So you can read my books

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The Icarus Wind.

It's a lovely song by the equally lovely {and evocative} Thea Gilmore.

The Icarus Wind is also the spirit which sweeps us up

and hurls us into the misty clouds where our dreams live.

It is a dangerous realm. There is no promise of success.

And there is no safety net to catch us should we fall.

Yesterday's post conjured images of absent friends. Many of those friends were customers of my bookstore.

Yes, I owned a bookstore for a time.

I needed an understanding boss who would allow me to accompany my mother on her distant trips for chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

For myself, I figured I could be pretty damn understanding.

So I emptied my savings, and with the added financial help of two good friends, I started my bookstore.

I had not thought of sales as a way to make a living. But luckily, the people coming in pretty much knew what they wanted.

After coming in for awhile, they knew I wasn't going to hard-sell them anything. I got to know them and pointed out things I thought they'd like. I was usually right.

And it's come to me that once again, as with my bookstore, I am back in sales ... in a sense. But only in a sense. Like in my bookstore, I have to get to know my customer {potential agent.} I have to learn her likes and dislikes.

But unlike my bookstore, the agent hasn't gotten to know the wonderfulness of myself. No. I'm coming in cold.

In another sense, I'm also coming in hot : no time to build up trust or to ratchet-up the tension.

Like a space shuttle without fuel, I'm flying like a razor through the cyber-void. I have seconds, ten seconds if conventional wisdom is correct, to win the agent's interested attention.

That's not much time to hit a home run.

To follow the trajectory of the baseball analogy, I have to quickly present a winning ...


Line Drive.

Home Run.

Think : Speed. Focus. And ... out of the ball park!

My target agent is eye-weary, computer numb, and conditioned by thousands of terrible queries to expect yet another boring turkey.

I have to flash a surprise crack of the bat and get her attention. I'll use my 90,000 word urban fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE, for an example {Yeah, what a surprise, right?} :

A man who no longer believes in God must fight a being who believes himself the Devil.

Doubt. Faith. Death. All three collide in Post-Katrina New Orleans where the dying of the lights bring out the predators from both sides of the darkness.

In post-Katrina New Orleans, an undead Texas Ranger battles inept politicians, Russian mobsters, and DayStar, a being with god-like powers.

Helped by his best friend, a vampire priest, the Ranger faces mounting opposition from all corners of the supernatural realm, all eager to take advantage of the chaos following the hurricane.

And in the wings watching the Ranger get weaker and weaker, DayStar sets his last trap for his hated enemy into motion.


Post Script :

Many times we writers don't even get the opportunity to audition for the agent. We get the intern.

Imagine getting your X-ray read. As you hand it in to the desk, you ask, "The doctor will read this, right?"

"No, the intern will."

"She's trained in reading X-Rays?"

"No education. No salary even. But she's optimistic and hopeful."

"Yeah, well that makes one of us."

"Oh, it's always been this way. That's just the way the system works."

"Yeah, they told Lincoln the same thing about slavery."

"Oh, so the intern's been complaining about having to re-arrange the agent's bookshelf, has she?"

"No, I haven't talked to her. So she has to re-arrange the agent's books, too? Where does she find the time to grovel?"

"Oh, there's always time to grovel."

"Words to live by," I smile and walk out the door.
Post script II :

The really great news? You know what the success ratio for a super-star agent is? 50%.


Or not so ouch. It takes the pressure off. It is what it is.

We try our best and enjoy the journey. Our destination will be what it will be.


Here's the music video of Thea singing "The Icarus Wind."


  1. Too bad about the bookstore. Sounded like the perfect job.

    Man, I'm sorry about the rejection. Heartbreaking.

    I hope your Thanksgiving wasn't too lonely today. This was the first time in a few years I had all five of my kids in the same room together. It was wonderful.

    I wish you could have been here with us. It would have been nice to meet you in person.

    Have a good weekend Roland.


  2. ...keep fighting the good fight, my friend. "Nocturne" will sell.

    In sports, coaches study athletes while on the court, or perhaps the playing field...they see talent, a gangly kid sinking a twenty foot jumper, or a young lady out-hustling her opponents on a highschool track...they watch them, and they just know that stardom awaits.

    Writers, those of us who've been doing this for quite some time...we read the work of our peers...and like coaches, we just know.

    "Nocturne," yeah...Home Run.


  3. Elliot : Your support and belief in me means a lot. I am so weary from working all day alone that I am just a shadow of myself. But this shadow says your words were a mighty wind in my flagging sails.

    Donna : I imagine your house was full of love and laughter today. I envy you. My bookstore was a vampire of sorts : it took all my spare time and only three days off a year except for those trips with my mother for her treatments.

    One day we will both be published and wishing for days without editorial deadlines! LOL

  4. Agents aren't writers and they only think they know the hearts of the reading public. There are struggling writers who would sell their prized posessions to be able to turn ordinary words into the liquid gold that flows from your heart to your fingertips and spills onto the page. I feel sorry for them.

    Beautiful, haunting song.

  5. I absolutely love this analogy! And I would love to own a bookstore-as a hobby. I don't know anything about sales.

    I do know books, though, and could do a pretty good job at matching them with the customers, once I got to know them a bit. A knack I got from my mom.

    I just don't understand why they're not buying it..... *making a frustrated and puzzled face*

    Don't give up, though, cause I still aim to buy it.

  6. Sorry to hear about the bookshop - I'd have loved that! Great analogy - hang in there and keep going. You'll find that agent!