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Fiction Friday!

Happy Friday everyone!

I hope you’re all enjoying the summer so far. Here in Iowa, we’re still waiting for it to arrive, but I’m confident it will make its appearance one of these days. Our 40-degree shifts in temperature, and the incessant rain is making everyone a bit cranky but the roller coaster weather doesn’t bother me too much because I am unemployed (by choice) and I’m loving being at home with the offspring for the summer (never mind that I promptly shipped my talkative eight-year-old daughter off to acting camp for the week). I do plan to return to my contract recruiting position in the fall, but in the meantime I’ve got 8 weeks left to catch up on sleep and work on my tan (and I’m grateful that I’m able to do that).

I have been (slowly) querying my manuscript. I have sent approximately 14 queries, which is a pretty low number, and have not received any nibbles. Basically, no agents have requested the manuscript yet so either my query letter isn’t working, or my premise is not something agents are interested in. I have a feeling it’s the latter. I did have one agent give me feedback on my first chapter/synopsis (this was via a contest win) and while it was very helpful, and she told me she didn’t necessarily feel this way, she said that editors would probably have a knee-jerk reaction to the premise (she didn’t say they would drop my query letter and run screaming from the room, but I can read between the lines).

I won’t lie; this makes me sad, especially because those who have read it (I think I’m up to 17 readers at this point) have been overwhelmingly positive with their feedback, and have told me how much they loved the story and that they were still thinking about the characters days later). However, my premise IS unique in that it doesn’t fall neatly into one genre. Those of you who have read it know what I mean. It’s part women’s fiction, part romance, and part adventure. I sat down and wrote the book I wanted to write, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out, but I do need to acknowledge that I have not written something that is in line with what’s selling right now. And probably won’t ever be.

Lest you think I’ve written some porn-y, shocking book, the title is On the Island and it’s a desert island book. Think Castaway with two people. Or Lord of the Flies without the killing and savage behavior. I love desert island books, and I’m a big fan of Lost and Survivor (not to mention The Blue Lagoon), so that’s what I wrote. I put my main characters in a lot of survival situations in On the Island and they were exciting to research and write. It’s set in the Maldives which was a place I knew nothing about. Looking back on it now, this book was so research-heavy that I’m not sure I ever want to do that again. I also know how to build a fire without matches so if you ever want to go extreme-camping, I’m your girl.

One of the hardest things has been receiving form rejections on the same day I receive feedback from someone who has actually read the manuscript. I was reading a rejection letter and at the same time I received a text from someone that said, “I loved your book, I couldn’t put it down, and it made me laugh and cry.” I texted back and said, “Well that’s wonderful because I just received a rejection letter in my inbox.” I’m not taking the rejections personally (okay maybe a little). I know that agents reject because they don’t think they can sell the manuscript or they don’t love the premise. But I won’t lie: form rejections will take the wind out of your sails and your confidence will plummet.

I’m at the point where I’m leaning toward self-publishing via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. I could also publish to Smashwords and my book would be available to Nook users as well. For those that don’t have e-readers, they can download the Kindle and Nook applications to their desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. My book will probably be priced at $2.99. I would rather go this route then let the manuscript languish on my hard drive forever. I have contracted with a free-lance editor, to make sure the book is as polished as it can be, and I’m also researching book covers because you do have to provide your own if you self-publish and it can’t look like something a demented six-year-old designed and then drew with crayons. I’m connecting with a lot of self-published authors right now, via Twitter and blogs, and their excitement is contagious. There are definite benefits to self-publishing such as complete control over content and distribution, and also the freedom to write what I want. The only deadlines I’ll have are the ones I self-impose.

I’m also really, really immersed in my second novel, Covet. I would love to have it polished and ready to publish by this time next year. Will I query it first? Probably. The premise is definitely more mainstream and this book is solidly in the women’s fiction genre so that may help. Or I may decide to self-publish that one too. I have no idea at this point, I just know that I’m falling in love with another story and the characters have taken up permanent residence in my head and that is why I write (incidentally, Covet is NOT the book I mentioned in my Shiny New Ideas post. It’s an idea that came to me shortly after and it knocked the other idea right out of the running). It explores a similar theme found in On the Island and that’s good for building a readership (which is totally putting the cart before the horse, I know, but I’m pretty sure I’ll continue writing books so I might as well work toward author branding while I’m at it).

One last thing, if you are one of my blog readers, and I know you via real life or Facebook, Twitter, etc., and you’d like to read the manuscript, I’d be happy to send it to you. I am hoping that those who have read it would be willing to post a link to the Amazon listing if/when I do self-publish (sort of like a virtual book launch) which probably won’t be until mid-August. If you are interested, please e-mail me at [email protected].

In the meantime, enjoy your summer!

I hope your weather is better than ours.

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