Made It Moment: Kit Sloane
I am new to Kit Sloane’s mysteries, which take place in the mysterious (even baffling) world of film. Start with Final Cut if you are the type who likes to follow a series from its fledgling roots, or delve into Kit’s latest, which deals with music, stars and starlets, and the potentially lethal results whenever egos are on the line. Below, Kit shares with us how she was able to give a chance to many aspiring writers–and how the favor was returned!
My writing “career” developed along with and, I truly believe, mainly thanks to, the Internet. When I began writing in the 90s we writers were on our own. No Internet. No networking. After I finished my first manuscript, I checked out books from the library with forbidding titles such as, “Getting an Agent,” and “How to Get Published.” Later, a few writers’ organizations popped up like Sisters in Crime. And then came the Internet. We writers weren’t alone at all! Gradually we were able to network with other aspiring writers working toward the ever amorphous goal of getting published. We could share news and facts and opinions…and gossip!
I became fiction editor of a short story magazine called Futures. Futures encouraged first stories by brand new authors. Even today, people come up and tell me I was the first person who ever accepted them for publication! From editing, I networked with a publisher who had a mystery magazine. She accepted my short story and then encouraged me to send her a manuscript when she decided to give Independent publishing a try. Finally, I was published, at last!
Through this time, I had five agents (none sold a word) and am now with my 3rd Indie publisher. (It’s a tough business and few survive, and most Indies don’t like working with agents, either!) She is a careful editor and, as with most Indies, is very supportive of her authors. So, no, I’m not rich and famous and I still know NO authors who support themselves solely with their writing. But I’ve attracted devoted fans and the 7th in my Margot and Max Mystery series has just been released. And it’s still a thrill, after all this work and time, to hold that book with your name on it!
A graduate in Art History from Mills College, Oakland, California, Kit Sloane has published short stories and many articles on the art of writing and the writing business. She served as first fiction editor for Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine. She especially enjoys lecturing about the writing world and mentoring new writers. She is a long time member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Mystery Women of the UK and was named one of Mills College’s Literary Women for 2007.
Kit and her professor husband live on a small hilltop horse ranch in Northern California’s sublime wine country.
What an inspiring story! And I’ll have to check your series out. It sounds great, Kit!
Comment by Judy — January 7, 2010 @ 7:00 pm
Wow, what a neat story. I love that you were one of the good guys out there helping others (and you gotta love the title “Futures!”). I am intrigued by Jenny’s book description–I will have to look into those! And yes, it’s fascinating how the internet has changed things.
Comment by SapphireSavvy — January 7, 2010 @ 7:17 pm
Oh and PS I am on agent #3. Why is it that the first several never help you? LOL
Comment by SapphireSavvy — January 7, 2010 @ 7:18 pm
I know of a NYT bestseller who went through–count ‘em–TEN agents.
Please, no. Please, please, please, no…
Comment by jenny — January 7, 2010 @ 7:21 pm
I love these comments to my piece. It was difficult to condense all that happened into “twenty-five words or less,” but shorter IS better. (I just put down, on page 48, a recommended thriller that was 600 pages long! That, to my taste is approximately 300 pages too many! Give me a break here!) I will say two things: it’s such a relief to get an agent and everyone thinks their troubles are over but, trust me, ANYONE can be an agent. There’s no “agent school,” and even the best of my five (who called me her little golden treasure–that’s what we are, money on the hoof!) couldn’t break through with my “offbeat” stories and me, a would be author, who didn’t want to change her protagonists and put bodies in the first chapters. I’m much better off with an Indie publisher who only likes good stories and doesn’t care about what’s trendy.
BTW, I write about Hollywood because my daughter (who does allll my covers, usually under duress!) is an art director and we agree that Hollywood is as confusing as publishing. The books are all standalones, too, because I have this thing about reading three pages of “what happened last book” in a story. The stories are also pretty funny because my characters have a bit of wit and humor. You have to, in our businesses, right?
My website is fun (thanks to my webgal Lisa Logan). Check it out when you’re bored. Any questions? Just email me. I’ve been answering questions forever.
best to you all, Kit (http://www.kitsloane.net or email@example.com)
Comment by Kit Sloane — January 7, 2010 @ 7:47 pm
I remember reading for Kit when she was editor of Futures. I was extremely impressed (and so was my then-fiance, Tod) when I introduced myself to her at the LA Times Festival of Books xx years ago, and she remembered me!
Comment by Marlyn — January 7, 2010 @ 7:52 pm
Great post! And great cover (as usual) for the new book. Your series is so delightful I don’t know why Hollywood hasn’t come calling. (Or has it?)
All the best,
Comment by Pat Browning — January 7, 2010 @ 11:20 pm
oh my goodness, Marlyn, how are you??! You were one of my best “readers.” What are you doing these days??
Comment by Kit Sloane — January 7, 2010 @ 11:20 pm
Hi, Kit! You accepted the first story of mine to be published in Futures. Later, I learned a lot about writing and editing and made great contacts while trying to fill your shoes there. I agree with everything you said. The Internet with its networking opportunities are terrific tools for writers. Thanks for the helping hand and best wishes to you for continued success. Earl Staggs
Comment by Earl Staggs — January 8, 2010 @ 7:27 am
I love what you’ve accomplished, Kit. And I loved reading these comments. Your series sounds distinctive and fun and I plan to become a reader!
Comment by Peg Brantley — January 8, 2010 @ 11:03 am
Hi, Kit. Remember when we were both with Deadly Alibi Press?
I was discouraged when it folded and, after scrambling to get my mysteries with SynergEbooks to keep them available, didn’t write much for a few years.
Now I have a cozy mystery, The Big Grabowski, out through Krill Press, and am thrilled to be looking forward to having a more serious mystery, Hemlock Lake, published by Five Star this summer.
I learned you have to keep writing and keep as positive an outlook as you can. If you give up, you get nowhere, right? Carolyn J. Rose
Comment by Carolyn J. Rose — January 8, 2010 @ 11:23 am
It is SO nice to see so many old writing friends on this list! Earl, Pat, and Carolyn. Carolyn makes a good point about perservering, though as you’ll all find, writing DOES get in your blood and it’s difficult not to keep writing no matter what happens. Also a point that I think often gets lost as we scramble for agents and publishers is, just remember, that NO ONE KNOWS WHAT WILL SELL. If we KNEW what would sell, we’d all write the same stuff (and there’s enough of that going on already…) and be bored. Agents would be out of a job. Editors wouldn’t have to think beyond editing our stories which is what they’re supposed to be doing anyway.
This point makes the next one more relevant: the old write what you want. If you follow whatever trend is currently going on, by the time you finish the ms and get it in front of an acquisitions editor, the trend is most likely over, your story is just one of a million others and, meanwhile, they’re looking for something NEW. You write the NEW stuff. Start your own trend and then move on.
The corollary here is don’t listen to a lot of the “wisdom” handed out in our business. Since NO ONE KNOWS WHAT WILL SELL, it’s meaningless chatter and often frustrating and misleading for a writer to hear. WRITE your best story. Make it interesting. Ignore most everything else except rules on good grammar and punctuation!
And that’s the end of the sermon!
Comment by Kit Sloane — January 8, 2010 @ 11:39 am
Wow, so many fans, old and new, Kit! How wonderful it must be to see such excitement about your work.
As for your “sermon”–in the best sense of the word, a heartfelt series of truths–it’s been talked about on this site many times. The legendary William Goldman says, Nobody knows.
If someone tells you your book is too quirky, too off beat, or just weird and it likely won’t sell, look them in the eye, say you wrote it with passion, and a book about a man eating shark or a warren of bunnies that talk is pretty darn quirky, too!
Comment by jenny — January 8, 2010 @ 11:49 am
I’d almost forgotten about Futures until I read your post. It reminded me of an interview I did in 1999 with author Carolyn Greene that was published in Futures. I just searched my office and found my copy where I discovered your name listed along with other staff writers.
Writing leaves an amazing trail! It’s wonderful to reconnect along the way.
Good luck with your new mystery!
Comment by Mary Montague Sikes — January 8, 2010 @ 12:07 pm
The Fat Lady Sings. Love the title. I’m a big Yogi Berra fan and a trumpeter who’s played tons of operas. How’s that for an offbeat combination?
Kit, your story is inspiring. I too began writing in the 90s. I took a different route and self-published a suspense novel in 2008. I didn’t expect to make tons of money. My goal was to gain experience marketing a novel. I got 2 decent reviews, did online interviews, several booksignings, spoke at libraries (which led to three newspaper articles about me and the book), submitted my book to the Premier Book Awards and won first prize in the mystery-suspense category.
What I learned: marketing is like taking on a second job. It’s hard work and consumes a lot of time, time that can’t be devoted to the next book. Still, I enjoyed meeting readers. Getting their feedback on your book is fun and helpful.
Any tips on how to balance marketing your books and writing the next one?
Comment by Susan Fleet — January 9, 2010 @ 9:59 pm
Welcome, Susan! And congrats on the Premiere award. I would love to hear more about your book! Great questions for Kit, too. She welcomes interactions with readers, so please feel free to contact her via her website, although I hope some of the answer makes it here on the site as I think it would interest a lot of people.
Comment by jenny — January 9, 2010 @ 10:07 pm
Neat story. I remember Futures and Babs et al. That was a good beginning for a lot of writers. Success seems to come when we are not pushing so hard to get it that we forget to lend a helping hand to our writer friends. I have been lucky to have a number of those who have pulled me along a little.
Comment by Maryann Miller — January 10, 2010 @ 10:23 am
About balance…wow, I think that comes with time. You have to find what works for you. Now I do as much as I feel like doing. Seriously, it isn’t any fun when you don’t want to do these things, but feel you must. I live in RURAL California and there are no bookstores within an hour or so. I also balance cost of travel and cost of TIME with any PR. With EXTREME CUISINE, it did so well—surprisingly—that I felt I had to do more for it, support it, as it were. Hired a high powered friend to handle the PR. Did LOTS of events, signings, etc. and what we found afterward was that all this activity did LITTLE to push the book forward The book was pushing itself! Why? I haven’t the foggiest. The moral being that now I try to zero in on target groups for the story (the new one, Fat Lady, has stage & music & Gilbert & Sullivan ties, and promote it there, by mail and email, period. And it’s doing fine!
For those who remember Futures…That was an experience. The “publisher” Babs Lakey and I met while members of the Guppies (the Sisters in Crime org for unpublished writers.) This was in the mid-late nineties. We met by snail mail, too, (no email then) and really hit it off. We called the group the Great Unpublished (and ticked off a lot of the more “sensitive” members…) and we thought that was hilarious. Babs hated their newsletter and Futures was born. (My management professor husband provided the title.) It DID provide a place for LOTS of first time writers. I worked with Babs for years and then became the “fiction editor” which meant I had to decide which stories to include. It was hectic and as Marlyn and Earl recall, I found several great “readers” who helped me. The problem was that the only people who bought the mag were the writers! Babs lost money on each issue for YEARS, then she moved off and it moved on to the web, I think. Actually, I don’t know. Does anyone know what happened to it???
Babs and I are still best friends. She is a terrific writer who just missed a lot of publishing chances herself, but gave them to others. I encourage her to start writing again. She has many serious health issues but her irreverent sense of humor is gloriously intact!
Comment by Kit Sloane — January 11, 2010 @ 12:52 pm