From the Author’s Chair

March 4, 2009

Author Ed Mitchell’s newsletter #48

Filed under: Newsletter — admin @ 12:28 pm


From the Author’s Chair - here is newsletter #48 describing my latest humorous ups and downs as I struggle to become a bestselling fiction/thriller author.

>>Highlights: New e-mail address, Vampires, and Agents

After nine years I’m changing my e-mail address to: (notice the added m). Please update your address books so we can stay in touch.

29 Nov (Up)
Now days to be selected by a big publisher an author must have the persistence of a vampire. Agents, editors, and publisher selection committees stomp on many authors, throw their work out the window of 50-story office buildings, and suggest maybe writing is something they should forget. But it doesn’t matter. Vampire authors keep coming back because the only silver bullet that will stop them can only be fired by themselves when they decide to quit. I’m not there yet. The moon is full, and I’m baaaaaack!

Today I express mailed a query package to the agent at Goodman Literary Agency who asked to see the first three chapters of GOLD FIRE. To show a market exists for thrillers about terrorists I named three New York publishing houses that have released such books in the last two years, along with the title of the thrillers. To substantiate the quality of GOLD FIRE I included brief quotes from four book reviews including one from Midwest Book Review. For added substantiation I supply nine quotes from satisfied readers.

All the above, combined with the improvements I added to the chapter text based on feedback from bestselling author Grant Blackwood, ought to do the trick. If not, I’m going to bite somebody in the neck.

24 Dec (Up)
The next thriller I’m writing is coming along smoothly. I’m on the seventh chapter. Initially, I titled the story Soft Target USA. However, as I’ve been writing I’m been feeling that Black Camel might be more intriguing. Please e-mail me to let me know which one you prefer. Or you can comment at my blog (From the Author’s Chair) on my website,

11 Jan (Up, Down)
Today we launched my updated website I structured it to buzz the release of my books via two blogs to draw more visitors to the site. After a few more tests of the blogs, I’ll e-mail the agent in New York City to show her I’m a diligent author doing all I can to make my books bestsellers. The e-mail is also a courteous way of reminding the agent about GOLD FIRE if she hasn’t started reading the submittal yet.

For the last three years authors have been moving away from touring bookstores. More and more they are doing large events or web-based touring via blog chatter. Many of us have learned that bookstore events bring in very few people while costing the author a lot of travel time and money. I’ve migrated to only attending big events like the Los Angeles Book Festival, Ironstone Music Festival, or the California State Fair where thousands of people pass by the author booth. The idea is that blogging offers the opportunity to infect blog visitors with my humorous, friendly personality so they spread the word about my website and thrillers. The down side is I must become Blog-boy and put in the time generating content and routinely getting on the web and chatting.

Skip what I just told you about e-mailing the agent. The mail just arrived with a rejection letter. Kiss my grits! The good news is that my rejection letters are getting better. “Thank you for the opportunity to review the requested portions from GOLD FIRE . You are a talented writer and there was a lot to this that I thought had merit. Unfortunately, despite my initial interest, I am going to pass on representing your work.”

Yeah, well I’ve been passed so many times I’m starting to feel like a bowel movement.

“Although your writing is sharp and crisp, the plot intelligent, I didn’t come away from this novel convinced that it had all it would need to be accessible to a wider demographic than just techno-savvy fans.”

Yeah, tell that to Clancy’s legions of readers. $#@!&*!! I’m glad the sun is setting. Time to grow vampire fangs again. I’m not quitting.

14 Jan (Down)
I was just starting to do my daily writing when I learned a horse was down in one of the upper pastures. We have donated use of our stables and pastures to the local Red Wings Horse Sanctuary group. The mare was a big, gentle draft horse named Susan. She was 23 and couldn’t get up even after receiving fluids and injections for pain. I was with her until two in the morning when she died. Not fun to lose animals.

15 Jan (Neutral)
I completed judging 21 books for an author’s association headquartered in San Francisco to which I belong. A non-fiction book titled From Prison to Paycheck by Pat Hogan impressed me. So I sent it to a nearby prison library to help convicts transitioning back into their communities. Then I came up with the campaign idea to get a candidate for county supervisor to donate a number of books to an advocacy group as a free resource to local families. Plus, I spoke with the author and asked if she’d be willing to do a short seminar for the advocacy group clients. Pat said yes. I’m going to buy some of the books for the candidate. It’s nice to see a good author impact people’s lives. Hmm…maybe I should become a publicist?

17 Jan (Up, Down)
Today I received a slew of comments on my From-the-Author’s-Chair blog. One valid comment and 19 spam comments. Avoiding span is getting time consuming. I don’t think I’ll tell Jack, the publisher, or he’ll remind me I’m a hit with crooks.

05 Mar (Up)
I learned today that two of the other authors that sat with me during Thrillerfest 2007 and pitched to the agent that rejected me, were sold by the agent to publishers. At least I’m pitching to agents that are really looking for new talent. Each of those lucky authors had a female protagonist. I always have a male and female protagonist team. Next!

05 Mar (Up)
I received the flyer announcing this year’s Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas to be held this coming October. An agent will be there that I’ve been trying to talk into falling in love with my books. I’m considering going if I don’t snag an agent for Soft Target USA at Thrillerfest this July.

07 April (Up)
I’ve been writing Soft Target USA at a faster pace than in the past. I’m not going back as often to edit. Instead I’m pushing into new chapters. I plan to do detailed editing after I complete all the chapters. This thriller is more like a pursuit crime story where the heroes are trying to capture and stop the terrorists before their next attack. I’ve had to build a spreadsheet to realistically determine how Cholo and Oasis could chase down the terrorists. So far test readers like what I’ve done so it appears I’m on the right path.

But I’m always drawn back to the first page trying to make it perfect. I’m really pleased with my opening sentence: Dominique studied the muscular Italian she planned to seduce; a killer, an assassin - her competition.

14 Mar (Up)
Received my panel assignment for the Thrillerfest 2008. The panel is on Saturday July 12. Currently, it is titled: ‘Soldiers, mercenaries, and military action thrillers.’ Perfect! I don’t know yet who the other panel members are, but this should be a fun panel. Perhaps I can talk them into adjusting the title to be Soldiers, mercenaries, incredible lovers, and military action thrillers. Too much?

08 July (Down)
Today I’m traveling to Thrillerfest in New York City and saving over a thousand dollars on this trip. I was recently hired to consult to a company bidding to provide special weaponry and logistics support to U.S. special operation forces around the world. That work takes me near Washington D.C. Being thrifty I’m flying east earlier than scheduled for the consulting job so I avoid an expensive book-boy airplane ticket. This afternoon when I get to Virginia, I’ll switch to AmTrak and ride the train to downtown New York City. Oooh, this is cool.

I’m up at 4 a.m. to drive to the airport in time to catch a plane that will get into Dulles airport early enough to catch the train. A small price to pay to save a thousand dollars. I get a twinge of worry when the plane’s departure is delayed because of a mechanical problem. Luckily, it’s fixed quickly and we’re only a few minutes late arriving in Dallas for my connecting flight. Not a problem because my connecting flight is CANCELLED! At least the airline has already shifted me to another flight leaving two hours later than planned.

Being a modern traveler, I have a work around in case of delays. I call AmTrack and switch to a later departing train. I’ll get a little less sleep but I’m fine. Unfortunately, thirty minutes before my rescheduled departure the gate attendant notifies us that the replacement air crew won’t arrive on time and the flight will be delayed another two hours. Kiss my grits you piece of !!$#%@*! airline.

AmTrak is great making another switch. Now I’m scheduled to catch the last train out of D.C. tonight. I’m feeling okay as the plane finally pulls out of the gate. Yes, once again book-boy, the seasoned traveler, outsmarts the airlines. WRONG! We stop on the tarmac and wait an hour for a rain storm to blow through the area. I just missed my train.

On the phone again I work with AmTrak. Now I’ll be departing D.C. at 3 a.m. tomorrow morning. When I finally arrive at Dulles airport the shuttle is not running so it’s a $54 taxi ride to Grand Central Station next to the Capital building. Luckily, a coffee shop is open and I get a cup of hot coffee and drink it while sitting in an empty waiting area. How empty is it you ask? Empty enough that a gray mouse wanders past me looking for morsels of food. It ignores me. Must be an agent.

By the time I get on the train, settled and asleep I’ve been traveling for 24 hours straight. Ah, the glamour of being book-boy. Daylight wakes me at dawn. I get some writing finished before arriving in New York City. Easy taxi ride to the hotel, a quick shower, dress and scoot off to the conference hotel because I’ve volunteered to help set up before panels begin at 1 p.m.

09 July (Up)
Yippee! The conference has started. The first day is devoted to the craft of writing and selling thrillers. We call it Craftfest. At this year’s conference we also get to do ten-minute-dating with agents. In preparation I attend a panel, led by two bestselling authors, explaining how to pitch an agent. I learn that the pitch has to be no longer than 17 words because that is the constraint placed on editors when they go before their selection committee. Since the panel boss is a West Point graduate like myself, he took extra time with me after the class to assess my next thriller. He says the plot is fresh but not compelling enough. And he’s not in love with the title. He recommends I change the assassination target from the wife of the President, to the President himself. Overnight I accept the recommendations and switch the title to Hard Target USA and change the plot to assassinating the President while he is in the White House because the building is a symbol of U.S. political power.

10 July (Up)
I’ve practiced about thirty times before meeting the nine agents I hope to talk to. Being experienced I ensure I go to the bathroom before the hundred plus authors enter the room where the agents are seated. Returning from the bathroom I’m near the end of line filing into the room. Everyone around me is tight faced and serious knowing their destiny waits inside. I’ve been here before. Relaxing helps. I flip open my cell phone and say in a loud voice. “No. Tell them we’re not accepting less than a hundred thousand dollars.” Everyone around me breaks out laughing. Several compliment me for my creativity.

Inside the room the agents are sitting at small tables with large name tag in front of them. I’m impressed. This is far better than when I first started chasing agents. In this room sits the top agents in the U.S. Not stand-ins. The literary agency heads that I’ve been chasing for years are within a few feet of me. This ITW organization has pulled off a coup for it’s members.

Before the bell rings to start pitching, the authors line up ten-deep in front of the first agent they wish to speak with. I’ve pitched enough to know that what it all comes down to is how well you write. So I’ve decided to deliver my short verbal pitch and then hand the agent the first page of my manuscript. I’ll find out immediately if the writing is good enough for them. I’m the only author using this technique.

For each pitch I sit down and say: “Al-Qaeda hires the world’s deadliest political assassin to kill the President of the United States within the White House. Here’s the first page of my manuscript titled Hard Target USA, along with my business card.”

I then lean back and wait to see if the writing is good enough for the best professional agents in America. Knowing every word on the page I watch the face of each agent to see how they emotionally react. Yessssss! Nine out of eight agent and a publisher want a sample of my work. One agent and the publisher desire the whole manuscript. One woman comments the writing is “very tight”. After 27 years of writing I can at least craft an excellent opening page. Yahoo!

Only one problem. This is the first time I’ve ever pitched without a finished manuscript. I’ll just right my butt off and then send in the submittals when it is finished.

30 August (Up)
I’ve completed rewriting the first ten chapters of Hard Target USA, implementing the plot changes. I think the story is stronger so I’m happy. This book is maturing differently than my previous stories. I always outline the complete story. But this time there have been numerous changes emerging as I write. I think it is adding surprises for the reader so I’m comfortable with the new direction of the plot. It’s just taking me longer to write than I’d like.

12 September (Up)
The blogs that I set up have turned into spam magnets. And since I’m focused on writing the next thriller I’m not taking time to generate content. That marketing idea was a waste of effort. I’m going to drop one of the blogs but keep “From the Author’s Chair” and see if I can get a spam filter in place.

09 October (Up)
It’s day one at the Ozark Creative Writers Conference. This is the third time I’ve attended and the conference board members remember me. Turns out that one of them who likes me, (meaning I don’t appear to be a serial killer) invited his agent, Cherry Wiener, to be a guest presenter. She’s the agent I’ve been trying to land for several years and why I’ve invested in this trip. She is the keynote speaker during the morning of day-1.

Each hour during the morning session the committee gives away door prizes. One prize is for whoever has traveled the farthest. When the committee member asks who has traveled the farthest. Cherry, standing at the rear of the room, raises her hand, as I do. I win the prize, which is a free afternoon session at a local spa. Recognizing the agent wants the spa session, I step forward. I accept the prize envelope while declining to select a more masculine prize.

I’m at the podium when Cherry walks up to continue her session. As she arrives I turn to her and say “Please accept this gift because a lady would better enjoy it than I would.”. She is surprise and pleased and the group knows I have smoothly ingratiated myself to the agent. Yes, I can pump sunshine when I want to.

Later in the conference during the scheduled pitch period she remembers my day-1 gesture. It also helps that I begin my pitch by saying “I traveled here just to meet you”. I make my pitch to her the same as I did in New York during Thrillerfest. Not only is she captivated by my writing but she also requests a synopsis of the book that follows Hard Target USA. Now I just have to finish the last five chapters and get the submittals flowing to the agents.

And the adventure continues.

Please pass this newsletter on to your friends and colleagues. Tell anyone wanting to receive this newsletter to just e-mail me at However, if this letter is a bother in your hectic lives just reply back that you want to unsubscribe and I’ll immediately drop you from my list.
P.S. If you want to purchase an autographed copy of any of my books, click here:

Ed Mitchell,
Charter Founding Member of the International Thriller Writers Organization and Author of:

>> Winner: National Publishers Award for BEST NEW FICTION
in the USA & Canada from a small press
>> Regional Winner: San Francisco Bay Area Independent
Publishers award for BEST MYSTERY THRILLER

>> Regional Winner: Sacramento Publisher & Authors Fiction
>> Regional Winner: San Francisco Bay Area Independent

>> International Thriller released in November 2006

Black Camel
>> Soon to be released.

Read Ch-1 of past and soon to be released books & Sign up for the Author’s humorous news letter at

Consultant to Emerging Authors

17595 Vierra Canyon Road, #407, Salinas CA 93907
Fax 831-663-5629
Gold Rush 2000 ISBN: 0-9668447-34
Gold Lust ISBN: 0-9668447-7
Gold Raid ISBN: 0-9668447-93
Gold Fire ISBN: 978-0-9668447-26
Black Camel ISBN: TBD


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