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Playing Publisher, Agent, Publicist

The book is written. Many sleepless nights have gone into the masterpiece, many readers have given their feedback, and a release date has been set. Now the entirely agonizing part of the entire process, publication.

The fun (fun used almost sarcastically here) is doing hours of research to ensure I don’t miss a single integral process in the entire bout of publishing. Had I managed to have an agent most, if not all, of the process would be covered. I could sit back and wait for requests for verification on page proofs, story flow, accept editor’s feedback and only tweak the novel minutely upon the agents request. Currently I have submitted myself to a flow of multiple projects at one time in the light of one major project, my publication. There are many major points that I have to ensure to hit, all of which could make or break my books chances at success. I took the liberty at compiling a brief list of these chores which I will undoubtedly have to accomplish.

Get the Book Edited

One item that had gone through without major attention to detail with my past projects. Though I had a publisher to take care of these things, it was at best; sad. Realizing that not only is my grammar terrible, but punctuation fails almost to a fault. There would be no possible way for me to go through the entire contents of two-hundred fifty pages and catch all the most glaring mistakes let alone the little technicalities. With that I have researched many editors, some charging upwards of $1,000 for a 90,000 word novel! I was lucky to find one who would only charge a minimal fee! Now I just have to scrape the barrel to get even that for her.

Pre-Publication Reviews

A most vital and important step in the process of rolling out a book. This involves knowing this book is in it’s final stages and in near pristine condition before sending it off for Magazines, Newspapers, and Reviewers to determine my fate. If two or more magazines who published a review were not favorable, chances are the book would sink before it even had a chance. Believing in my work this is something I am more than willing to take on. But with that are more interesting things.

Typesetting

Any novice to publishing would easily look this over. They believe all they have to do is convert a word document into a pdf and voila! That assumption is terribly wrong and will undoubtedly turn a tale of amazing talent and artistry into a slushpile inhabitant. Simply opening a book to the first page or two will tell any publishing industry insider whether it had a professional do the work. No worries, most typesetting jobs will only set you back roughly $800 (or maybe $5 a page).

Advanced Reader Copies

These little buggers are a ton of fun! Almost all magazines and reviewers have different terms and submission requirements for these copies. Some say it must be a mock up with ARC written on the back cover with a fact page including word count, page count, ISBN, distribution centers, publisher information. While others ask it be an in-tact book autographed by the author (They usually assure you that the book won’t be sold as it’s against their policy), and that this is a courtesy to someone willing to take time out of their lives to review your work (Fair, I say). So for the ARC’s not only is it best to have the book in the best condition it can be in (I would hope a few edits have already been done, typesetting somewhat apparent, and cover design set), but it should be sent out to the reviewer 4-6 months prior to the month of publication.

So now the Pre-publication work is done (somewhat) as the publisher, now on to Publicist!

Find Shelf Space

This is the main hurdle, and many of the items listed following this all help to gain that much needed shelf space. The point being most books have a month AT BEST to sell. If not, they are returned. And don’t think a book store will stock your book without a book return policy in place. This is only the mom and pop stores! Trying to get into B&N and Borders is something similar to a battle between David and Goliath.

Research and set up Radio Interviews

Having a target market helps to get this part in play, but still nothing can quell the magnitude of listing the hundreds of talk radio shows out there for the contact. Best part, I’m pushing my own book! Nothing worse than saying “Hi! Have you heard of the amazing new book written by none other than me!!!!” Something is just off about it. I like to stick with emails, but I have a feeling if I had a good pitch letter drawn up I might be able to call some stations and cement time blocks rather than sending electronic mail into the abyss of the internet. Even when I do find a station, I have to find an angle relative to the listeners and style of show they have set up to ensure I not only sound informed, but also don’t kill the pitch of my book by sounding like a babbling idiot.

Press-Release

Another extremely important aspect of the process. Drawing up the words that will help to sell the book while informing of any upcoming events. As in, have my events planned out well in advance, and make sure I keep the facts straight for the press-release. Nothing worse than attempting to fix a spelling error in a press release once it’s already been sent to the printer! It’s also gotta pop, no sense in writing an awesome book if the Press-Release is gonna drool.

Research and Pitch Newspapers and Magazines

For post publication reviews or opportunities at an interview. The research alone is killer, add to it the drone work of writing a pitch letter to them why I would be so totally awesome for their interview is tricky. Anyone can toot their own horn, or you could pay someone to do it for you. Looks like this starving artist is gonna have to toot his own horn without making it seem that way.

So these are just some of the fun things I get to do wearing all the hats. Hopefully if it’s done right, this will be the last time I have to worry about all of this, and can just focus on my new novels, which I have about four new ones started already. I have to get busy with them, not all of this! But here’s to learning.

Thanks for reading!

Caleb A. Mertz

Straight to business on query

Writing the painstaking query letter has proven not to be easy. Taking the entire story, wrapping it up into a tiny small package, and still hitting key points minus all the background, explanation, imagery, and art. I have fluffed, puffed, fumbled, and strained my manuscript in attempts to make something that is reminiscent of a professional query letter. I have only gotten a single bite, requesting more information from the query I  was using. I decided to change things up a bit, but found a conversation in the authorqueryconnect.com forum, which swayed my eye.

Appropriately titled “I am DONE querying” the young lady vents about the frustrations of querying. From this she tells the world that she plans to self-publish. There is response upon response giving credit to trying to query, but also offering support and encouragement for the process. I was distracted by this momentarily, but then got back to my query letter.

I stared at the blank word document. I wanted to start fresh. After staring and toiling over how I should structure the hook, where I should start, the verbiage and feel of the words and sentences as a whole. One sentence continued to go through my head. It summed up the entire book, and if phrased correctly could draw interest. I went at it. Cut out the fluff, description, and specifics to tell of what the book was about. Two sentences that wrap up what the book is about,

“A small group of Christians, deemed a terrorist group, must be defeated. President Andrew Rakford is the man to do so, but at the risk of being called the anti-christ.”

So the deal is, I have submitted this query to several agents. I have also posted this on agentqueryconnect.com where it has gotten some great feedback. Here’s hopin’! But hey, if I don’t get the representation I seek, I can always go it alone. (again) It won’t be a problem.

The first “Partial” request

Good Afternoon!

March 19th was a monumental writing day. That is the day that I got my first request for a partial manuscript! I have queried some twenty five agents and I finally got a response. Reading over the email she sent requesting the material left me reading it over four then five times. When I got home that evening I was able to sit down and really read through the email. Very specific instructions were outlined in the email, and asked for a two page synopsis, a biography, and the first fifty pages of my manuscript, double spaced with .5 inch margins all around…justified.

Querying, itself, has proven to be a difficult task. The first obstacle is finding a website that gives information on any agent or agency. Then you have to read each persons biography to find out which one, if any, will appeal to your style of story. Once you have found the perfect match, there is a process of rewriting the letter to meet the specific needs of the agent. The rest, we have all done a thousand times. OH and by all means don’t forget to compare your letter to Query shark.

I was completely unaware of the additional items that were needed once a partial was requested. I thought my query was as chopped down a synopsis as you could get! I began my search at 2 o’clock in the morning to find out what she might have been looking for when it came to a synopsis. Seeking representation means you have to play by their rules and ensure that everything meets their requirements before you can even decide if you want them or not. Oh, yes! Don’t forget that you can go through all of these hoops and ladders and finally decide that this is not the agent for you.

It took three days before I could respond to the email I was so excited to finally receive. I read through those first fifty pages about fifty times. I then had to write an acceptable synopsis using Nathan Bransford’s blog as a guideline. I then dusted off an old biography, fixed it up then sent my reply. Now I shall wait 12 weeks before I inquire if she liked it or not, but here’s hoping that I get a full request soon!

Thank you,

Caleb A. Mertz

Getting Closer!

Good News!

I have been struggling with my latest book for what feels like a bit more than a year now. I currently have three days to get something together, and still accomplish tons for work. Day one of it all, I think I may have put together a query that works, and designed a cover to help me visualize the completion of the project. The cover I made up is shown (though I’m sure it won’t really look like this) along with the query letter. So please take a look, read it over, and let me know what you think!

Dear Nick Mullendore,

Thousands gathered at the White House to hear Andrew Rakford’s inaugural address. At the closing statements, the first explosions of the Great Christian Revolt mutilated hoards of people. With bodies strewn across the lawn Rakford has seconds to determine a course of action, however, something horrendous had already begun, God’s plan.

President Rakford forced into a war he would never end, quickly learns his path of peace isn’t as easily attainable as once thought. In attempts to eliminate the threat presented he finds it necessary for national security to raid a church group because they were moving heavy weaponry. The pastor of the church was named most wanted because camera’s showed him throwing a grenade into a crowd. He must also list suspects based on religious practice as current intelligence validates Christians behind each event. Every situation is causing him to stand against his morality, yet increases his popularity internationally.

His mother, in his meditation, reassures him God has a plan. Meditation was the only way to see her since her death. Once his meditations begin to deteriorate, the lady in white shows him into this new role of world leader. Though he couldn’t clearly see where God came into everything, there was no better way to fool everyone than to fool the man himself. Now with two plans in play, only the strongest can prevail to reveal the best president ever or something of the worst imagination, The Unexpected.

 

THE UNEXPECTED is a 70,000 word novel. An end of times thriller, tuning into the fears of 2012 yet promising a world past this. I have had entries published on About.com, Examiner.com, and Suite101.com. Reviews of other work can be found at jclarkmedia.com, bookpleasures.com, and pulseweekly.com. Publications such as Lehigh Valley Style Magazine, The Morning Call, and Carlisle’s “The Sentinel” also reviewed some of my work.

Partial or full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time.

Caleb A. Mertz

 

 

The writer’s hiatus

Good morning,

I have once again neglected my little baby known as my blog.  She sure has grown at times all on her own, and yet she needs that tender caress of the tapping keyboard.  The reason for my hiatus isn’t really as care free as it sounds. I have recently found this amazing website to help me out in the process of writing my query.  agentqueryconnect.com

What has this site done for me? Well several things.  For one, I received marvelous feedback from a group of aspiring writers ranging from the novice to the experienced. This has helped me greatly with my pitch. It has also lent much support through the form of critique. Those that felt compelled to write a comment left me with the belief that there was something there that drew them in. Most posts don’t see the amount that I had received.

Second, I gained a new found friend from the “other” coast.  This young man, Austin, lives in California and writes science fiction. Through the chat room we were able to connect on a different level when it came to our writing. Since then, we have been going back every single day about our books.  I continue to feed him chapter after chapter of my book, while he does the same for me.  This has been the main thing that has drawn me away from writing in my blog.

So I ask, Is this really a bad thing?

Some say that a true writer writes everyday.  I feel that sometimes the writer needs to take time to critique other’s work so that they can apply those same critiques to their own work.  Just in the past two weeks that I have been doing this, I feel an intense increase in my ability to spot issues with sentence structure and many other little things. At this point I am only halfway through his book LEGACY and I intend to read the entire work giving my unprejudiced advice and opinions. They can be juicy and down right sacrificial, but he loves it, and so do I.

I have received other requests to review work in addition to Austin’s, but I may have to take the straight road back to my book. My editor has finished and sent me the result, but I still have yet to look over it greatly. My baby still awaits, so until next time I bid you adieu.

Caleb A. Mertz

Bad Query, Good Query

By this time I am almost terrified to post anything more on my queries.  It, at times, feels like my babies ripping my hair out for me.  I am sure that my facebook friends are tired of me asking them to check out the latest query.  Even though I realize this I am still re-writing the damned query!

One night I sat down and rewrote my letter and thought ‘This is great! It tells the story and kind of tells what the books about‘ — Well the very next day I woke up and reread the query being nothing but excited.  I was overwhelmed with a horrible and sickening emotion.  Heck, now it just read as if it were a faith novel about the end times!  I am not querying christian faith agents, but mainstream fiction/ thriller types.  So I write again.

I come up with another one that seems cool.  AH! I can’t write a friggin query letter that “Seems cool”!  I re-write again.  I feel content with the opening paragraph and focus on the second.  After re-reading it about thirty times and making small grammatical corrections, I am dissatisfied with the first paragraph.  Those first few words are what determine if the agent will continue to read.  Ultimately I realize that this process takes some serious time, but boy is it ever fun.  It creates the possibility to exercise all of my creative writing skills along with practicing my grammar.  This isn’t such a bad thing.

Anyway, only when I have a query letter that wows me as the author will I post it.  I will keep everyone posted till then, but just wanted to rant here for a bit.

Thank you,

Caleb A. Mertz

My third Query Letter

Writing a query letter to an agent is something that seems like a horrible task when reviewed and researched on-line.  Never being one to quit I took the advice of many agents, authors, and reviewers into view when compiling this query.  Please tell me what you think, and again take the poll.

“The climbing number of terrorist actions had brought the world to Washington D.C. for Mr. Rakford’s inauguration.  At a place of peace and in a time of hope did death and fear strike by the force of “Christian” terrorists.

Andrew Rakford, 35, was a man of altruistic authority when he was named President of the United States.  Wanting to take the woes of the world and turn them into victories along with the wrongs into rights, would he make the world a better place.  He wasn’t, however, the only one with a plan.  His mother always reminded him that God had many great things for him to accomplish, but as these plans came to confrontation the world began taking an agonizing turn.  Though they melded and worked perfectly together, it remained tethered at the final result of Andrew.  Would he be the best president in years, releasing the world of the terrorist hold, or the greatest evil known to man in the form of the Antichrist?”

“You’re a Malaprop!”

I have distributed my latest novel to many different readers.  Some that I am very familiar with, and some that I hardly know.  While searching for a manuscript that had been distributed I ran into the young lady that was reading it for me.  “I told my husband,” She began, “that you’re just as bad a malaprop as he is!”  Then she laughed.

In the time of getting feedback on your novel there is no time for feelings to get involved or twisted into the work you have spent so many man hours over.  You have to accept the honesty of the reader to help make your work one that will resonate better with the masses that will hopefully be reading your story.

I was so embarrassed that I didn’t know what a malaprop was when I had to ask, “What’s that?”  It was one of those saddening feats where you feel that you will never be good enough.  This young lady is an avid reader, and a highly intellectual one at that.  She proceeded to tell me that she loved the work, but it had it’s errors.  I know it has errors it was only the second draft!  Why I decided to have readers look it over at only the second draft is beyond me….No it’s not.  I tend to think that my work is different.  My work doesn’t require an editor or some outside influence.  This sort of thinking may explain why my first two books were only published by Publish America.

Malapropism:

Luckily for me, being a malaprop isn’t so bad.  You just have to use a dictionary (much like any one else) in some very specific cases.  Oh and having an intelligent reader or editor is a great key to this as well.  None the less, I felt completely incompetent once I had come to understand the meaning of this word, and knowing that it pretty much meant you weren’t intelligent enough to tell the difference between two words.

Here’s to many other self realization facts in the near future!


(ˈmæləprɒpˌɪzəm) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
n
1. the unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one of similar sound, esp when creating a ridiculous effect, as in I am not under the affluence of alcohol


possible synopsis…

Good morning! I am writing to you now with the hopes that some of you will happily provide some feedback on which of the following three synopsis’ would make you want to read “The Unexpected”

#1

Everyday across the media there are invigorating statements relating to the end of the world.  Nostradamus, the Bible, and the mayan calendar all predict the end to be in 2012.  What if we lived to see a world beyond this where there was peace and abundance.  What if this was the perfect world to begin the ultimate chapter of the end, the Revelation.

When Andrew Rakford becomes President of the United States of America he wishes his mother was there because she was the one that always said that God had a great plan for him.  Now as he grows and survives multiple terrorist attacks his life begins to change without much more than a thought towards it.  Forgetting his mother and moving forward with his own plans he soon finds what this great plan had always been.  The Anti-Christ has never been  a position that has been so well taken with a drive and dillegence as by Andrew Rakford

#2

The threats of 2012 loom everyday on the news, in our minds, and across civilization.  What if we made it past this to see a world that initiates it’s president with an Inaugural massacre which makes way to the great Christian Revolt?  “The Unexpected” creates a world much like the one we live in today but filled with anxious twists of what’s norm, from Christian terrorists, blatant execution without due diligence, and modern day concentration camps.

Andrew Rakford is a young President of the United States starting out at the youngest age allowable, 35.  With a swarm of warped memories of his childhood and life practices Andrew is capable of using charm as well as intelligence in attempts to literally make everybody happy.  Till he learns of the truth of his mother’s reactions to his life, and the true reason why his father had left so many years ago does he remain a man of unfathomable patience and kindness.  Smart twists to the plot and story line add the dramatic effect of this novel never truly allowing the reader to see what will happen, though told through a third person omniscient point of view.

#3

Imagine that you are at the ripe young age of 35.  You’ve just received a promotion where you feel you can make everything better, the wrongs into rights and the woes into victories.  You’re mother always used to tell you that you were going to be a mighty man of God after a priest had prophesized this for you.  Here you sit being agnostic, but still having a love for your deceased mother, her lovely sayings, and realistic revelations.

The Christians have united and created a terrorist group that is reigning destruction on the United States and countries abroad because they feel that the government has become too corrupt to go on.  A combination of assassination attempts, terrorist attacks, and a plethora of missing people finally makes you initiate a plan in order to keep the world safe.  A plan that would ensure people follow you, and don’t oppose you.  A plan where the world is the edge of your every command.  You now know that you are the President of the United States, and you are the Anti-christ.