Tag Archive | agent

Writer Wednesday: Linda Yezak

Linda 2010Linda Yezak has become a friend made through social media who has been gracious in helping me with my own book promotions. It is with delight that I interview her for my blog and she’s offering to do a drawing for a copy of her latest novel, The Final Ride as well! Someday I’m going to enjoy meeting the resident of 777 Peppermint Place in person and it will be so much fun. Enjoy getting to know Linda and her journey as an author.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but when my husband and I moved from our hometown, I took it up again. I didn’t get serious about it until I actually typed “the end” on my first (awful) novel. I got so excited–and knew absolutely nothing about the business–that I sent the manuscript to a publisher without letting anyone who knows anything about writing read it. By the time I got their inevitable rejection letter, I was hooked on writing, and decided to take it far more seriously.

What’s your pet peeve?
Drivers who see me coming at them on the highway at 75 mph and pull out in front of me anyway. There’s gotta be a special kind of punishment for them.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?
When I discovered Google Alert the hard way. Not once, but twice. The first time is a two-parter, when I critiqued William Brohaugh’s Write Tight. I included a comment that sometimes we have to rely on the reader’s common sense. The reader can probably figure things out without us having to be so particular about how we write them. He responded. Who knew he’d even find my measly post on a blog that is just one kazoo in a zillion-piece orchestra?

Then I responded to him, not expecting to hear from him again, and he responded to that.

But that was a good experience. The second was a huge faux pas on my part, and I still kick myself for it.
I’d landed an agent. I was so excited, I was cartwheeling. We just needed to make the deal official with a contract, but I was finally an agented author.

Problem was, at the time, I didn’t know much about hiring an agent. Mike Hyatt had a post about predator agents and he wrote a list of questions to ask. I wrote a post on my own blog, telling about my experience with getting this new agent and how I felt uncertain of myself because of what Mike had written. I said something along the lines of “I don’t even know this woman.”

Well, “this woman” found the post and got offended, not that I blame her. Bye-bye agent.
Since then, I’ve been far more careful.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?
Learning the business end of the business–promotions, marketing, the algorithms that make the system crank my books higher in visibility. I spent so much time polishing my craft, that I neglected all this. I hate discovering how many things I’ve done wrong. Sigh.

GiveTheLadyARide_2016 KindleHow do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?
I blow them off. People have their opinions. One lady wrote that she didn’t like the way my character in Give the Lady a Ride took the knee and bowed to God after his bull rides. She said it was too Tim Tebow-ish. Problem is, cowboys have been doing that since long before Tebow was known. Probably before he was born. Another wrote that my story bored her. She’s pretty much alone in the reviews on that one. Another couple of reviews on different books were spot-on, so I can’t complain about them.

More often than not, however, I get really good reviews, so the bad ones I get don’t bother me.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?
Winning an honorable mention in the Saturday Evening Posts “Great Fiction” contest. I didn’t get anything for it other than to be published in their 2016 digital anthology of the 2015 winners. Still, it definitely lands in the plus column.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?
Take a moment to sit down and evaluate what all this business requires–aside from writing great books–and set goals. Then determine a game plan to meet those goals. This applies whether you want to go indie or the traditional route. Even though others may take care of some of the business details in traditional publishing, you should still have enough knowledge and savvy to know whether you’re getting treated fairly. Of course, if you’re indie, it’s all on your shoulders. The more you know, the more successful you’ll be.

Network with as many people as you can in this industry. I’ve been so fortunate in my years to be able to swap favors and reviews with book cover designers, editors, promo specialists, critique partners, beta readers.

Study the craft. Study and learn from other authors and write, write, write.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?
I want my readers to understand that no matter how far they stray from their God, he is faithful and just to forgive. I see my audience not just as women of a certain age who like romantic comedy and such, but also a subset of those women who need to know it’s okay to come home, back to the fold. God isn’t a grudge-holder.

What is your current work in process?
My current WIP is Skydiving to Love, a novella I’m writing to add to a set of romance novellas some friends and I are doing together. We had a wonderful idea: Four friends, facing their thirtieth birthdays, dare each other to do the wildest thing on their bucket list. Each story is about what the author’s character chose from her list and how she goes about fulfilling it. It’s going to be fun. We just got our fourth writer recently, so we’re hoping for a fall publication.

cover proof

Leave a comment below and sign up for her newsletter, and she’ll draw a winner for a free copy of The Final Ride from those who sign up.

Links to social media:
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/GivetheLadyaRide
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lyezak/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/LindaYezak
Goodreads: http://dld.bz/dSPmg
777 Peppermint Place: http://lindayezak.com
Newsletter: http://dld.bz/CoffeewithLinda
Amazon: http://dld.bz/LindaWYezakAmazon

Back cover copy for The Final Ride:
With her duties for her best friend’s wedding finally behind her, Patricia Talbert looks forward to discovering what “normal” will look like at her new home in Texas. She owns a ranch, is in love with its foreman, and is ready to assume her duties. Discovering what those duties entail isn’t an easy feat for a displaced socialite from Manhattan. But when her aunt Adele arrives on a mission to bring her back to New York, Patricia’s primary duty is to deflect the bumbling and bullish attempts–until one of Adele’s tricks takes her by surprise.

All of Talon Carlson’s dreams for the Circle Bar Ranch are coming true, along with another dream he never expected to be fulfilled–a chance to love again. Patricia is everything he ever wanted and more, but he made a promise to her not to ride bulls again, a promise he may have to break. His desire for a better end to his riding career is intensified by vicious rumors about why he quit. If he rides again, he will provide the ammunition Adele needs to make Patricia leave. If he doesn’t, he’ll prove the gossips right.

Patricia or Talon. Which one will take The Final Ride?

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The Rocky Journey to Publication

gazebo with titleI was thinking about the journey for my novel Pesto and Potholes. I wrote it on a whim and in under a month. The ninjas appeared because a friend on Facebook challenged me to put ninjas in. I took up the gauntlet and they provided a wonderful comic relief as well as a way to highlight my female protagonist’s character.

A few years ago I attended my first ever writer’s conference. I had the first chapter critiqued as well as my synopsis. Ann Tatlock was so gracious to me with her time and feedback.

As a result I pretty much rewrote the entire first chapter.

I met with an agent at that conference. My first ever pitch session. She prayed with me and was so encouraging. She liked my novel but didn’t want to take me on as a client and referred me to another agent at organization they both worked for because she thought it was more in line with what that agent preferred. Wrong. That agent thought my dialogue was stilted. Hmmm. That is so vague I’m still not sure what it means.

So I revised my novel, again, and sat on it and tried to work on some of my other projects. It probably would have sat there forever except my friend, Cherie Burbach kept telling me how much she loved the title and that I should pursue it. And a mentor, Lisa Lickel kept reminding me that an author can’t sit on a novel forever, waiting for it to be perfect. At some point it has to be submitted. Again.

It takes a village.

I finally obtained a literary agent, but she didn’t want contemporary romance. She’s working to sell my historicals.

I began working for a small press, Prism Book Group and helping other authors make their dreams come true. I submitted my story to another editor with our publishing house. Because I was her editor for her novels she didn’t feel comfortable editing mine. I get that. But my Editor-in-chief decided to take a look, because like me, she likes to make dreams come true. She loved the story.

Pesto 3D-Book-TemplateShe wanted to know if Antonio was real so she could perhaps introduce him to someone she knows. I wish!

There were many rounds of edits with my editor, Carolyn Boyles who made me laugh every time.. We reworked a book cover. There were copy edits, line edits, and proofreading. Ups and downs until voila! I have a novel thrust into the world.

Some liken writing a book to giving birth. A five year pregnancy? Ouch! And a novel is born. No need for it to learn to walk, only for me to encourage others to pick it up and read it and write a review and tell their friends about it.

My brother asked me last year what success would look like for my book.

The materialistic answer would be to sell a minimum of 5,000 copies. More if it’s a “best-seller.” And maybe the financial windfall that could accompany that.

But I want to impact hearts and change lives. Encourage those struggling in their faith.

I can’t measure that.

It’s really not much different than my hopes and prayers for my children as they grow. Sure I would love them to be financially secure and professionally successful. More than that I would hope they would honor God with their lives and He would be able to use them for His glory and purpose in this hurting world.

So as a child, Pesto and Potholes is already doing that and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I’m grateful to the rejections that helped me get there. And that whatever I make on this book I don’t have to share with my agent…

Mixed Bag of Dreams

The writing life is a path littered with dreams mixed in  with gravel and uneven pavement.  It’s an uphill hike with mosquitoes and muscle cramps. It’s filled with momentary joys and lots of harsh reality.

I wrote my first book and was so proud of my accomplishment. I mean, I wrote a book! A whole book! A novel that surely was amazing! But then I found out that no one writes a good first draft (duh, even college should have debunked that thought!).  I revised and modified and cut and entered a contest.

I didn’t win. I found out I had been guilty of a sin I didn’t even know existed. I was a dreaded “head-hopper.” Yup. My point-of-view moved around with great alacrity leaving nothing to be hidden. Don’t even get into show vs. tell issues. And nasty little words like “Oh!” and “then” and “a bit” that would pop up with regularity.

I still found it fun to edit my work and make changes. I still do because I know I’m getting closer to a book someone would possibly be willing to spend money on.

Then I went to my first writer’s conference. So fun!

I got my first short story published! How exciting!

Not a whole lot of money for the amount of work you put into it, but hey, they are publishing credits.

And then there were rejections.  Contests with feedback that contradicted. One judge would love my writing and score it high and another (same manuscript) would get panned and scored low.

Or agents with various criticisms, again contradictory.

Then I found out that leading with my contemporary romance was not good because they don’t sell right now. Funny because I’ve been reviewing quite a few wonderful ones (Beck Wade’s was just last Friday and I just read her latest one and loved it!). Sigh.

Well, I did finally snag an agent but the joy was tempered with the reality that my work was still flawed and I’m going to have to work hard before she can sell my story to a publisher.

Shrug.

I’m still learning and I take comfort that no one is an expert in this. We are all learning and three different editors will give me three different opinions. I’ll trust this agent because she’s not afraid to make me work hard and I know she loves me for who I am too.

And even if I get a great book out there, someone is going to pan it at some point. The more an author sells, the more there are haters that will not hesitate to slam them.

I read a lot. There are some books littered with errors in formatting, puncutation, grammar and sometimes even just horrible research.  I had read a recent book and a friend and I talked about it – because it was bad. For its genre it should have never been published. It was one of the rare ones that I couldn’t even finish. Yes, it was THAT bad.

But I’m not going to review it. I know writing is hard and at this point, what good would it do? Unless I’m willing to read the entire book (and I’m not) then I’m not going to bother writing a negative review (it would be very negative).  When I mentioned that my novel is being returned for me to do some major edits, my friend reminded me of this aweful one and said that even with the work I need to do, my novel is better than this one that got published. Bad day for that publisher? There’s a lot of great fiction out there and writers willing to work and do what it takes to get published.

I don’t want to be like that author and not have a book that someone would be afraid to review because it was so bad.

Someone once said to me: “Watch out for pride as you take this journey.”

Pride? Oh, yeah, it rears is ugly head in moments only to be crushed by the reality that my writing is never going to be as wonderful as I think it is. Someone will always have a problem with it.  Hey, I even read a Nicholas Sparks novel and got so frustrated because he kept telling me the same thing over and over and over! Get on with the story! I’m not an idiot!  Yeah, I didn’t review it. He’s a great writer, but even he isn’t going to appeal to everyone either. As much as he sells I”m sure he’s been whacked a time or two (or million) with critics.

So I’m rejoicing that I’ve taken the next step in my publishing journey even if I’ve stubbed my toe on my own inadequacies as a writer. I’ll keep writing, editing, learning and growing as much as my wee brain can handle.

Why Attend a Writer’s Conference?

Attending a writer’s conference is hard if you are trying to write. After all, how many people say they want to write a book and never do? But you are out there, trying and learning and maybe even overloaded by the wealth of resources on the internet telling you how to do it and what the rules are.

What are they again?

The one thing you’ll consistently see is “Get Thee To a Writer’s Conference!”

Sure. I’m struggling to pay the bills and writing is earning me nothing and to get ahead I have to spend money to go to a writer’s conference. I could self-pub for free without leaving my cozy home and spending hundreds of dollars. 

I hear ya. Boy, do I hear ya.

I wrote for years and started connecting with some other writers in my area and that was great. But I longed to get to a conference. I had no means to do it.

Somehow I did it. And here’s what I learned.

1. They get me there! There is a community and support like no other when you attend a writer’s conference. Especially a Christian one. Wow. These are all people who understand the struggle to grasp some concepts  and they are more than eager to help anyone else who is struggling. You come home when you are a writer’s conference.

2. We all have different learning styles but in the busyness of life, how often do you sit and read all those blogs or books or attend all those webinars? Getting to a conference takes you out of the distractions of daily life so you can focus on your craft and grow.

3. You come away with things money really can’t buy: a with a few more tools in your belt, inspiration for the journey ahead and new friends. (Friends who might even help you promote a book some day? Just sayin’!)

4. Rub shoulders with industry professionals. Maybe you don’t have a book to pitch (yet!). Go and meet with editors and agents anyway. Get to know them. Pick their brains. Ask for advice. They are human just like you and eager to help writers make it to the next steps – because if you do and do it well, they might someday make money off of you!  And you never know how those connections and relationship (if positive) might benefit you down the line.  I’ve referred people to others at conferences when I thought that what they have that other editor might be interested in. You just never know, but if you go with a positive attitude and a desire to learn, you might just find out.

If attending a conference seems too difficult or expensive here’s my suggestion. Start small. Attend a day conference near you. (save the cost of hotel). Or only go for a shorter time. Some conferences offer scholarships. Humble yourself and apply for one. It won’t pay for everything but it can put that opportunity within your reach. No one you meet up with will know how you got there, nor will they care. The fact is you made it.

The first conference I attended opened so many doors for me that it’s hard to describe. The relationships and connections I made have enriched my life.  Maybe I’ll meet at one in the future because I hope you’ll go.

My Opinion of Literary Agents

Okay, so I hope I don’t get in trouble here. I”m going to tread lightly because the publishing community is not as big as you think it is and yes – editors and agents do talk and if you make a negative impression it can have a ripple effect!

Most authors would love a big publishing contract and an advance for the fabulous novel they have penned. Many of us know that either you need to get to a conference or send a ton of perfectly penned query letters.

So if you query an agent via email or snail mail, how are you going to know they are the right agent for you? I mean, sure, they need to love your work, but the fact is, at some point you may need to talk or even meet this exalted personage that would hold your career in his or her hands. Are you going to trust them based on a great blog?

Here’s my opinion having met some agents over the past year and having friendly (meaning I wasn’t pitching a book to them) conversations with them.

When you get an agent – YOU are hiring them. Yes, they have to decide to take the job and you need to make sure you hire someone who is going to do it well, but more important, I think, is: you need to like them. They need to support your goals and desires as an author.

Last year I pitched at some conferences and sure it would be nice to have an agent selling my remarkably brilliant books on my behalf. But I encountered the reality. Some agents are just not nice. Either that or it was a serious personality mismatch. Or maybe they were just having a REALLY bad day. One gave me a fake smile as she nodded her head and gave me her advice. It was obviously not a match for either of us. Another was worse. She wasted no time trashing my work (without reading a word of it) and telling me I would be better off self-pubbing because no one would want to buy it except in e-book form. (this was a non-fiction book proposal). The woman was snotty, condescending and my hackles (whatever those are) bristled with irritation.

Someone else contracted the book and I’m happy with that publisher. Up side – I don’t have to share my royalties with an agent.

I’ve met other agents who are not a fit for me with what they contract – but they are super people and if they did match up with what I write – I would be thrilled to work with them because they were genuine and interested in who I was as a person – aside from any book. I don’t expect an agent to be my best friend, but I would at least like them to “get” me and even, say, like me? I wouldn’t trust someone who couldn’t accept my quirky personality and that I couldn’t hold a civil conversation with.

Don’t let your pursuit of an agent lead you to jump where you don’t have some level of ease in relating with the individual. Sure, reputation is important, but this is a relationship that you hope will go on for  quite some time and you are paying that person to work for you. If they don’t really like you, can you expect they will do their best for you?

Do you have an agent? What do you think is key about that relationship? Are you looking for one? What has been your experience with the process so far?