Friday, August 9, 2013

Looking Back at My First Novel - Brand Loyalty

Getting down to the short strokes.  In a few more months, the next Matt Rommel adventure, and my second novel, Beyond the Law, will be released.  Right now, we're wrapping up the final edit.  After that, there's the cover art and then off to the printer.

Like I said, this is my second novel.  You would think that I must have learned a lot.  I don't know.  But, now is as good a time as any to look back at the process of selling the first book.

I started by looking for an agent.  We went to the Literary Marketplace, a giant book with hundreds if not thousands of publishers and agents.

From this, we culled the top 80 agencies and sent out query letters.  Some nibbles.  Mailed a few chapters.  No bites.  We tried this a few times because it's fun to spend hundreds of dollars on postage and wait for weeks.  The highlight of the experience for me was one terriffic rejection letter.  Mind you, I received many dozens, but this one was special.  This one agency sent me a rejection letter that recapped the entire novel in as thrilling a manner as you can imagine.  After all that, I couldn't believe they didn't want to represent it.  I think it must have been done by an intern who was trying to prove themselves to the agency.

After that, back to the Big Book to look at publishers.  I sent a query to every house that would accept unagented submissions.  I started with the big houses, then the medium houses and then everyone else.  I actually got a bite and, after a few months and a brutal round of edits, Brand Loyalty was released.  It meant a lot to me that someone was prepared to put their time, talent and money into my story.

Even so, promotion-wise, with small houses you are pretty much on your own.  A small publisher may have the connections to create links to 50 or more internet sites, but that's not what drives sales.

I was lucky.  I work for a company with a few thousand employees.  Those co-workers drove a lot of my sales.  Some bought the novel out of kindness, some out of curiosity, some because they expected it to be terrible and scorn-worthy.  Turn's out, for a lot of reasons, Brand Loyalty is a good mystery novel.  That created a tiny fan base that has been waiting for me to get it together and release another story.

Those are the people I work for.  Those are the people I worry about.  Those are the people for whom I dangle participles.

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