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The heat’s down

Have you noticed?
As the height on summer hits, everybody disappears from the blogosphere and the socials, and the once who stay (say, me!) is left catching the echo of their own voice.
And anyway, this summer has been so hot, I don’t even know how I survived July. That was just plain horrible, let me tell you.

So, the bottomline is that I didn’t do everything I planned during these summer months. Guess what.

summer-2

The New Woman’s New Look Series

Ehm… haven’t started posting that.
I know, I know…

When I first devised this series I was thinking to something quite easy. I wanted to explore how cosmetics and the use of it changed in the Twenties. I have all that part of research done, I was actually ready to start writing when I realised something: the way women looked in the Twenties wasn’t just a matter of fashion. Fashion is always a result of society, their mores and behaviours, and if this is true for everyone, it was particularly true for women in the Twenties. The way their looks changed reflected a deeper change in American society, a change that was then exported in other parts of the world.
So I though this was more interesting than just looking at what innovation there was in cosmetics… but also more demanding.
I have a part of the research done for this too, because many of the books I read in the past addressed this aspect of social history, I’m just trying to go a bit deeper. So I hope you’ll be (still) more patient with me. I really hope I’ll be able to write at least the introduction to the series soon.

But in the meanwhile, I wasn’t idle. I got a banner for the series. Look!

The New Woman's New Look Logo

Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s the work of DreamUp Graphic, who also designed my avatar. I think she really captured the feel of the series.

Seeking representation

So, the first novel of the trilogy is… kind of finished (I mean, it is done, I’m just revising a little more), so I though I should do something about it. Writers who still want to publish with a publisher seems to be rarer and rarer (or is it just my impression?), but I’m still one of them.
I went a long way with my trilogy, I know this. The first novel has gone through seven revisions and after I got words back from my beta readers, I’ve started yet another one.
But now I’d like to go a step further.
I did consider hiring a freelance editor, but after doing some mathematics I realised I cannot afford this. This is why I’m seeking an editorial agent instead. It isn’t the only reason why I’m doing it, but it is one of the reasons why.

And let me tell you, this submission business is tough. There are lots of ways and possibilities out there to submit your novel to a professional, I tried quite a few. I only got rejections so far, though some were personalised, not just standard rejections and at least one was very nice.
Still, sometimes it’s very discouraging… but hey, I tell to myself I’m building the thickness of my skin. I think I’ll need it.

query-1Before starting the new round of submission (I had a first round in spring), I went through my submission material and rewrote it completely. Took me two months only to do this. But it was a nice experience, because I think I’ve learned a lot from it.

Writers often think (I sure did) that writing all this material (synopsis, blurb, query) is a waste of time. As I research how to do it, I actually discover that most of this material will indeed be used, both in the submitting process and even in the book itself. So, when I write these material, I’m actually working for myself, not the agent I’m submitting to.
And it’s sure taught me how to be tighter and more to the point. I’m finding this very useful as I go through my novel once more.

Hey, would you like to have a look to my blurb? Here it goes

Chicago, 1926. When Michael sees his brother Blood sprint away through the streets of the Black Belt, he doesn’t question. He just follows him.
The two brothers find Sinéad cornered in a stockroom by an angry mob and help her escape.

One week later, they find her again on a night out at a black-and-tan speakeasy. Sinéad trusts Michael enough to show him something that has been frightening her: a one-hundred-year old coin a friend entrusted to her. Michael and Blood’s reaction to it tells her they also feel the presence: the soul of an Indian woman is trapped in the coin and seeking revenge, and Sinéad knows she has to find a way to sooth that soul, or someone will die. If this means digging her past and her bones up, then she’ll have to cope with it.

Michael is willing to help Sinéad handle the coin and the ghost, but as Blood realises the ghost is connected to the speakeasy and its people, he challenges Michael to do what he’s been avoiding for decades. In order to help Sinéad, Michael must accept to remember everything he’s been trying to forget: the rez, the loss, the wars, the dead.

Eh… let me tell you. I don’t even know how many times I’ve rewritten this blurb (this is a lot different from the first one I wrote) but I’m not displeased with it.

Discovering I actually like marketing

This summer I’ve also started a project with the publisher I work for… and it’s turned out to be so interesting for me. It’s the translation of a book we published last winter. We wanted to experiment with everything the internet offers: social media, tools like Thunderclap and Kickstarter, a new approach to marketing.
It’s a time-consuming job because the publisher is just starting using social medias, so he’s building his platform now (know when you’re advised to start building your platform before even writing the novel? Believe me, that’s the best advice ever!). Some tools, like Thunderclap and Kickstarter, I knew but never used myself, so I’m learning them now. But especially I’m enjoying using and experimenting marketing on an actual product. Sure, I’ve been marketing my blog too, but because I don’t have a book (yet) to market, it has been a very different experience.

Love marketingI hear a lot of writers saying they hate marketing their books. I thought this would be my case too, but in fact I think I’ll enjoy it when the time comes. I don’t know how book marketing was done before the social media era, but today it’s mostly sharing the experience, and I don’t see why a writer wouldn’t enjoy doing that. It isn’t pushing, it’s sharing.
I’m also ever more aware to the fact that in today publishing world an author is better enjoy the marketing side of things, because he will market his book whether he wants it or not. No matter how much effort a publisher will put in the marketing process, readers don’t want to connect with the publisher, they want a connection with the author. That’s just how it is. So I’m sorry for those who think a publisher should take care of everything regarding promotion, because even when he does everything he can, the author still have to do his part.

I’m seeing it everyday working to this project. The author is a very bashful person for many reasons (not last, his personality) and this hinders the marketing process a lot. My boss and I are continuously coming up with new ideas to try, but time and again we come back to the same problem: readers only react if they feel involved, and the author is the only person that can create that kind of involvement, because it’s his story that is the core of the campaign.
Our efforts are in support, but if there isn’t an author’s action to support, promotion just doesn’t work.

So, this is what I’ve been up to this summer.
What about you?

12 Comments

  • Barbara Hollyfield
    Posted August 19, 2015 at 03:57

    OH, girl, I don’t even know where to begin! Of late, an aunt of mine passed away last week and I also recently upgraded to Windows 10 and spending some time checking out the features in it. I think your banner looks super cool! And I like the idea that you decided to dig a little deeper for the series. Everything is always more interconnected then it may first appear.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted August 19, 2015 at 20:10

      Oh, Barbara, I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt. My thoughts are with you.

      I hear people talking good enough about Windows 10, eh? I’m going to read your post :-)

      Thanks, I love the banner too. And I really can’t wait to start posting this series, but I know it still need some work.

  • Sara C. Snider
    Posted August 19, 2015 at 05:26

    The banner is awesome, and I like the sound of your series. And I’m not sure there are less people going with (or trying to go with) publishers these days, I just think the indies are more vocal.

    And that’s awesome that you love marketing. I like that you describe it as sharing, and that’s a good outlook to have, I think. Good luck with your querying!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted August 19, 2015 at 20:14

      Hey Sara, I’m happy to hear you guys are curious about my series. I hope you won’t be disappointed (especially considering how long I’m making you wait…)

      Well, indie authors tend to be very vocal, that’s true. But sometimes I have the impression everyone is going indie but me :-(

      You know? If you think at marketing as pushing people to buy your book, you’ll hate it. Of course you’ll hate it, anybody would hate it. Luckily, I don’t think we need to do that :-)

  • Crispian Thurlborn
    Posted August 19, 2015 at 12:47

    That’s a long post, Sarah. I’ll probably stop by to comment a little later. In the meantime however, I just wanted to point out something that snagged me while glancing over your blurb.

    “If this means digging her past and her bones up, then she’ll have to cope with it.”
    Perhaps that should read as…

    “If this means digging the bones of her past up, then she’ll have to cope with it.”
    Just a thought anyway :)

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted August 19, 2015 at 20:15

      Crispian, thanks for the suggestion, but the bones I’m talking about are not figurative. I really mean what I wrote :-)

  • Crispian Thurlborn
    Posted August 19, 2015 at 14:10

    In the middle of a tea break so I thought I’d drop by again ;) An interesting roundup you’ve put together.

    Like you, I’ve found it very hard to sit through the heat without air conditioning. My old ceiling fan squeaks away, but it only serves to swirl the arid air around. We haven’t had rain for months now (as seen by many of the fires here in Spain). Thankfully, I’m sat here now writing this with a pleasant breeze meandering through my window.

    Also like you, I would like to publish with a publisher. Past experiences have suggested that publishers are happy to publish, just so long as it isn’t me they are publishing. That doesn’t stop me from trying again. I will do so with “Glade” when I am ready. I agree that all writer’s should try and find an agent or publisher at least once. It is a rite of passage and the scars that are left behind will only serve to strengthen you.

    However, self-publishing can help you get your foot in the door if done right. Being able to show a catalogue of work (or even one book) when approaching an agent/publisher surely gives you an edge over having only good intentions of writing more.

    Incidentally, I did like your blurb. There is something enticing about it, especially the last paragraph. That is my favourite. I think the opening could do with replacing the word ‘Sinéad’ with ‘a woman’, just because it read (to me) as if they already knew her. Obviously, these are just my own thoughts ;)

    I agree with your thoughts on marketing. I’m not against it, but I just think there are better ways to do it than the ‘push approach’ so often seen in social media. I looked through a Twitter list I made the other day for writers that I followed and found the entire stream clogged with a long list of book adverts or 5-star review links. Here and there I found a few links to blog articles or something witty written by an author, but 90% of it was ‘buy my book… it’s really good… just look at what this person said…’

    Sure, doing this every now and then is fine, but not three times in a day (or every hour for some!). I’m not going to read anyone’s book if it is pushed like that. I want to see personality or things that are of interest to the person I’m following, not just the latest cover of your book and the length of time it will be on sale.

    Like you say though, writers that expect to sit back and relax when signed up with a publisher are not seeing the bigger picture. If anything, they should feel lucky that they have a support structure in place that can offer advice in promoting their work. I think that is where they so often get it wrong. A publisher might be able to 50% of the work, but you’ve still got to come up with the other 50% if you want to get out there.

    Right… tea break over ;)

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted August 19, 2015 at 20:37

      Crispian, I LOVE your comment!

      LOL. Then publishers are happy to publish as long as it isn’t me too. We should start a club!

      I’ve worked for a publisher for ten years and I can tell you it is formative. Even if I don’t work in the office (I actually work in the bookshop downstairs), I’ve learned a lot by proximity. I meet authors, I see what they expect, I hear what the publisher can geve them, what he can’t give them and – more importantly – why he can’t give them a few things. I hear talk about contracts, and also about promoting. I know what the costs are to publish a book. I know what I should consider a cost and what an investment.
      Sometimes the publisher (who’s my boss) stops by the counter and talks about a project. Sometimes we have meetings where the businass of publishing is discussed because my boss wants the bookshop to be an integral part of the publishing business.
      I can only dream what fantastic things I could learn if I were involved in a professional relationship with an agent :-)

      This said, I agree with you about self-publishing at least one work. I’m actually working at that :-)

      Really? You like my blurb (wait, I need to do an happy dance. Wait, I’ll be back momentarily!)
      And you like the last paragraph in particular? (Wait just a moment longer!!!!!)

      I’m thinking a lot about the marketing side of things now that I’m working at this project at the publishing house. Sometimes, when I read people talking about promotion and about who should do it, I wonder whether they really understand how crucial it is and why they should be happy to have the possibility to partake in it. If I’ll ever get published, you bet I’ll do everything I can to help promoting my book.
      It isn’t only because I’m well aware most publishers simply don’t have the resources to do the job by themselves, it’s also because promotion only enacted by the publisher isn’t really effective. It’s as simple as this. Not in today world. I’m seeing it with my eyes with this project.
      The publisher can, and will help. He will give you his structure and his knowledge, also his contacts, but he will never be able to substitute the author. And I can garantee (because I’ve seen it happening) that if an author is pro-active, a publisher will go a long way to help him.
      I mean, shouldn’t we be happy of this? It’s power in our hands and we don’t even recognise it ;-)

      Thanks so much for stopping by for the chat, I enjoyed it.

  • Anabel Marsh
    Posted August 19, 2015 at 16:45

    You have been very busy! We don’t have quite the same problem with heat here…..
    I love your New Woman banner – it’s beautiful.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted August 19, 2015 at 20:39

      I’m happy you like the banner, Anabel.
      Actually, I wasn’t so sure I liked it at the beginning… maybe because I had a completely different idea in mind. But now I think it’s really nice and effective :-)

  • Celine Jeanjean
    Posted August 24, 2015 at 08:43

    Well you do seem to have been busy for someone who didn’t get as much done as they wanted! I’m totally guilty of neglecting blogging and social media over the summer — it’s been so hot out here which never helps, and obviously I’ve been totally distracted by my book launch. I’m actually really looking forward to September and going back to normal (non brain poachingly-hot) life.

    I love the banner, it looks fantastic! And the series sounds really great – it will definitely be worth the wait.

    Sending you lots of luck and best wishes for the querying. It sounds like a tough process, but it will be all worth it when you find the right publisher! I have to agree with Sara, I don’t know that less people are going the traditional publisher route, I know a few people who are in the midst of querying. I think we hear more from indie writers mainly because once they put their book out there, they’re there to be seen and heard about .We only hear of the traditionally published writers once they get traditionally published, and there’s obviously more of a delay there. But that’s great news that your book is ready to go out in the world — and the blurb sounds great! I for one can’t wait to order it and read it :)

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted August 25, 2015 at 11:02

      Well, you know… I had a plan to finish revising the novel once more. I’ve done up to… ch 6. That’s just ridiculous :-(
      But well, I’ll do what I can. My boss cancelled two of my holiday weeks, so that’s ‘revision’ time is gone. But I’ll make do with what I have, as always ;-)
      I’m still going to Ireland and that’s grait.

      I had a plan to start drafting the New Woman series while on holiday too .
      …Rewind…

      You’re probably right about trad authors. It’s also true that self-pubbed authors are a lot more in numbers.
      And hey, it’s always nice to have a fan :-)

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