Sunday, October 5, 2014
Team Jeffe - Eff Yeah!
This week's topic at Word Whores is all about resources and who is on my team. It's funny that this comes up (and proof that I should look at the topic calendar farther in advance) because I wrote a post for one of my OTHER group blogs - at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers - about how working with my editors is much like a marriage
I think it's something I never realized when I started out, that having a career as a writer would ultimately involve working with such a large team of people. It's misleading because all of us when we first start writing are pretty much going it alone. The world is so full of people saying they plan to write a book that it's kind of embarrassing to chime in with the "oh yeah, me too." I know quite a few writers who worked in secret - one guy didn't even tell his family until he sold his novel, because it felt so difficult to admit.
As time goes on, however, we go from being isolated wanna-be's laboring in the silent bubble of earnest hope and belief to being cottage industries. So here's who all is on Team Jeffe these days, pretty much in order of process.
Critique Partners and Cone Buddies
Ah, the first line of defense, my amazing CPs. I rotate through different people on different books, and sometimes call on new beta readers to be the fresh look at the next installment in an ongoing series or a much-needed subject matter expert. Just as crucial are my writer buddies who don't necessarily read or critique, but who are there for me to bounce ideas off of and who happily invoked the Cone of Silence so I can vent what is unwise to do publicly. They are also my cheerleaders, hand-holders and ass-kickers. I love them all so very much.
For a long time I didn't have an agent. I sold my first essays and essay collection without one, and my first seven fiction works on my own. Then Agent Pam found me and opened new doors for me. She moved to another agency and now I'm with Connor Goldsmith. Adding the agent influence to the mix changes things. Connor tells me what he thinks I should focus on, to take advantage of the marketplace. I no longer write just whatever takes my fancy. I don't HAVE to follow his advice, but I find it valuable.
As I mentioned, working with my editors has begun to feel like a marriage. We're in this together and I greatly appreciate having their guidance on my work. They make my books better. More, they're invested in my books, nearly as much as I am. Even when the feedback hurts, I still love it. They bring a blend of polishing the book to its finest and directing it towards the reading audience. They think about those aspects so I don't have to.
Production, Publishing and Publicity
One of the other things I love best about being part of my two publishing houses is all the people who bring their passion and expertise to bringing my books to the world. This includes my Production Editor, Copy Editors, Proofreaders, Cover Art Designers, Publicists, Editorial Directors, Marketing Directors, and so forth. Some of these people I talk to directly. Others I only know of. Some I happen to meet incidentally. For example, the model for Ursula on the cover of The Talon of the Hawk tagged me on Twitter. She was all excited about the beautiful cover and wanted to know what Ursula is like. Love that people like this have become part of my team.
Freelance Author Help
I also hire out a fair amount of stuff. Liz Bemis handles my website and does it fabulously. I have Roxanne at Bewitching Book Tours on retainer to keep my name out there. She sets up cover reveals, pre-order tours a blog tours of all sorts for me. I have an author assistant, to help me with all the little details that fall through the cracks otherwise. Wow - funny to count it up like this and see how my creative work now feeds into so many other income streams!
Bloggers, Readers and Bookstores
Finally, at the very end of this long supply chain, are the people who actually read my books and put them in the hands of new readers. The book bloggers who read, review and push my books are an unlooked-for boon in my world. They've brought my books to so many people I couldn't reach on my own. Same with the readers who tell their friends to read - and who write to say they've gifted my books to people. At the bookstores, those lovely people set up events for me and the librarians make sure to acquire my works and steer people to them.
The circles of these people just keep rippling outward.
In short - oh wait, too late for that - Team Jeffe is a pretty big group of people. More than I realized when I started this post. Looking back at those long ago days when I woke up at 5am to sit in my little basement office we'd made from the old coal bin to write my words alone, hoping for the future, it's amazing to see how many people are now part of what I'm doing.
And tremendously gratifying.