Skip to content

Category: publishing

In which I appear in a print anthology

In case you missed it, I had a poem published in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine back in May, my poem “Culley’s Pub: An Elegy“.

This same publisher is putting out a print anthology soon, and they’ve accepted Culley’s Pub to be part of this anthology. Yay! As per traditional publishing standards, I get a free copy of the anthology as payment for my work. Not complaining, just stating a fact.

As a little background, Culley’s Pub was my bar in college. Not by choice – my ex-husband always wanted to go there so we always went. Their signature drink was Mickey’s malt liquor, if that tells you anything. I’m told even the building Culley’s isn’t there anymore, so I suppose this is my way of immortalizing this seedy-ass dive bar.

In other news, I am starting a new job today so wish me luck.

1 Comment

2012 is gone… what did I do?

It’s that goal-reflection and goal-setting time of year. The time when the whole world reflects on its activities completed in the year as it comes to a close, and determines what activities will transpire in the year to come. And buys a gym membership they use a lot in January, sparingly in February, and completely give up on by March.

I, for the record, spent far more days of 2012 in the gym than skipping it. So, what writerly activities did I complete in the last year?

I read 60 books.

Not to be all braggy, but that’s more than a book a week. The secret wasn’t having more time, although quitting my shockingly low-paying freelance gig did free up a little bit more time, the secret was having more access. I started volunteering for the library, which meant I could bring something home every week, download audiobooks to my iPod Touch, and borrow Kindle books. I had never really gotten into audiobooks before, but I found it to be a great reading addition for certain activities like lifting weights, putting away laundry, and walking to the bank.

I finished writing my second novel

It was a collaborative effort between an academic, eleven women with tattoos, and a handful of tattoo artists. The writing part was great; in fact I think it’s one of the best things I have ever written in my lifetime. Getting a publisher was a bjillion times easier than what I experienced with my first book, but boy howdy going through the hoops of the book deal process is hard. I’m not sure if it’s actually hard, or if it just feels that way, but stay tuned because it’s going to be hitting the shelves before you know it… I hope.

My first novel celebrated its first birthday

And in its first year, it got over 5,000 promotional downloads, and had significantly far less paid copies sold. It got 14 reviews on Amazon, only one of which was a 1-star-er,  3 reviews on Barnes and Noble, and 18 ratings on Goodreads. It made it to the semi-final round of The Kindle Book Review best independent book of 2011 contest. It also pissed off my mom.

I started writing my third novel

Full disclosure – it’s barely one chapter at this point, but it’s going to rock. It’ll also be my first novel-length work that uses true chapters instead of a series of short stories. We’ll see how the long form story works out for me.

I wrote other stuff

A handful of poems, a couple flash fiction pieces, nothing too crazy, and not nearly as much as I should have written. I only got a couple of things featured or published, which I again should have hit harder.

Yep, that was 2012. So what’s 2013 going to bring, besides more steady gym time (I do, after all, have to fit into a wedding dress)? Here are my goals, in no particular order.

  • Publish novel #2. This one’s at the top, because it will with any luck happen first. Stay tuned.
  • Finish writing novel #3. If I can write, edit, and publish novel #2 in a little over a year, I should really try to do that every year. Even with a full-time job.
  • ABQ. Always be querying. I need to keep all my poems, short stories, and other crap in constant rotation.
  • Start expanding my freelance portfolio, because I might not want to work for the man all my life.
  • Write more stuff.
  • Keep my workshop group going.
  • Show nothing but love for other authors (but still make fun of ridiculous library finds).

Authors – always be looking to improve your writing, your platform, and your abdominals. My New Year’s Resolution, for the record, is to schedule my tweets each week so I am consistently building my platform. And to floss more.

2 Comments

“Getting” is to “Book Deal” as “Jumping” is to “Hoops”

Like most introspective, creative people, my least favorite form of communication is the phone. Sure, I enjoyed it plenty when I was 15, but I’m now 15 x 2 so I would much rather just email you, thanks very much.

When I began writing Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook, it was fortuitous of me to do the project for National Novel Writing Month, because I was on a time crunch. It also meant I couldn’t procrastinate picking up the phone and calling people to talk about their tattoo stories, and ask them if they’d be willing to let me write about them for this project. That was nerve-wracking, since I basically felt like I was asking them to bear their souls to me just so I could write another book. Still, they were my friends, and I appreciated their candidness and willingness to let me write about it. I was on a 30-day time crunch, so I couldn’t let people equally un-phone-y as me dodge my calls for long.

After I finished the project and started sending it around to publishers, I got a bite. The publisher asked that we have a – you guessed it – phone call. It was a good phone call, I learned a lot about what they were willing to do for me, but in exchange, they wanted me to do something for them: get all the friends whose tattoos I wrote about to sign a legal release form saying that when the book makes it big they won’t sue me for royalties, and to get all the tattoo artists who drew their tattoos to give consent to use the images. Which meant… 23 phone calls.

I also now had to ask my friends to sign a legal document saying they wouldn’t sue me and yes, I felt like a total dick. Pretty much without exception, all of them were totally cool about it; after all, they are my friends and they were as excited as I was about the prospect of me getting a book deal. I also had to ask them who did their tattoos, and call up their shops, leave messages, call back the next day, leave another message, explain myself several times… lather, rinse, repeat.

But this is what you do when you want your book to see the light of day, so I’m gladly doing it. But you can bet your britches that my next book will not bear any likenesses or have overlapping copyright implications that make me chew my nails down! Also, I refuse to make any phone calls over this long holiday weekend, so if I am waiting on you for your signed release form or tattoo image consent, you get a whole 4 days of me not calling to remind you.

Leave a Comment

The passive-aggressive breakup: It’s not you, it’s me.

When an acquisitions editor for a publishing house emails you saying he or she is interested in your book, it’s hard not to get your hopes up. When FOUR (yes, capital FOUR) editors email you saying they’re interested, it gets even harder.

Then comes the day one of them says they’re offering you a book deal, but the deal never mysteriously arrives in your inbox, they don’t return your calls, and you start obsessively checking your spam folders.

That’s not how it’s supposed to happen, but that’s how it’s happened for me. Late last summer, I started talking with a publisher who expressed interest in my book. They gave me a list of edits they wanted me to make; I made them. I emailed them, they responded. We talked format, marketing, tattoos (it’s what the books about), and they were incredibly responsive. Then they told me they’d have the contract to me on Tuesday. Tuesday came. Tuesday went. Another Tuesday came and went, and suddenly it felt like my emails were going straight to a fax machine that spit directly into a recycle bin (which we all know is what all fax machines really do, otherwise people would claim they actually receive the faxes I send).

Naturally, I didn’t want to be the pushy, needy author who demands to know where her contract is, lest they decide to pull the plug on the project, but still – I am a person, with needs! I politely sent some “followups”, but then something happened that made me back off a little…

Another editor emails me to say “they’d love to publish my book.” We start talking, over the phone (even though I abhor the phone due to the fact that I suck ass at it), over email (yay!). They begin putting up the hoops I need to jump through, I begin jumping like a good little author. They say they’re going to give me an advance and offer me a deal that’s quite a bit better than the one the aforementioned (but nameless)  publisher was offering, so I keep in constant contact with them with each hoop I jump through, until they say they’re ready to move forward.

Then… AGAIN! My emails start going into oblivion. My phone calls start going straight to voicemail. Weeks go by, I maintain polite follow-up protocol, and nothing. Now, I’m even politely crawling back to the first publisher who ignored me, hoping they’ll notice this cool new thing I did to my hair and take me back, or take me, to begin with.

I find myself wondering… is it me? I feel like Cher in Clueless (who, if you didn’t know, was based on Jane Austen’s Emma) after Christian shuts down her sexual advances. What did I do wrong? Did my hair go flat? Did I stumble into some bad lighting? What’s WRONG with me?
… and then I remind myself that if the book’s good enough to get the attention (despite losing it later) of four publishers, it’s probably good enough to get the attention of one that will follow through.

Leave a Comment

Meanwhile, in the traditional publishing world…

Despite my literary fame and bestseller rankings exceeding 50 copies sold, I still make time to submit my shorter works to literary journals the old-fashioned way, including my poetry and short stories. Well, to a certain extent. There are still some journals that are SO old-fashioned with the way they do business I won’t even bother. This includes:

  • Ones that don’t accept simultaneous submissions. If you don’t want my work to ever be under consideration with another journal, but you won’t respond to me unless you accept my work, and it’ll be at least six months before that might happen, have fun.
  • Ones that don’t accept electronic submissions. You want me to print my work? On paper? Then send it… in the mailbox? Okay sure. But first, let me fly on back to 1989.

Last week I had a poem get accepted by a literary journal. I’m always excited and thankful when a journal accepts my work, despite the fact that none of them pay anymore, but I always lament having to withdraw my work from consideration from every other publication I sent it to. For this particular poem, I only had five other journals to inform, and this was how it all played out.

  • The publication that accepted my work received it back in May.
  • Two of the publications I submitted to required that withdrawing one of my poems meant withdrawing them all.
  • Three of the publications I submitted to just earlier this month.
  • One of the submissions I actually had to pay for, just like a contest with an entry fee.
  • The publication that accepted the poem has published my work before.

Compared to the last time I had to inform a bunch of journals that a work of mine was accepted elsewhere, this was much easier. Why? For one, I only submitted electronically, so there was a digital paper trail I could follow just by searching my email and logging in to my submission manager. For another, most of my submissions were done through an electronic submission manager (the costs of which some journals are defraying by passing the cost on to their submitters – see above) so withdrawing from submission was as easy as clicking a button.

Oh, and the number of times I submitted this poem to other journals before it was accepted? 19, as best as I can tell.

Keep your eyes peeled for my poem Culley’s Pub: An Elegy to appear in the next issue of Foliate Oak Literary Journal – whenever that may be.

Leave a Comment

Traditional & Indie Publishing: Weapons in the Author Arsenal

I finally finished writing my second novel, Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook on Saturday. Yes, hooray. No, hold the champagne. Now is when the *really* hard work begins: engaging my beta readers, rearranging stories, revising, and editing, editing, and more editing.

Not to mention, deciding how I want to publish, revising my shameless query letter, and beginning the soul-sucking process of sending out queries to publishers. As faithful fans of the Kelly Hitchcock literary flavor know, I self-published my first novel, The Redheaded Stepchild. I don’t have anything against traditional publishing, I just grew tired of the querying (and rejection) process and believed what everyone turned around and said about it – that it wasn’t marketable enough. Yes, this was a nice way of saying “Your first book is about you, which is a little self-indulgent, don’t you think? Plus, you know no one gives a shit about you, right?”

Portrait of Woman in Ink is quite a bit more marketable, I think, and has a much more focused appeal (for those not familiar with the literary adventures of Kelly Hitchcock, it’s a collection of short stories about women and their tattoos). As such, I think it’s more geared toward a more traditional publishing road to perdition. Since this site is wholly my personal ramblings, I feel no shame in saying that it is my personal opinion that authors should not limit themselves to one method over another: self publishing versus traditional publishing. How can you extol all the virtues and bitch about all the drawbacks of each form if you haven’t done them both?

I’ve traditionally published shorter works – short stories, poems, essays, but I have yet to traditionally publish a book. I want to give it a try with Portrait of Woman in Ink, even though I know it’ll be a soul-sucking process full of rejection and self-loathing. Why? Because it’ll be worth it. And yeah, when it goes out of print and I am 80 years old (but still hot), I’ll turn around and self-publish it. By that time, I’ll have a rabid fanbase of no less than 37 people who crave the Kelly Hitchcock literary flavor with a ravenous bloodlust, except for word blood.

Also, I turned 30 last week. Go me.

What do you think? Is it truly an “Us V Them” (indies vs. traditionals) world out there, or should all serious authors dip their feet into both?

Leave a Comment

Why I Turned Down My First Book Deal

Loyal fanbase, you are, I’m sure, already aware of the fact that it took me seven years from the time I wrote my first word of The Redheaded Stepchild until I published it.  What was I doing in that time besides getting divorced and attending wine and cheese parties for one?  I was querying publishers and agents, building up an impressive collection of rejection letters, which I often used to line the litter box back when I could stand cats.  I had my copy of The Writer’s Market and I was going to go through every entry in the book until I found that rare Prince Charming gem all writers hope for: the right publisher for my book, and one who was willing to take a chance on me.

Five years from the time I wrote the first word, I finally got an email from an acquisitions editor at a publishing house, while playing pool and drinking beer in a dive bar on a visit to my hometown.  My book was in the batch they were going to accept during their next publication period.  I probably played my best lifetime game of pool that night, because I was over the moon, thinking I’d finally gotten the big break I deserved.  I won’t say who it was – because as you can tell from the title of this post, I turned them down anyway…

The happiness ended the minute I started digging deeper into the company and I got the contract.  For the most part, it was pretty standard for what I read in the reference book, except for the following teensy line items:

  • They weren’t going to let me have any input on the cover.  They were going to throw my book over a wall to their creative team and give the nod to whatever came back.  Still, the covers I saw looked pretty good, so I was willing to go with it.
  • They weren’t going to give me any marketing support.  Sorry, but my minor in advertising in promotion did not prepare me for how to successfully market my book.  When I asked about this, they gave me a stock response about how the author is the best person to do the marketing because they are closest to the project.  Okay, true, but don’t you guys do this like, professionally? I’m just a wordmonkey.
  • And here’s the kicker… they wanted me to pay them a “non-refundable deposit” as remuneration for taking a risk on my book.

Um, yeah… that was the red flag for this redhead.  When I told them I was uncomfortable with this, they sent me a list of their author references as a way of reassuring me that I would be happy, successful, and quickly earn back my “refundable deposit” if I took the deal.  I read all the references, but then I went and found the authors’ websites.  Most of them had long since given up on their books from this publisher or hadn’t published any more books, but there were a few still kicking around, so I contacted them.  They all told me the same thing… it was not the greatest decision they’d ever made in their lives.

But still, this was a book deal, a real one, the thing I had been waiting for for five years of my life.  Who was I to say it wasn’t good enough?  I’m a nobody, and they want to take a chance on me.  I did what any girl would do – I called someone smarter than me.  Specifically, my most-likely-to-succeed counterpart from high school (or would have been, if I’d been popular enough to even make that section of the yearbook’s radar), a lawyer pal with a lot of contracts experience.  No, he’d never seen a book deal contract, but a contract’s a contract, right?  And yeah, he said it sucked.  He wasn’t going to tell me what to do, but he didn’t mince words about the drawbacks of the contract.  He was even kind enough to draw up a list of suggested revisions, reminding me than any contract is just a starting off point for negotiations, and that if I really wanted a book deal, I should fight for one that worked for both me and the publisher.

Well, negotiation must’ve been Swahili to them.  I emailed my carefully crafted list of negotiable revisions to their people.  And waited a week.  And emailed them back, asking if they’d had a chance to view my revisions, to which they assured me their legal team was giving it “careful consideration.”  Then I waited another week.  And emailed again.  Finally, they came back and said they weren’t willing to make any concessions with their standard contract (gee thanks… you coulda just told me that 2 weeks ago).  I wanted a book deal.  I really did.  But this one smelled an awful lot like the rejection letters after the litter box got a hold of em, so I politely declined, determined that I had not yet found my Prince Charming of publishing. And had another wine and cheese party for one.

But… that’s not the end of the story… tune in next week, when I tell the story of “Why I Self-Published.”

Leave a Comment

SXSW 2012 Redux

I went back to South by Southwest Interactive this year – 3rd year in a row. Every year, I come away with at least one big idea for how I can get a leg up on technology with my books, and I figure out what the trends are.

I have to admit – I was a little disappointed, because I felt like I was hearing the same things I’ve heard for the past 2 years. Writers are still wading slowly into the waters of self-publishing, publishers are still scared and coming up with half-ass ways to adapt, and more and more ebook startups are sprouting up around us. Not to say that it was an empty experience; quite the contrary actually. I just needed to cut through the “heard this already” to get to what I needed to learn, which was this:

  • Self-publishing was a great fit for The Redheaded Stepchild. It was my story, and kind of a pet project. Something like Portrait of Woman In Ink, however, might be worth going after a traditional publisher.
  • Even if traditional publishing is my goal, I need to find a publisher that will let me do my own thing, who won’t turn my book into some crazy bastardization I don’t want to write.
  • I need to be on Pinterest. Almost every young woman I know is on Pinterest, and that’s my audience. And here I thought it was just for people decorating nurseries and planning weddings.
  • I’m doing the right thing by working my own network first with my book, but I need to be a little more pressing about getting my network to write me an honest review.
  • I shouldn’t try to be elitist about my first book. It’s there for me to get my name out. After my KDP Select period is over, I’ll be dropping the price of The Redheaded Stepchild. I can charge a little more for Portrait of Woman In Ink.
  • I need to start promoting Portrait of Woman In Ink now. And because it is a book about women and tattoos, there’s plenty for me to engage readers about. Also, I shouldn’t be afraid to call up the tattoo shops and see if they want to have a copy in their lobbies.
  • I volunteer at a library. There’s no reason I shouldn’t have my book on the shelves there. I already have friends there.
  • I need to encourage my friends who like the book to recommend it to someone else. It’s not icky. I don’t know why I look at it like it’s icky.
  • Yeah, my sales aren’t going to take off immediately. I learned that lesson. I was encouraged by several panels that it’s all a process, and I need to set it on the shelf (or web page) and let it do its thing.
  • I shouldn’t be afraid to talk to the local paper and area bloggers about taking me on as an interviewee.
  • I need to engage with other people who write about tattoos for Portrait of Woman In Ink. I already got a PhD to agree to write a foreword for an unknown author; it’s probably not much harder than that.

That’s my bullet point redux from SXSW. Also here’s some cool shit I discovered:

  • SmallDemons.com: It’s a startup that will show you (in popular books anyway) what references there are. So, for instance, I am reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (just to see what all the hype is about), and it will show me that the book references John Coltrane, Martin Luther, Adolf Hitler, Hopalong Cassidy. Also, Doc Martens and Armani. Pretty cool stuff.
  • Libboo.com: It’s a startup author support community. I haven’t delved into all the ins and outs of it yet, but I met their CEO who had an appealing accent.
  • BookCountry.com: It’s Penguin’s critiquing community for genre authors. Again, haven’t looked at it too closely, but I applaud Penguin for doing something innovative.

Next year, I’ll probably opt for a vacation that involves a Betsey Johnson bikini and a beach. Take advantage of this vacation’s knowledge.

Comments closed

#SXSW Report: Days 2 and 3

I’ve been going pretty well nonstop so this is the first opportunity I’ve had to sit down and write my summary of the past 2 days of interactivity at SXSW 2012. Hashtags for panel twitter discussions I participated in are in parentheses.

I began Saturday with a panel about copyrights (#sxcopytrolls) which was grossly underattended and somewhat informative about obtaining and protecting copyrights, which was something I knew next to nothing about so I’m glad I went. After that, I was able to pull up a spot on the floor in the hallway for the simulcast of a conversation with Joss Whedon (#sxjosswhedon) since the room was full. Naturally, I was all too happy to pick up on some insights from the master storyteller of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, and I could go on and on but I won’t. Plus he’s a very funny ginger, which I respect as a semi-funny ginger. Just a note, he wrote the screenplay for his new film Cabin InThe Woods in 3 days. That’s a hardcore writer for ya.

After that, I headed to The Rise of Analytics: Impacting the Editorial Process (#sxeditdata) which wasn’t as much about the impact of the need for data, keywords, links, etc. on the editorial process as much as I would’ve liked, but more about the data. Then it was off to the Hyatt for some 15-minute talks about books and content, including Books Win the Attention Economy (#sxbooks_win) and Delivering Content Experiences Across Platforms (#sxplatforms) which closed out Saturday for me.

Sunday was a good morning of panels, starting with Publishing Models Transforming the Book (#sxpubmodels), where panelists from the new publishing industries spoke about their models and the panelists from the traditional publishing industry defended theirs. Up to and including this panel, I have to admit that everything that I heard in most of these sessions was all stuff I have heard before, some even at previous Souths By. Luckily for me, I stumbled into a panel that proved to be worth the price of admission: Discoverability and the New World of Book PR, where I got some amazing ideas for how to keep getting The Redheaded Stepchild noticed and how I can start building a campaign for Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook. I furiously took about 3 pages’ worth of notes – the advice was just that good. I wish I had time to test out some of the stuff I heard about today, but I have more sessions, beer, and parties to head off to. And I might actually watch a film today since many of the bookish panels are more of the same stuff I have heard before over and over again.

Oh, and last night I got a photo with Steven Moffat – writer for Dr. Who, Sherlock, and Jekyll (again, I could go on, but I won’t). Worth the wait in line for sure. I also watched Rainn Wilson give a talk about his project Soul Pancake. It’s pretty rad. Go check it out.

Leave a Comment