Seeking Representation – Indie authors and agents (Part 2)


(This post is a follow on from Part 1 where I discuss the value of a good agent and some querying gotchas)

Ok, so perhaps you’ve tried to get a writer’s agent but so far all you’ve heard is: “I’m sorry, but we are not taking on new clients at this time.” You’ve moved down the list (e.g. the Australian Literary Agent’s association members) and you are now approaching the bottom. Your next question may be: “Can I use an agent outside of my country of residence?” Well, the answer is “Yes but be smart about it!”

If you want to query an overseas agent or publisher, make sure your manuscripts’ subject/setting are aligned with the agent’s location. Agents generally focus their selling efforts in their own countries, where they know the market and are easily able to maintain the contacts and business connections a successful agent needs. Generally, publishers will also only be interested in content that is interesting and saleable to their local market.

In my case, the Ruthless Series is set in San Francisco, USA. I will therefore consider pitching to US agents, along with Australian agents. So far I haven’t tried but I have done some research to start identifying which agents may be interested in my work (this is very important – there is no point pitching to an agent or publisher that clearly doesn’t represent your genre).

There are some other interesting articles about querying overseas agents such as http://writeitsideways.com/how-to-query-literary-agents-from-other-countries/

Have a read and do some research before you decide to branch out into other publishing markets. In my next post I’ll provide some more insight into the querying process.

 

 

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Seeking Representation – Indie authors and agents (Part 1)


When I was almost ready to publish my first book, I did my due diligence and looked into my options. There was of course traditional publishing, through one of many Australian publishing agencies, or self-publishing, through a service such as CreateSpace or KDP (Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing). I chose the latter based on a number of writer’s seminars I’d attended and the fact it was going to be a great deal easier than begging and pleading with publishers. I also wanted to see how my book faired on the market, getting direct and real feedback from readers rather than publishers (if lucky enough to even be assessed/read).

So now, after two self-published books, I feel I have a product and something people like and want to read. If I were a marketing guru and didn’t have a full time job, I’d probably choose now, the month before I finish the final book in the Ruthless trilogy, to ramp up my campaign and really try and sell these suckers. But, I’m not (a marketing guru nor choosing this course of action). Instead I am looking towards traditional publishing options again and this time I am investigating the value of writers’ agents.

Writers agents (or literary agents) represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers, film producers and film studios, and assists in the sale and deal negotiation. More importantly in submitting to publishers, they target the editors/publishers who are best suited to your work, and thereby more likely to a) not reject your submission, and b) have the mechanisms in place to publish it well.

Through my research, I found that despite many publishers now opening the door to unsolicited manuscript submissions, few submissions, via this route, are actually read. Publishers generally rely on writers’ agents to sort out the wheat from the chaff. They are much more likely to read a submission made via an agent than via an unsolicited manuscript harvest. I also found it can be somewhat harmful to have self-published a book when seeking a traditional publishing deal. This is because, publishers want numbers. They want to know a product is saleable before they invest in it. When you are unpublished, this is a gamble the publisher will take based on the quality and content/genre of the book, but if you are published, they will want sales! Unfortunately, sales are not always a good representation of a books saleability (sounds like an oxymoron I know). This is because sales rely on marketing and in a flooded market like eBooks and publishing, if you don’t have good, consistent and snappy marketing, you don’t have good, consistent and snappy sales.

This is an interesting article that talks about the value of agents and why you should avoid submitting to publishers directly: http://editorialass.blogspot.com.au/2008/09/why-you-should-never-submit-unagented.html 

In my next post, I will gather together some good articles on how to find and approach an agent. This is all new to me too so I’ll let you know what I’ve tried and whether I’ve had any success soon.

Update: Part 2 now available

Attack of the Cheesy Sex Scene


Writing sex scenes… I’m not good at it. In my second book, Heartless (also second in the Ruthless series), I put my all into describing a somewhat surprising, yet passionate encounter between the protagonist, Ruth and another character. When I read it back, I found I’d written one single page of flimsy fornication. So I knuckled down, quashed the thought that had been circling in my head (All your friends and family are going to read this) and wrung out another half page. Not only was my ‘coitus chronicle’ short, it also sounded so… Cheesy! In the end, I vowed to never to re-read it again and moved on like it had never happened.

Now in the midst of the third and final instalment of the Ruthless Series, Soulless, I find myself limping through another scene of passion (I hope this is enticing you to start reading – even cheesy sex sells right?). Let me SHOW you what I’m talking about here:

Fever rose in Ruth’s stomach. The cool air of the night was suddenly undetectable. Her skin burned, fuelled by hot blood. It was as though Ruth was back in the depths of Hell, but she wasn’t, she was in heaven.

See? That is cheesier than a pub parmigiana. So, what can I do about it? Well, I propose that YOU write my sex scene for me. That way I can tell my nanna, with all honesty, that I didn’t write that page turning filth. I’m sure anyone could do a better job than me. If you are interested, let me know. I’m completely serious.

My New Book Heartless


Heartless, the second book in the Ruthless Series is OUT NOW!

I’m loving the cover, created by my good friend Ben Roestenburg. We worked together to revamp the Ruthless cover as well so now they compliment each other beautifully.

Soulless, the third and final instalment is on it’s way. I’m thinking… mmm March (that means July 2015).

I’d appreciate your support, so please pick up a cheap copy of both Ruthless and Heartless on Amazon.com.

(Heartless is also available via Smashwords retailers in multiple formats. The story stands alone, so don’t hesitate to start from there 🙂 )

Amazon Books Esther Krogdahl

Difficult Character Names


Have you ever read a book by a famous author and struggled to read one or more of the main character names? Below are just a few examples:

Daenerys Targaryen 1996 A Game of Thrones
Princess Mariya Bolkonskaya 1869 War and Peace
Piscine Molitor Patel 2002 Life of Pi
Thérèse Defarge 1854 A Tale of Two Cities
Zaphod Beeblebrox 1979 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Many of the above may be easy for you to pronounce in your head now, since their books have been made into film or TV series, but imagine trying to read “Daenerys Targaryen” without ever having heard the name said aloud.

Using such names for main characters is brave and a luxury afforded to already famous authors. As a new writer, I assume assigning such handles to my characters would be author-suicide. The less ‘hurdles’ for my readers, the better. I need to give them every excuse to read on and none to give up.

But then again, the success of the stories these characters live within has been phenomenal. Perhaps difficult character names are not a curse afterall, if they are as interesting as the story line.

A few times I’ve received feedback about my supernatural heroine, Ruth Wroth being “a tongue twister” but I still stand by the name. It’s like Lois Lane, Peter Parker or Severus Snape. There is a pop culture feel to it. I’ve almost finished the Ruthless trilogy (the next epic trilogy) now, so perhaps in my next series I’ll splash out and try an unusual, difficult character name.

 

 

Heartless


My new supernatural suspense story Heartless is finished! Currently some of my most favourite anally retentive friends are proofing the 99.99% finished product, then it will be ready for a final primp before release. “When?” You ask. Well, I am sorry to announce to those of you dying to know what is in store for Ruth after reading Ruthless, that I won’t be releasing Heartless until the new year (update: Here it is on Amazon and Smashwords). In the meantime, here is the synopsis I’ve been flip-flopping over. I hope it makes you want to read on!

“The devil is in the detail.”  

Like any other large corporation, Hell’s employees need to be acquired, managed and when necessary, terminated. Now in limbo, Ruth Wroth is the unwitting Human Resources manager of Hell’s Earth branch- GlobalCore. Forced to work for the charismatic Lucifer, Ruth must reap the souls of her heinous assignments in devilish style. Although killing scumbags for an eternity is strangely satisfying, Ruth has a plan to resign but first she needs help from the competition.

To secure salvation for her tarnished soul Ruth must find her seeing-sphere, the heavenly object that reveals the good deed needed to absolve her sins, but it is locked within a library managed by Heaven’s Earth branch- Stratus.

When Christian, an undeserving angel offers Ruth a lifeline in return for a date, she reluctantly agrees. Soon Ruth finds herself grappling with love, loyalty and lies as she is forced to choose between the better of two evils.  As the Rapture nears, will Ruth’s journey to the truth leave her heartless?

What is a Novella and should I write one?


What is a Novella?

A Novella is a short novel, usually between 20,000 and 50,000 words in length.

Should I write one?

Yes. Well in fact I already have. This post is really a personal reflection on why I and potentially other indie authors tend to deny that the products of their hard work are actually novellas and NOT novels.

I released my first book Ruthless in February 2014. The book is the first in a supernatural-action trilogy and it took me three long years to write (mainly because I didn’t do it very often).

It comes in at an underwhelming 48,888 words- including the dedication, acknowledgements, etc. When I gave it to friends to proof read, the faster readers of the group finished it in less than a day. Although that was extremely handy for me and my proofing process, it also felt like a kick in the guts –three years of writing, condensed into just a few hours of reading.

Being a brand spanking new author didn’t help. I felt like I had something to prove. I told people it was a novel, I marketed it as a novel and I defined it as a novel.

It is not a novel. It is a novella but now I realise that is a good thing!

There are some fantastic novellas out there and many of the classics you will know:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (166 pages): This novel about an ambitious scientist who conducts an unorthodox experiment and creates a “monster” is an early example of gothic horror writing during the Romantic period.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (55 pages): No one should miss Kafka’s tale of a man who wakes up one morning to discover that he has been transformed into a gigantic bug.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (180 pages):For those of you who haven’t read this book, get to it! It’s only 180 pages. This classic, referred to by some as “the Great American Novel” is about a man who lets his love obsession get the better of him, and it ultimately leads to his demise

The Awakening by Kate Chopin (128 pages): This novel focuses on a woman who is trying to reconcile her views on femininity and motherhood with those of the very conservative South. It does not have a happy ending.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (144 pages): This crime novel features Chandler’s famous character PI Philip Marlowe. An old man is being blackmailed and he wants Marlowe to make it stop.

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (160 pages): This classic science fiction novel about alien invasion is where so many bad book adaptations get their ideas. (Don’t watch the movies! Read this book instead!)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (160 pages): This novella is fairly different from the movie version (the male protagonist is gay…pretty big difference) and Capote’s prose is simply stunning, so even if you’ve seen the movie, this is still worth the read!

Animal Farm by George Orwell (140 pages): Orwell’s novella is an allegory for the Russian Revolution, and the hypocrisy of the newly-instilled leaders. Of course, it’s overtly political, and uses talking pigs, sheep, and horses to illustrate Orwell’s viewpoints.

If it’s good enough for old George, then it is good enough for me. I write short books that are action packed, easy to read and just as good as any novel.

Ruthless by Esther Krogdahl (288 pages): When career-driven Ruth lands a seemingly perfect job at GlobalCore- a chic yet mysterious global corporation, she prepares to dish out her cold and merciless brand of human resource management. But there is something different about this company. Ruth finds herself climbing the corporate ladder but this time as a matter of life or death. She must compete with angels wearing Armani as she struggles with her new eternal occupation that redefines “employee termination”.

I have almost finished the second in the Ruthless trilogy- Heartless, which will end up around the 45-50,000 mark also. This time, I’ll be marketing the book as a novella- loud and proud.

Green Indie Publishing


I love print books. I keep my favourites in an old antique bookcase in my lounge room. I have a sentimental attachment to them because they remind me of the time in my life when I read them. Their stories kept me turning the pages while I was cosy in bed or laying on a beach in Mexico or sitting in a cafe in the sun. I love books but I don’t have room to store every book I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, my “recycled” books end up gathering dust in a thrift store warehouse somewhere, never to be read again.

I decided to self-publish Ruthless in print and in eBook form for obvious reasons, but once I became the publisher and not just the reader, I began to think about the impact that decision would have on the environment (if I didn’t, my enviro sister would soon remind me). So I did some research about the impact of print books on the environment. There are lots of different articles, slants and stats on the subject but all that aside, print books = paper = trees= lack of trees= 😦

Createspace (the print publishing arm of Amazon) when questioned on the eco-friendliness of their business responded with the following, which I thought was kind of cool-

Environmental consciousness is important for the continued growth of our company. As a print on demand facility, we only print units as orders come in, which greatly reduces excess production. Additionally, we currently offer a 60# cream paper for black and white book interiors that is made from 30% post consumer waste recycled material. We also maintain a commitment torecycling waste materials that may result from the printing process. We continue to review our manufacturing practices on an ongoing basis to ensure we are doing our part to protect the environment (ref).

So I will be updating Ruthless to use the cream paper instead of white and the next instalment- Heartless will be printed on the same kind.

Also, I found this awesome website Eco-Libris that promotes planting a tree for every book you read (which basically costs $1 per plant). So as well as planting some trees, I’ve decided to reduce the cost of Ruthless in print by $3 so that readers who also love, love, love real books, can spare a dollar to plant a tree too. You can now grab a copy for just $10 USD! Then, when you are finished with it- lend it to a friend 🙂

green publishing

Discount eBook – Ruthless


If you are a sucker for a bargain, click on over to Amazon UK between Friday 13th June (evening) – Thursday 19th June 2014, to score Ruthless for only 99 pence instead of £3.00!

That is only $1.65 USD instead of $5.00 USD or $1.75 AUD instead of $5.40 AUD

C’mon, you know a bargain when you see one!

discount ebook Ruthlessdiscount ebook Amazon UK

 

Money on My Mind


I recently put together an infographic about how “successful” I am as an author (to date). The figures presented are underwhelming, which got me thinking- how else can I support this writing habit of mine? Below are a few ideas…

Affiliate Marketing

Loads of different online retailers do this but I have signed up with Amazon.com. If you decided to buy this copy of Ruthless- by following this link– I would make about 80c on top of my usual royalty. How it works is- you sign up for an account and fill out details about your web site (through which you would be selling items). Then IF you are accepted, you can search for products and generate your affiliate link which you add to your site and hope people will click and buy. I have made almost nothing in this endeavour, but if you feel charitable… click and buy me!
Enesco Hoots N’ Howlers by Lorrie Veasey Nerd Owl Mug, 16-Ounce
Mr Robot Remote Disc Shooting Robot
An Illustrated History of 151 Video Games: A detailed guide to the most important games; explores five decades of game evolution

Competitions

There are a bunch of writers competitions that you can enter and potentially win mula. Some example of competition that don’t have an entrance fee but that offer cash prizes are below:

Freelancer/Fiverr

If you have writing skills that killz then you could always sign yourself up as a freelancer or offer your services on Fiverr.com. Not exactly big bucks on offer but if you are disciplined and can manage a number of orders then it could add up and make a dent in your Gin bill.

Kick Starter

I am seriously considering creating a new project on Kick Starter to fund the second book in the Ruthless trilogy. After paying for all the coffee and breakfast I consume while writing, the book cover design and editing, I am out of pocket quite a bit. Since I have released Ruthless already, I’m hoping folks might see the potential and “back me” to complete the second. Kick starter is basically a way to get interest and donations from the public for any kind of project. You can offer “perks” such as first readings or signed copies etc as a way of enticing people, but ultimately the best method is to get people interested in your product.

https://www.kickstarter.com

Promotions – fire sale

Reducing the cost of your book or writing product in an effort to increase sales is not a bad idea -if done correctly. Speaking of which- I have a promotion on Amazon UK coming up on June 13th-19th 2014, when Ruthless will go down to 0.99p for the week. Bargain!