Working in the genre

orphanblack

My Author Page

I am asking the questions today.  You know, THE questions? Who am I as a writer?  What am I?  And, if i can’t figure that out, how am i ever supposed to target the right agent?

I wonder if I am really a YA author.  Sometimes, when I look at the books that have come out of me so far, Brother Bewitched and Brain Biters,  I shake my head and think–  I don’t know that any teens would want to read this stuff.

In both books my characters are teens, and the stories are told through their eyes.  I am not some adult lecturing them about their lives, or pounding them with cliches they are old enough to know are just things adults say to hide their lack of real wisdom.

But maybe my books are too cold?   The characters not passionate enough?  Maybe I am dealing with things in a way that is alien or foreign to younger readers?

Maybe I am just too weird for any normal teen to relate to?

I have to confess, I did not read a lot of the books aimed at YA readers when I was of the age.   I wanted to be older and more serious, and so instead of reading Robert Cormier I read Stephen King.   Now, I later read Robert Cormier, and I felt like I had really missed the boat not reading him earlier, but even as a YA kid I didn’t think I was a YA kid.

So, maybe my books will never sell well to YA readers (or anyone else).   You know what?  I am going to keep writing anyway.   When I published my first book many years ago, (not YA and under a different pen name) I told myself I would be happy if one person read it and related.   It ended up selling about 300 copies, and I waited anxiously day after day, hoping one of those readers would submit a review.  Surely, one of them would be my reader, the one I imagined would read the book and know he or she wasn’t alone.  Someone else felt and thought the same things!

Well, that very first review came, an d it was terrible.  The person HATED my book, and they hated it so much they felt compelled to tell the WHOLE WORLD how much they hated it.

I felt destroyed, and for several days I moped around, thinking I would never write again.  Then, something amazing happened: a second reviewer posted a review directly refuting the first, defending my little book and praising it.

I can’t tell you how great it felt, because this was my one reader, and not only had they related, but had related so strongly they felt angry when someone attacked our book.

Since then, I have gotten good and bad reviews, and weird reviews that made no sense.  And as I reach the end of the essay, I realize that I still don’t know what kind of writer I am, or if my books are “really” YA books, as in really, really YA books.

But it doesn’t matter.   I write and write, and someone out there gets enjoyment from my work, and feels less alone, and so I do, too!

 

 

 

 

 

The Agent Hustle

agenthustle

Here I go again!   I have worked hard on a new manuscript.  I love my characters, and I am really invested in the story, which explores my favorite themes of gender and identity.  I want to share it with the world, and so full of excitement and enthusiasm for all the possibilities this big, crazy world has to offer I sit down at my computer and …   and… my head starts pounding, and I feel sick and sad and discouraged, and a little voice in my head says, “You’re wasting your time.  You’ll never find an agent, you fool!”

Okay.  It may not be quite that dramatic, but I do have to admit that the very thought of pursuing an agent is fraught with what Steven Pressfield calls resistance, and I do feel actually physical revulsion at the idea.

Now, this has nothing to do with agents.  Nothing.  This all has to do with my sometimes creepy, Gothic horror house of a brain.   Because it is my brain that starts telling me I am not good enough, cool enough, charismatic enough, lucky enough– not any enough for me to ever achieve anything in terms of mainstream success.

I have also suffered at times for Egovictimitis:  the irrational belief that a bunch of people who’ve never met me for some reason want to crush my soul.

These forces can make it impossible for me to even send out a query.  Failing that, they may encourage me to not try too hard.  After all, why bother working really hard on these letters when these agents are my enemy?  When all they want to represent are the works of their friends form college!!!!!!!  (They aren’t and they don’t.  That’s clear, right?  This is all in my head)

In fact, these thought patterns and attitudes all reflect ways I defeat myself.   Why do I do that?  I don’t know, but I do know that it’s important for me to develop healthier attitudes, and I do that by focus on the process and not the result.

As long as I am focused obsessively on whether I will get an agent or not, I am not really present for the task at hand, which consists for me of these steps:  1) research and identify agents who have shown an interest in projects like mine 2) research and refresh my awareness of proper etiquette and content for my queries 3) write the best query I can  4) send it out and forget about it.

I don’t control the outcome and I have no control over the outcome.   I do believe a hundred percent that if an agent feels my project is something they can sell, they will let me know.  If they don’t feel they can sell it, they will save us both lost time by taking a pass.   And that’s a good thing.  Neither one of us benefits from having my project sitting around in limbo.

One of the great things about our world today is that my project will find readers.  I set a goal for myself of getting an agent and a publisher, however, I also know that this is not the be all and end all of a writing career.   How many authors have gotten that publishing contract only to find their books not selling, piled on a discount table, and a publisher who did little or nothing to promote the book?   It happens all the time.

If I don’t find a publisher, I will put it out myself for the cost of no dollars.  My self-published books sell from between 150 and 2000 copies, and I am grateful for every one of those readers.   I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when one of the takes the time to write a review pr email me.   That’s the gold right there.   I sat and wrote something alone, or at America’s Cup Cafe, and someone saw it, read it, and we mind melded over these characters and their lives and struggles.

How awesome is that?

So, for all my fellow writers out there, raise the mainsail, get out there on the waters, whether they be smooth or choppy.  Maybe you will one day find a calm and friendly port, or maybe you will wander forever on the high seas as a Indie Author, proud and free!

Whatever happens, just keep writing.  Just keep writing!