Saturday, 27 October 2012

The PINK SOFA welcomes Anne E. Johnson

American writer Ann E Johnson
Anne E. Johnson is one of the many great American writers I met through www.Shewrites.com, and then we met again via Facebook. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, playwright Ken Munch. Anne has written non-fiction books for children and has had over 30 short stories published. Her series of sci fi/fantasy trios, Aliens and Weird Stuff are available from Amazon and Smashwords. 
Anne is also the author of the medieval mystery for kids, Trouble at the Scriptorium, the paranormal children's tale Ebenezer's Locker and the noir sci-fi adventure Green Light Delivery.


Anne's paranormal children's novel
The PINK SOFA asked Anne to talk about the difference between the writing life here and in America. This is what she said:

''In America, a writer slaves over a novel, sends it to as many beta readers as are still talking to her, and hears back from half of them. As she's compiling their insightful (and hopefully not too snarky) comments and revising her manuscript, she starts to draft her query letter. She writes a version with a straight-up description of her work. She writes a version with a snappy logline. She tries a version combining both, in hopes of seeming both professsional and hip. She tosses that out and tries several more times.
Anne's sci-fi novel

In America the novelist needs to be prepared with her own blurb and at least two versions of her synopsis. One describes the piece in a couple of paragraphs, and the other tells the story in two pages. It takes forever to reduce the story like this, and it's heart-wrenching to leave out the sparkly details that make the story tick.


In America, it's possible to get published without an agent, but it's nearly impossible to get an advance without an agent. And every month, more publishing companies decide to require an agent. Therefore agents are so overwhelmed by desperate novelists that many claim they don't even have time to send out a form rejection letter. So you're just left hanging.

In America, many publishers that don't require an agent expect an exclusive submission. Yet their response time is typically eight or nine months. In America, when you're lucky enough to land a contract, and you sign it and go out for a celebratory dinner with your significant other, you know that the really hard work is just around the corner. The revisions, the level of editing, the marketing, marketing, marketing. (The PINK SOFA can relate to all this. Oh yes.)

I bet this all sounds familiar, no matter where you are on this earth. But maybe you live in a place where trying to get a novel published is a very different experience. If so, I'm packing my bags and digging out my passport.''

Check Anne out at her website: AnneEJohnson.com.  She's also on Twitter@AnneEJohnson

Thanks for that, Anne. Reassuring to know that it's no easier in America!! Anne is staying around for a while. Please feel free to sit down, comment and chat. There are some biscuits on the coffee table; help yourself.



21 comments:

  1. Fascinating interview post! Especially as my e-publisher is in America and he also acts as my agent for traditional publishing. I can certainly relate to what Anne says and it mirrors my experience in many ways. The UK is different in that most publishers will only deal with an author who has a recognised independent agent. The problem is most agents get 5 to 8 submissions a day and take on probably 1 or 2 new authors a YEAR! Not good odds. As in many things, America is more open as well as being more innovative in many ways. Mind you the Brit authors are better though!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Richard. Regarding your last sentence: Are they, really? Hmm. Good to know.

      It's true in the US, also, that most publishers require an agent these days. And 5 to 8 subs per day sounds low. It's a tough racket all over, apparently!

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  2. Interesting perspective on the way things are in the States. Thanks Anne! The trouble is, it just makes me realise how much more you have to do than write if you want to be a writer with any success. I find it all a bit daunting as in fact, like all of us, I suppose, all I want to do is write and all this marketing, marketing, marketing just takes up the precious little time that I have for writing!

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    1. I agree completely, Val. Sometimes I get all offended at the fact that, as I writer, I can't just sit and write all day.

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  3. Great post, Anne. This is a tough industry and I don't think it matters where you live. Though if you find a place that makes it all easy, let me know. ;) I seriously don't know what I'd do without my agent. She's amazing, and I'm truly thankful for her.

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    1. I'm very envious of your agent, Kelly. But happy for you, of course. I know how hard you've worked and continue to work to build your career. I'll be starting my middle-grade agent hunt anew in a couple of months. We'll see how that goes...

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  4. Interesting post Anne, sounds as difficult in America as it is here in the UK. Lucky you living in Brooklyn, we had a wonderful holiday there a few years ago.

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    1. Brooklyn has a lot of very nice areas, peppered with pleasant cafes for writing in!

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  5. Lovely to hear from you, Anne, and all the best with your books.

    One of the things I've heard over here is the power of networking when seeking an agent and/or publisher - the Romantic Novelists' Association events can be a great way of meeting the 'right' people and the compact size of the UK means that most of us can travel to most events.

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    1. I think networking helps everywhere, although, as you say, nobody can physically get to everything in the US. But a person on the East Coast might very well query an agent living on the West Coast, 3000 miles away, thanks to the Internet.

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  6. BTW Carol, all the biscuits have gone!

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  7. Interesting, Anne, thank you! I have to agree with Juliet on the power of networking!

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  8. Hope Anne gets to reply, Juliet and Talli - last I heard the hatches were being battened down in NY. proior to the hurricane hitting the city!

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  9. I hope she and everyone else in NY gets through the next few days unscathed, Carol!

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    1. Thanks. I live on a ridge, high above sea level, so we fared better than many parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

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  10. Really interesting post, Anne. Sounds like it's pretty much the same experience in America as it is on this side of the Pond.
    Hope the superstorm hitting the US right now isn't causing too much havoc where you live.

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    1. Thanks, Henrietta. Very grateful it's not my job to clean up the mess from the superstorm!

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  11. Lovely interview just shows its hard for authors everywhere.

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  12. So pretty much the same as in the UK then! Is it any wonder people are turning to Indi publishing?

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  13. Here is a (true) horror story that confirmed -for me- that indie publishing was the way to go. A friend's niece left university with a first in English and was doing unpaid work at a publisher's' office as an intern. On her first day she was directed towards a bulging cupboard full of unsolicited manuscripts. Deal with those, she was told. But I'll never have time to read them all, she said. No, we don't want you to READ them - just open them up, put them inside the accompanying SAE with a compliments slip and send them back to the author. UNREAD. Need I say more?

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