Monthly Archives: August 2015

How Marketable is Your Manuscript & Where? – Orr What? Wednesday

Market imageIs your goal to be published by a traditional print publisher? If your answer is yes, you must evaluate your manuscript in terms of what that marketplace demands. To do otherwise is less savvy than you need to be on your own behalf.

If your goal is commercial print publication you must be aware of the realities of that choice for the sake of your own psyche. Otherwise, you render yourself vulnerable to loss of effort and energy and worst of all hope – which can be disastrous to your psyche.

The first reality you must be aware of is this. The publishing market is super-cautious now. Skittish beyond its customary skittishness. Work that veers very far from customary publishing category expectations will have a rough time finding welcome.

The exception – a manuscript that is a truly extraordinary market-buster blockbuster bestseller masterpiece. Does this describe your work? Eliminate ego. Eliminate parental pride in your creation. Be hard of nose and heart and make a clearheaded judgment from that objective place.

Submitting your work now is looking for a job in a low-availability environment. Looking for the job of published author. Think in terms of making yourself and your work as attractive as possible within that narrow avenue of possibility. This effort begins with the work itself.

You must always submit only your very best work. That is extra valid now. Don’t expect an agent or editor to see through your imperfect manuscript to your perfect talent beneath. Editors are looking for perfection visible. Agents follow suit because they look for what editors want.

Your first marketplace search is most likely for an agent. Ask yourself, “What does this agent prefer to represent? Can I accommodate my work to those preferences?”

Research those preferences. Turn first to the internet. Does the agent have a website? Who does she represent and what do they write? Google the agent for articles written and statements made. What does she tell you there?

This is a sleuthing exercise. You must investigate – investigate – investigate. If you have your own sleuthing tricks or come up with some along the way share them with others. Don’t forget that all boats rise together.

What editors and publishers are looking for is an easier search. Check publisher websites. Google individual editors. Remember that the reception of an unsolicited – unagented – manuscript will be less welcoming than a solicited one via an agent.

Some publishers won’t consider unsoliciteds at all. I say, “Send it along anyway. What’s to lose? Except maybe that time, energy and psyche strength I mentioned?” So be aware that this is a Hail Mary and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Through all of this sleuthing and strategizing and planning – you are making lists with your manuscript always in mind. Where might it be most marketable? Who might find it most intriguing? What should you pitch most prominently to each target in order to maximize your chances of luring them into the lair of your work?

Do all of this with high ambition and a courageous heart and you will also maximize your marketability. And always – keep on writing whatever may occur.


A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – is FREE at It’s also FREE at Barnes & Noble and iTunes and KOBO and other online platforms. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is $2.99 at These are my 12th and 13th novels. They were written for the non-traditional marketplace which is your other publishing option. Alice


The Crucial Cool Read – Ask Alice Saturday

Coolness imageQuestion. You talk about the cool read. Could you explain what that is?

Answer. The cool read is what needs to happen after you finish the first draft of a manuscript.

 We all know we must always submit Only Our Very Best Work. We achieve our very best work by revising. Revision is where Excellence happens. Revision is where a salable story happens.

We must beware of the blush of enthusiasm we all feel when we complete our first beginning-to-end draft of a manuscript. This is euphoria and it is totally misleading.

We are overjoyed to be finished. Certain our story is a thousand percent wonderful. We’ve lost all capacity for critical judgement. We’re in love – in love with our accomplishment. As we well should be. The completion of a first draft is a huge achievement.

BUT we must never submit our work at this point. This is where the crucial cool read comes in. We need to let the manuscript “cool” for a while. A few days at least. A bit longer if possible.

Set the piece aside. Do something else. Give yourself a total break. Or catch up on your social media/internet presence which will also be crucial to marketing your work. Or do some background prep for your next writing project.

Whatever your choice of cooling mode the purpose is the same. To give yourself distance from your creation. To clear your eyes and your mind and your heart so you can come back fresh – with your critical judgement intact.

When you return to the manuscript read it All The Way Through. Preferably in one sitting if you can manage that. If you can’t manage that – as many of us cannot – read it in subsequent sittings with no other writing work in between. You’ve cooled your head. Take full advantage of that.

Then Revise. Prepare for that revision by interrogating your manuscript. Ask it – and ask yourself – Six Crucial questions.

  1. How can I give this work a stronger narrative hook? A more intriguing Story Idea or Premise? A more riveting Dramatic Opening?
  2. The next 3 questions are for fiction writers. How can I make my Protagonist more sympathetic so the reader will really care about this character and thus be emotionally involved? Is my Protagonist a decent, admirable, heroic person?
  3. How can I make the Villain more formidable and still believable so he is a real source of conflict for my Protagonist?
  4. How can I make the Plot work better? Perhaps, by strengthening character motivations?
  5. For both fiction and nonfiction. How can I keep the Middle move rapidly along without sagging or getting muddled? With cliffhangers? With revelations?
  6. How can I make the Ending as satisfying as possible?

Congratulations. You’ve done the work. You’ve taken the truly cool road to producing your hottest work. You’ve earned a euphoria boost. Don’t forget to celebrate your work and yourself.


A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – is FREE at It is also FREE at Barnes & Noble and iTunes and KOBO and other online platforms. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is available at those same platforms including These are my 12th and 13th novels. They are both cool reads. Alice


The Need for Speed – Ask Alice Saturday

Road Runner imageQuestion. You talk a lot about the positives of Indie Publishing. Is there a negative for you?

Answer. For me there definitely is one negative. The emphasis on frequency of publication.

The three requirements for Independent Publishing success as a fiction writer – according to what I’ve been told – are these.

  1. Write in a popular genre.
  2. Write a series.
  3. Publish every 3 to 4 months. Preferably every 3 months.

I’ve got the first two covered. Romantic Suspense is a popular sub-group of a very popular genre. I’m also writing the Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series.

I was doing all right with number three for a while. A Wrong Way Home launched in February. A Year of Summer Shadows in June. Four months apart not three but still in the frequency ballpark.

That looked okay on the calendar but I knew better. Making book number two’s publication date was a stretch for me. An uncomfortable stretch. To accomplish it I did a truly stupid thing.

I rushed the manuscript straight from my editor’s hands into production. I didn’t do the final crucial read-through myself.

I’ve been around way longer than enough to know there are edits only the author’s eyes will see. I rushed it anyway. Because I didn’t want to commit the allegedly deadly sin of letting five months pass between published books.

Since then I’ve committed other sins that also toll the death knell to my frequency of publication. Specifically I’m guilty of wanting and having a personal life. Complete with family and friends and even some fun.

In the 1990’s I set all of those aside to pursue a career as a literary agent. I was all business all the time and the goddess of commerce awarded me well.

What I seem to be experiencing now is a case of Been There Done That when it comes to All Work and No Play Make Alice a Successful Woman.

Whatever the cause may be – I’m just not feeling the need for speed. I fully understand this flies in the face of my having told hundreds of writers in my workshops that they must be Warriors on Behalf of Their Careers.

All the same – I’ve decided not to renew my fast lane pass. Which also flies in the face of the three-prong program for independent publishing success.

I’ve been fortunate to experience a number of worldly successes in my life. Maybe I’ve fulfilled my required quota of those.

Maybe it’s time to seek another kind of success. The kind that perhaps doesn’t involve being a warrior at all.


A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – is FREE at It’s also free at Barnes & Noble and iTunes and KOBO and other online platforms. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is also available at These are my 12th and 13th novels. Number 14 will probably take longer to arrive. Alice