head before I even read it, that's a problem.  I want fresh, and so do the publishers and agents, if you read their submission guidelines, but maybe they don't want it too fresh.

Which begs the question:  what is too fresh?

I have at least four manuscripts I'd love to submit, and I have, but I've gotten replies back: "It's too sad; too heavy; too controversial."  I know I'm a new author (does that still apply even though I have five credits to my name), I thought those things sold.  I guess if you follow the "romance is an escape" paradigm, I'm not your woman; but I like my romance tempered with reality, and I've found a nice niche of people who seem to as well.

My plight is further complicated because I primarily write about interracial themes.  Not only that, many of my heroines aren't typical heroines even in same-race romances.  They are thick women; short women; not society-branded "beautiful" women, but they manage to capture the interest of a very attractive, usually white, hero.  There have been plenty of honest readers who've admitted they cannot buy into the BBBW/WM pairings, thinking it's unbelievable.  I mean, clearly I don't think it's unbelievable--whether that's me wanting to sell my books or my own personal wishful thinking--but if I, as a black woman, can relate to and empathize with a white heroine, why can't a slim woman not empathize with and relate to a bigger heroine?  The primacy on the physical is a bit disconcerting, and isn't that what we as women fight against during the everyday?  Or one step further, is it really that impossible for a big woman to be absolutely stunning?  I present to you Queen Latifah and Jill Scott as examples that it is most certainly not impossible.  Yes, I did touch upon it in The Beauty Within, but clearly this is a topic that should have continuous exploration.  We don't want superficial men in real life, so why are they acceptable in our fiction?

Though that little rant seems tangential, it really isn't.  Maybe those agents and editors to whom I've submitted believe the same as those honest readers.  Maybe they really want a fantasy and don't want any sort of reality incorporated.  But I want to be inspired, I want to learn something no matter what I read.  No, I am not trying to be some lofty writer, but I guess I'm as cerebral in my entertainment choices as I am during other endeavors.  I know I'm not everyone's cup of tea, nor do I expect to be, but I do think there are more readers like me than many people think.  I appreciate a real struggle, an internal struggle, because I want my hero and heroine to live up to those labels.  I want to see growth out of my characters, not just the ones I write, but the ones I read also.  I want to feel like I've overcome something, not read a soap opera time and time again.  Look, I can appreciate the melodrama as much as the next person, but if that's my only option, it's boring.

Anyway, all this to say, I don't know what to do!  The immediate returns versus the long toil of submission-rejection-ignorance-rejection-ignorance-rejection...maybe full manuscript request...maybe full manuscript acceptance.  I gotta make money now because I need to eat and pay rent and wear clothes, etc.  But the payoff patience could possibly bring, I shouldn't deny myself that, either, right?