Tag Archives: new job

Billy at the Bat

Posted: November 30, 2017 at 9:48 pm

The outlook wasn’t brilliant in the publishing world this year,

Authors watched their dreams of glory slowly disappear;

And with every shuttered bookstore, and breaks they could not catch,

A pall-like silence fell upon every ink-stained wretch.

 

A straggling few got day jobs, in deep despair. The rest,

Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;

They thought, “If Rowling created magic with her café-writ debut,

We’ll bet our homes and marriages, that we can do it too.”

 

But Young Adult rules writing, unless it’s Shades of Grey,

And the former is too childish, while the latter’s quite risqué;

So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy set,

For there seemed but little chance of winning: Publisher Roulette.

 

But Billy penned a memoir, to the wonderment of all,

Except his editor Colin, who was not the least enthralled;

And when the dust had lifted, and Bill wrote his seventh draft,

He realized three years wasn’t long for one to hone his craft.

 

From all three family members, there rose a lusty yell,

It rumbled through Lynn Valley, it rattled in the dell;

It pounded on Grouse Mountain, recoiled on West Van hovels,

For Billy, clever Billy, was ready to sell his novel.

 

There was ease in Billy’s manner as he wrote his book proposal,

There was calm in Billy’s bearing as it reached the waste disposal;

And when, responding to his agent, he wrote it thrice again,

No publisher could resist the pitch of Bill’s deftly wielded pen.

 

His Facebook friends applauded as Bill attempted the implausible,

Ten thousand blogs reminded him his dream was near impossible;

Then, when Reason said he’s doomed to fail, get off this ego trip,

Defiance flashed in Billy’s eye, a sneer curled Billy’s lip.

 

And now a major publisher called, a house without compare,

And Billy sat a-listening, in haughty grandeur there;

But the conversation dragged a bit….our author’s hopes were fallin’—

“Whaddya think?” asked Billy. “Not for me!” said Harper Collins.

 

From Bill’s kitchen, filled with loved-ones, there went up a muffled roar,

Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;

“Kill him! Kill that publisher!” shouted Bill’s long-suffering wife,

And it’s likely she’d have killed him had not Billy saved his life.

 

With a smile of Christian charity our Billy’s visage shone,

He calmed his loving partner; he bade the game go on;

He signalled to his agent, and once more a query flew,

But M&S rejected it. His agent said, “Strike two!”

 

“Fraud!” cried Bill’s coffee shop pals, and echo answered “Fraud!”,

But one scornful look from Billy and the baristas were awed;

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his temples quiver,

And they knew that Billy would make some publishing house deliver.

 

The sneer is gone from Billy’s lip, his teeth are clenched so tight,

He mails his last proposal to a house which should be right;

And now the author’s waiting, he trembles with his spouse,

And now the air is crackling with a call from Random House.

 

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and children play en masse,

But there is no joy in North Van—Random took a pass.

 

(With Apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

The Art of Non-Conformity

Posted: December 1, 2016 at 11:05 am

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I’m featured on “The Art of Non-Conformity,” a website for people with unconventional ideas about work and happiness. It was started by Chris Guillebeau, a New York Times bestselling author. The website has 100,000 subscribers. Check out what he said about me (some of it true): http://chrisguillebeau.com/william-crow/. Special shout out to my friend Sharka Stuyt who plays a role in the story.

My Secret Agent

Posted: November 11, 2016 at 9:47 am

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I had some good news last week concerning my memoir, provisionally entitled The Next Trapeze.

In past posts I described the “query” process, by which an author sends a jaw-dropping, one-page letter to a literary agent who will beg to have the honour of fielding the seven-figure offers from the big New York publishers. If you’re not Stephen King, or if your book isn’t fifty shades of S&M fantasy, your experience may be different. Here’s the regular, painful process:

1. You research a literary agent through their website.

2. The agent won’t respond to telephone inquiries. If you have a question, tough.

3. The agent won’t allow visitors to their office. If you want to meet the agent before requesting representation, tough.

4. You tailor your query letter to the exact requirements of the agent’s website and send by email. Any deviation ensures rejection.

5. The agent’s website warns you won’t receive confirmation your email was ever received.

6. The agent’s website states they will review your query letter within TWELVE weeks of receiving it.

7. The agent won’t respond to emails or calls requesting a status update.

8. The agent will only contact you if they want to see part of your manuscript. If they don’t like your query, you’ll hear nothing. Which means you’ll wait for 12 weeks,  and never be sure if anyone even looked at your letter.

In the business world, I was used to people acknowledging I existed, phoning me back, treating me with courtesy. You know, human stuff. To be fair, agents receive thousands of query letters every year, and accept two or three new clients. I wasn’t prepared to be ignored, but I imagine everyone else in the arts knows what that feels like. A smattering of agents were nice enough to send polite, “no thanks…but seriously, what were you thinking?” emails. I wasn’t depressed, just frustrated.

But…here comes the good news…one enlightened, Toronto agent saw something in my book the others missed, actually PHONED ME and offered to represent me. I signed his contract before he could change his mind.

Now it’s up to my agent and me to prepare a book proposal so mind-bogglingly clever and enticing that publishers will fight over the chance to publish it. Or something like that.

So watch out, publishers, I have an agent, and I’m not afraid to use him!

Feeling A Little Query

Posted: May 13, 2016 at 11:18 am

 

People have been saying to me, “It’s been THREE years! When are you going to finish your book?” When they say “book” they do the air-quote thing with their fingers to emphasize it’s not a REAL book because they’re not holding a copy in their hands. Or they have no faith that I’m capable of writing a real book.

To these people I say, “My book is done, so please quit bugging me.” What I actually think is much ruder than that, but you get the idea.  I finished Draft #9 about a month ago, gave it a title page, put in the chapter numbers, ended it with “La Fin” and printed all 278 pages. I’m tempted to write one more draft, but I’d also like to stay married, so that’s it for now.

With a  completed manuscript burning a hole in my laptop, my options are:

(1) Upload my book to Amazon and make it available for 99 cents on-line tomorrow. This has the advantage of instant gratification (people can immediately give me money and enjoy my book). The disadvantage is that these people immediately giving me money and enjoying my book are mostly related to me or have learned how to snowboard from me (owing me a favour). It is very difficult to stand out from the MILLIONS of on-line books offered each year. There are exceptions….The Martian and Fifty Shades of Grey both started as on-line books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t smart enough to write the first one and I’m too good a writer to write the second.

(2) Send my book to publishers and tell them it’s the next Eat, Pray, Love.   Every writer thinks they’ve written the next Eat, Pray, Love, will sell 10 million copies and will be played in the movie by Julia Roberts (or in my case, Brad Pitt, obviously). Those writers are wrong, because there hasn’t been a phenomenon like Eat, Pray, Love since, well, Eat, Pray, Love. Complicating this dream, unsolicited manuscripts are relegated to a publisher’s slush pile where they languish until all the vowels slide off the pages, rendering the book only slightly less comprehensible.

(3) Hire a printer to print and bind 1000 copies of my book so I can sell them in parking lots out of the trunk of my car. Not exactly the dream I had when I gave up a successful legal career to become a writer.

(4) Crawl into a cave and never show my book to anyone. Not a serious option, because then I would fail in my goal of making enough money on my book to pay for all the coffee I consumed in Delany’s Coffee Shop while writing the book. I know, that’s ironic, or a circular argument, or something that makes the last three years look pitiful.

(5) Query my brains out. To have any chance of attracting a traditional publisher and having my book on the shelves of a bookstore not in my hometown, I’ll need a literary agent. And to get a literary agent I have to “query” 500 of them. A query is a one-page letter, possibly with a book excerpt attached, that is so enticing and mind-blowing that the agent begs me to immediately send the completed manuscript. Remember, literary agents receive thousands of query letters every year, and take on two or three new clients. Consequently, my query letter has to be the best 300 words I’ve ever written, as good as anything in my book. If the agent decides I can write a book as well as I can write a query letter, he or she will offer to represent me…which is no guarantee of success with any publisher with more than two employees.

As you may have guessed, I’m opting for Number 5. I’ll let you know how it goes. I may end up buying a car with a bigger trunk.