Monday, April 30, 2007

Wow! This All Takes A Long Time!

Here’s a time line:

July 2004 - I started a novel, then called "Eric – First Person Take On It" (Used to differentiate it from a different draft of several chapters which were in third person).

January 6, 2005 – I completed the first draft of WELCOME TO THE VOID. Edits began.

February 2, 2005 – The Version that I would eventually start sending out to agents was done, but, being a newbie, I wouldn’t do that first.

February 15, 2005 – Blithely unaware of how inappropriate my novel was for their market, I submitted WTTV to Wizards of the Coast for their Open Call. This version of the novel was around six hundred pages long.

November-ish 2005 – I got my form rejection from Wizards of the Coast. By this time, I was fairly certain they weren’t going to buy it, so I decided to shift gears and submit to agents.

November 12, 2005 to March 2, 2006 – This time period was all spent querying agents. The nibble I got means that there was also a two month gap when I wasn’t querying agents. I made several mistakes in this period, one of which was misspelling an agent’s name TWICE on two different sections of my submission. Here’s a hint: DON’T DO THAT. In spite of general blunders, the good news came on March 2, 2006.

March 2, 2006 to June 24, 2006 – Things started happening more quickly. Shawna liked my query enough to ask for a partial. A month later she asked to see the entire thing. Two weeks later she suggested rewrites.

And here I need to stop for a minute. You see, I’d written two previous books that I wasn’t willing to alter in any way shape or form. You’ll notice that they aren’t published. By this point, I had a new rule. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch wrote the phrase “Murder your darlings.” Some say that the phrase was actually coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but either way, up until WTTV, I wasn’t willing to do it.

Shawna made several very good suggestions about revising the book and for an hour I insisted to myself that it was impossible. I slept on it and the next morning, I began murdering the little bastards left right and sideways. It wasn’t easy, but I did it and replied to Shawna with a suggestion for a rewrite that she said she wanted to see. Essentially, I had to cut out roughly four hundred pages of the novel and then write a new hundred and twenty or so. No, it wasn't really that easy. I also had to disentangle two complete plot lines that ran throughout the original draft, revising and editing everything for consistency, so that the end result was a shorter, tighter novel with plenty of room for a sequel or seven.

Though everyone insisted that quality was more important than speed, I finished the rewrite in under a month (with extreme amounts of editing assistance from my friends and family) and sent it off again. One month later Shawna let me know she liked the new draft with two small editorial suggestions, which, I made promptly: insert a sports scene (this became the werewolves on ice sequence) and add a clarification about the effects of phases of the moon on my lycanthropes. That is the version of the novel that sold. It wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t murdered my darlings, so when someone experienced in publishing gives you advice, you can reject it, but make sure you fully consider it first.

On June 21, 2006 – Shawna McCarthy officially agreed to represent me. It took three days for this to sink in. My wife threw me a party.

On July 7, 2006 – I got an update from Shawna saying that the book was with six major editors.

July 12, 2006 – Rejection. The editor thought the book was hilarious, but didn’t like Tabitha.

August 2006 – Three more rejections. All three seem to have enjoyed the book, but thought Eric was a bit too much of an anti-hero. I tried not to literally rip my hair out.

September 13, 2006 – Hope. I learned that Jennifer Heddle at Simon & Schuster might want to pick it up.

September 25, 2006 – Score! Jennifer Heddle did want to pick it up.

Early December, 2006 – I finally got the contract in my grubby little hands and signed it.

Roughly one month later – I got a fully executed and signed version of my contract. My wife threw me another party and started my website. We also ordered Welcome to the Void T-shirts (replicas of those worn by the protagonist of WTTV) for holiday gifts for some of our friends and family.

Shortly thereafter - I received my portion of the first half of my advance. Yippee! (And yes, it all went on bills... )

March 8, 2007 – My title didn't go over well at the sales meeting and we had to change it. Several members of my writing group still mourn this day.

March 12, 2007 – WELCOME TO THE VOID became BITE ME, a title suggested by Jennifer Heddle which Shawna had also suggested back in 2006 as a possible suggestion for the sequel. Great minds think alike.

March 20, 2007 – BITE ME went over much better than WELCOME TO VOID with the publisher and things progressed toward the cover concept.

…Which pretty much catches you up with me. Do you see what I mean about these things taking time? BITE ME is currently scheduled for release in March 2008.

Next time: YMMV- a list of "do"s and "don't"s that may or may not be applicable to you.


While this has nothing particularly to do with writing (other than being the bane of my productivity from time to time) I thought I’d post every once and awhile about what I’m watching (similar to the Cowboy Pete’s TV Roundups that Peter David did (does?) on his blog.)

Raines, Lost, Bones, Dresden Files, and *gasp* American Idol are what I keep up with regularly, while Smallville (two episodes behind), Heroes (four episodes behind), and Supernatural fall into the TiVo and watch eventually category. Does being fifteen episodes behind on Supernatural count as still watching? /shrug

Of course, there is always Drive (or there will be until FOX airs/sells the final few episodes). Poor Nathan Fillion. That man can’t catch a break on a series to save his life. He’s a great actor, but is it just me or does he seem to be the death knell for a series? Next, I guess he, Ben Browder, and Claudia Black will all be cast in a remake of Brisco County Junior which studios will then either show in reverse order or not at all.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How I got an Agent: (The Short Version)

My guess is that my search for an agent was easier than some, harder than others. You see, going to conventions and pitching your book seems to be a good way to get an agent, but I started trying to get an agent several years after I stopped going to conventions. Don’t get me wrong, I love conventions (particularly Dragon*Con which is held every year in Atlanta), but my children are a little too young to enjoy them yet and most of my vacation time gets eaten up by various holidays and family outings. I’m also a little slow to warm up to people. I can be perilously shy and sometimes when I’m very nervous, I stutter. So even though trying to get an agent by the ambush-at-convention method was impossible for me to schedule, it was probably a good thing.

With this wonderful tool unavailable to me, I was left with words. Words ought to be useful right? I’m a writer. The original draft of BITE ME was over six hundred pages. I’ve written over a million words. As many writers will tell you though, writing a query letter is different. You can’t meander for a hundred pages. You have one page and some agents will not read even that page, perhaps not even the whole first sentence. Sad, but true - and ultimately understandable. So, you have to grab their attention. How do you do that?

I don’t know.

My record at present is twelve agent queries with the following results:

Six: Form rejections
Two: Query back when you’ve completed a different project.
Two: You’re good writer, but I can’t sell this urban fantasy stuff.
One: Prolonged Nibble™.
One: Request for revision - which ultimately resulted in my agent, Shawna McCarthy, agreeing to represent me.

(We love the Shawna. If you like great fantasy short stories, subscribe to Shawna’s magazine REALMS OF FANTASY at!)

Things that help:

It helps to query the right agent. Make sure that you are querying agents who represent what you write. Follow their submission guidelines precisely. Spend some time at checking out how not to look like a complete ass. Visit Preditors and Editors ( to make sure you don’t wind up getting scammed by a complete ass. I used to obtain my lists of agents and their contact information. It's not free, but it’s cheap and easy. If you’re too lazy (like me) to scope out all the free info available via the web, a Writer's Market subscription can put everything in one spot for you.

There are tons of writers who offer more helpful info online. I suggest Neil Gaiman’s site at and SL Viehl’s blog at

Next in the series: Wow! This Takes A Long Time!

But before that: TV!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Publishing Journey: The Possibly Helpful Tale of How I Got I Published – Part One

Hi, All!

My name is Jeremy F. Lewis and my first novel, a vampire book currently entitled BITE ME, is scheduled for a March 2008 release from Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books. During my writing and editing process, I found tons of authors' blogs; some were extremely useful, some terminally funny, and others utterly terrifying. I want to make mine a healthy mix of all three.

I plan to start out the first few blogs by running through how I got published in the hopes that it might be of some use to you. I’m sure I’ll scatter some unrelated blog in here and there.... my friends say if I had a superhero name it would be Nonsequitur Lad. It's just the way I am. I'm also a very organic writer. As an example, only four or five of the chapters in my most recent draft were written in sequential order. When I write best it is kind of like the non-linear editing that gets done with many modern movies. I write a scene without knowing exactly where it goes- with only a vague idea that it goes somewhere in the middle, beginning, or end. Once I have written ten or eleven chapters, I can often begin to see the shape of the thing coming together. This makes it very hard to complete a preliminary outline.

But that’s not how it all started.

Let’s just say that I spent ten years writing two novels and countless false starts. Roughly six hundred thousand words of practice. For several years, I gave up trying to actually publish anything. Then, Wizards of the Coast announced several open calls and I started writing drafts specifically intended for publication. You may have noticed that WotC is not publishing BITE ME. Which is just fine. If I’d done my market research correctly, I’d have known that and would not have wasted their time with an urban fantasy submission.

In 2003, my wife bought me several writing books for Christmas. Among them was WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maas. I found it very eye-opening. I'd suggest the book to anyone who is serious about a writing career. Six months later, I completed my first draft of BITE ME (then called WELCOME TO THE VOID) and we began the long and tedious editing process. Another four months later, it was ready to send out (or so I thought). I sent it in to the Wizards of the Coast open call and several months later, it was rejected. My loyal friends insisted that it was good stuff... really good stuff... and that I shouldn't give up on having it published. I decided it was time to find an agent…

Next time: Agent Search