It's dark outside and yet there is one bird singing its heart out -- and driving my cat crazy at the same time -- and refusing to let me sleep. Not that sleep is necessarily a good thing right now. Why, you ask? Well, I'm in the process of trying to do edits on a book that needs a couple of scenes added and several others modified and that means I have to listen to certain music. We've discussed in various posts in the past our writing processes (See Kate's Thursday post on her own process). Part of mine is listening to music, usually music chosen by the novel or short story I'm currently working on. For this particular novel, it's ABBA, specifically the soundtrack to Mama Mia. Try going back to sleep with a very loud bird singing outside AND songs sung by Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep running through your head. (And apologies to anyone out there who happen to like the way those two sing.)
So, instead of facing the prospect of killing the cat for trying to tear down the curtains and blinds to get to the bird that refuses to be quiet AND more ABBA running through my head, I crawled out of bed, made coffee and started trolling through the blogs looking for inspiration for this morning's post.
In the vein of Sarah's post this week, there's been a lot written about how to promote your book and yourself over the last week or so. Most of the posts ask the same questions Sarah touched on, so I won't recap them. However, a couple looked at the use of the internet as a social medium and how attempts at promotion can have adverse effects on your career. For a prime example of how this can work, check out Jason Pinter's Huffington Post piece about how a blog entry about his first book led to an immediate termination from his job with a large publisher. No warning. No counseling. No two week notice. Just a "pack your things and get out."
Agent Jessica Faust wrote about "The Internet and Your Career" on Wednesday. She ponders the question of whether or not we should have public and private blogs/facebook accounts/twitter accounts, etc. I happen to think she's right, at least for those of us trying to really break into the business. As she puts it, "Do you really want your future agent, for example, to see your spring break photos, your daughter’s first trip to the potty, or hear about your rather extreme political views?" That said, I don't think it is as critical once you are an established author. However, agents and editors do read blogs. They google our names to see what is out there. If they don't like what they see, they may pass on a novel, no matter how well-written it happens to be. So, the moral of the story is, in my opinion, separate your personal from your professional and think before hitting the "Enter" key.
For more on this, check out this post by agent Lucienne Diver.
Also from Bookends, comes this post about query rejections. I don't know about you, but I hate writing queries. In my opinion, they are the most difficult part of the writing process. Ms. Faust's post points out why. Agents look at queries in a very subjective manner. For them to as for pages, the query has to feel special. One comment really caught my eye. To paraphrase, the commenter noted that if you try to be too special, too different, no agent will touch your novel because there is no way to sell it. (And, yes, boys and girls, agents are in this for the money. It's their job.) Somehow, you have to find that fine line where you balance between what is familiar and "safe" and what is different enough, unique enough to stand out and still be something the publisher will buy and the public will read. After all, the market will only tolerate so many sparkly vampires and emo werewolves -- thankfully.
So, what's the answer? How do you make your novel "special" in a query letter so it will stand out to an agent?
What do you think about public v. private/professional blogs and fb accounts? Why?