Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Educate Yourself

My guest is romance author Lisa Renee Jones. I fell in love with her writing reading her hot Blaze stories (she also writes The Knights of White for Nocturne). Her heroes are strong, dangerous, and hot. They know their jobs well. They’re competent men on the job and melt you in the bedroom, or anywhere else. Lisa’s women are by no means pushovers either. They’re feisty; take charge women who know how to take charge of arrogant, too sexy for their clothes heroes. Strong characters and explosive action—my kind of book.

When I heard Lisa was doing a new series for Sourcebooks I was excited. I knew she could tell a good story and write characters I could fall in love with—strong men and women. Even better, set those characters in a believable world and take me on a dangerous journey to happily ever after. I love romance with a strong element of adventure and danger. The longer format would allow her to develop those stories more fully. Contented sigh.

Lisa was gracious enough to allow me to highlight Michael, of her new Zodius series for Sourcebooks. I didn’t even have to beg very hard. Okay, I didn’t have to beg. Since I don’t have room here on the blog to print the excerpt, you will find it on the right side bar under excerpts. Click on it and be taken away to a new and dangerous world out of Area 51.

Lisa’s topic is also one writers need to be able to negotiate safely through some potential minefields—finding an agent willing to invest in strategies to build their clients career.

Hi Everyone and Happy New Year! And thank you Sia for inviting me to her blog today. This is an exciting year for me so it’s fun to talk about it! I have my new Sourcebooks Zodius paranormal series starting in May which is about a group of hot Super Soldiers created through an Area 51 experiment. And I have releases in January, March, 2 in May, June, July, August, and November! Busy, busy, fun year!

So today we are talking about the laughter and tears, the glitches and triumphs, authors face in the pursuit of their ambition to write. Oh where to start. Often when I blog, I tend to talk about the funny side of trying to make it in this tough writing biz, but often that downplays the reality of the battle to succeed. People need to know, if they keep fighting, keep dreaming, keep working, they CAN make it! For that reason, today I’m going to talk more about the struggles and tough times. So many times authors talk about the good stuff, but we tend to leave the bad times behind, because well, bad times stink. Who doesn’t want to forget them? Often though, this makes it seem that the big, successful authors were overnight success stories and never had any struggles. There are all kinds of things I wish I’d know when I started out, and occasionally have to remind myself now. I’ll narrow the picture and talk about one big topic – agents.

Though some authors are lucky and find the great, perfect agent, right out of the gate, a huge percentage of published authors change agents at least once. The first agent we choose is often picked just because the agent said ‘yes’ to us. This isn’t a good reason to say ‘yes’ back. An agent is so critical to your career WAY beyond just making a sale. The first sale is not a career made. Ask any author who has been published for years and seemingly successful and behind closed doors, still balancing their checkbook and struggling to make their bills. How your career is managed, the strategies taken to build your career, matters in a huge way.

Also—being afraid of your agent doesn’t help your career. You are your best asset. Ultimately you are the one responsible for where your career goes. The title ‘agent’ doesn’t make the agent any more right than the weatherman. Your career decisions become an educated based on experience so make sure the agent has experience and is selling books to reputable publishing houses and that the agent knows your genre well. You want someone who really has that experience, but also has the right frame of mind to make your career. You should agree on where you are going and how to get there. Agents need to be invested in you, and motivated to make you successful. Throwing your work out there to editors, just to see what happens, is not good work by your agent, nor does it show real support of your career. Your career should not be a dice roll in Vegas. The agent has to use their tools to make the best forecast, but since it’s not a precise science, don’t you want to play a role? This is your life, your future, and your name you could end up changing if you sales tank. Right--sales. You sell your book, you publish your book with publisher, and you get great reviews. And you don’t sell enough books. This could be career ending if not handled right, or at least, name changing. This is a critical topic an agent and author should be concerned about.

So see? You need to get educated and be a partner with your agent in your career. Yes, I know, it’s intimidating and hard, and admittedly, often easier said than done. However, I think new authors need to know that agents are not Gods. They are simply people. The matchup between you and your agent is very much a marriage. Find the right match and what works for you, but know that what might not work for the other person. I could go on and on about so many subjects related to agents but I’ll leave it with this.

Believe in yourself but be humble and professional. This is a small business!

Educated yourself

And NEVER, EVER give up no matter how great the agent who turns you down is – however do stay open to feedback and guidance. Rarely do we look back to our early work and not believe it needed work, even after we are published.

I will be around to answer questions and if you pop in an comment I’ll draw one commenter’s name for a copy of High Octane my not yet release March Blaze!


The world will never be the same after a top secret government projects creates super soldiers with alien DNA injections and those soldiers divide between good and evil.

The Hero: Michael

He is sin and satisfaction, lust and damnation, a lethal weapon created from the greed of man. A human soldier injected with alien DNA, he is one of many, yet none are like him, a legend within this new race, split between good and evil. Untamable, he has walked on the dark side, returned to the light, but it matters not, for he is feared, misunderstood—lethal in all ways possible.

Women desire him, lust for the mysterious warrior, hungry for the raw passion that touches his every breath. Men envy his stature, his power; they lust to control him. But there is no controlling a creature such as he, no taming the primal fires within him. He is the past, he is the future.

He is Michael. 
EXCERPT on blog right sidebar

Available for Pre-order: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders


Award winning author Lisa Renee Jones has published more than fifteen novels in several different languages, spanning multiple genres of romance: contemporary, romantic suspense, dark paranormal, and erotic fiction. Her awards include first place in theRomantic Times Aspiring Writers Contest. She currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Available now
You can find Lisa on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog for regular updates. For information on available books: Blaze, Nocturne, etc, visit Lisa's Website 


~Sia McKye~ said...

Lisa, welcome to OVER COFFEE. I have fresh coffee or whatever caffeine that helps you be bright eyed and bushy tailed.

I'm really looking forward to reading this new series! Meanwhile, I'm enjoying Jumpstart.

Oh, and no *manhandling* my Marine, lolol!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Thanks for a great reminder to all the writers out there!

aries18 said...

Wow, I just read Michael's excerpt and I think I'm hooked. I love sci-fi and having a romance included? perfection.

I've never read your work Lisa, but after reading your excerpt I'm convinced I need to remedy that.

Thanks for introducing Lisa to us, Sia. You always bring us the best!

Since your subject is picking an agent, may I ask you, did you go with the first agent to say yes to you? Or did you shop around to get the agent best for your work? Or did you end up changing agents? Thanks for offering us new information and some advice from a 'been there, done that' point of view.

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi, Lisa! Thank you very much for giving us a kick in the you know what and encourage us to continue that search for the perfect agent for us. I really appreciate your blog.

Jill Lynn said...

Awesome blurb! Already impressed and I haven't even read the excerpt yet. Good luck, Lisa, with your busy year ahead. Remember to have fun along the way.

lisa said...

Thanks Jill, Tonya, Jennifer-- And aries18 -- about agents. I changed agents. And yes I said yes to the first agent and it was not a smart move. In fact, it delayed my career. It just felt like validation and I jumped. Thus why I say this is one of the areas I wanted to talk about. I wish I had done it differently.

desere_steenberg said...

Stunning Blurb ! I am so looking forward to reading the Legend of Michael , I just adore the name ! And the title High Octane just sounds unbelievable intriguing !Thank you for coming to visit and talk to us. Where do find your inspiration for character names from or do you first build up a character and then start thinking of a name ?

Minna said...

Well, my book shopping list just got longer...

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa. Excellent topic. As writers, we thirst for validation, so the inclination to say yes to that first agent is very strong. Thanks for offering your perspective on it. I also liked the excerpt.

lisa said...

Hi Desere--
Thanks so much on the blurb:) On names-- most of the time as I start outlining the stories, I start matching names to the characters. It's important not to have same sounding names or names you used before so I often go to a baby name site and just start searching, looking for the name that feels like that character. I've only had an editor change a name once. I named the character Ray lol and she didn't think that was macho/sexy enough. I picked the name because I thought the character defied the name -- and that was part of the rebel in him. He ended up Ryan in High Octane:)

But the names are a part of the character taking life to me. I pick them early, before I ever start writing.

lisa said...

Hi James and thank you. Yes that validation thing is big for us writers and I am not sure it ever goes away, it just takes new forms.

Donna Grant said...

Love the blog, Lisa. :D And since I've already read The Legend of Michael for an author quote, I can tell everyone this book TOTALLY ROCKS! Mark it on your calendars, because you *have* to get this book.


Caridad Pineiro said...

Great advise, Lisa. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to get my hands on Michael. I mean, on the Michael's book. LOL!

lisa said...

Ah thank you Donna and Caridad:)

Donna and Caridad are 2 of my partners in crime aka the writing world:) -- the Dangerous Women. Love them both!

Froggy said...

ohhh can't wait for this book Lisa!

VA said...

Well...isn't someone the busy bee. My goodness, do you do anything but write? That is a inordinately long release list, Lisa.

Oh Lordy! Michael is one delicious treat. Yep!I just added another book to my reading list. The "I'll ask again" had me.

Nice, Sia. Cheers.

Jane said...

Congrats on the upcoming releases, Lisa. We definitely have a lot of books to look forward to.

lisa said...

Froggy and Jane thank you:) And VA I write full time so that helps. It is a lot of releases. Hopefully that is lucky and readers find me:)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lisa, Danna and Cari are two of my favorite people and authors (I do believe I've read most of their books). Kudos on getting Donna for an author quote.

Sorry to have been MIA I've had a whole bunch of errands to run and didn't get home until late. Just in time to fix dinner. Now, I'm relaxing with a cuppa and smiling at the nice comments and compliments you're getting.

I hear you on the validation. Seriously, I agree, not only educate yourself but used your connections to ask questions regarding agents you're considering.

Personally, if your agent isn't excited about your writing or helping you develop as a writer, I don't see them being excited about selling your work either. Having sold many things over the course of years, I know I have to believe in my product and know it well. I've always been a person who brings in high end results. So if my agent isn't of that mindset, they're of no use to me.

Anonymous said...

Believe in yourself but be humble. This is my motto exactly!

desere_steenberg said...

Thanks for taking the time to answer my question Lisa it is much appreciated. Names from baby name site brilliant I never would of thought of that ,very nice! Thanks again for taking the time to chat to us.
All the best