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Newsletter Dated: 3/1/2010 8:25:52 PM
Subject: Andrea Campbell*s Soup*s On
Andrea Campbell’s Newsletter
*** Greetings! ***
This newsletter is being sent to you because you are a writer, professional friend of Andrea*s, or a fan and reader of her books. If you are new to the list, welcome. There are a ton of newsletters and e-zines out there to read, thanks for requesting and reading mine.
In this issue:
• From the Author*s Desk
• Diane Fanning
• Did You Know?
• The Benefits of Literary Agent
*** From The Author*s Desk ***
WOW! Women on Writing presents:
PUBLISH THAT BOOK: How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal That Sells
Nowadays, big publishers simply don't read unsolicited material. They depend on agents to muck through the "slush pile" in search of the gems. If you want to get a book published, knowing and using the correct format for a book proposal is paramount.
Nonfiction books -- a market easier to break into than fiction -- are the backbone of publishing. In this workshop, you'll learn what is appropriate for writers who already have an idea for a book, but would like to know the complete and correct execution of this vital marketing product.
Start date: April 5, 2010
For more information and to register:
Limited to ten students. Andrea's students get published!
*NEXT Issue: Interviews with mystery writers Penny Warner and Jeri Westerson
*** Interview with Diane Fanning ***
Q.: Diane, for Soup’s On readers who don’t know you, can you tell us a little about your background?
A.: I’m the author of ten true crime books and three mystery novels and the editor of an anthology of Texas women writers. One of my true crime books, WRITTEN IN BLOOD, was a finalist for an Edgar Allen Poe Award.
I was born and raised in the Baltimore, Maryland, area, moving to Virginia for college. I never left that state until I moved to Texas. I now live in New Braunfels, situated in between Austin and San Antonio, Texas.
Q.: Your book, Mommy’s Little Girl is a true crime about what event?
A.: The book concerns the death of little Caylee Anthony shortly before her third birthday, and her mother, Casey Anthony, now charged with her murder.
Q.: Is it unusual to go to press even if the case has not come to resolution? I thought publishers preferred to go to print after the sentencing phase of the trial?
A.: It depends on the publisher. Some do, some don’t.
Often the verdict or sentencing can be anti-climatic causing a lower volume of sales. This happens often when the case actually does not go to trial because of a plea bargain. While the story is still on-going, it grabs far more media attention which churns up more interest in a case. But, essentially, it’s the publisher who calls the shots here, not the writer.
Q.: You’ve written several true crime books now, how did you first find the genre as a viable category for yourself?
A.: Not until after I got my first contract. I didn’t go after the first true crime book thinking of it as viable or sensible or a good thing for my writing career. I went after that story because I was passionate about it. Ten-year-old Krystal Surles was my new hero and I simply had to write her story of survival and courage.
Q.: Does it take a lot of gumption to write about crimes that involve many people’s lives, especially the victim’s family? Do you ever get emotionally involved?
A.: Any time you write about real people, you are treading on potentially treacherous ground. I approach each member of a family with respect and assure them that, to me, the victim is the most important person in the story. I ask them to help me to allow my readers to understand the great loss suffered when this person’s life was stolen in an act of violence.
I love it when they share their happy memories with me—the simple stories told with love. But this is the worst time in the life of this family and they cannot always be positive. At those times, I sometimes find myself crying with them.
Q.: How do you begin a true crime book, can you share some of your methodology?
A.: The first thing I do is scan through all the media I can find looking for the names of the players in the case. Then, I plan my approach based on the individual dynamics of each story.
Q.: In Mommy’s Little Girl, you did not have access to the principle characters, Casey, Cindy, George or Lee Anthony, yet fully two-thirds of the book is dialogue between these people. Can you speak to that?
A.: The dialogue of these four people is taken directly from official documents or tape recordings or is a recreation given to me by another person who was present during the conversation. None of it was a product of my imagination. Even when you read what one of them was thinking at a particular point in time, that information was provided by the subject to another person in the story.
Q.: When you begin to examine a true crime, how do you approach the various people? And do you try to enter into the case without any bias, or is that even possible?
A.: Essentially, I approach them honestly, telling them upfront that I am writing a book about the case. The approach then differs depending on the individual. Victims’ family members, perpetrators’ family members, law enforcement, attorneys and others all require a different approach that reflects their reason for involvement in the case.
I try to enter each and every case without bias because I know that what I read and what the general public believes is not always objective, evidence-based fact—sometimes even the jury can get it wrong.
I have started on some projects thinking the defendant was innocent and changing my mind mid-stream, as I did with the Michael Peterson case when I wrote WRITTEN IN BLOOD. I have seen a crime as justifiable until I learned more. Mary Winkler, THE PASTOR’S WIFE, was a case in point there. I thought that she was driven to her acts by brutal abuse by her husband. I came to the conclusion that the abuse was exaggerated and some fabricated after the fact. Matthew was a controlling spouse but nothing he did was to an extreme that warranted the death penalty.
Q.: How did you find out about the forensic science evidence in Florida, and can you tell us what that is for this particular case?
A.: An extensive amount of documents have been released prior to trial because of the Sunshine Law in the state of Florida. More than 9000 pages have been made public by the State Attorney.
There are items at the location where Caylee’s body was found that link to the Anthony home. Cadaver dogs hit on spots in the family’s back yard and in the car that Casey drove. Air analysis of the car indicated the presence of decomposition and chloroform. Coffin flies were found in the trunk of the car. A forensic analysis of Casey’s computer uncovered suspicious searches.
Q.: If law enforcement has made mistakes, or even the prosecution for that matter, do you write about that as well, and how do you feel about exposing that?
A.: Yes, if I am aware of errors in the investigation or the prosecution, I do point them out. No case is handled perfectly. Some are botched on the law enforcement or prosecution side resulting in an inadequate presentation resulting in a lower sentence that is deserved; others result in wrongful convictions. Then, there are some errors that are simply mistakes that are insignificant when you view the totality of the evidence.
Q.: Have the people involved ever harassed you? What about readers?
A.: It comes with the territory. Some people are not happy with the verdict in a case and take it out on me. Other readers feel I was too harsh in my portrayal of someone in the book—usually, but not always the perpetrator. But, this is offset by the thank you notes and pleased emails I have received from many members of victims’ families. I also have a copy of one of my books, hand delivered to me, that contains the signatures of every Texas Ranger in the state.
Q.: Let’s talk about your publisher. Who are they and do you find them easy to work with? Are the contracts what you would have expected in terms of fairness and advance money?
A.: St. Martin’s Press is the publisher of my true crime books. Working with them is easy in the sense that they have respect for the author and the work. However, they are very demanding about the quality of my work and I am glad that they are. Of course, like every writer, I would like a larger advance, but I definitely receive as much or more as other true crime writers.
Q.: Do you get assistance with publicity? And what are you doing yourself to help to promote the book?
A.: I get some assistance from the publicity department at St. Martin’s. They send out galleys to national media and provide review copies from their list and to anyone request I make. They provide some printed material and press releases and arrange for some of the media interviews.
I do book signings and on-line promotion as well as making bookmarks to distribute at signings or to libraries, book stores and other venues.
Q.: You have also written mysteries for fiction. How have you found the cross-over to be, and can you give a brief synopsis of the titles?
A.: Writing true crime has informed my fiction. Authoring fiction has improved my non-fiction writing.
My current fiction focus is on the novels featuring Homicide Detective Lucinda Pierce and is based in Virginia. Pierce faces challenges in her professional and personal live because of physical and emotional scars. She is tough and self-aware as she fights through the battles of her present and her past.
In the first book in the series, THE TROPHY EXCHANGE, Lucinda investigates a series of murders where her main suspect is a highly respected surgeon.
In the second book, PUNISH THE DEED, she has to find out why the heads of non-profit organizations are the target for a killer.
The third book in the series, MISTAKEN IDENTITY, comes out this spring. In it, Lucinda tracks a blackmailer who resorted to murder. The book explores the effects of childhood trauma and bad parenting.
Q.: Do you have an agent? Can you share how you met her and say a word about your working relationship?
A.: Jane Dystel, at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management is my agent—and my advisor, career manager and cheerleader. I could not ask for anything more. We met on the telephone. Our first face-to-face meeting happened after she’d represented me for four and a half years.
Q.: You have had several books come out in a short period of time, has that been difficult?
A.: It can be extremely difficult. Each title requires time for the editing process and time to promote which takes away from the time to write. It can be frustrating.
Q.: What are your plans for the future?
A.: In general, I would like to continue writing both fiction and true crime. Both satisfy different needs for me. In particular, I am currently under contract to write a true crime book about Betty Neumar, the elderly woman arrested for the murder of the fourth of her five dead husbands. I also have a contract from my fiction publisher to write a fourth book in the Lucinda Pierce series.
Q.: Is there anything else you would like to tell Soup’s On/WIC/AR Identification News readers?
A.: On my web site, I have a page called the “Reading Room.” On it, there are links to a sample chapter from each one of my published books. It’s a great way to determine which one of them you would like to read.
I just started a blog; Writing is a Crime, http://www.dianefanning.blogspot.com and would love to read your comments.
*** Did You Know? ***
The word encyclopaedia is derived from two Greek words meaning a “circle of learning.” ***Sumerians invented writing in the 4th century BC. ***The first novel, The Story of Genji, was written in 1007 by Japanese noble woman Murasaki Shikibu. ***The first novel sold through a vending machine—at the Paris Metro—was Murder on the Orient Express
*** The Benefits of a Literary Agent ***
With so many publishing options available, why not simply bypass the literary agent and approach publishers directly with your manuscript or book idea? Acquiring a literary agent as your representative provides many benefits.
• An agent understands which editors would be interested in your work
Agents continually cultivate relationships with publishing house editors. They know which editors will be most interested in your genre, platform, and writing style based on their tastes and needs. They will submit your work to the appropriate publishers, the right imprints, the maximum number of imprints, and the correct people within those imprints – increasing your chances of being published.
• Editors prefer agent submissions
Agents have more influence with a publisher than an unknown writer does. If an agent has pre-screened the material and is willing to represent an author’s work, an editor considers it more worthy than if it is submitted directly by a writer. An agent can ensure your manuscript is read.
• An agent can ensure a better deal and create a bidding war
Agents will get your manuscript or book proposal seen by the maximum number of publishers. If multiple publishers are interested in the project, a powerful agent can coordinate a bidding war. Without an agent you will not know what other publishers may offer.
• Agents understand publishing contracts and are experienced negotiators
Publishing contracts are written for the benefit of the publishing house, not the writer. An agent is familiar with contractual language and can negotiate a contract that is beneficial to the author, ensuring larger advances and royalties and changing smaller contract points to your favor.
• An agent acts as a buffer
The publishing industry is a business. An agent acts as buffer between you and the business issues so you can maintain a creative relationship with your editor and focus on writing. Agents deal with rejection letters, so you do not have to think about them. Agents track payments and ensure you are paid on schedule.
• An agent will ensure you receive better subsidiary rights
Subsidiary rights are secondary rights that can be sold with a book. They include translation rights, audio rights, film rights, book club rights, serial rights, foreign rights, and additional rights. Agents negotiate to retain some of these rights and take responsibility for selling them on your behalf: responding to inquiries, sending out books, handling paperwork, and arranging deals. Successful agents use co-agents in Hollywood to try to sell the movie and television rights for your book, creating additional revenue and royalties. Without an agent, the publisher will often retain these rights.
• An agent is your advocate
Titles with agents take priority at publishing houses and receive more attention from editors then books without agent representation. Agents will advocate for quality book cover designs, higher marketing budgets, and better placement. If an editor leaves the company, an agent will work to ensure the new editor assigned to your book is enthusiastic about it being published.
Laura Cross is an author, screenwriter, ghostwriter, freelance book editor, and writing coach specializing in nonfiction books and script adaptation (book-to-film projects). She writes two popular blogs, www.NonfictionInk.com and www.AboutAScreenplay.com, and teaches online writing workshops www.ScenarioWritingStudio.com/workshops. Her latest book is The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent: Everything You Need To Know To Become Successfully Published. You can download a free chapter, view the book trailer, read the full table of contents, and purchase the eBook at www.GetALiteraryAgent.com.
*** Future Newsletters ***
In upcoming newsletters we will share a new interview or two, talk more about publishing, and provide additional writer’s tips. If there is any area you would like to discuss, just send me a note. Thanks for the read. : 0 )
Copyright©2010 Andrea Campbell If you wish to quote from here, fine, just attribute it to me and my web site.