Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Shameless Personal Plug

It's not like this is an uneventful week in Anglicanland. As if, in the light of GAFCON, the bishops beginning to gather in Canterbury for the decennial Lambeth Conference were not already operating in a sufficiently drama-charged environment, the shadows are lengthened by what happened earlier this week in the Church of England's General Synod. It isn't so much what they did that adds fuel to the flame--that much was a foregone conclusion--it was how they did it. The devil, as we know, is in the details.

But I digress. I'm not going to get into all that right now, mostly because, if I have an ounce of marginal influence in things Episcopal, I have not the wisp of any influence across the sea. So I shall keep my own counsel until Lambeth gets going.

Back to my personal plug.

For the last eight years, I've been working on a novel. Writing one, that is, not reading one. That it took me that long is no testimony to its length--it's a relatively modest 100,000 words or so--but simply to the fact that it was very much a "spare time" project, maybe like restoring a classic car in one's garage. Or building a robot, perhaps.

Anyway, it's done. It's been proof-read. It's been gone over by an independent editor to whom I paid actual money, and I have made a good-faith effort to incorporate her suggestions in revising my work. The book is finished. I'm ready to (please don't shoot me for saying this) "take it to the next level."

Which is to say, I need an agent. One who will find me a publisher. It's not best-seller material, and nobody's going to be able to retire off of this deal, but it's a story that deserves to see the light of day, and the writing is occasionally surprisingly good. At least that's how it strikes me when I look at a passage I haven't seen in five years and think to myself, "Damn! Did I write this? It's actually not bad." And I bet there are some people who would pay money to read it.

So if you know an agent, or better yet, if you are an agent, you know where to find me. I will be more than happy to zap you two or three chapters so you can get a taste.

My high school English teachers always said "Write about something you know." So I wrote about an Episcopal priest who's about to turn fifty, because that was me when I started writing. But the story is assuredly not autobiographical (something which I have to constantly reassure my wife of, since the narrative begins at the main character's wife's funeral.) But, of course, I do exploit my knowledge of what the daily life of a member of the clergy is like in order to give veracity to my story.

If I could bottle my aspirations as a novelist, shake them together and pour them out into a glass, we would have a hybrid that represents a cross between an American Susan Howatch and an Anglican Andrew Greeley. I would not presume to put myself in the same league with those accomplished authors, but I like to think I'm worthy of at least swimming in their wake. It's about real stuff that happens to real people. If it were a movie, it woud be R-rated--not more than that but not less--in spots.

The working title is from St Paul to the Corinthians: "This Slight Momentary Affliction."

OK people, work your networks.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Dan: I've been there with my novel "Lest Ye Be Judged" and one bit of advice I can give you is good luck and be patient! I do not have an agent and have not been able to find one despite many months of the effort to do so. I ended up self-publishing my novel through iUniverse which, while satisfying by getting it in print, has been less than effective in obtaining marketing and distribution.
As for finding an agent, there are many internet resources such as directories that provide topical listings and contact information - Google "Literary agents" and you will see several right away. You will need to draft a "query" to send them, pitching your book and hoping to catch their interest. Most will not respond, and a few will send a form rejection. You may get lucky enough to actually communicate with a few.
Another avenue is to research the identity of the agent for authors of similar work, and contact them directly. Sometimes author websites have this info, and sometimes the agent directories show representative clients.
The novel/fiction market is the most difficult to break into because of the volume of material out there. Stay the course and be patient - your work is important and it deserves your efforts to see the light of day.

David Trimble a/k/a "Still On Patrol"

Anonymous said...

Maybe Gene Robinson would be happy to share his agent with you Fr. Dan...It didn't take him long to get a book published and heck the tour in promoting it is still on track and going strong. I think you should give him a call!

unklephil said...

Music in this one? You might want to consider St. James Music Press.

...and I'll put money up now for an autographed copy when it does get published!

Malcolm+ said...

I haven't written a novel. But this fall I'll appear as a (presumably minor) character in Gail Bowen's 11th Joanne Kilbourn mystery "The Brutal Heart," due out next month.

I'll ask Gail - Readers Digest pick as Canada's favourite mystery writer - about how one finds an agent.

Anonymous said...

I, too, would pay for an autographed copy!

Undergroundpewster said...

"'Write about something you know.' So I wrote about an Episcopal priest who's about to turn fifty, because that was me when I started writing."

I am sure it is a fine novel, but it does not sound like something the publishing houses would jump on as an instant best seller. I doubt we will see it in the bookshop of the National Cathedral anytime soon. David Trimble's idea may be the way to get started.

Another method is to get a shameless promoter interested like the character Alistair Deacon in the BBC series "As Time Goes By."
"I can see it now D'man, it'll be big, bigger than "My Life in Kenya," he might say. Then you can spice up the cover with a couple of hotties wearing clerical collars, have a few book signings, sell the T.V. rights, and voila, you will be on your way.

Dr.D said...

Fr. Dan, I too would suggest the self-publishing route. I have published a couple of non-fiction books with regular publishers, and I would not touch that again with a 20 ft. pole. I currently have a book in print with and I recommend that as the way to go. If you would like more details, please e-mail me at sdoughty11@gmail. I can give you some tips that I think can get you in-print fairly painlessly.

Anonymous said...

Rector or fiction writer? I think you should choose one.