Friday, June 29, 2007

A Little Horn-Tootin'

Wanted to take today to note some new raves and reviews for TDLF.

Haven't gotten your copy yet? WHY NOT???

Buy it here: Amazon.

- One of my favorite book blogging sites, Trashionista, posted a wonderful review last week, calling it "thoughtful," "heartwarming," "informative," and yes, "funny."

-The lovely librarians at Hennepin County Library in Minnesota have a fab book blog, and this week, they highlighted TDLF, noting that they found it, "Just plain great." Woo-hoo!

And finally, Romance Junkies (rated one of the top 101 sites by Writers Digest), has this to say about the book: "A fantastic debut. I loved this book, and would recommend it to those looking for a story strong in both love and friendship."

So what are you waiting for??? Buy it now!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What's In A Name?

How did you feel about changing the title of your book? I like Round Trip as well! Who chose TDLF for a title--did you have to brainstorm?
Well, I really liked Round Trip too because I felt like it really played on the rounds of chemo that Natalie went through but also spoke more metaphorically to how she comes full circle and rediscovers her life.


Nearly every business-y side person thought that it wasn't strong enough, eye-catching enough, if you will. So, what was I going to do? I mean, I wasn't not going to change the title when my agent so strongly urged me to (and my agent before that too), and when her whole agency agreed. agent and I brainstormed for a while, but didn't come up with anything really genius. In fact, I'm embarrassed to admit them now because they just feel so off. So anyway, my agent also asked for input from other agents at her firm, and bam, her boss came up with TDLF. While I liked the catchiness of it, I wasn't sure, frankly, how well it tied into the book, so I went back and tweaked a scene (toward the end with Susanna Taylor when they're eating scones) to make the title feel less esoteric. Once I did that, it was settled. TDLF was born.

Anyone else have his or her title changed? How did you feel about it?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Rejection Blues

Allison, you seem like an upbeat person. Congrats on your book, btw. I am wondering if you've experienced a lot of rejection as a writer and how you deal with it. Also, what do you think of my new blog? You can check it out at Literary Rejections on Display. I guess I'm naming names!

First: your blog. Hey, if you're willing to put yourself out there and risk that an editor might recognize you, then more power to you! Personally, I'd be wary because the industry is small and incestuous, and you never know with whom you might work. BUT, it seems like you're just reporting the facts and not disparaging anyone, so yeah, if you're comfy w/it, so am I. And maybe people can find solace in numbers.

As far as personal rejection? Well, I think there are different types of personalities in this world: people who take rejection personally and people who do not. I fall into the latter category. My ego must be too big or something because yup, between the magazine world and the book world, I've gotten rejected hundreds of times, and I just don't care that much. In fact, my agent and I were chatting the other day about a rejection for TDLF, and we were cracking up at it (not at the editor, I should note, just the strong distaste noted for the book in the rejection)...which was sort of the same reaction that I had at the time. What else can I do but laugh?

I dunno. My attitude is always like, "Oh well, what am I going to do about it?" Which isn't to say that you can't learn from rejection. You often can and even more often should, but I've been around long enough to know that an editor or agent or whomever isn't rejecting me when he or she says no to an idea or a pitch or even a completed manuscript. By depersonalizing it, I've already removed the emotion from the situation.

I also find that it's really helpful to get right back on the horse. When I was in the midst of my agent hunt, I'd send out a query as soon as I got a rejection back from someone. That whole "close one door as another one opens" idea.

So readers, how do you deal with rejection? Any good coping strategies?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Milking Money From Fiction

I'm an aspiring literary novelist, and have been for many years. All this time, I've also been freelancing unrelated (and un-literary) nonfiction work, both in the form of books (low-paying) and magazine articles (high-paying). My freelance work has been just a job to me -- I've mastered it enough to do it half-asleep, but I only do enough to keep the bills paid and buy time for my "real" work that I put everything into.

Now that I'm selling my novel, I feel ready to show my "real" self to the world, and never again go back to those nonfiction articles I only did for money. So I've begun to sell some of my short stories, but while I regularly got 4-digit sums for nonfiction magazine features, I'm discovering that magazine and web outlets don't seem to pay much at all for serious fiction. What should a writer in my position do to shift successfully to fiction?

First of all, congrats on selling your book! That's a big accomplishment.

Second of all, I don't have much advice that you're going to want to hear. I feel your pain - I do - I certainly understand the tug of fiction and the monotony that one can feel (but not always because, hey, some magazine assignments are interesting and informative, etc, etc, etc,) with the freelancing gigs. But the truth is that fiction just doesn't pay well, and often times, the only way to keep a steady flow of incoming coming in is to make compromises with yourself and with your career.

I can't tell you how many best-selling authors I know who didn't quit their day-jobs until their third or so book. Because then, and only then, will you (hopefully) have an influx of royalties, as well as money from new advances, coming in. It sucks to say and to hear, but it's the truth. Even if you get a 100k offer, that's 85k after your agent's cut, then say, 50k after Uncle Sam is done with you...and that's your income until you crank out another novel. Short stories and such? Well, unless you're writing for top markets - Esquire, The New Yorker, etc - you're just not going to bring home a lot of bacon.

I wish I had better news. I wish I could say, "kiss all that soul-sucking work goodbye," but I can't in good conscience do so. Sometimes, it's called a job because it IS one. So the best advice I have to offer is to keep writing - the more books you sell, the more money you have to potentially pad your back account.

But readers, am I too conservative? What advice would you have for transitioning to fiction full-time and not going hungry?

Monday, June 25, 2007

You Show Me Yours...

Now that I've read TDLF, would you mind sharing your query letter for it? It might help inspire those of us struggling to concoct the perfect letter!

Sure, no probs. Here ya go (note, the name of the book got changed after I signed w/my agent):

Dear XX,

Natalie Miller had a plan. She had a goddamn plan. Top of her class at Dartmouth. Even better at Yale Law. Youngest aide ever to the powerful Senator Claire Dupris. Higher, faster, stronger. This? Was all part of the plan. True, she was so busy ascending the political ladder that she rarely had time to sniff around her mediocre relationship with Ned, who fit the three Bs to the max: basic, blond and boring, and she definitely didn't have time to mourn her mangled relationship with Jake, her budding rock star ex-boyfriend.

The lump in her breast that Ned discovers during brain-numbingly bland morning sex? That? Was most definitely not part of the plan. And Stage IIIA breast cancer? Never once had Natalie jotted this down on her to-do list for conquering the world. When her (tiny-penised) boyfriend has the audacity to dump her on the day after her diagnosis, Natalie's entire world dissolves into a tornado of upheaval, and she's left with nothing but her diary to her ex-boyfriends (who, in her haze of delirium, she tracks down like a wolf does prey), her mornings lingering over the Price is Right, her burnt out stubs of pot which carry her past the chemo pain, and finally, the weight of her choices - the ones that might drown her if she doesn't find a buoy.

Round Trip is a story of hope, of resolve, of digging deeper than you thought possible until you find the strength not to crumble, and ultimately, of making your own good luck, even when you’ve been dealt an unsteady hand.

I'm a freelance writer and have contributed to, among others, American Baby, American Way, Arthritis Today, Bride's, Budget Living, Cooking Light, Fitness, Glamour, InStyle Weddings, Lifetime Television, Men's Edge, Men's Fitness, Men's Health, Parenting, Parents, Prevention, Redbook, Self, Shape, Sly, Stuff, USA Weekend, Weight Watchers, Woman's Day, Women's Health, and,, and I also ghostwrote The Knot Book of Wedding Flowers.

If you are interested, I'd love to send you the completed manuscript.

Thanks so much! Looking forward to speaking with you soon.