Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Publisher, an Agent, and a New Novel

I recently completed my third Jackson story—working title, Thrilled to Death. Most of my early readers think it’s the best Jackson story yet. We’ll see. The first person I sent it to was an editor at Berkley who asked to see in January while I was still writing it. She read the first two stories, The Sex Club and Secrets to Die For, and loved both. But she didn’t think she could sell the edgy, controversial themes to her sales reps. So she reluctantly passed, but said, “Please send me the next Jackson story and anything else you write.”

It feels pretty amazing and exciting to have this direct connection to a publisher. But I keep hearing that I still need an agent. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I need someone to read, understand, and represent my entire body of work, including my standalone thriller, The Baby Thief, which features Jackson as a minor character. I also would love to sell my work in other countries. (Wouldn’t we all?)

So I wrote a query and e-mailed it to an agent in the Trident Media Group. She responded the next day, asking to see all three Jackson manuscripts. I like her already, because she’s interested in the series from the beginning and wants to see the body of work. She also has extensive foreign rights experience. This could be great.

But I’m not holding my breath. I’ve signed with great agents and had one call me and say, “I’ll have an offer for you next week,” then have it fall though. I’m not counting on Berkley either. She’s turned me down twice. So the queries will keep going out.

I feel like I have a new momentum though that’s different this time. Once the next book comes out in September, I’ll feel like I actually have a little street cred too. I can’t wait for that. Come on Echelon Press!

So now I’m working on a fourth Jackson story, Passions of the Dead: The outline is complete, and I have a thousand words on the page. I’m trying a slightly new structure, and I’m excited to write this story.

Here’s the first paragraph:
Jolie's first hint that today would be worse than most was missing the homeless vet on the corner of 7th and Washington. She always handed a dollar out the window to the old guy with no teeth as she approached the intersection on her way to work. Sometimes when the light was green, it was tricky, because the person behind her got impatient and honked. But Jolie didn’t care. Giving away the dollar had become a talisman that she hoped would keep more shitty things from happening to her.

Does it make you want to keep reading?

11 comments:

Helen Ginger said...

Yep. You set me up with two questions. What happened to the homeless guy? What shitty things have been happening to her?

Actually, three questions. What is going to happen to her now?

Helen
http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com

Paul Brazill said...

a tease, that's what it is! very good indeed!

jenroland said...

And I totally know the homeless dude you are talking about! (I lived in Eugene until 2006.)

F. M. Meredith, author said...

Good opening! Understand where you're coming from, over the years I've had several agents too--finally placed my books myself. Have two small independent publishers.

Sure, I'd love to have a good agent, but I'm also happy with where I am. Good luck!

Marilyn
F. M. Meredith

Mary Cunningham said...

Made me want to hear more. That's what counts!

Good luck with the agent.

Mary

http://www.cynthiasattic.blogspot.com
http://www.woofersclub.blogspot.com

Chester Campbell said...

Gets the old brain in gear wondering what's going on. Good start, L.J.

Jean Henry Mead said...

You're a good writer, LJ, and I know that some smart agent or editor will jump at the chance to publish your books. Once an editor accepts, it's easy to get an agent. :)

Jean
http://advicefromeditors.blogspot.com/

L.J. Sellers said...

Thanks for all the feedback and support!

Anonymous said...

It's okay but could use a strong line edit.

Anonymous said...

ORIGINAL:
Jolie's first hint that today would be worse than most was missing the homeless vet on the corner of 7th and Washington. She always handed a dollar out the window to the old guy with no teeth as she approached the intersection on her way to work. Sometimes when the light was green, it was tricky, because the person behind her got impatient and honked. But Jolie didn’t care. Giving away the dollar had become a talisman that she hoped would keep more shitty things from happening to her.

LINE EDITED:
Jolie's first hint that this day would be worse than most came with the absence of the homeless veteran [not veterinarian, right?] on the corner of 7th and Washington. She always handed a dollar out the window to the old guy with no teeth as she approached the intersection on her way to work. Sometimes the person behind her got impatient and honked. But Jolie didn’t care. Giving away the dollar had become a talisman that would keep truly shitty things from happening to her.

TRUE REWRITE (less tell, more show):
Jolie craned her neck as she sat at the light, looking all around out the window. Where was the homeless guy? Handing the toothless veteran a dollar bill had become a dependable ritual of her morning commute. A talisman of sorts, she looked forward to the exchange--for she considered it an exchange even though she received nothing tangible in return for her payments--as a way of feeling good about herself. Her own personal charitiable cause. And, she supposed, she relished the barest hint of danger that tickled her soul through the two-inch gap presented by her open power-window the same way some people ordered a double esspresso.

But today, the bum wasn't here.

another good thing said...

Just have to weigh in on the agent part of this post. YES. You need one. Keep querying.
and I have to ask- Is the agent, Kim Whalen? I've pitched her in the past and even gave her an exclusive on a manu she eventually passed on- though I had to chase her down to get the final pass.
I just signed with an agent at Writer's House and he is SOOOOO much more enthusiastic than KW ever was.