Monthly Archives: October 2010

This is Cross-Posted from Blogger to here…Finding ways to Publicize my memoir book, REUNIONS



Marketing REUNIONS… the Memoir Turns…..

I had a very nice agent decline my book this past week…Not too long actually after the other very nice agent requested the 1st 3 chapters. The declining agent gave me some very valuable advice: Reduce my word count to make the package seem less overwhelming and more marketable to an agent. Yeah, I get that…A shorter book is cheaper to put out, so I got busy on that this week to see what I could do without compromising my message and downgrading my characters to less dynamic people. 

REUNIONS went on a diet and lost 10,000 words / 30 pages!
I think it’s better-n-ever, actually! That agent might be an angel in disguise. Hopefully, the 1st 3 chapters were spiffy and impressive enough for the other agent anyway. Most of the make over happened in the middle of the story anyway, although the first three were also tweaked some. They were pretty awesome to start with. In fact, the 1st 50 pages rock, IMHO, which is what the agencies and publishers preach. My chapter technically cuts off at page 48, but that’s probably OK.
In the meantime, I plug on. I plan to get back on Querytracker and plow further down the list of agents and agencies listed. They have 500….5 freekin’ hundred!!!! That’s a big project, but once I get a hit, and they actually want me, I’m in! Pretty simple plan in that way.



ANother REUNIONS Update:

Sometimes the Universe really does give us what we ask for…

If you’ve been keeping up, you know that I have put out a ton of query letters over the weekend. I got back some “rejection” messages today. Many were still very kindly worded. One lady apologized for the form letter. One man, who did not use a form letter and was very personalized told me that my plan wasn’t going to work for him, but I had good stuff and to keep at it because somebody out there will see differently.

I was OK with all that. It wasn’t rejection i the classic sense of rejection.

Then I received this little doozy:

“Dear Paige,

Thank you for submitting your query. I would like to request the FIRST THREE (3) CHAPTERS of your COMPLETED MS for REUNIONS.

Please send as a word .doc attachment to this e-mail address.

Thanks much, and I look forward to reviewing your work.

Fletcher and Company, LLC.”

Can you believe it?

Of course I emailed my husband and my kid the thrilling news right away, but I had no immediate person to share it with. Kinda a bummer…I was at work with a bunch of 7th graders when the message came in on my phone. I was probably the happiest substitute in the best mood of anyteacher they would have all day on a Monday…but I was not really in a position to talk about my book with these kids.

After work, I made a quick stop at the grocery to pick up some dinner quickies. Of all people, at the deli counter in back I ran into my former high school English teacher….The man who gave me the writing prompt assignment 32 years ago, which actually launched the book:

Write about a person, (not parents / grandparents) who has impacted your life or in some other way was really cool to meet. (Had to be a real life person you’d met.)

At the time, I chose to write about meeting my estranged cousin, “Weird Bob”, who came for a visit and the impression he made and the advice he imparted on me.

So I had the chance that most people probably never get: to revisit an old teacher and thank them for helping with your current success(es). I told Mr. West about my book, and he was all excited for me. I told him he was the 1st actual in person- person I’d been able to share my news with, and that was very cool. Of all people. I told him that in my acknowledgement section in the book, he was one of the people on my “thank you” list because he was the teacher who taught me how to write. I think he was flattered.

I am so thankful I was able to tell him all that today.

Wow! Such a day!

Now off to celebrate my “win” with pizza and concentrating on polishing my 1st three chapters before I hit the “send’ button!



Memoir Progress / REUNIONS

It’s been a while since I have done a post. Working during the day and tutoring has taken over, along with family matters. Actually though, the past couple of days have been most productive, and I have now sent out the “book baby” to 41 agents / agencies! I found a nifty little website called Qurytracker, and pulled up a list of about 400 agents who represent my field of writing. Wow! My goal is to contact nearly all of them, one by one.
So how do you get through all those names? Here’s how I am screening and sorting:
1- I am only going to query agents / agencies that accept emailed communications. Why should I spend up all my paper, stamps and ink on a big fat maybe? I’m doing enough work already. I have only sent one paper query letter off out of 50 applications total. Man, these guys are nuts if they think I would print out hundreds to thousands of pages if all these enterprises wanted proposals, synopses and sample chapters too! No way José! Saving a tree is the way to approach this initially. I can always go back and snail mail the other old skool guys if I need to. Hopefully I will have success before I get to that point!
2- I am targeting female agents before males. Adoption, babies, child development and coming of age are typically more chick-themed than dude themed. Women would probably be more apt to pick up a read like mine, I would think. That doesn’t mean I am not applying to male agents too. I am. In some cases, I am reading that agents in a company may work as a team and if they don’t seem interested in my work initially, they may possibly pass my submission on to another colleague in their office.
3- I am finding anyone who might have something in common with me to appeal to, man or woman. For example, I found one with the last name of Adams, which is my maiden name and name of my adoptive family in the book. I found one agent with the same first name as me. Maybe she will find what I have to say in Chapter 1 about my name amusing or relatable. I found one who is a grad from the same college as me and another who is a grad from my daughter’s college. I like reading agent bios and seeing who is a parent, who loves dogs and cats, who might be from my neck of the woods or was a former teacher / education major before a literary career. Ya never know.
The last agency / agent I queried this PM, before calling it quits for the night was Wally Lamb’s agent! Woot! If you don’t know, Wally Lamb is my fave modern literary fiction author!!! Man, can that guy tell a story! IMO, he’s as good as Stephen King….just not as into the macabre.
One agent I will consider sending a paper mail packet to is the agent who represented David Pelzer, the man who wrote the CHILD CALLED “IT” series of memoirs. Since it is the exact same genre as mine, memoir about a foster / adopted kid (only his story was to the extreme), it’s worth a send if I need to.
So….. Here are my stats so far: Roughly 400 agents / agencies to query. 50 queries sent out, 41 pending and 8 turn-downs so far. One OK response from the local publisher who told me to keep searching but definitely come back to her in a year if something else didn’t work out before that because she could relate to Chapter 1 in my book submission!



Memoir, REUNIONS, Hello again

I haven’t posted much about the book process lately only because there’s been no new news to report. I continue to send out queries, which is my plan for this school year, and then we shall see.
My gut feeling tells me that the local publishing house, which contacted me back about two weeks ago, telling me to keep searching but if I found no one else in the meantime, they would be happy to review my whole manuscript in a year when they had more time to offer me, still might be the answer. I’m OK with a small publisher. They’ll know you there.
Reasons to go with a small biz:
It’s personalized for me.
Easy to learn names of colleagues and more about the biz in general.
Since they are local, and I wrote a story about living in the same town, they might be more enthusiastic readers and promoters.
Local connections. (but they are working on expanding this)
Support local business.
Being only locally “famous” may be all I really need or want.
As a first time book writer, this may be a good start to see if I would want to pursue the writer’s path further in a professional way.
Some of the connecting with people and places outside my home town is going to have to come from me and my willingness to promote above and beyond. I know this. I can do it through blogs like this one, Blogger, FaceBook, Twitter and even my tutoring / teaching website, which could be modified to include more writing. I could invest in biz trips for book signings, especially in places where I have friends and family with whom I can stay. As just a substitute teacher, I do have a lot lore freedom to come and go.
Reasons to go with a larger pubbing company:
Bigger budget.
More nation-wide connections and exposure possibilities now.
Possibly faster results.
Reasons why it makes no difference which way, Local or Big City:
The Internet is everybody’s “city”.
As long as either place can put out e-books as well as actual books to reach all potential reading markets.
As long as some reputable publisher accepts my work as being worthy of publication, then I have the cred I need.
Notes to self:
Next time I blog here, I should cover:
1- What would I tell people at a book signing talk and
2- What was my writing process for making this particular book



Memoir Book progress

Wow! It’s been a while since my last update! I haven’t forgotten you guys! Promise! Just been busy with all that back-to-school business with both my college and high school kid. A routine for living is coming back slowly.
The past week or so I have been submitting to more agencies. I tell ya, everybody wants something different. I have it all: queries, proposal, summary, synopsis….It’s just gonna be a matter of finding the right agent for me and my book.
I still think, gut feeling, that one of our local publishing houses is going to be the lucky winner though. They are smaller here, but also will have the time to give me the attention I need and will be very accessible for meetings and phone calls. Working it with local business supports my community as well. Well, ya can’t win the lotto unless you buy the tickets, so I am querying all over and going to do my dangdest to get this baby agent-repped and published. I even found one agent in my writing field who went to my undergrad college! (Florida State) Having something in common like that can go a long way sometimes.



Visit to the Big City, lawyers and publishers,…Oh My!

My college kid has a summer internship job with City Beat Magazine, a local entertainment paper that comes out weekly. (Writers run in this family!) She and I were able to share a ride into town, which was nice. Somehow we arrived downtown early and had time to go into the Mediterranean restaurant for gyros. She ate, but I had them wrap up my falafel sandwich because I just didn’t want to meet big time lawyers with gyro breath and greasy greek sandwich hands, ya know? I would eat after the meeting on my own.
Back to Downtown…
I had two hours to kill before my meeting when College Kid went off to her job site for her 4 hour gig. I hiked up to the Carew Tower, where the office was / is and looked in the shops down below. Boring…Really a sign of depressed times. The Tower Place Mall is so deserted. The food court and a TJ Maxx is all that is open and functioning, so I got the brilliant idea to go up in the Carew Tower to the top to look around. Carew Tower is our highest building. It’s baby stuff compared to the Sears Tower or even the Empire State Building, but it’s ours. Actually, looks wise, the CT is a baby Empire State…Same type of bricks or blocks, similar inside with all the art-deco trim and flooring. I love how it echos. The CT is 48 stories and only costs $2. I took some photos, which came off pretty nice from just a phone, hung out for about 15 minutes then went back down. My heels were rubbing raw, and my feet were dying. Not a good time to have a bad shoe day. Anyway, I grinned and made it fine through my meeting w the attorney and his associate. I had all 12 of my questions answered, and they gave me a booklet about legal issues for writers. The guys were totally impressed with how I was organized! haha!
(They should see my house…NOT!)
Most importantly, the legal eagles advised me to go with book publishing first. Try for at least a year. It’s worth it if it’s that good. They say the e / iBook market is growing, but it is such a small percentage of sales, and will be most likely 5-10 years before it’s as common and as easy and affordable to all as iTunes did for our CD and record collections several years ago. It won’t happen to books that fast, and I limit my market share to go electronic. This was the sweet music I wanted to hear from someone who knows the business better than I do.
Came back down the elevator after shaking hands and collecting business cards, intending to eat that sandwich, which had been marinading in a white sack inside my Vera Bradley purse all this time. I also pulled out the phone to check messages and found this:
Hello, Ms. Strickland,
Thank you for your submission. I’m intrigued by your story. However, since we’re a VERY small publishing company, we already have our hands full with our newest release, “It Just Hasn’t Happened Yet”. This is the first book we’ve had with national exposure, and all of our efforts are going toward making that as successful as possible. We expect that to take up the better part of the next year. After that, we have another book by the same author slated to be released (either in 2011 or 2012, depending on how publicity and sales for the current book go).
However, since I think you have an interesting story (my oldest son was also premature and he still has a lot of issues developmentally) and a good starting point for the “tone” of the book, I would be willing to look at the whole manuscript again in the future. In the meantime, since I don’t want you waiting on us, please continue to send it out to other publishing companies, too. With luck, a larger company will be interested in it, as I know they would have far greater resources for PR and marketing than we do. If you don’t hear from any of them, please do contact me again in November 2011.
Thank you again for your interest and please do keep in touch.
This editor is local. There are 4 local publishers in town here. I had asked the lawyers what they knew about any of them, and they only were aware of one. I had Googled four.
This publisher is indeed small…I like that…They get to know you there…and was started by a UC college prof who wanted to get textbooks he’d written published. It is growing to become more commercial.
Oh my goodness! What a boost to receive such a message. What a feeling it is to know that I touched somebody’s life already with what I wrote in Chapter One. It is relatable and a reader CAN get hooked. I “intrigued” her!!!!!
College Kid is all thrilled. My mom is amazed and thrilled.
This is the taste of success.
It will ha



I just posted this at an Adoption Family website re my book:

I would love to share my story so much, that I have done just that! I wrote a book! It’s called REUNIONS, and it is about growing up as an adopted kid in the 1960’s and 70’s. I was the only adopted child in my circle of peers, family, neighbors and friends, and I tell ya…It was a VERY isolating feeling! Adoption articles and lists of famous athletes and movie stars who were adopted were not common, so it really did make me feel freakish back in the day. Being adopted was something I was hideously ashamed of. It was very taboo to discuss.
It literally took falling in love and knowing that the only way we could progress in our relationship honestly would be for me to tell the guy about my worst kept secret. He’d either be a complete moron about it or a decent guy.
I told and he was decent….Very cool, in fact. Cooler than cool could be. So after school / college, we got married!
In my adoption story, I share vignettes from my growing up experience with my adoptive family and how I embraced them as my roots, as they embraced me. However, they are a family…a very human family with flaws and rough spots, like all families. My story unfolds with me deciding as an independent adult to “come out” after living a 26 year lie to many friends and colleagues about my adoption, and at the same time, my adoptive parents are trudging through and learning to make their way with a damaged home life, due to other problems outside of my choice to search.
This is an exploration of family dynamics, a tale in child development from the adoptee’s POV during an era when less was accepted, less information was available, but social norms were being challenged in the time of free love, rock and roll and political unrest. I tell the tale with honesty and humor, filled with pop culture and relatable stories and situations.
I hope this is a book that people here might want to read.
My manuscript is complete, and I am now shopping publishers / agents and trying to promote it myself on various websites.
I would love to know what you folks might think of this book concept.
My intention is NOT to totally promote the idea that adoption searches are all good and right. Clearly, they are not the best choice for all people, especially while underage. It’s a very personal and individual thing at any time in life. It just happened to work for me, and I admit it: I got lucky.
A message I do want to share is that just because you are an adopted person, you are not a freak. You are OK. You are as “normal’ as anyone else. Just because you are adopted doesn’t mean you are too delicate or special to handle realities of life that non-adopted people deal with. Adopted parents and birth parents, be prepared. A search interest may or may not happen, but you never know. The adoptee is not disloyal or unappreciative if they want to find out more. Not all birth parents are “bad” people who live wrong and get in trouble. They are fine folks with feelings, ambitions and ideas just like everybody else.
I hope my “book baby” will one day be informative, entertaining and relatable for readers from many backgrounds and age groups: older teens through seniors, family interests / genealogy buffs, adoption triangle members, legal and social work professionals, teachers, psychs, and for sure readers familiar with my home town, (Cincinnati, Ohio) and who enjoy pop culture references from the 60’s-80’s.