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Originally posted on February 17, 2010.

I don’t have anything against technology, technically speaking. Heck, I was part of that field myself, churning out software for the hapless, before I jumped over to the other side. However, as much as the technological advancement is transforming the world into a Global Village, in my opinion, it’s also turning us all into collective imbeciles.    

Email, twitter, facebook – they are all the rage now, right? I agree that they provide the easiest means to keep in touch with old friends, make new ones, and generally keep abreast of happenings around the world.    

Here’s my gripe: all these networking tools do as much harm as they do good. Let me elucidate: can you hear the sender’s tone of voice in an email or on a facebook message? No! Exactly! So, sometimes you do not know whether they’re being sarcastic, or earnest, or just blah when they express their opinions.    

"I'm not leering at ya, I swear! There's just something in my eye."

And the smiley faces can only go so far — when someone winks at you via a smiley face, do you take that wink as a “hey, co-conspirator”, or “I hear ya”, or “I’m leering at you right now, baby!”? There are instances where all three (or more) of these scenarios apply to that winking/hung-over happy-face that keeps blinking at you from your screen. What’s a girl gotta do in that situation?    

Is there anyone out there, who has used any of these electronic media as a means of communication and not regretted or second-guessed themselves the very second they hit the “send” or “publish” button?    

It’s scary the way you lose control in a matter of nanoseconds.  If it were snail mail, you’d have to sit down to write it neatly, which in itself means that you’d have put careful thought into what you wanted to say. And then you need to find an envelope, print the address, put a stamp on it, and then seal the envelope. This provides plenty of opportunities for you to rethink your strategy, or just change your mind about sending the letter/message at all in the first place.    

One of my very good friends sent me an email two days ago asking me why I was not “approving” her comments to my blog site.  I quickly checked my Inbox (like I needed to! I’m almost surgically attached to it, especially these days, for various reasons) and there were no pending comments for my site. I mulled over this and thought about it some more, but couldn’t figure out which black hole had swallowed up my friend’s comments. And then something occurred to me, and I quickly checked it out. Yup, my suspicion was right – the software “protecting” my blog from spam got overzealous and had decided that her comments were spam. Why? No idea. There was not even an ounce of advertisement or as much as a hint of a URL for a product in her message.  Argh!    

And then the other day, I was busy typing up something using a word processor (I’m not going to name it, but I’m sure you all know which one I’m referring to), and when I looked back, I couldn’t believe that I had typed so badly. When I looked at it more closely, though, I realized it was not me who was the bad typist. See, the word processor thought that it knew my mind better than I did myself; every time I typed something that it, in all its astuteness, knew to be obviously wrong, it patronizingly smirked behind my back and set about correcting my mistakes.    

(Ooh, just had a brilliant idea!) So, from now on, let it be known that ANY mistakes that you see in my posts (including idiocy in opinions expressed, along with typos), are due to my word processor taking over control and spewing its infinite wisdom onto these pages.      

And cell phones – don’t even get me started. That’s a whole series of posts for another time. I’m not touching that one. Not today. Not with a long pole.    

 I know I’ll sound extremely shallow and clichéd saying this, but I’ll say it anyway: Technology! Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.     

Or, maybe, it’s just me and my control issues.

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PART A

I got to chat with literary agent Mark McVeigh for fifteen minutes last Friday! Mark was direct and professional in the way he dealt with my questions and was immensely approachable. For someone like me, who is new to the publishing industry and has not been hitherto privy to firsthand information about how things worked, that in itself was very encouraging.

The McVeigh Agency (http://themcveighagency.com/) handles writers, illustrators, photographers, and graphic novelists for both the adult and children’s markets.

The agency web site says: “THE McVEIGH AGENCY does things those others think can’t be done”. Check out the web site for more information about what the agency’s vision and goals are.

I have recorded my conversation with Mark here, and I hope you all can get the same value out of it as I did when I talked to him face-to-face via Skype. (Btw, Skype is really cool – you should all try it out, if you haven’t already.)

Note: The text in blue within the interview is my commentary/impressions as the author of this blog; I added them whenever I felt the need to emphasize a point.

Current Publishing Industry:

Hema P.: With the economy the way it is currently, are publishers willing to take risks or do they tend to go more with trends?

Mark McVeigh: The publishing industry has always done both. Trends such as: vampires, werewolves, angels have come into vogue and are in various stages of publication. I think  Steampunk as a genre will be increasingly in vogue.

(Are you stumped as to what Steampunk is? I would have been, too, had I not read a post about it in Mark’s blog. Check it out.)

Hema: Do new authors have a harder time making a breakthrough into the industry today?

Mark: Yes, the industry is a tougher place today than it was even five years ago.

Hema: Is that because the publishing industry tends to play safe and go with established authors?

Mark: Not necessarily. Publishing houses are cutting down on the number of books they publish per year. If they were doing 100 books previously they’re only doing 75 now. As a result, fewer manuscripts are acquired, and so fewer new authors will get a break.

Hema: How are multicultural and historic fiction faring these days — especially in middle grade?

Mark: Historical fiction will always have an audience, be it middle grade or young adult. They aren’t typically blockbusters, although there are exceptions like Libba Bray’s gorgeous A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, but they find a place in the market.

Hema: I understand that this question has a lot of variables in it, and may not have an answer, but I’ll ask anyway. What is the current average time between a manuscript being acquired by an agent and it getting published and available on the racks?

Mark: I have no answer to this question.

Hema: Do you see the publishing industry going towards E-Books in the future? Is this good or bad for the industry?

Mark: Yes, I do. And it is going to be a huge help! I see tremendous potential in that direction; E-Books are going to revolutionize the industry.

Hema: Do you see traditional publishing going away completely?

Mark: Traditional books will never go away completely, just as vinyl record stores still exist despite the fact that most people buy music online. We are very lucky as an industry to have this innovation available to us: E-Book technology is going to be big.

New Authors and Career Promotion:

Hema: In addition to attending conferences, blogging and being part of a critique group, what do you suggest aspiring authors do in order to get noticed in this industry?

Mark: Those are all very good things to do for aspiring authors to promote their careers. Authors should be well aware of market direction and current trends in the industry. They have to make sure they study those using resources such as Publisher’s Marketplace. You should also blog about industry news, so other authors start following your blog for the valuable information that they can get out of it. It is also important to Twitter, to put yourself as a branded individual out there.

I will post Part B (Edit: 3/14/2010 – link to Part B added retroactively) of this interview on Wednesday. It deals with questions related to Critiquing, and specific practices at The McVeigh Agency regarding Clients and Query Process.

Read Full Post »

I don’t have anything against technology, technically speaking. Heck, I was part of that field myself, churning out software for the hapless, before I jumped over to the other side. However, as much as the technological advancement is transforming the world into a Global Village, in my opinion, it’s also turning us all into collective imbeciles.    

Email, twitter, facebook – they are all the rage now, right? I agree that they provide the easiest means to keep in touch with old friends, make new ones, and generally keep abreast of happenings around the world.    

"I'm not leering at ya, I swear! There's just something in my eye."

 

Here’s my gripe: all these networking tools do as much harm as they do good. Let me elucidate: can you hear the sender’s tone of voice in an email or on a facebook message? No! Exactly! So, sometimes you do not know whether they’re being sarcastic, or earnest, or just blah when they express their opinions.    

And the smiley faces can only go so far — when someone winks at you via a smiley face, do you take that wink as a “hey, co-conspirator”, or “I hear ya”, or “I’m leering at you right now, baby!”? There are instances where all three (or more) of these scenarios apply to that winking/hung-over happy-face that keeps blinking at you from your screen. What’s a girl gotta do in that situation?    

Is there anyone out there, who has used any of these electronic media as a means of communication and not regretted or second-guessed themselves the very second they hit the “send” or “publish” button?    

It’s scary the way you lose control in a matter of nanoseconds.  If it were snail mail, you’d have to sit down to write it neatly, which in itself means that you’d have put careful thought into what you wanted to say. And then you need to find an envelope, print the address, put a stamp on it, and then seal the envelope. This provides plenty of opportunities for you to rethink your strategy, or just change your mind about sending the letter/message at all in the first place.    

One of my very good friends sent me an email two days ago asking me why I was not “approving” her comments to my blog site.  I quickly checked my Inbox (like I needed to! I’m almost surgically attached to it, especially these days, for various reasons) and there were no pending comments for my site. I mulled over this and thought about it some more, but couldn’t figure out which black hole had swallowed up my friend’s comments. And then something occurred to me, and I quickly checked it out. Yup, my suspicion was right – the software “protecting” my blog from spam got overzealous and had decided that her comments were spam. Why? No idea. There was not even an ounce of advertisement or as much as a hint of a URL for a product in her message.  Argh!    

And then the other day, I was busy typing up something using a word processor (I’m not going to name it, but I’m sure you all know which one I’m referring to), and when I looked back, I couldn’t believe that I had typed so badly. When I looked at it more closely, though, I realized it was not me who was the bad typist. See, the word processor thought that it knew my mind better than I did myself; every time I typed something that it, in all its astuteness, knew to be obviously wrong, it patronizingly smirked behind my back and set about correcting my mistakes.    

(Ooh, just had a brilliant idea!) So, from now on, let it be known that ANY mistakes that you see in my posts (including idiocy in opinions expressed, along with typos), are due to my word processor taking over control and spewing its infinite wisdom onto these pages.      

And cell phones – don’t even get me started. That’s a whole series of posts for another time. I’m not touching that one. Not today. Not with a long pole.    

 I know I’ll sound extremely shallow and clichéd saying this, but I’ll say it anyway: Technology! Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.     

Or, maybe, it’s just me and my control issues.

Read Full Post »

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