Two years ago this month, I self-published my first novel entitled “Beneath the Mimosa Tree.” I can’t believe it’s been two years. Time has certainly flown. Thanks to the good people in and around the Baltimore/Annapolis area, it’s seen a little success. I am most appreciative. More than you will ever know.
People have asked me why I don’t submit the novel—a romance centered around the idea of forgiveness—to The Hallmark Channel. “It’s right up Hallmark Channel’s ally,” people say.
I couldn’t agree more. As a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic and one with an addiction to The Hallmark Channel’s lovie-dovie movies, I think it would work well as a movie.
But you can’t get to Hallmark Channel. Not from here.
Not without an agent.
Direct from its website:
The Hallmark Hall of Fame does not accept unsolicited material. If you have a story, idea or project that you feel could work for the Hallmark Hall of Fame, please have it submitted through a licensed literary agent.
It is the Hallmark Channel’s policy not to accept or consider unsolicited ideas, proposals and/or other creative materials (e.g. scripts, treatments, stories, etc.).
Right now, the only agent I have is me. Those of you who are self-published like I am, you know of what I am speaking. We wrote, edited, and produced our novels. We have tirelessly marketed and promoted them, and we are busy working on follow-up novels. It’s a time consuming endeavor, and one that is pursued only if one has the keenest passion to share one’s work.
I’ve got that passion. But it’s a SIDE job.
My full time job? A professor of communication, a job that I adore. And with it comes hours of reading and grading and preparation. My schedule is so busy and hectic, that I have to pencil in time for my “creative writing,” including writing posts like this to stay connected in between completing novels.
With today’s ever-shrinking publishing houses down to the Big Six (Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Penguin Group, and Hachette, along with German Publisher Holtzbrink), it’s difficult to break into the publishing world. Yes, people do it, but the competition is fierce. There are lots and lots of people who write and do what I do. And all of us want to be published.
For me, it is both a hobby and a passion. It is something I’ve been doing since middle school. I don’t know HOW NOT TO write.
And yet, I am on the brink of completing my second novel. By summer, it will be done and edited.
Countless query letters will be sent out asking if someone would like to represent the work and take a chance on me. If it comes to the point where all I’ve received are rejections, I won’t hang my head. I’ll do what Virginia Woolf did when her stories were rejected for one reason or another: I’ll set up my own press and self-publish again. It really was quite fun to be in charge of the entire process. Then again, I’m very much a control freak, and I don’t shy away from a challenge.
Hallmark may not want to turn the book into a movie, and I may not be able to get there from here, but really, I’m quite content.
Ultimately, writers should do what J.K. Rowling did, and that set her up for success: write because you want to hear the story that’s in your head.
The trick—which Rowling mastered—is to make it good enough that others care as well. That’s the key to storytelling: making someone care enough to invest his or her time in it.
Yesterday, I showed my magazine writing class this WONDERFUL video from the TED talk series given by Oscar winner Andrew Stanton, who wrote all three “Toy Story” movies, along with writing and directing “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E.” Making someone care about the characters and the plot is vital to creating a successful story. And then, if you make them care, Hallmark—or another studio— might be interested.
For now, my focus is not on screenplays or motion pictures. I have no desire at the moment to write a screenplay. I love a novel, so it’s about completing a new book, and one that I hope is better than what I’ve previously written. Striving to improve at the craft is a driving force for me, and like I said earlier, it’s a challenge worth pursing. Of this, I am passionately sure.