January 8th, 2007

"Becoming" a novelist

Last night I unexpectedly found myself in the company of a delightful "new" author named Jeanne C. Stein. Click here to see Jeanne's book.

Now, here's what's interesting: I used those dirty little quotation marks around "new" because Jeanne is fiftysomething and has been trying to get published for twenty years. And how she did it runs almost completely counter to every piece of advice I've heard.

Jeanne lives in Denver. A few years ago she wrote The Becoming, and sold it to a local press that's so small it's almost as if the book was self-published. But rather than stop there, here's what Jeanne did: She researched agents, made a list of the top 12 who were repping the kinds of deals she wanted, and started querying them; when she got a nibble, she sent the actual book. Scott Miller of Trident signed her three days after he got the book, and her three-book deal with Berkley/Ace followed shortly thereafter.

How many times have I heard that no big publisher will take a book that's already been published? Or that no agent will look at these books?

Me, of course, I'm now on month four of my waiting for my latest agent submission's response (he liked the first description and now has a chunk o' book). I can't tell you how great a three-DAY response sounds about now.

Much head-scratching today...In the meantime, Jeanne's book has good juju and she's a great lady. She's signing tonight (Monday) at Mystery and Imagination Books in Glendale. Stop by!

OMG

We've just returned from hell.

A friend was signing tonight at a local independent bookstore; since Ricky and I also know the store owners, we of course wanted to drop by and get our friend's book signed. We had other things to do, but figured, "Hey, the store's ten minutes away, ten minutes to drop in, say hi, get the book signed, then we're home again. Half-hour max."

Except...our friend wasn't signing alone, and was unfortunately paired with a writer we'd never heard of it. A writer who writes lots of that ultramilitaristic-space-opera-for-right-wingers kind of science fiction. The stuff that gives the whole genre a bad name. This idiot wanted to talk before he signed. He talked...and talked...and talked. Among the gems he spewed: "I didn't like The Catcher in the Rye, but I can see how it was important for its time, and my book is like that now". Or how about twenty minutes of him griping about how he'll never go to a Worldcon or win a Hugo because they don't like his politics? Or how proud he was of being able to write a book in ten days?

Here's the good part: This moron actually blathered on so long that his own fans started leaving, dragging bags of unsigned books with them; our poor friend, meanwhile, of course, had to sit next to him and feign interest. Finally, TWO FUCKING HOURS after he started the poor store owners finally cut him off. I'll bet he doesn't get invited to sign at many stores twice.

Thanks for wasting our evening, Mr. Blowhard.