Saturday, September 27, 2014

Query question: all that publicity and networking, do I really hafta?

I'm 65, have never published fiction, used to publish a fair amount of nonfiction but that was 20 years ago. Here's my question: can I hope to publish a novel I write just out of the blue without jumping through all the hoops of publicity and networking, etc. I know that no one would have heard of me, so why would anybody take a risk? But if it's good enough, is that enough?

Sure you can write a novel, no hoops involved.

And you can query an agent for that novel, and the agent can sell that novel, and you can do all that with no hoops involved either.

And you knew that was coming, right?

What you describe as "hoops of publicity and networking" is what the rest of us call "finding people who will want to read your book."

Is your goal just to write, or is your goal to have your books read by more than your critique group?

If you want to enter the business side of publishing, you will find a set of hoops delivered to your doorstep by your agent, along with a plan for how you will be jumping through them for quite some time.

And you know what? It's not all that miserable.  Talking to readers is really a lot of fun. I do it everyday here on the blog, and it's one of the things I like most about my job.


french sojourn said...

Excellent timing, I just queried my m/s at "Hoops-r-us".

Great post's last week.

Cheers, Hank.

Kitty said...

Okay... Supposing Ms. 65 writes her debut novel, "Out of the Blue," and gets an agent. What hoops can she expect to jump through?

SiSi said...

I'm not 65 yet, but I'm close enough to know I can't jump as high or as often as I could once upon a time. I'm hoping a good agent can help adapt my package of hoops.

Amanda Capper said...

I'm kind of enjoying the hoop-jumping. Went from cringing to embracing without realizing when exactly the transformation took place.

I needed business cards and such, went to a local printer, they gave me ideas and now whenever I walk in the place it's like walking into Cheers.

I needed my website updated and a press release, went to a local place, they quoted me a price, I damn near fell down, they sat me down and we worked out something I could afford. Now whenever I walk in the place it's like walking into Cheers.

All new friends who want to buy my book. I'm enjoying it. Hoops can be fun.

Colin Smith said...

Maybe those who have been involved in publishing a while (e.g., QOTKU) can confirm this, but it seems to me things ain't what they used to be. Back in "the day" the author could hide behind his typewriter and leave most of the publicity and promotion to the publisher. I'm sure there was some hob-nobbing involved, but back then you could be a successful writer and never go out in public. Things are different now. Publishers can't do your social media for you. They can't be you on Twitter, or Facebook. They can't be you in your blog comments. And these days, if you aren't online somewhere, you don't exist. Readers today expect to see and interact with their favorite writers. So, as much as some of us introverted types may shudder at the thought, if we want people to know who we are are read what we write, the hoops are necessary.

Anonymous said...

Honestly? I don't jump through many hoops. I have friends who do it and friends who don't. My hoopjumping friends aren't selling better than my non-hoopjumping friends.

So. One may be asked to jump through hoops. One can quietly (very quietly!) balk at the hoops and still sell. Don't tell anyone, though.

Elissa M said...

I personally don't like the phrase "jump through hoops". What writers are really saying when they say they "don't want to jump through hoops" is "I don't want to connect to readers in any way except through my book(s)."

That's just wrong headed.

Yes, like most writers, I'm an introvert. It's not that I don't like people, it's that I don't like interacting with strangers. Meeting new people is a major chore. Something to be avoided if at all possible.

But I recognize that I'm going to have to do it, either in person or online (or both), if I really want people to read what I've written. That's just how life works. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And, like meeting strangers, sometimes it's not nearly as bad as you imagine.

Seanna Herring said...

What about hiring a college student (a mature one) who is studying public relations or marketing? it offers them the chance to earn some cash and gives them experience, and it will save the writer some cash (hopefully earn more through sales) and allows them the convenience of just writing?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

OMG, did I write this post four years ago when I was NOT 65, because I could have. Now that I am, to all my fellow AARP members, (actually I’m not a member but my husband is), like Amanda said, hoop jumping is fun. Actually I would go so far as to say, if you’re female and you only wear hoops under your skirts and don’t jump through them, you are doing your effort a disservice. If you’re male...ahhh...I got nothin’.
Think about it, if you cook a really nice meal, you have to set the table and serve it, or no one eats.

LynnRodz said...

I'm not sure if I wrote about this before, you know what with age and all. Yes it's hard going through hoops, but like anything else the more hoops you go through, the easier it becomes.

I would rather be in front of my computer writing rather than out in public. The first time I stood up and read one of my poems during an open mike, I thought I was going to have a heart attack or faint. My voice was trembling and my legs were shaking, but do you know what? I got through it and each time I've gotten up to read after that, it's gotten easier. I'm actually beginning to enjoy a bit of hoop jumping as well.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the social media part of the hoop jumping - at all. I have Twitter, a blog, and I socialize via other writerly blogs, etc. I have FB but right now it's just a personal page. No author page b/c I don't think of myself as "author," until/if I'm published

What I do dread - if the day ever comes, is travel. Yeah, that's thinking WAY ahead of things and is part of that "worry wart nonsense" I shouldn't be bothering myself with. So, my one and only issue with long distance travel is... my dog. He came with "baggage", i.e.. adopted, previously abused, and oh so sweet, and finally seeming to settle in. If something messed up his "schedule," (something he's never had) I honestly believe he'll get so stressed out over my absence that he'll end up at the vet. (i.e. refusing to eat.)

Dumb as it sounds. That's is the only thing I worry about. No dog? I'd be like, "where do you want me to go next? Timbuktu? I'm on the next flight."

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

When you get published, the surprising part is not how much of the publicity and bush beating and trumpeting you have to do, but how little the publisher does. I thought they wanted to sell books! Not necessarily, based on my experience. So you either do the heavy lifting, or lifting does not get done.

Amy Schaefer said...

I'm with Elissa M - don't think of it as hoop-jumping. The phrase implies a pointless task, and interacting with readers is anything but.

And - to reassure the introverts out there ie. all of us - most of the time, you will meet readers electronically. Comments, email - these are the ways people will contact you. You'll find, once you've answered a few dozen friendly emails, you won't feel so stressed about meeting people fact to face.

So, don't fret about doing publicity. Look at it as an opportunity to meet some great people. It really can be fun.

Angie Brooksby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angie Brooksby said...

I've wondered about the age question for fiction writers.

Are agents looking for young writers with years ahead of them, the ones that come out of creative writing MA programs? Full of imagination and pumped with grammar.

Or older types whose life experiences bring juice to their writing?

Maybe there is no formula.

(I deleted the first comment - if I could write a comment here without a typo, just once... that last one was too embarassing)

The Gold Digger said...

introverted types may shudder at the thought

But that's the beauty of social media! You don't actually have to be around those people! You are still by yourself where it is quiet and peaceful. You can interact with others without the hard part of being around them.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

I'll jump through any hoops, just as long as they're not flaming!

Anonymous said...

Donna Everhart - so maybe part of your commitment to your writing career is to start having your future dogsitter come over and spend time with the dog. That way, the dog will have a caregiver s/he is comfy with when it's time for you to travel, and the caregiver will know the dog.

Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale said...

I'm happy to jump through hoops, if it'll successfully market my books.

What I don't like is doing triple-backflips through flaming hoops in an empty circus tent to the sound of crickets.

The singing crickets make it worse. Instead of stilling their noise to wonder why this chick has just sprained her wrist in the sawdust, they're chirping their hearts out trying to get laid.

Frack you, crickets and buy my fricking books!

(As for the rest of you, for now, I am content if you simply look up my books and say, "Oh, so those are her books? Cool...")