Friday, August 21, 2009

Lunch with James Rollins

(Promotional photo from James Rollins Official Website and James Rollins Fan Club).

Lunchtime at a PNWA Summer Conference usually involves grabbing a sandwich or salad platter at one of the concession stands and wolfing it down before the next workshop. (Okay, maybe I'm just referring to my own eating habits...). But instead of scouring the Writer's Cafe for a vacant seat I usually attend the "Lunch With (insert name of bestselling author here)" program.

The first lunch break of this year's conference was with Jame Rollins. His first young adult novel, Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow was released in March and his newest "Sigma Force" thriller, The Doomsday Key hit the bookstores in June. A veterinarian by trade, Mr. Rollins learned his craft by attending writers conferences and retreats. So he's brought a personal "I-was-sitting-where-you-are-now" perspective to all his PNWA speaking engagements. This year, he literally flew in and was ushered back to the airport after the post-lunch book signing.

Despite suffering from jet-lag, Mr. Rollins was as entertaining and engaging as in previous appearances. In addition to Mr Rollins amusing tales about his writing career--of which there are many--I did learn about some of the obstacles that hinder publication and one possible technique to overcome them.

Actually, there are three obstacles,--or "Three Nos"--as Mr Rollins calls them. That is, when you are ready to submit your work you're confronted with 3 possibilities of being told "no."

The first "no" can occur when you submit your query letter to a literary agent. The agent in question can send a "thanks-but-no-thanks" reply just after reading your one-page query.

If the agent is intrigued enough by this one-pager he may ask to see the first 50 pages, 3 chapters, or whatever their agency's guidelines calls for. But you're not out of the literary woods yet, because the agent could still say "no" even after reading select portions of your manuscript.

Which brings us to the final "no." Once the agent accepts you as a client then he could face a steady stream of "nos" on your behalf from disinterested editors.

Mr Rollins' solution?

"Take one "no" away from them."

That is, send the first 50 pages along with the query letter despite the agency's "query only" guidelines. Now you face only two "nos." Because according to Mr Rollins, simple curiosity will likely take over and cause an agent to read the submission--whether it was asked for or not.

More information about James Rollins' can be found on his official website (also listed under the Author Section of this blog):

1 comment:

Alynn Parr said...

I've been to several conferences, but I've never heard that advice. I like it! Take one "no" away. Thanks for sharing that tip!