Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Writerly Pearls of Wisdom: Part 2--and Adieu!

Here it is, the culmination of three years of amazing insight, dedication, and utmost humility. (This last attribute is probably the most important for a writer because, if you choose this wonderful writer's life, you are going to have to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.)

As I did yesterday, I leave you with the words of some of my dearest writer pals. And remember, the readiness is all. (Feeling so Hamlety today.)

From Jennifer Rumberger, one of my Marvelous Middle Grade Monday mates:

Never give up. No matter how hard the writing life gets, just keep at it! Also surround yourself with writing friends. Their support is invaluable.

Jennifer recommends: A book everyone should read in 2013 is Destiny, Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. Her best book yet!

And, from another excellent middle grade writer and blogger, Barbara Watson

A quote that is probably well known in the writer's world but I just read on a blog last week. I didn't cross-reference the source to make sure it's worded properly and are, in fact, his exact words, but it's been helping me each time I place fingertips to keyboard since I read it: You can take for granted that people know more or less what a street, a shop, a beach, a sky, an oak tree looks like. Tell them what makes this one different. ~Neil Gaiman 

R.L. Saunders is an pal represented by Linda Epstein at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (same agency as me). Read her blog. She's funny as all get-out: Writers figure out what works for them: writing schedules, lighting, inspiring coffee creamer flavors, outlining, 67 crit partners, not outlining, magic query templates, lucky sweatpants--that sort of thing. Then they get really excited about figuring out what works and they write blog posts about it because it feels SO RIGHT. And it is right. For them. Your job is to work hard at figuring out what works for you. There are lots of rules and tips for writers at every stage of the process. Take them with a grain of salt (like the rule about avoiding idioms) because they're really only suggestions you might try on. Just remember that what looks hot on Michael G-G might make your ass look big.
But seriously, avoid idioms. And never, ever wear sweatpants that are fewer than seven years old while you write or you'll never be published.

One of our new Project Mayhem team, Dianne Salerni is the author of We Hear The Dead and The Caged Graves (Clarion 2013): "Success in writing requires patience and persistence. You have to accept that it will take longer than you want. Your books might not get published in the order you wrote them, and some might not get published at all. Without the patience to wait for the right opportunity or the persistence to keep writing book after book, you might lose out on what you seek most -- just before it arrives."

I have long sung Beth Kephart's praises. To my mind, she is one of the most lyrical writers around. (Go here to see my review of her masterful novels, You Are My Only and Small Damages): 
"Every now and then remember the fat black sleepy cats and worn rugs and handwritten signs of the nearest used book store.  Remember, in other words, the books that aren’t on today’s lists, in today’s blogs, in today’s fever.  Much of what is good and golden and teach-worthy and inspired was written years ago and should not be shunned for its age or yellow paper.  Paper, yes paper.  Visit a used bookstore.  Take something classic home.  Let the spine crack and the glue shimmer.  Let words be ageless for you."

Laura Stanfill is the genius behind Brave on the Page, Oregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life. Meeting Laura and being part of her project was one of the great gifts of last year:

 "It's great fun to learn about how different writers approach the page, but there's no one right way. Do what works for you. Do it well. Do it consistently. Show up and work as often as you can. And don't worry if someone else swears that your method is wrong. If it works for you, then keep doing it. In putting together Brave on the Page, a collection of essays and interviews about the writer's life, I had forty-two people--including Michael--address different aspects of the craft from their own perspectives. Everyone had something different--and equally wonderful--to share about how they approach their work. We must remember to use others' journeys as inspiration, not as a way to find fault with ourselves. I learned this lesson, finally, when I became a mom. There are so many parenting books out there, and I spent the first few years worrying that I was doing something--or lots of things--wrong based on how self-assured many of those authors were with their one-size-fits-all advice. So focus on the page, on your own work, and question your methods in order to nurture your own growth as a writer--not because someone else tells you to." 

April Henry has been a mentor of mine ever since our children attended the same elementary school. She is the New York Times best-selling author of over a dozen novels. Her latest is The Night She Disappeared. April was on deadline when I contacted her, but her blog has a ton of good advice. The one thing she stressed was: Tenacity is as important as talent. I heartily agree!

C.Alexander London is the author of the An Accidental Adventure Series. He is the sort of wildly funny middle grade writer I aspire to be. Here's what he had to say: The worst writing you ever do is better than the best writing you never do. 

The author of May B., and a Project Mayhem stalwart, Caroline Starr Rose, always has wise words to share: 
"The piece of writerly advice I've clung to the last few years is this: Learn to write this book. It's attributed to Elizabeth Bear but came to me via J. Anderson Coats. It has been hugely freeing for me to discover that while systems and goals and blah blah blah sometimes work, sometimes they don't. Each book is its own animal. You really do start over every time. And it's OKAY."

I've known Rosanne Parry, the author of Heart of a Shepherd and Second Fiddle for many years, and she is a dear friend, mentor and supporter. We share the same critique group as well as the same agent, Stephen Fraser. "Our agent is my preferred vendor of literary pearls. Here are a few favorites. "You're making art, it's supposed to take time." and "I find the authors who enjoy longevity are the ones who do not stop writing." (Rosanne's new novel, Written in Stone, will be published in June 2013.)

Another critique group member and friend is Barbara Liles. Barbara was the recipient of the 2011 Oregon Literary Fellowship, has written a great novel about the Norse in Greenland which any editor worth their salt should publish, and was recently a contestant on a Norwegian reality TV show. Her pearl is the one on which I choose to end because, really, where has the time gone?: "Do not be surprised, that time, for a writer, is a strange and flexible dimension."

Thank you all for being my companions on this wonderful writer's journey. I hope you will continue to visit me at Middle Grade Mafioso and Project Mayhem. Till then, may your writing be dangerous and your spirits stalwart. Adieu.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Last Post: Part One

It's hard putting a blog to bed. I realized that after I put out a call for submissions for Writerly Pearls of Wisdom and was flooded both with kind notes and good advice. In fact, I received so much good advice that I've decided to break it up into two posts, one today and one tomorrow. I believe that these two posts tell you just about everything you need to know about the writer's life; I will definitely return to them in the days ahead for inspiration, wisdom, and support.

I realized, too, how blessed I've been during these three years to get to know all of  the writers mentioned here. (I knew several of the Portland writers, but blogging has opened a whole new world to me, not just of the mind but also geographically. There are quotes here from writers in Thailand and New Zealand!) Thank you all for helping me along the way.

Today's post will feature some specifics about writing--about the query process, about good blogs to visit and about craft. Tomorrow's will be more general inspiration. So, without further ado, here come some

Writerly Pearls of Wisdom:

From my dear friend, Matthew MacNish, a partner in Project Mayhem Crime as well as the doyen of queriers with his amazing The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment: Here's my three Cs rule: "A good query letter covers the three Cs, succinctly and with specificity: Character, Conflict, and Choice."

From another Project Mayhemmer--and prolific author, Chris Eboch:

Show Don’t Tell. No doubt you've heard this phrase before, but writers often have a hard time understanding exactly what it means. Here’s the best explanation I’ve heard:

Showing uses specific sensory details -- what your main character can see, hear, smell, taste or touch -- to bring the scene to life. When showing emotion, this might be something like stomach churning or head pounding. You can also show by giving us a character’s actions (for example, crying, laughing, trembling, gasping, clenching her fists, etc.).

Avoid telling -- summarizing or explaining -- what's going on or how your main character feels. Anytime you define an emotion (someone is angry, worried etc.), you're probably telling. If you can't clearly observe it through the five senses, it's likely telling. For example, I can see a frown, I can hear yelling, but I can't see or hear "anger" – only its symptoms. People express anger in different ways (one person might yell and frown, while another forces a smile and keep silent) so showing rather than telling not only paints a clear picture, but also lets us know something about the character.

I did a series on Voice on my blog, with information about Show, Don’t Tell.

Janice Hardy talks a lot on her blog, The Other Side of the Story (, about showing rather than telling. Click on the link to "Description" or do a search for Show Don't Tell. She also does regular critiques of her followers’ work and often points out show don’t tell issues.

Natalie Aguirre is one of the extraordinary bloggers behind Literary Rambles, which is a must-read for all writers searching for agents. Natalie has been a wonderful supporter of my blogging efforts, and is a super human being. Here's a list of her favorite blogs: 

For finding out about agents:
Guide to Literary Agents ( In addition to our blog, Literary Rambles, this is a great resource for finding agents and learning about the querying and publishing process. Chuck Sambuchino often spotlights newer agents, has some agent interviews, and also runs agent contests. 

On the craft of writing:
The Other Side of the Story ( This is author Janice Hardy's blog and she offers fantastic posts about the craft of writing. She always uses great examples too.

On the business side of writing:
Pub Rants ( Agent Kristin Nelson (one of my dream agents and also Janice Hardy's agent) shares so much practical advice on the business side of publishing and agents on her blog. I always learn from her posts.

For good discussion and resources:
Stina Lindenblatt ( Stina blogs Mondays and Wednesdays and often shares insightful reviews of books and software products relating to the craft of writing. She also picks great topics to discuss.

YA author Elana Johnson ( Elana honestly shares a lot of her experiences from going from an aspiring author to a published, mid-level author and just blogs about interesting subjects in general.

I have reviewed two of New Zealand author Susan Brocker's books on Project Mayhem. I would love to see her exciting stories, often featuring children and their relationships with animals, breakout in the U.S. market!! She's a fantastic writer, as well as a kind correspondent. Here are two of her favorite tips for good writing: Write about what you love and feel passionate about and then this energy will flow through in your writing. And Write! Write! Write! Writing is a craft and the more you write the better you get.

Mike Winchell is a Project Mayhem pal, and someone on whom I have counted to give me loads of good advice. A summary of which he is now kind enough to share with us all:

On Querying: Remember that your future agent will work FOR YOU, and that you want someone who will fight their asteroids off for you, and make you as high a priority as their Newberry winners. You need to have someone who doesn't talk down to you, and you don't want someone who's "giving you a chance." You want someone who thinks you're giving them a chance. Too many writers feel inferior to their agents, and this is a recipe for a future divorce.

When you are sure your query is there and your manuscript is too, query widely. Send out a few at first to some agents. If you query draws quick requests, and your initial pages do as well, go wide with another 20-25. If you get an offer, send an immediate "OFFER OF REPRESENTATION" email. Then watch how quickly the emails come. But like I said, this is only if your query/pages are there.

On Attitude: If your "stuff" is good, be confident! Agents want writers who don't just think they belong, they want writers who KNOW it. Confidence is key. Not cockiness, but confidence. Write with it. Query with it. Live with it.

On Being on Submission with Editors: It sucks! The waiting is horrible and it is best to start writing something fresh ASAP., it's nearly impossible not to be obsessive. We all get that way. 

I 'met' Dan Ogilvie through Microfiction Monday. He's a Brit who lives in Thailand, and he always makes me laugh. In my e-mail to writers, I asked about advice or any "best of" they could think of. Dan came through with this:
Best film seen recently: Arbitrage with Richard Gere.
Best book read while flying: Tina Fey, Bossypants (‘…she looked like a Liza Minnelli doll that had been damaged in a fire…’).
Best ‘art of writing’ book: The Art of Fiction by David Lodge.
I am currently listening to: Bridge of Sighs by Robin Trower.
Favourite cartoon website:
Strangest event so far for 2013: Sitting in a hotel bar in Orlando during a Highland Games weekend. Lots of kilts and sporrans but not a Scottish accent to be heard. Was Sam Adams Scottish?
My wish for 2013: Mitt Romney outs himself on Oprah and announces he has been in a tempestuous ten year relationship with Lance Armstrong. ‘We are having a ball together’ he cries before adding ‘we have made an application to adopt Benjamin Netanyahu’.[Told you he had a "wicked" sense of humor.]

I'm not sure how I came across Kristen Wixted, but I am very glad I did. Her blog Don't Forget the Samovar showcases her great sense of humor. She is also newly agented, with her agent being Michele Rubin at Writers House. I see great things for Kristen on the horizon. Here are her tips as a writer Mom with three kids:

Leave the laundry, leave the dishes, don't think about any of it. When you've worked on your writing for at least 90 minutes, if you need a break, then throw in a load of clothes or dishes. Not before. Consider the housework the small exercise break you need to get the kinks out before getting back to work. Then forget about it all again and sit down with your manuscript.

Also, I like to be religious about having everything I need to get my writing done at my desk and no one (i.e. afore mentioned 3 kids, and husband) is allowed to touch it. This includes paper, pens that work, tissues, (more recently) my glasses and a little notepad for scribbling down notes to myself about things I need to get done when I'm done writing. Oh, and I also like to have both my cell phone and my home phone nearby for screening calls (I only answer certain people's calls when I'm working) and obviously, my laptop and power cord.

I will take Kristen's advice and go and do my exercise (loading the dishwasher.) I love this type of exercise regimen!! And I'll be back tomorrow with a final FINAL POST. Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 28, 2013


Happy New Year and all that. As I wrote over on Middle Grade Mafioso, it's been a hard few weeks, what with brain surgery (my wife), vertigo (me), and overall winter blahs (the whole family). But my time away from blogging put things in perspective, and I realized that the time has come to put The Year of Writing Dangerously to bed.

Yes, I know you're all crying and sad, but let me explain. This was supposed to be the chronicle of a writing year and it's been going on for nearly three. In the meantime I have another blog (Middle Grade Mafioso) which seems to be garnering a following, and a group blog--Project Mayhem--which is completely awesome, and for which I only have to write once a month. Which is about the extent, blogging-wise, which I seem able to bestir myself nowadays. (Since I spend all my time spouting off on Twitter and Facebook.)

To blog well, you have to blog consistently and often. It got to the point with TYOWD, where I would feel guilty because I hadn't posted in weeks, and I felt like a neglectful parent. And I'm anti-guilt.

So, I will count my blessings and bid this blog adieu. And the blessings have been many:

  • Since I started in February 2010, I've "met" a whole bunch of great people. I'm blessed to call a lot of them friends. 
  • I've learned a lot about writing from reading and blogging about "craft" books.
  • Microfiction Monday honed my skills as a 140-character writer, which is why I rock at Twitter.
  • Because of this blog, and particularly my friendship with Matt MacNish, I got the opportunity to be part of Project Mayhem, and to meet even more spectacular writers and good people.
There have also been major changes in my writing life:
  • When I started blogging I didn't have a literary agent. Now I do.
  • I am even more wedded to creating new writing. (I have two manuscripts in various stages of revision, and ideas for a third.)
  • I am much more astute about the value of social media. As an "outgoing introvert" I enjoy connecting with others on this writing journey through blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • And my blogging led to a connection with the great Laura Stanfill, a Portland writer and mentor extraordinaire, who published a book called BRAVE ON THE PAGE, in which I have a small chapter, and for which I was part of a well-attended public reading.
I plan to do one final post on February 6th, which will be my three-year blogoversary to the day. I hope to have as many pals as possible share pearls of writerly wisdom which will live on in the blogdom for all eternity. Thanks for being part of this amazing journey. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

YA For A Day: The Brilliance of Beth Kephart

(I have been extremely scarce from the blogging world lately, and if you want to know the reason why you can read about it over on Middle Grade Mafioso.)

Back? Okay, let's move on to my review of a couple of novels by a writer whom I whole-heartedly admire. I have written before about Beth Kephart, and about how her memoir about her son's early years, A Slant of Sun, touched me so deeply when I read it. I was thrilled to learn that Beth is now writing YA fiction and in the last few months I have been reveling in her beautiful stories.

Brief descriptions of Beth's two most recent novels could be: "Sophie, a teen stolen in infancy, comes to learn the truth about the woman whom she thinks is her mother" (YOU ARE MY ONLY); and "Kenzie, a pregnant teen who is sent to Spain by her controlling mother, learns lessons about love and the meaning of home." (SMALL DAMAGES) But both descriptions sound so reductive. Each of these novels creates a unique world of its own, and they do so through a singular and powerful use of language and description.

The best analogy I can come up with about Beth's writing is that it is like swirling dreamily in a pool of the most beautiful music. Her sentences, especially her verbs, give me little heart-tugs when I read them. Here's the beginning of SMALL DAMAGES:
"The streets of Seville are the size of sidewalks, and there are alleys leaking off from the streets. In the back of the cab, where I sit by myself, I watch the past rushing by. I roll the smeary window down, stick out my arm. I run one finger against the crumble-down of walls. Touch them for you: Hello, Seville."
"Leaking off" is such a perfect description. Later, the narrator talks of a nun "blackbirding by." There are fantastic sentences throughout the book; turning to a page at random I find "mountains in the distance seem hacked off by sun," while on another page "the bed aches up beneath her."

But it is not all gorgeous language. Kephart's stories are full of secrets and hurts, of small and sometimes painful declarations of love, and of what it means to expose one's heart to the joys and sorrows of the world.

They also feel like delicately constructed symphonies. In YOU ARE MY ONLY, there is the insistent refrain  of blue: the song the mother sings before her daughter is kidnapped is "True, true, the sky is blue," and the novel opens with Sophie telling us it's "a blue-sky sun day." Later, we find the kidnapper's journal, in which the kidnapper writes a couple of times that "the sky was blue, and it was easy," a line which has particular resonance when at a climactic scene (no spoilers here!), Sophie tells us that "the sky is not blue; it is not easy." That tremendous blue chord lingers long after the book is over.

I am in awe of Beth Kephart's mastery of the musicality of language, and haunted (in the best possible way!) by the beauty of these stories. As such, I will drop everything and read whatever story she sees fit to serve us next--and I highly recommend you do too.

This will be my last blog post of 2012. I wish you all a peaceful holiday season, and best wishes for 2013. I will be back in the saddle come January. Au revoir, auf wiedersehen, and For Auld Lang Syne.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Love My Writing Community

One of the huge blessings of blogging is meeting so many interesting, entertaining, and just darn nice people. Pre-blogging, I lived in that kind of writerly bubble where one suspects there are other forms of writerly life out there, but they're about as easy to glimpse as Bigfoot. And then, two plus years later, you're part of a great crowd of folks who are willing to chat with you, exchange information, and just plain old support you. Thanks, pals.

One of the greatest stories to come from this bloggy thing we do, is my striking up a correspondence with a writer called Laura Stanfill. Laura, a former journalist, heard of me through a mutual friend and contacted me to be part of her 7 Questions for Writers interview series. (I mentioned this in a previous post.) She then produced a book, and being the amazing promoter that she is, last week she got a whole bunch of contributors together for a reading in a local community center. There were about 90 people in the audience!

Laura asked me to read something from my novel, so I treated them to the first chapter of my middle grade novel, SHAKESPEARE ON THE LAM, which is still (sigh!) out on submission. I kid you not, I felt like a rock star. Here's a video of me, getting all excited with the words on the page:

The best thing, though, was listening to and then meeting a bunch of amazingly talented writers who are also in Brave on the Page--people like Liz Prato; Duncan Ellis; Nancy Townsley and her husband, Gregg; Bart King; Stevan Allred; Kristen Forbes; and Shasta Kearns Moore. And many of them signed my book!! (Sorry if I'm beginning to sound like a squealing fan boy.)

There is, I believe, nothing better than being in a room full of writers. We are appreciative of each other, because we know how hard it is to put ourselves out there and write. I want to give Laura Stanfill huge credit for being such a visionary, and for all the time and effort she has put into making this book a reality, and for making our writing community stronger. I have never been so proud of being a writer.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Self-Publishing to Traditional Publishing: I Spy a Trend

First off, this is not an argument, rant, or railing against either form of publishing. It's just that I've spotted something popping up on Publisher's Marketplace during the past few weeks, and I'm just a sharing kinda guy.

Caution: Your eyes may glaze over...

October 18, 2012
Samantha Young's bestselling self-published ON DUBLIN STREET, said to have sold over 150,000 ebooks in a month, a sexy contemporary romance set in Scotland, about an American woman who left her tragic past behind to start over in Edinburgh, whose carefully guarded world is shaken to its core by her new roommate's sexy older brother, to NAL, already republished in ebook form, with a trade paperback on December 31, and a second book for publication in 2013.
October 16, 2012
NYT bestselling author Teresa Mummert's first three books in her self-published BEAUTIFUL series, starting with WHITE TRASH BEAUTIFUL, about a young woman living in a trailer park with her mother and abusive boyfriend, and the lead singer in a band who walks into her diner -- he tries to show her that there is more to life, but being with him will come at a high price, to Lauren McKenna at Gallery, in a significant deal, at auction, by Kimberly Whalen at Trident Media Group(world English).
Film: Joseph Veltre at Gersh
October 12, 2012
 International rights:
UK Fiction 
James Oswald's self-published thriller NATURAL CAUSES, to Alex Clarke at Michael Joseph, in a good deal, at auction, by Juliet Mushens at PFD(UK/Commonwealth, excl. Canada).
October 12, 2012
Creator of food blog Nick Evans's untitled cookbook, featuring hundreds of inventive and refreshing ways to use common leftovers in new dishes, with photos, and based on author's self-published book, CORNERSTONE COOKING, to Lara Asher at Lyons Press, for publication in 2014, by David Dunton at Harvey Klinger (World).
October 11, 2012
 International rights:
UK Fiction 
Mark Sennen's self-published TOUCH, the first book in his Charlotte Savage series, a police procedural set in Plymouth and Dartmoor, a Kindle bestseller said to have sold over 73,000 units, to Claire Bord at Avon UK, in a three-book deal, for republication in January 2013, followed by a paperback in April 2013, by Claire Roberts at Trident Media Group (world, excl. NA).
October 10, 2012
 International rights: Fiction 
James Oswald's self-published crime bestseller NATURAL CAUSES, to Andrea Best at Goldmann, in a good deal, by PFD for German rights -- with a four-publisher UK auction underway, by PFD.
October 5, 2012
 International rights:
UK Fiction 
Abbi Glines' self-published THE VINCENT BOYS and THE VINCENT BROTHERS, to Emily Thomas at Hot Key Books, by Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein, on behalf of Lauren Abramo at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (UK/Commonwealth, excl. Canada).
October 5, 2012
 International rights:
UK Fiction 
Nick Spalding's self-published romantic comedy novels, Love... From Both Sides and Love... And Sleepless Nights, to Charlotte Hardman at Coronet, in a good deal, for republication first in ebook and then in paperback, by Jon Elek at AP Watt (UK/Commonwealth).
October 4, 2012
Young Adult 
Abbi Glines' SEABREEZE "new adult" series, including the successfully self-published BECAUSE OF LOW and WHILE IT LASTS plus two more books, about the goings-on in Sea Breeze, Alabama and the to-die for romances of its beloved inhabitants, again to Bethany Buck at Simon Pulse, in a major deal, by Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (world English).
October 4, 2012
Young Adult 
Tammara Webber's self-published NYT and USA Today bestseller EASY, about a 19-year-old grappling with both the aftermath of a sexual assault and the excitement of a new love interest, to Don Weisberg at Penguin Children's, in a two-book deal, with the ebook publishing on October 9, 2012, and a paperback to be published by Berkley on November 6, 2012, by Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).
October 3, 2012
Richard Bard's self-published BRAINRUSH and BRAINRUSH II: THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY, and the new BRAINRUSH III: FINAL JUDGMENT, an adventure series featuring a combat pilot, to Alan Turkus at Thomas & Mercer, in a good deal, for all to be republished and published in 2013, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group.
October 2, 2012
USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams' debut, self-published novel, TAKING CHANCES, in which a girl leaves home and her rigid, career Marine father to go to college and live life her own way, finding friendship, unexpected love from two men and finally the true meaning of family, to Tessa Woodward at Harper, in a significant deal, in a three-book deal, by Kevan Lyon at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (world).
October 1, 2012
Young Adult 
USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Donovan's self-published THE BREATHING series, about life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girl's fragile grasp of hope, to Tim Ditlow at Amazon Children's, in a good deal, with REASON TO BREATHE for publication in January 2013; BARELY BREATHING for publication in March 2013; and OUT OF BREATH for publication in June 2013; in a three-book deal, by Erica Spellman Silverman at Trident Media Group.
UK and Commonwealth rights to Razorbill, in a good deal, by Alexander Slater on behalf of Erica Spellman Silverman at Trident Media Group.

That's just in October ALONE!!!

What is happening here, folks? It seems pretty obvious. Agents aren't just reading queries in the slush. They're trawling the self-published bestseller lists and rushing to sign up those books who have built a following. In effect, self-publishing has become an alternative slush pile, except those who are cherry-picked from it have already gone and made a bunch of moolah.

Why do these authors want to go the traditional publishing route after being successfully self-published? My theory is that being traditionally published gives them validation. (UPDATE: See the comments for some great thoughts about other positives.) Despite all their self-earned success, they still can't resist the fact that a "big" publisher wants them.  And I don't blame them in the slightest.

One never knows what the future will bring, but I have a strong hunch we'll see an ever-increasing number of these stories. Until, one day, this will be the way the system works. The times are certainly a-changing. After all, next year you won't be able to get your hands on a printed copy of Newsweek. Screen, baby, screen.

How do you think this is going to shake out? Have you read any self-published authors who "turned" traditional? What did you think?