Monday, 22 August 2011
View from the Caribbean
Okay, so I live in paradise. I admit it. Can we get past the sun, surf and sand for a moment and look at how location, and this location specifically, impacts on this writer?
When I started the writing gig years ago there were built-in handicaps. Queries were sent by snail mail and the intervals between sending out and getting a response were epochal - if a response were indeed forthcoming. I used to imagine agents looking askance at my stamps, opening the envelope gingerly and thinking: Trinidad? And what are these? International mailing coupons? How... quaint! just before throwing my stuff into the recycle bin. I didn't send out much and I'm eternally grateful to the editors and authors who responded to my neophyte approaches. Debbie Macomber was one. Karen Thomas another.
A breakthrough came when I signed with a local courier company. They provided a US mailing address and, for a reasonable fee, delivered mail to my door. That first company even took my letters and packages and mailed them from within the US. There was a lag, of course, but it was still a huge improvement. The problem was not the courier but the pace at which anything happens in the publishing industry. Months, sometimes many months, would elapse before I got any response from agents and editors.
Four months after I sent out the first round of queries via my courier, I discovered a website that listed agents who accepted e-queries. I sent out a batch and most agents responded, some within days, others within minutes. Not only did they respond, they were lovely and encouraging. That first week I got five requests for submissions, and two months later received an offer of representation. About twenty minutes into our first telephone conversation I pointed out to the agent that she was calling Trinidad. "Oh, that's all right," she responded cheerfully. "We have clients all over the world!" This, dear reader, was my kind of agent.
Over the past few years my location has been of little consequence. Not only do I conduct most of my business over the Internet, but I also discovered a great network of writers and friends across the globe, a network that I can access with a few clicks and keystrokes. I don't even have to put on makeup and leave the house! Right now, I believe, is the best time ever to be a writer stuck on a little rock thousands of miles away from, well, everything.