Answers to your questions about ghostwriting

Author Laura Cross

Laura Cross

Today, I’m pleased to host Laura Cross, author of many ghostwritten books as well as her new Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent: Everything You Need to Know to Become Successfully Published. In January, you posted great questions about ghostwriting (Thanks everyone!), and Laura has some eye-opening answers.

Before we get to them, though, we have a winner for the PDF copy of Laura’s Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent book. The winning question came from Suzanne Pitner. Congratulations, Suzanne! Laura will be emailing you your prize. Enjoy!

And now on to the questions and answers:

DayByDayWriter: How much ghostwriting is done in publishing?

Laura Cross: It’s estimated that more than 80% of published books are ghostwritten.

Karen Strong: I was once approached by a company who wanted me to do some ghostwriting for them, but I wasn’t sure about how much to charge. What is the going rate and what should a writer beginning in ghostwriting charge for their work?

Cover of The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent bookLaura: Book ghostwriting fees range from $10,000 to $100,00 per project — $10,000 being the very low end and $100,000 usually paid to more established writers (“celebrity” ghostwriters earn $250,000+ per book). Many ghostwriters determine their rates based on how much they can command per hour (based on experience, portfolio and demand for their services). Once you determine your hourly rate, you can translate that fee into a per page rate, a per word rate, or a per book rate (based on how much time it will take to research, organize, outline, write, edit and revise a project.)

So how do you calculate the time needed for a project? Some writers can write one standard manuscript page in 30 minutes, others require three hours. Some can conduct research and organize a project on the topic of neurosurgery in 80 hours, while others need five months. You need to be aware of your own skills and strengths. Over time, you will have a good understanding of how much time is required for any given project. For instance, I know that for most 200-page prescriptive non-fiction books on the topic of business or finance, I require (remember, each writer’s requirements will be different) about 275 hours of time (around 60 hours of research, organization and outlining time, one hour of writing time per page, and one hour of editing/revising time per 15 pages).

Suzanne Pitner: How does a writer get a ghostwriting gig if he or she doesn’t have a published book yet? Are other writing credits enough to land a job?

Laura: I ghosted more than 30 books before my first “credited” book was published. You don’t need to have a book published under your own name to become a ghostwriter. Create a portfolio based on your magazine and newspaper articles. If you have not yet been published, collect your blog posts and expand them into full articles or book chapters, or use excerpts from your unpublished manuscripts. Define your specialty (business, health/fitness, memoir, etc.) and market specifically to those clients.

Anita Nolan: I’d like to know how to actually get a ghostwriting or work for hire job. I’ve actually done some work for hire, written for a magazine, edited a couple magazines, etc., but I don’t seem to be able to break through. (The WFH work I’ve done has come to me through friends of friends.) I apply for jobs, hear back that they’ll keep my info on file, but never hear anything more. What is the correct way to approach ghostwriting/WFH publishers, and what are the best ways/places to find out about this type of work?

Laura: I’m not sure what you mean by “ghostwriting publishers”? Most traditional publishers and imprints release books written by ghostwriters, though these publishers don’t often hire the ghostwriter directly. Some subsidiary publishers — who market themselves as “self-publishers” — and vanity presses (such as Authors House) offer ghostwriting services to their customers and keep a list of ghostwriters on file to hire on a per project basis. Approaching these types of publishers is not the best route for establishing a successful ghostwriting career or making a decent living — and is not a path I would recommend.

Most of your best ghostwriting projects will be referrals from literary agents working with experts or celebrities who lack the necessary writing skills to produce a compelling book. If you’re looking for quality, well-paying ghostwriting opportunities you need to connect with literary agents. (You can download a free chapter on “Finding and Selecting an Agent” from my book The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent at www.GetALiteraryAgent.com.) As a ghostwriter, you approach a literary agent just the same way any other aspiring author does.

Donna Maloy: I am assuming that most ghostwriters are paid a flat fee and therefore don’t have a claim on future royalties. But do ghostwriting contracts reserve any future rights at all — say after the acknowledged author passes away?

Laura: All contracts are negotiable, but with a standard ghostwriting agreement, you do not receive any credit or rights — one reason it’s important to be paid well upfront for your writing services.

Wendy Sue Rupnow: How do I try to get credit for ghostwriting and freelance copy and research on a resume? I was recently rejected because some of my freelance could not be verified. Also, I have attached copies of ghostwriting with applications and a few times was questioned… with authorship. Is this something people try to pull?

Laura: Never, ever disclose you are a ghostwriter on a project. It is unethical, and in most cases you put yourself at great risk for a lawsuit and a diminished reputation. Who is going to hire a ghostwriter who doesn’t stay hidden? If a potential client does not understand that you cannot disclose specific information, then you don’t want to work with that client — it’s never worth the risk. If the client is looking to hire a ghostwriter, he is going to have the same “issue” with EVERY ghostwriter he interviews, because no professional ghostwriter can (nor will) reveal authorship. If a potential client is questioning whether you actually wrote the writing you presented, then he’s questioning your integrity and you’re only going to have trust issues with the client throughout the project. Who wants to deal with that? You choose your clients as much as they choose you, and in this case I would say, “Run the other way… there’s many more choices out there.”  Respect yourself and know your worth — you’ll attract clients who feel the same about you.

Back to the portfolio question. For portfolio samples, you want to be very careful when using ghostwritten material due to non-disclosure agreements. My contracts specify that I may use up to five pages of ghostwritten content for portfolio purposes, without identifying the “author” or book title. You can also create a list of projects you have ghostwritten identified by topic and type of client — for example, “A how-to entrepreneurial book for a prominent business leader”, “A motivational self-help book for a respected psychiatrist”, “A loyalty-marketing book for the CEO of an Internet company.” Put together a client testimonial sheet to submit along with your samples.

Marion Steiger: How should I go about getting a good ghostwriter to help me finish a non-fiction book based on my daughter’s diaries when she was 14 and had cancer? I’m adding sections throughout the diary on thoughts from our family members and our experiences, so it will be a book for young adults and for adults also.

Laura: Hiring a good ghostwriter can be extremely expensive. My question to you is: what is your goal for the book? If you are planning to acquire a literary agent and attract a traditional publisher, then, in order to have the best chance at landing a book deal, you may need to hire a ghostwriter. If you are planning to set up your own publishing company and release the book yourself, then you may wish to consider completing the content and hiring a good developmental and line editor to polish the material — this path will help you save tens of thousands of dollars.

(Side note: I recommend this route because Marion is writing a narrative non-fiction manuscript. For anyone contemplating writing prescriptive non-fiction, a ghostwriter is not hired until after you’ve landed a book deal from your book proposal and received an advance from the publisher, which allows you to then hire a ghostwriter. Many of my clients hire me to ghostwrite their initial book proposals and then the full manuscript once they have a publishing contract.)

You can find qualified memoir ghostwriters through 2M Communications Ltd. and The Penn Group. I am not an advocate of “bidding” sites for finding quality writers. Yes, you can definitely find exceptional writers on these sites (I’ve found some great clients there myself), but the overwhelming majority of “writers” on bidding sites are utterly inept.

Liz Maxwell: How do you say a polite ‘no’ when someone asks you to ghostwrite for them?

Laura: Well, that depends on why you want to say “no”  — are you saying “no” to ghostwriting or “no” to the specific project? If you’re not a ghostwriter and simply have no interest in ghostwriting someone’s book, you can just tell them you’re not a ghostwriter and that the process does not appeal to you. If you are a ghostwriter but have no interest in the particular project, be honest and tell the client, “I don’t believe I am the right fit for your book.” To create a successful book, the client-ghostwriter relationship needs to be right for both parties.

Ivette Ebaen: Whether the work is fiction or non-fiction, how creative is a ghostwriting job since you have to work within a given structure, genre, style — another writer’s work?

Laura: Ghostwriting is a business – I don’t necessarily consider it a creative job, though there are creative aspects. To stay balanced and keep my sanity while working on ghostwriting projects, I try to include time for more creative personal writing projects. When you’re ghostwriting non-fiction books, generally, your clients are not other writers — they’re usually business leaders, entrepreneurs, or experts who lack the skill to craft a compelling book (that’s why they need you). When you move into fiction territory, you encounter a few author-clients. Obviously, narrative non-fiction and fiction ghostwriting are more naturally “creative” than prescriptive non-fiction writing because you’re creating scenes, and dialogue, and turning points, and crisis, and resolution — but at all times, your goal is to remain true to the client’s “voice” and idea. The job of all ghostwriters is to capture the client’s “voice” and effectively get it on paper (especially if you’re ghostwriting a book for an established best-selling fiction author).

DayByDayWriter: Wow! Great information, Laura. I had no idea such a high percentage of books are ghostwritten. And the pay does sound enticing. Anything else you’d like to add?

Laura: I’d just like to say thank you so much for having me. And thanks to your readers for all the great questions. I hope I’ve been able to offer some insights into the world of ghostwriting for writers who are looking to break into the field, and for those who are considering working with a ghostwriter on their projects.

DayByDayWriter: Thank you, Laura.

If you have other questions for Laura, please post them in the comments. You can also find out more about Laura below:

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Laura Cross is an author, screenwriter, ghostwriter, freelance book editor, and writing coach specializing in nonfiction books and script adaptation (book-to-film projects). She writes two popular blogs, www.NonfictionInk.com and www.AboutAScreenplay.com, and teaches online writing workshops www.ScenarioWritingStudio.com/workshops. Her latest book is The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent: Everything You Need To Know To Become Successfully Published. You can download a free chapter, view the book trailer, read the full table of contents, and purchase the eBook at www.GetALiteraryAgent.com.

Mark McVeigh on publishing

I spent my Saturday at the fabulous Austin SCBWI conference, which offered a great lineup of speakers. Over the next week, or as long as it takes to cover them all, I’ll post what I heard.

Literary agent Mark McVeigh

Mark McVeigh

First up is literary agent Mark McVeigh, who has his own agency, The McVeigh Agency. Mark knows something about children and the children’s literary industry. He taught sixth grade for four years and was in editorial at Golden Books, Scholastic, Random House, HarperCollins, Dutton and as the editorial director at Simon & Shuster’s Aladdin imprint. There’s a great interview with Mark at Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog.

Mark gave a candid but encouraging talk about the current state of the publishing industry. “There is good news,” he said, explaining that the industry is in a time of transition.

Middle-grade, early chapter books and young-adult are on the verge of breaking out in digital books, he said, adding that he thinks people will ultimately make more money and sell more books in digital. He buys e-books himself, and said that if he likes it, he also buys the hardcover to have on his shelf.

He encourages people, if they can afford it, to buy books, whether digital or print editions, to keep the industry going.

That said, he’s still busy. Mark was late to his presentation because, he admitted, he was working on his speech in another room. He explained that he has been getting up at 7 am and working til 3 am.

He advised that, especially now, writers need to defend their muse. “Rejection is not necessarily a reflection of your work,” he said, pointing out that good books are getting turned down right now because publishers feel that they can’t afford to take any chances.

To defend your muse, he said, be true to your writing. “I want clients who are warriors,” he said. Be brave. And, he said, write every day.

He also said to have tough love in critique sessions and choose writing friends carefully with an eye toward learning to get better.

He suggested writers keep up with what’s going on in the industry, for example, by reading Publishers Weekly, and network at conferences and online, through blogs and community forums. He even said writers can make a name for themselves by creating and posting videos on YouTube, whatever it takes to make yourself known.

Other advice Mark offered:

  • Sign with an agent because publishing houses are becoming less and less inclined to buy from writers who are not agented.
  • After they’ve got a deal, writers shouldn’t turn down paperback original. Despite the fact that some reviewers still refuse to review paperback books, people are buying paperbacks more than any other format right now. “Genius will show through no matter what the format,” he said.
  • Have a good lawyer read your contract.
  • And most of all: “Keep working on your craft.”

Great advice.

Tomorrow, Andrea Cascardi with Transatlantic Literary Agency.

Write On!

Synopsis helpful links and iPad impressions?

Manuscript update: Buried in query letter and synopsis writing hell.

Yesterday, I promised more on synopsis writing today, so here goes.

I went through this already with my first novel, but when I sat down to write the synopsis for my second, I felt like a toddler on uneasy legs. So, I did my favorite procrastination activity: Research. (Just kidding about the procrastination activity. Research is incredibly important and useful and helpful, but I will admit that sometimes I can be a little more meticulous than I need to be when I’m avoiding the writing I should be doing.)

In my research, I found some cool links on synopsis writing, ones I hadn’t found in my original research. Share time:

  • How to Write a Synopsis: Marg Gilks explains why working hard to write the best synopsis possible is necessary (because it’ll be used as a sales tool by your agent and editor) and offers up some good tips on how to write a brilliant one, such as starting while you’re doing the final read of your manuscript.
  • How I Write a Fiction Synopsis: Diana Peterfreund, an admitted lover of synopsis writing (she has to be in a minority there), details how she writes a synopsis—before the book. And she defends herself against all the writers who gasp and think she’s crazy. It’s a fun and thought-provoking read.
  • Writing the Fiction Synopsis: Diana Peterfreund points readers to Kathy Carmichael’s online synopsis workshop, which has some very useful tips too.
  • Synopsis Samples: Charlotte Dillon provides a huge number of sample synopses, most for romance books, but the great thing is, these are synopses that got the said books sold, so they’re priceless no matter the genre.

Got any others you want to share? Paste them into the comments.

And now onto the big news of the week, Apple’s iPad. Sure it sounds all ooh and ahh, but, call me sentimental, I’ve got a special place in my heart for Amazon’s Kindle because it came first. (Not that I own one. I’m still in love with paper and ink.)

Also, I’m not big on the idea of one device taking over the world. I have an iPod — like everyone — but I was THRILLED when Amazon started selling music downloads with no digital rights management that can play on any device. For that alone, I started buying all my music from Amazon instead of iTunes, and the fact that the prices were cheaper didn’t hurt either.

From what I’ve read, DRM for the iPad hasn’t been revealed yet. But with all those major publishers on board to offer their books on the device, I really hope Apple isn’t being too greedy and is playing nice with the industry by allowing ebooks downloaded through iBooks to be read on any player.

What do you think? Future? Gimmick? Scary? Exciting?

Here’s a quote from the New York Times blog posted live from the Apple announcement:

“Isn’t this awesome?” Jobs says. It is, but everything looks good on stage. Nothing ages faster than the future when you get it in your hands.

Very true. What’s next?

Write On!

Neil Gaiman's tools of marketing

Manuscript update: Wrote a first draft of my query letter in the wee hours of this morning before I dragged myself to bed. It’s not great, but a good start. A better version and the synopsis will be written next week.

I just finished reading through a New Yorker feature about Neil Gaiman and was struck by how adept he is at marketing.

As an as yet unpublished novelist, I’ve read numerous times about how the industry has changed in recent years and the author must take on the promotion of a book if it is to succeed. My author friend Gwen Cooper knew that when both of her two books were published, and her efforts helped her second book, Homer’s Odyssey, debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Not that the publishing houses don’t also promote the books, but nowadays, an author’s promotional work is what will propel a book above and beyond.

But, I must admit that I figured that established writers, such as Neil Gaiman — who, the New Yorker article says, got more attention than Angelina Jolie at Worldcon when they were both there promoting the movie Beowulf — didn’t need to do too much in the way of self-promotion. He’s such a prolific writer in novels, picture books, graphic novels and even screenplays, with two of his printed works adapted into movies (Coraline and Stardust) and five movies listed on IMDb as in development, including an adaptation of his Newbery Medal winning The Graveyard Book from last year. He has such a following that fans wear buttons saying “squeeee,” meaning the scream they give when they see him, according to the New Yorker article. And yet, Gaiman is still actively promoting his books beyond the usual book signing tours and readings the publishing house sets up.

For example:

  • Gaiman was one of the first writers to have a blog, which now counts about 1.4 million readers.
  • He has a Twitter feed, which he posts to a dozen times a day. And, apparently, even people in his employment, including his handy man and his assistant, tweet.
  • For The Graveyard Book, Gaiman read each of the book’s eight chapters at eight different book readings, videotaped them and posted them to his blog. According to the New Yorker, whenever sales of the book began to slide, Gaiman would tweet that the videos were available on his blog and sales of the book would quickly rise back up.

This is what the already established writers do to maintain their success. When our debut novels are published, we’ll have to do much more. So, watch what the big cats are doing, soak it in, and get ready. One day, you’ll be doing all this and more, much more.

Write On!

No more Kirkus reviews

Sad news today. Kirkus Reviews is closing up shop. Parent Nielsen is closing the trade magazine, which has become an institution in publishing, as well as Editor & Publisher.

For all aspiring authors who have for years read about debuting books and their Kirkus reviews, they won’t have the opportunity to get a Kirkus review of their own. The cost of progress? I don’t know.

Thank you to the staff of the magazine for all they have done for authors over the years.

Winnie the Pooh on Nintendo DS

Done today: Chapter 1 (four pages)

Revision remaining: 165 pages

Daily pages needed to be finished by end of November: 3.5

Finally got down to some good revision this morning. Phew! Does it feel good to be working with the book again.

We’ve read that children’s books have been doing better than some other segments in this recession. Borders even took floorspace from CDs and DVDs to expand children’s books. However, in today’s culture, kids have so many more things calling out for their attention, and the most popular is videogames.

That’s why I LOVE what Egmont is doing. Britain’s Telegraph reported that Danish publisher Egmont (which has a U.S. division, Egmont USA) has signed a deal with EA Games to put children’s books on Nintendo’s DS handheld videogame console. The Telegraph reports that Penguin is involved in the deal too.

The ebooks will be known as Flips and will include Enid Blyton books (a favorite of mine was I was a tyke) and boys’ book Too Ghoul For School.

Egmont owns the rights to Winnie the Pooh (still a favorite of mine), the Mr. Men series (I love Mr. Tickle!!), Thomas the Tank Engine, Wallace & Gromit and Rupert the Bear, so I’d guess it’s only a matter of time before these are on the DS too.

Ereaders and ebooks have been gaining in popularity. The blogosphere and Twitter have been all, well, atwitter with discussions about them. Are they the future? Who knows. I personally don’t think paper books will ever go away completely, but maybe that’s my nostalgia talking.

But the interesting thing about ebooks is the opportunity to attract kids. Kids lock onto gadgets and new technologies faster than anyone, and what better place is there for a book than a handheld videogame console kids carry around all the time?

The key is making the ebooks as fun as the videogames, which could be a challenge with so much less interaction in a book. In the Telegraph article, Egmont’s Rob McMenemy said ebooks won’t be popular with kids until they have color and moving imagery. The Flips will have an interactive element.

I think he’s right. And my hope, is that kids who gain a love for these moving, interactive ebooks will grow up to enjoy the paper kind — or at least regular old digital kind — of stories only books can deliver.

What do you think? What’s the future?

Write On!

Day for bookstores and other links

  • Current word count: 44,261
  • New words written: 1,553
  • Words til goal: 0 / ? words a day til the end of September I finish
  • Got through most of the story climax today. Just have one more adventure part then the final wrap up chapter. I will DEFINITELY be finished by the end of the this week, I think. 🙂

    I browsed through some emails today too and found some great links I wanted to share. First, a great idea from Publishers Weekly: National Bookstore Day. The day to celebrate book-selling and the culture of bookstores is Nov. 7, so get ready to party.

    Writers Digest is holding a conference right now and, lucky for us, blogging about every minute. Check out the Official Writers Digest Conference blog. I haven’t had a chance to look through it all yet, but there’s plenty to chew on.

    Finally, if you want to find out Dan Brown’s secret to success, Slate offers up an interactive Dan Brown plot generator that will give you a plot so you too can write a Dan Brown book. Have fun.

    What have you been up to?

    Write On!

    Save the libraries

    Wordcount: zilch, nada, zero

    I’m too tired today and my brain was barely working today when I sat down at the computer. After 30 minutes of realizing it just wasn’t going to happen, I quit. But I do have some good news: Driving later, I put the story in my head and a fun idea for my current scene popped into my head quickly. So, whoopee! I’m all ready for tomorrow morning’s writing session.

    But enough of that. Today I’m writing about libraries, the places I hope will one day carry all the words I wake up early to write every morning. There’s a tragedy taking place, in case you haven’t heard: All the libraries in Philadelphia — let me repeat that: ALL — will close after the end of business Oct. 2 because they no longer have the necessary budgetary legislation to keep them open.

    Libraries are the places that so many readers became book lovers. I know I did. When I was a kid, my local library was my favorite place to go. I loved that I could go in there, give them a card and take home a bunch of books, new, old, beautiful books. I didn’t even mind much that I had to return them, because I could always get more, and I could always take out the same ones again if I wanted. It was like Christmas every day. I loved it.

    Today, I mostly buy my books, but I do still love to visit the library. There’s something wonderful about seeing all those shelves just stuffed with books, old, new, tattered, loved.

    Editorial Ass reminds us that libraries also are essential for the publishing industry. Publishing houses rely on library buys to help make first print runs. And if publishing houses can’t make their first print runs, they won’t be publishing as many books, which will lower the opportunities for those of us who are already book lovers and those who have yet to discover their wonder.

    If libraries close, children, especially those in inner-city areas, will have less access to books, and that’s not a good thing. A book can inspire a child, comfort a child, teach a child, and help a child find ways to deal with the problems he or she deals with every day. Books are important, and so are libraries.

    So, do whatever you have to, talk to whomever it may concern, but save our libraries, those in Philadelphia that are destined to close and any others that could be in the same dilemma.

    Write On!

    Making the dream come true

    Current word count: 33,200

    New words written: 1,317

    Words til goal: 6,800 / 252 words a day til the end of September

    On Tuesday, I overslept and didn’t write, but the other days have been slow but I’ve kept up my goals. My day-job has been busy and frying my brain, though — hence no blog posts all week. Sorry!

    Dreaming Anastasia book coverBut today, we have a treat on DayByDayWriter. I am thrilled to have a guest post from Joy Preble, debut author whose Dreaming Anastasia launched in stores Sept. 1. I haven’t read it, but it sounds awesome, and I just love the cover.

    Like many of us, when Joy wrote Dreaming Anastasia, she was balancing a dream of writing with a day-job, family and all the other things life throws at us. But, like us, she pursued her dream and now it has come true. Joy didn’t have any special contacts or anything to give her a leg-up in her publishing career. Like us, she had an idea for a story and a desire that wouldn’t quit.

    Here’s Joy discussing her inspirational journey to publication. One day I’ll be posting yours!

    Preble

    Preble

    So here’s the dirty little secret about writing as a career. It doesn’t initially pay the bills. Okay, there’s Stephenie Meyer. But then there’s the rest of us. And the truth is, I know some people who just take the leap, quite their day job and go for it. Well, I’m not one of them. So what I’m doing instead, is what most writers I know are doing – attempting a precarious balance of writing, other job, family, and personal life. Some days, I think I’m crazy. Mostly, I just don’t think about it too hard. Because the truth is, I’m besotted with happiness that I’m getting to do this thing that I’ve wanted to do forever. Someone is paying me money to write, and I get to have a real book on a shelf in stores all around the world. Can you think of anything better?

    Five years ago, I was in my class room after school one day, getting ready to leave. It was a mediocre day in a less than mediocre teaching year, and I was in an equally mediocre mood. Okay, scratch that. I was scraping emotional bottom. I’d been toying with picture book writing and getting the occasional article published here and there, and I was the mom of senior in high school and I was angsty about the whole impending college thing. I’d been writing my whole life, but I’d never really pushed myself. I’d start and stop and start again.

    Which was probably exactly what I would have done with this story idea that came into my head that afternoon when it suddenly started raining so hard that I decided to stick around until it let up a bit. The muse didn’t leave me much that day, but she gave me what would eventually become Anne Michaelson, my main character. Anne was smart and funny and snarky and not particularly happy. She knew more than her teachers, and she seemed to want something bigger than what she had. And somehow from there, a story emerged. What if, I wondered, she bumped into someone who could change her life? What if he was handsome and mysterious and had his own problems? What if he told her that she had powers beyond what she imagined? That she could change history? Would she believe him? Would she do what he was telling her she needed to?

    And okay, here’s the funny thing: Lots of things changed in that moment. Not the least of which was me.

    Let me interject here that it wasn’t quite that easy. I really was having the mother of all horrible school years. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. And I didn’t just sit down and start writing, the story pouring out of my head all inspired and gooey and oozing with brilliance. In truth, I actually decided to look for another job. Yes, I was just that stubborn about the whole thing. But eventually, for whatever reason, I discovered that this time, the story just wouldn’t let go.

    And so I wrote and wrote and wrote. In the fall of 2005, I had a first draft. By the summer of 2006,  I’d signed with an agent at Andrea Brown Literary. And in 2007, Dreaming Anastasia – then titled Spark – sold to Sourcebooks. In between, there were many, many rounds of revision. There was a miraculous moment when two of the agents I’d e-queried during half time on Super Bowl Sunday requested partials. And an equally life-changing moment when my then-agent Michelle Andelman chose to pull me from the slushiest of piles and represent this story that ultimately went on to become a genre-bending combination of fairy tale, fantasy, history, and romance. It was, I suppose, an act of faith for everyone involved.

    In between then and now, Michelle left for other work in publishing. I’m now repped by the intrepid and wonderful Jen Rofe. The editor who’d acquired my novel also went on to work elsewhere, and I was placed in the very capable hands of Dan Ehrenhaft. Things could have turned out differently. But they didn’t. Dreaming Anastasia got a totally kick ass cover, and an amazing team of copy editors, and I learned the rest of what goes into making a manuscript into an actual book. (Hint: a lot!)

    Dreaming Anastasia has been capturing people’s attention, and as I type this, it’s just a week until release day on September 1st. And mostly what I have learned is that sometimes even dreams you push aside for a very long time, can come true.

    Launch day for Homer's Odyssey

    Current word count: 27,525

    New words written: 1,122

    Words til goal: 12,475 / 347 words a day til the end of September

    I got a lot of words done this morning, but I’m working on a tricky chapter and I’m not sure how it’s turning out. We’ll see in the revision. My full word count compared to yesterday’s doesn’t match the new words written today because yesterday I went through the first chapter to get it ready to take to my critique group for last night’s meeting, and I ended up cutting a couple paragraphs. My critique group really seemed to like the first chapter and the premise for the story, though, so that’s really exciting.

    HomerOdysseyBookCoverToday is the launch day for Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper, a friend of mine who you might have read about on this blog. Homer is Gwen’s eyeless cat, who has been an inspiration to Gwen and is now an inspiration to the readers who’ve already read this book. If you didn’t catch my earlier posts on Gwen’s new book, here’s one about her cool website and another with the book trailer. I’m so excited for her. A wonderful day.

    Gwen has a great story behind her publication of this book, which you can read more about in her article on Open Salon yesterday. She’ll also be on Day By Day Writer with Sept. 11, with a special tribute guest post about her experience with Homer and her other cats on Sept. 11, 2001 (they live in New York City, and the cats were trapped in her apartment) and how she brought that into Homer’s Odyssey.

    Later, we’re also going to do an interview with Gwen about her road to publication with her first novel, Diary of a South Beach Party Girl, and now Homer’s Odyssey. It’s a great, inspirational story, so stay tuned.

    If you like animal books, and especially cats, check out Homer’s Odyssey. The book has already gained a solid fan base, as Gwen has been giving out some earlier ARCs to cat-loving fans. Check out the great reviews on Amazon.com.

    You’ll be celebrating your launch day soon enough. And I’ll be happy to write about it. 🙂

    Write On!