Secret Agent Man

No, not the 1966 song by Johnny Rivers or the one season (2000) TV series. I’m more concerned about CIA agents. Can I Access an agent? Holy Cow!!! Until I started my search, I had no idea there was a literary agency, “Secret Agent Man.” But, I’m not compelled to change the title of this post.

There are other sources for lists, but I started with Writer’s Market’s 210 recently posted list of literary agents representing novels.

My first category for narrowing down the 210 for a closer look: Genre. But, I haven’t quite yet decided in which my work falls, but I do know where it doesn’t fit, so it was out with 34 of the classic publishing industry defined definitions. That narrowed the 210 to 64.

My current work does have religious, spiritual and suspense elements, but does it fall into those? The story also has strong elements of PTSD from Vietnam and circumstantial homelessness, so I believe it also fits contemporary.  So, with Vietnam being a past issue of its characters, war or military may be a fit also.

The experiment continued with my making the genre` very, very tight – Christian fiction. This narrowed the 64 to 12. However, there were 16 more agencies that appeared to be possible within the genre`. I eliminated Amish romance, cozy and historical mysteries – not my style. Now it’s 10!

Agencies common timelines appear to be six to eight weeks for their response, if any, so I decided to narrow it to Christian fiction with simultaneous submissions permitted or encouraged. Only one of the 10 said it did not accept simultaneous submissions. Six said no simultaneous submissions to agents within the agency, and three didn’t say either way.

So, I’ve spent about 12 hours on this endeavor, and I’ve not yet explored the other genres where my work might fit.

Am I frustrated? No. But, the exercise confirms that there is certainly more to writing a book than writing a book.

OBTW, the agency not accepting simultaneous submissions might be the best fit for my work when it’s ready for that step. It just might, just might be the future of what made up for the 12 non-writing hours. However, it probably depends on that agency’s definition of Christian fiction.

There may also be an element of irony in my title: “Secret Agent Man” agency represents Christian fiction.

I wonder how much time it will take just for exploring other avenues of marketing. Now back to getting my W ready for the most favorable looking agency.

Not the Answer

Last week I asked, “Who are You?”

The answer I got was very close to what I expected, but not what I had hoped for.

Only one non-family ‘You’ answered my request, “Use my Contact JMB link at the top of the page to answer, ‘Who are You’?” I also tweeted a link to this blog site. The result was even worse than as my click the link request – no response.

Now I know a little more. For obvious example, if I want to promote my writing on this blog, I have to find a way to increase its readership. To cliché’ up, it goes without saying, if I spend time promoting this limited (very limited) readership blog, I’m not putting in necessary time in other marketing efforts.

But what are those mediums, and how do I break into them. I’m going to make a cliché ‘wild guess’ – It’s not what you know, but who you know – even in this arena.

I’m currently reading a multiply published author, but it disturbed me when I read, … “the smell of Cordite …” in a story set in current times. Cordite hasn’t been used as a propellant since WWII. Now, if the description of the event included the shooter using a vintage weapon and vintage ammo, I’d accept that the author knew or researched about what he/she wrote. The however here is, the author is making money for a publisher, so accuracy, all-be-it surrounded by fiction, is apparently not too important.

OK! Please, please!

This is not, is not, a gripe session: I accept that I need to balance my W time with some quality M time. However, where do I start?

Well, I’m not going to quit this forum, but I think … well … er … ah …

Who are You

A friend and fellow writer and I were talking about book and other writing promotion/marketing. I’ve done some beta reading for her work, and we share with others in a writing group.

I’ve been through the marketing frustration. Many years ago, I had good success with technical articles, but they were for a relatively small, specific audience and met editorial specifications for topics. Marketing was not a real issue because there was no intent by the editors or me to reach outside that audience.

When my novel, An Odyssey of Illusions, was released by a small press publisher, I had a naive belief that the publisher would be the promoter. In the publisher’s defense, it’s people sent me several lists of book reviewers, and other material relating to marketing. I, again in my naivety, thought the material was just a courtesy.

I went through a check list of ‘how to promote’ activities and opened LinkedIn, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and some other, now defunct, social media accounts with promotion in mind. I re-focused an old web site I had used for HTML practice and started this WP blog site.

My friend’s well-presented gives its readers considerable information about her work and qualifications. The link to Amazon on her site makes purchase and reviews easy to negotiate. Disclaimer: My Amazon review of Homegrown Readers: Simple Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Read was written before I met the author.

So, I asked me, “Are possible purchasers of her work reading her site?”

My next question to me was, “Who reads this blog?”

Use my Contact JMB link at the top of the page to answer, “Who are You?”


Knowing who reads or follows this will give me one piece of the puzzle for marketing my very soon to be finished book. And, perhaps I can also help a friend.

Rejection Positives

I got rejected! Again! Wa-wa-wa!

Nah, I didn’t get rejected, another of my short stories did. The note said, “We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, but unfortunately this submission was not a right fit for …”

They read my work! Yeah! Someone outside my circle actually did. Like all who write, I wish more had the opportunity.

Another recent submission got a reply, “Your submission is being reviewed.” And, later a notification of release so I could explore other opportunities for it. It’s fairly obvious my story and publication’s target audience were not a match. Nothing wrong with editors or paid readers making that decision – it’s their job.

The real positive to me is the response, not necessarily the content of the response.

I’ve made many submissions without acknowledgement – not even an electronic receipt. I’ve wondered: Was it received? Did it get round-filed? Was it too offensive or too mild for the publication? Was their genre definition and mine different? Did I miss a word count requirement and it was too long or too short? Is their target audience different from my perception of it? Etc.? I’m of the mindset that even a stock rejection statement, “doesn’t meet our needs,” is acknowledgement of my effort.

But, I’ve decided that writing is a game of chance. And the however is: no submission, no chance of evoking the ‘others need to read this’ or ‘this will help future sales’ feelings of the right person on the right day.

I have two more in submission limbo. One has been there, or in a round file, 75 of the 90 days the publisher says, “If you don’t hear from us in 90…”

Status of the other is unclear, but it was at another place for more than 90 days, so I felt free to submit it ‘elsewhere’ as ‘they’ said in their guidelines.

I submitted it ‘elsewhere’ two days ago, but I didn’t get an electronic receipt. Oh well!

My most recent acceptance positive is scheduled to appear in a September, 2017, issue of Live (Christian take-home quarterly for adults).

Note: I just got an e-receipt for something I sent in yesterday.

Another Good Read

John R Bruning’s Indestructible, a biography of Paul Irving (Pappy) Gunn, reads like a novel. However, one could not make up Gunn’s accomplishments during the battle for New Guinea and the Philippines during WWII. Gunn not only did battle with the Pacific enemy, but he had continuing conflict with antiquated military regulations and protocol.

And, Indestructible is as much of a love story of the times as Bill Lascher’s Eve of a Hundred Midnights.

PI’s wife from before their marriage was a devout Catholic and he wasn’t necessarily agnostic, but didn’t share her devotion to God and church. The one thing they did share without deviation was their love for and devotion to each other. Polly and their children, separated from him by war on Christmas Eve, 1941, survived incredibly difficult conditions as prisoners of the Japanese.

As if good fiction with a happy ending, Gunn and his family are rejoined when MacArthur’s “I shall return,” was in progress. In real life, just as in fictional irony, Gunn survived the worst and most intense air combat, but died in a weather caused civilian air crash.