Monday, November 28, 2011

A Literary Agent Versus a Publicist -- Enlighten Me

Someone help me. It doesn’t make sense. Authors write. Their work is reviewed, critiqued, and sometimes even ripped apart by friends, family members, and complete strangers in order to end up with a great manuscript. Once the body of work is ready, many authors compose query letters. Then, despite all of the preparation, the rejection occurs. Are we all that lousy at our craft?

In today’s writing world, are literary agents that important? Do they help you sell books? Not that I can tell. Will they get you a publisher? Supposedly, but with the advent of self-publishing, why is that important?

A publisher eventually will turn to the author to sell books anyway. Why is having a Big Six publisher important? Granted, many of us strive to land a large publisher. Think about it, though. Why is it a necessity to be hooked to a corporate giant? I guess they help promote through their literature, trade shows, advertising and distributing. It used to be that a big-name author would be the leader that would allow a publisher to get a hoard of lesser known authors into a book store.

However, things have changed. Book stores are being boarded up. The Internet has taken over. Hardback and paperback books are being replaced by eBooks. Online booksellers are the wave of the future. The bricks and mortar on the corner book store are falling to the ground.

So that comes back to the original question. Why is having a literary agent that important? What do they do if authors can self-publish and sell eBooks via the Internet?

Maybe having a publicist is more important in today’s writing world than an agent. I’d like to hear your thoughts about that. Doesn’t coming up with a strategy to market make more sense in getting your word out?

Or, if the funds are limited, maybe the best course of action for an author is to do self-promotion. In that case is it possible for an author to utilize the Internet and publicize traditionally enough on this own to make a difference?

Publicists put together PR campaign plans. They act as a liaison between a client and the media. Their connections can be used to land radio gigs or television talk shows. A publicist helps to promote a brand and make it more visible in the marketplace. In a nutshell they create -- buzzzzzzzzz.

So we are back to the beginning. Help me. I’m confused. What is the best way to go? As authors we all want to explore ways to get our word to the public. We seek more readers. We reach out to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, YouTube and a host of other online social networking sites. Who has the answer? If there is no set acceptable standard, then what is one to do?

I’d love to hear what has been successful for some other authors. Give me some feedback!

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, Pabby's Score
Twitter: golfnovels and JamesRossBooks
Publisher Website: and
Purchase link:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rewrites and Editing and Proofreading . . . Oh, My!

We’re coming up to the all-important stage of my latest novel, which will be released very soon. As any author knows it is tough enough to write a novel that has well over 100,000 words. The writing of a book takes an idea, planning, some sort of an outline and concrete thoughts concerning how to tell the story. That’s not to mention specific character development and how these personalities will be shared and interact. These are all very important ingredients that work together to form a manuscript.

But then the fun begins.

If you are a writer/author and you want to put your work in front of people, then you are very much aware that several sets of eyes need to examine your work before the final product hits the market. Mistakes will remain if you do not have others review the copy. A professional editor is essential. What stays? What goes? What needs to be reworked? What needs to be told in a different way?

But, there is more.

Even after rewrites and major edits have been performed, the actual proofreading of the manuscript needs to take place. I go over my text a minimum of five times and have done it as many as twelve times. That’s just me. I’m a stickler for details. My proofreader goes over the document four times. Thank goodness we double space the rough copy! We’d really be cross-eyed if we didn’t have the extra white area. Spelling and sentence structure is one thing, but looking for periods, commas, apostrophes and quotation marks can be a living nightmare.

And we’re still not done.

My publisher works on the font size, the margins and the spacing. A pdf version of the story is generated. Then my proofreader and I get a final opportunity to correct any errors in the copy that will be going to print. If you haven’t caught a punctuation error by then --- well, this is your last chance. Normally that process has to be done with quick turnaround.

Any published author realizes that a reader will find an error somewhere and that will be one of the first comments about the book. But, this imperfection won’t be due to a lack of effort. 

To my fellow writers out there--how tedious is your editing and proofreading process?  How many sets of eyes review your work?  How many times do you read through a manuscript yourself?

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, Pabby's Score
Twitter: golfnovels and JamesRossBooks
Publisher Website: and
Purchase link:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Penn State and the Blame Game

Turn on the news you quickly will learn--the world is in a sad state of affairs. The way we treat one another and the resolve we have to stand up and do what is right seems to be shaky.  When money and politics enter the picture, the issues become more confused and twisted. The buck gets passed and it becomes a question of who is going to take the fall.

I haven’t read the grand jury report in the Penn State situation. All I know is what I’ve seen and heard in the news reports. This may involve a sports team, but there are no winners here.  Despite the cries over destroyed coaching legacies and other sad tales, the boys who were victims of this tragedy must not be forgotten.

Let’s backtrack nine years. An assistant football coach at Penn State witnesses disturbing and criminal behavior in the locker room between a former coach who still used the facilities for his outreach program and an under-aged boy. Some information reached the head coach. He reported it to higher-ups at the institution. I can only imagine what happened from there.

There was probably a discussion. The institution did not want the embarrassment of the incident being dragged into the media. A cover-up was most likely discussed. A hush went through the building. An attempt to silence the situation was put in motion.

Now jump ahead nine years. The heat returns. The media gets wind of the incident and the report from the grand jury leaks to the press. The secret is exposed. Uh-oh. What now? It’s time for the blame game. I’ll repeat – there are no winners. The ones with the greatest amount of political clout either have the most to lose or the ability to pass the buck.

Enter the most successful coach in the history of major college football. He’s caught in the middle and wants to maintain his dignity. He suggests a resignation. But the university thinks otherwise. They dismiss him immediately with a phone call! Isn’t that absurd treatment to a faithful employee of nearly fifty years? Tough luck! That’s the way it works in business. Students revolt. A riot commences.

Now the “he-saids and the she-saids” begin. Who saw what? When? How? What were the circumstances? Everyone gets to hire a lawyer and the legal process is set in motion. Even with indictments and oaths, we may never know the whole truth.

The fact remains that at least one little boy was seen being molested, and there are other alleged victims out there. Penn State wants to save face so the powers-to-be made an attempt to quiet the throngs.

When it’s all said and done--maybe a decade from now--how will the university and the head coach and the victim and the child abuser be viewed? Your guess is as good as mine but the situation is really a reflection of our deteriorating society and the attempt to buy reputations. Stop and think. Where is the twisted person that started it all? I bet he’s hiding under a blanket of lawyers. It all disgusts me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

And the 2011 World Series Winner is . . .

Let me say this about that headline. Both teams won. There were no losers in the 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals.

What? No Losers?

That’s right. One of them – the St. Louis Cardinals – holds the trophy, but #MLB (Major League Baseball) and baseball fans worldwide won.

The games were played outside the media hubs but the TV ratings soared nationwide. The Rangers were looking for their first ever world championship. They were pitted against the Cardinals who were looking for their 11th world title. Each game was competitive, exciting and gave viewers a taste of everything that the game of baseball provides.

What more could a fan ask for?

At times there was great pitching as well as timely home runs. There were errors at inopportune times and shoddy base running. Those gaffes were followed by defensive gems, clutch hitting and heroic moments. We saw pitching duels, managerial maneuvers, come-from-behind wins, World Series records and an extra inning thriller.

At any rate, congratulations go out to the Cardinals for a never-say-die spirit.

One thing that I did was post some guest blogs on the Blogger News Network. That is a different blogging strategy, using comments from the characters in my books. Take a look at these World Series articles from the 2011 World Series between St. Louis and Texas. A first-ever unique match up; an Albert Pujols night to remember; and the pivotal game six.

The guys at Prairie Winds Golf Course wanted to share their thoughts!

Friday, November 4, 2011

What's in a Name?

A good friend of mine called yesterday to let me know that he had just left the doctor's office with his wife and they learned that they are having a little girl.  They already have a son, and are thrilled to be adding a daughter to their family.  And now, the discussion about names will begin.  Some couples read every baby book and website possible, sifting through hundreds of names in search of the perfect one.  Others choose to honor family members by passing down a name from a previous generation.  Or, there are times when both mom and dad just know right away that a certain name is meant to be for their baby.

If you are a writer like me, you know that creating your characters is much like giving birth.  While there certainly is no physical comparison to the effort, we certainly spend time thinking about the people we are developing, wondering how they will turn out, and introducing them to the general public with a sense of pride and protectiveness.  And, at some point, we also must provide our characters with names.

In my work, the names I select all mean something and were chosen with purpose.  Whether it's the all-American girl who works in the clubhouse or the fallen athlete who ended up on the wrong side of the socioeconomic divide or the businessman from the other side of the world, I play into cultural stereotpyes when selecting names and, I hope, promote some challeging conversations among my readers.

So, I would like to know from you -- what is your process for naming your characters?  Does the name come first with the full personality and other details to follow?  Or, do you need to step back and look at a developed character sketch and then pick a name that is fitting?  I want to know how you give birth to your characters.  I imagine it's probably a personal and emotional process for you as much as me.