Tag Archives: publishing

Too (not 2) Frequently Asked Questions

When people find out a person is a writer, they’re intrigued. They ask questions. What do you write? Where do your ideas come from? Are you published? Do you have an MFA? Where can I read your work? Are you rich and famous?   

I’m often asked by friends and family: What’s going on with that book you’ve been writing? Is it published yet? 

Answer: Not yet. I’m querying agents. 

Then the follow up question: That’s what you said last month. What’s taking so long?

Short answer: Ugh. 

Long answer: That’s sort of like asking a first year med student, “How’s that MD coming along? You a doctor yet?” Finding a literary agent is not easy. It takes time, hard work, and more persistence than you can imagine.

Here’s another: You wrote a book? What’s it about?

I love and hate this question. I love it because I’m thrilled when anyone is interested in my writing, but it’s a hard one to answer. How do you describe a 300 page book in one sentence? I’ve written a million (okay, maybe not a million) one-liners that describe my book and have yet to come up with the perfect answer. But I’m getting closer.

And the all-time “favorite” question/request: I have a great idea for a book. I’ll tell it to you, and you write it. Then we can split the money. What do you say? 

Short answer: No.

Long answer: No, thank you. 

Longer answer: Here’s my card. I charge by the word.

I don’t mean to sound snippy, but every author I know has received this request. The truth is, if you really have a remarkable story (you survived a shipwreck or just discovered you’re the bio-child of someone super famous), you should hire a lawyer and a good CPA, because the tabloids will offer you a fortune. 

Another very FAQ: Isn’t being a writer easier now that there’s self-publishing?

Short Answer: No

Long answer: Writing is hard work regardless of how one publishes. Self-publishing has cleared the way for many excellent novels and works of non-fiction to be released more quickly. It also has opened the floodgates for thousands of books that are not well-written or properly edited. Most of these sell few copies. Writing anything requires time and patience and dedication. Even this short blog post has taken me three days! 

In case you’re wondering, here are my answers to the first five questions:

What do you write:  Novels, short stories, short plays, blog posts, and many to-do lists.

Where do ideas come from: Imagination, observation, contemplation, aggravation, conversations, and sometimes my dogs.

Are you published: Yes

Do you have an MFA: No

Where can I read what you’ve written: There’s a lot of it right here on my website. Or google my name. Something will pop up.

Are you rich and famous: Not yet. 

As a bonus, I’m going to ask you a question that has nothing to do with anything except for giving me a reason to post this adorable picture:

What’s your favorite kind of dog? Mine’s BOXER 

Give me your answer in the comments. Feel free to share a photo! And ask me more questions, too. 

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Confessions of a Conference Junkie

A few months ago I attended a writers conference in San Francisco. Prior to my leaving, I did some research on how to prepare. With workshops and speakers scheduled from early morning to well into the night, I figured a little planning would go a long way . . .

Most of the advice was commonsensical: prepare a schedule so that you know exactly where to go when; be friendly and open to meeting new people; wear comfortable shoes. But then I stumbled over one suggestion that made me sit up and take notice. It said, “Stand out. Agents and editors will be meeting hundreds of writers over the course of a few days, so make yourself memorable – put on a flowery hat or wear a bright purple jacket or carry a statement bag . . .”

Wow, what great advice! Every woman there would be in a uniform of black pants and white blouse or some variation on that look. What could I do to make my outfit special? Hat? No. Crazy color jacket? Don’t think so. Statement bag? Absolutely! The next day I ran to TJ Maxx and purchased a leather tote in candy-apple red. I imagined people admiring my chic accessory and later recalling my stylish fashion statement.

“I was the one carrying the bright red bag, remember?” I would say.

As soon as I got to the hotel, I unpacked my suitcase, freshened up, and transferred my materials into the new red tote. With my “statement piece” slung over my shoulder, I headed downstairs for the opening session. As I got off the elevator, somebody tapped my shoulder and asked if I knew where the ballroom was. I turned, and to my surprise, there was a woman with a tote bag almost identical to mine. I laughed and said, “Follow me. And by the way, great bag!”

Imagine that, two of us walking into the room looking like we’d just gone shopping together. I found an open chair, sat down, and put my bag in front of my feet . . . right next to another red tote. What was going on here? I glanced around. Three more women carrying red bags (one was a beautiful raspberry color, even prettier than mine!) entered the room. There were so many red bags it looked like a red-bag-convention! I thought about tagging mine so I wouldn’t pick up somebody else’s by mistake. So much for a statement piece when everyone else was making the same statement.

I crossed my arms, sat back, and focused on the welcome presentation. I forgot all about my disappointing red bag and absorbed every drop of wisdom the speaker had to offer. During the Q and A, I raised my hand. The speaker pointed to me, and I began my question. But then she said: “No, no back there. The one in the flowered hat.”

Next time I’m wearing my mini-mouse ears.