Thursday, March 18, 2010

Submission! (No, not that kind of submission....)

I mean manuscript submissions. Geez. Get yer minds out of the gutter.

I wrote a novel in November. Then spent February expanding and revising it to publishable length. Then I sent it off to five publishers. I did not send it to an agent. Agents don't buy novels. Editors buy novels. Thus, sending a novel to an agent would violate Heinlein's Rule # 4 for writers (You must send your story to someone who will buy it.)

But...what about the requirement that you have agent before a publisher will look at it? Forget it. It's not true. I've been told this repeatedly by writers who ought to know, and now I have first-hand experience.

I got a rejection letter yesterday. It said:

Thank you for your submission to [Publisher]. Though your material sounds quite interesting, at the present time it does not meet our cuirrent editorial needs.
 As you're unagented, the best way for you to know which publishing house might be interested in your material is to try to acquire a literary agent. The best way to do this is to go to your local library and look for a reference book called THE LITERARY MARKETPLACE, which lists names and addresses of agents and the types of material they're looking to represent.
Thank you again for considering us. We wish you the best of luck with your writing and in placing your manuscript.

Yes, they suggested I get an agent. But look what they told me first. My manuscript does not meet their current editorial needs. Or, in other words, they're not interested. How do they know this? Because they looked at it. They can't not look at it.

"Get an agent" is just boilerplate. An obstacle put in place to weed out the unmotivated and unknowledgeable. Editors have to look at the manuscripts that come in. Why? Suppose the next Stephen King or Nora Roberts (or Stephanie Meyers) sends them a manuscript, and it gets rejected sight unseen, unread and unconsidered, because of the "no unagented manuscripts" policy. Suppose the novel does eventually find a home and becomes the Next Big Thing. The author becomes a household word, rich and successful beyond the dreams of avarice...and mentions publicly that, "Oh yeah, Publisher X rejected me without looking at my manuscript."

The CEO of Publisher X is not going to be happy. And someone is going to lose his job. If he looked at the manuscript and rejected it (for any number of valid reasons), that's different. But turning away what amounts to a license to print money because you didn't go through an agent? To quote Donald Trump, "You're FIRED!"

So they look. They have to look. If they reject you, they'll tell you to get an agent...but if they'd thought your book was worth buying, don't doubt for a moment that they'd have made you an offer. And the lack of an agent would have been meaningless. They won't care. They'll still want to make money by publishing your novel.

Now, maybe you don't agree with me. Maybe you believe that you must have an agent to submit your novel to publishers. By all means, do what you think is best. But I know what I believe, and that's how I'm pursuing my novel sales.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Makin' The Rounds

Just in case you're interested, I blogged this week on Flirty Author Bitches, a group blog of which I am a new member, and did a guest blog post including an excerpt from my most recent publication on The Naughty Girls Next Door.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Ancient Art of Rejectomancy

I got my first novel rejection today.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out five novel queries. The package consisted of a cover letter (including a one-paragraph blurb), the first chapter of my novel, and a three-page synopsis of the whole story. I sent the package to five different publishers.

How did I select the publishers? I perused Publisher's Marketplace. Among other things, they produce a daily list of novels sold to publishers, detailing the genre/field, the publishing imprint it was sold to, and the names of the author(s), agent(s), and editor(s) involved. If you're a paying member of the site, you can search the archives. Which I did, looking for the names of editors who had recently purchased novels in the same general genre as mine, then looked for more info on the editor, the imprint and the publishing house that owns the imprint.

I chose five and sent out a package to each of them. Four went out by snail mail, one via email. Unsurprisingly, the email submission was the first to get a reply. It was a rejection. The email said that I had a fascinating premise and that the novel showed promise, but that the writing failed to grab her attention and keep her reading even though she was interested in the plot.

So, when I practice the ancient art of Rejectomancy (scrutinizing rejection letters for clues), what do I learn? Well, first, it wasn't a form rejection. The editor liked the premise and seemed to find the plot interesting enough, which is good. But on the other hand, she didn't find my writing gripping enough to want to keep reading.

I'll try to improve my writing on the next novel. Try to punch it up, and grab the reader by the throat from word one. I'd do that anyhow, of course, but this feedback is something to keep in mind. Still, I'm not going to assume what I've written is no good. There are plenty of published, successful writers I don't read because I just don't care for their style for one reason or another. Nothing wrong with that. Tastes vary.

It may be that this editor just doesn't care for my style. Some other editor might feel differently. And this is, ultimately, only one person's opinion. So I'll consider her words, and keep them in mind as I continue working on my writing, but I'm not going to let one opinion stop me. After all, the next letter I get could just as easily be an acceptance, and I only need one of those.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rip Cord - Jeanne St. James

RIP CORD is getting great reviews AND was up to #3 on the All Romance Ebooks Top Ten Bestseller list! And is a #1 bestseller at Phaze for December!

From Seriously Reviewed:

"Well, I sat down to read and burned dinner! I couldn’t stop reading. The story is fast. Gil attends his high school reunion. And we all remember how enjoyable that is…not. But with a hot jock like Rip, at least he’ll have someone to stare at during dinner. But wait. This is hot gay erotic romance. So when boy sees hot football star, boy lusts for football star, and holy shit, the football star has game of his own. The sex was raw and brazen, the dialog refreshingly natural and the ending pleasantly simple and satisfying."


Gil Davis had hated high school. Ever the geek, he had no intentions of attending his 10th year class reunion. The last thing he wants is to relive the taunting and teasing he received during his teenage years. However there is one thing he missed from high school: the star Varsity football player. The one he had a crush on since the first day he laid his eyes on him. But the last thing he expects is the now pro football player to come back to their home town to attend a lame high school reunion. Known as the Bad Boy of the NFL, Ripley “Rip” Cord, not only shows up, but shows up without a date and an eye for Gil.


            Gil Davis couldn’t believe it had been ten years since he’d last walked through these doors. Where had the time gone?
            When the invitation to his class reunion had come, he almost tossed it out, just as he had with the notice of his fifth year reunion.
            He was not into reliving his high school years.
            No way, no how.
            But something on the invitation had caught his eye… this time they were holding it at the school. So instead of immediately pitching it, he had thrown the invitation on his kitchen table. Unfortunately, Katie, his best friend and roommate, found it and hounded him relentlessly until he agreed to RSVP.
            And, of course, Katie insisted on being his date.
            Which thrilled him to no end… Not.
            Now he wasn’t so sure if he wanted to go in.
            He wasn’t sure he was ready for a night of teasing from his former schoolmates.
            Yet, here he stood, just inside the double doors of his old high school staring at the registration table by the gymnasium doors.
            Someone grabbed his elbow. Firmly.
            “You’re not chickening out are you?”
            Gil just shook his head and swallowed hard. “Did you find the restroom all right?”
            “Fine,” Katie said in her little no-nonsense tone. “Let’s go.”
            The harder she tugged on his arm, the more he dug in his heels. He didn’t want to leave his little corner of safety yet. “Hold on.”
            “No, Gil. It’s not going to get any easier. You look fine. We’ve – okay, I’ve worked really hard to get you to this point.” She smoothed the hair back from his eyes. Gil was surprised she hadn’t spat on her fingers first like a hovering mother hen.
The problem was, he was still a nerd at heart.
“Now, get your shit together and let’s go!” She gave his arm one last hard yank and dragged him over to the table.
            Sucking in a breath, he steeled himself for what was to come.
            The two women sitting at the table wore big predatory smiles.
            “Gilbert? Gilbert Davis is that you?” the toothy piranha on the right asked. “I swear I didn’t recognize you without your bottle-bottom glasses and pocket protector.”
            Those glasses were long gone thanks to Katie dragging him years ago to the optometrist for contacts.
            Gil leaned forward to read her name tag. Bonnie (Trusk) Smith.
            Bonnie Trusk. He remembered her. She had been part of the Homecoming Court their senior year.
            And had accidentally run over his foot one day in the parking lot with her Eddie Bauer Explorer. Why? Her excuse had been she hadn’t seen him. Yeah, he had been the invisible man, “invisible” to all of the popular kids.
            “Just Gil,” he corrected her.
            She laughed and waved a hand toward him, clearly dismissing him.
            The other woman, Patti Petroski-Harrison, shoved a “Hello! My name is… Gilbert Davis” sticker at him. “And your hair! It looks…” Gil expected the next word out of her mouth to be “normal.” Her face showed her internal struggle. “Nice.”
He was a geek. He knew it. He had been one ever since he could remember. And his classmates had always teased him about it.
She sized up Katie. “Are you his wife?”
            Katie laughed and patted Gil’s arm. “Oh, no.”
            Gil gave her a quick warning look.
            Katie just gave him a sugary smile and a noisy kiss on the cheek.
            “Well then,” Patti said. “When you go through the doors, Gilbert, there will be a table with place settings. Find your name and that will tell you where you’re seated.”
            “Just Gil,” he corrected again, but by then both women were flashing their beaming smiles at another couple who had come up behind them.
            Katie tugged him to the side to avoid being crushed by the new arrivals’ hugging and squealing. Gil didn’t recognize the newcomers. But then they had probably been a part of the “in” group.
            Gil had been a full-fledged member of the “out” group, but not the “out of the closet” group.
            A woman’s shrill scream shot a bolt of pain through his head.
“Did you hear Rip Cord is going to be here? Can you believe it?” the one called Patti asked, her question ending in a squeal. She looked as if she would bust a vein.
            Gil stumbled back a step from the table, barely avoiding Katie’s toes.
            Holy hell, he never should have agreed to come to this thing. Especially if he’d known Rip would be here.
            Gil had a crush on Rip since high school. Unfortunately, Rip was definitely of the heterosexual persuasion. Being captain of the football team, he’d had every girl in school chasing after him, one way or another.
So he’d admired the well-built, handsome jock from afar. Very afar.
Hearing Rip’s name brought all those old feelings back to the surface.
            All the insecurities.
            Gil certainly had never expected his secret crush to come back to town for a ten-year class reunion. Rip had become way too famous for that.
            Gil grabbed Katie’s arm and, with her squeaky protest, dragged her through the double doors into the gym.
            “Jesus, Gil. What’s going on?” she asked as he pushed her against the wall just inside the doors.
            “Did you hear that?” He struggled not to hyperventilate.
            “What?” Katie peeled the backing off of Gil’s name tag and slapped it onto his chest. Not so gently either.
            “Rip is going to be here.”
            “Rip?” She wrinkled her nose. “What the hell is rip?”
            “Not what. Who!” Gil swallowed hard and blew out a long breath. He realized then he was squeezing her upper arms. Way too hard. He relaxed his fingers.
            “Okay, okay. Calm down. And let up a little more please.”
            He released her and wiped his sweaty palms along his slacks. He never should have worn slacks. Slacks were nerd-wear.
            Why didn’t Katie talk him out of wearing them? He should have worn torn jeans or leather pants or --
            “So is Rip a band? I would’ve thought they just would’ve hired a DJ. It’s cheaper.”
            “Wait. What?” Gil shook his head. “First of all, why would they need music?”
            Katie pointed a finger upwards. “Hear that, nerd-o? Music. You know, it creates atmosphere and gives you something to dance to.”
            “Dance?” Gil swallowed hard. He cocked his head. He did hear music. He hadn’t noticed it because he’d been too panicked about Rip being there. “Okay, just don’t ask me to dance.”
            “No can do, Gilly. We will be dancing. I didn’t come along to be a wallflower.”
            “Katie, you know I can’t dance,” he hissed inches from her face.
            She had the nerve to laugh. As if his lack of rhythm was something to laugh about. His coordination left something to be desired. Gil considered it a handicap – maybe not one recognized by the government. But no one should make fun of the handicapped!
            Gil frowned. “I didn’t see anything on the invitation about dancing.”
            Katie sighed. “Gilly, don’t worry, we’ll fake it.”
            “Don’t call me Gilly here. It’s bad enough people will be calling me Gilbert.”
            “Okay, Gil. So if Rip isn’t a band then who or what is it?”
            A low murmur throughout the room behind him caused Gil to look up. Coming through the doors…
            Gil pressed a hand to the wall to steady himself. His legs had suddenly lost all strength.
            Coming through the doors was…
            “Him,” was all Gil could get past the lump in his throat.