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Alice in Writerland

Posted by E on June 4, 2012

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PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

June 4, 2012

Toronto, Ontario

Incognito Press announces the publication of ALICE IN WRITERLAND: A WRITER’S ADVENTURES IN THE UGLY WORLD OF PUBLISHING, written by local author Elisa Hategan.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elisa Hategan is the Romanian-Canadian author of RACE TRAITOR, a debut novel based on her experiences inside a terrorist group, which won a Toronto Arts Council award, an Ontario Arts council grant, and a Canada Arts Council work-in-progress award, as well as qualified as semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest.

ABOUT THE BOOK

ALICE IN WRITERLAND is a heartbreaking, candid and scathing indictment of the publishing industry and the personal sacrifices involved in the pursuit of success. Much more than a shocking exposé of unprofessional behavior in the literary world, however, this is a memoir that transcends into an intense exploration of what it means to be an artist.

If you could have anything you wanted, would you sell your soul for it?

ALICE IN WRITERLAND provides a shocking inside view of a world where pompous literary agents, sleazy managers and high-priced creative writing workshops have created an industry that is less interested in pursuing talent and more concerned with ripping off hopeful writers.

If following your dreams meant giving up everything you held dear, would you still do it?

Elisa Hategan started out as a debt-ridden poet who knew absolutely nothing about the publishing industry. On a whim, she applied for and won a scholarship to a prestigious creative writing program. Within a year she had transformed from complete newbie to professional writer, winning multiple art grants and being accepted to the most prestigious MFA program in the country. Better yet, she had the perfect agent and a manuscript that caught the attention of a Big Six publisher.

And then, somewhere along the way, it all went terribly wrong.

Elisa Hategan’s Alice in Writerland: A Writer’s Adventures in the Ugly World of Publishing is the heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant story of one woman’s attempt to make it as an author, all the while trying to figure out what that really means in the 21st century.

Posted in artist, books, canada, canadian literature, culture, depression, freedom, inspiration, life, literature, manuscript, media, MFA, news, perseverence, press, press release, publishing, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

On finishing the book, getting agent, firing agent, & getting another agent

Posted by E on June 3, 2010

It was last June, exactly one year to today (and no, I didn’t plan it that way), when I made the decision to close down my blogs — not the smartest move, some would argue, given the fact that one of my blogs had close to 90,000 hits between 2007-2009. But I did what I felt was necessary to focus exclusively on finishing my book. Wayyyy too much of people’s time can be taken up with social networking and blogging, and while the encouragement and connections you make with others can be so exciting at first, it can lead to neglecting other tasks. Like finishing manuscripts. Which took me slightly over a year and a half to complete.

And I don’t regret it one bit that I chose to stop blogging, because on January 26 of this year I FINALLY finished the first draft of my manuscript! And after that, life took on the odd, techicolour quality of an amusement park rollercoaster. I could try to describe it, but I think I’ll let my Facebook diary speak for itself:

Facebook entry for Jan26: FINAL TALLY: 2 years, 3 grants, 1 nervous breakdown and countless grey hairs later (lol), I am FINISHED! Final numbers=228,500 words, which I’ve edited down to 226K. By the end of this, hopefully I won’t be more than the 200K mark. But I am DONE!! And too exhausted to feel anything but numb right now…….

The next day, I started querying literary agents. To my surprise, (in all the workshops they tell you to be prepared to wait for months) most of the requests for book excerpts came within 24 hours.

Facebook entry for Jan. 29: This afternoon received query for the full MS from my #1 choice literary agency…they wanted the whole thing. Keeping my fingers crossed! I wonder how long the excrutiating wait is before I find out if they take me on or not…anybody have requests for fulls or partials? How long did they take before they got back to you?

Facebook entry for Feb.9: queried 10 more agents today – 8 in NY, 2 in Toronto. It’s a numbers game, isn’t it? Anybody here have an agent? If so, are you happy with him/her and would you recommend their agency? Look forward to all input and advice. Many thanks in advance:)

Facebook entry for Feb.25:  “a few of us here have now had a chance to read the manuscript and we’re all quite taken with your story” — I’m scheduled for a lunch meeting with my No.1 choice literary agency (still keeping it secret for now) this week – wish me luck that they’ll sign me!

Given the long-standing, international reputation of the agent it is named after, this agency could easily be considered Canada’s top literary agency. The fact that they wanted to sign me right away was incredible, incredulous, and left me utterly ecstatic! 🙂 I mean, realize that all I had was a first draft to begin with – mind you, a well-written and polished first draft, with certain rephrasing here and there, but still…

Facebook entry for March 2: IT’S OFFICIAL – I’ve accepted an offer of representation from my #1 choice literary agency, the Lah-de-Dah Agency! (Name changed to protect the guilty, lol). We had lunch today, discussed the manuscript and sealed the deal 😀

Ok, so here is the point where you break out the champagne, have all your friends over and pretend to be coherent while you’re head’s spinning off in la-la land. You basically have a mini-meltdown a la hyper teen: OMFG, can you believe it, LOLZ!! I was in a euphoria for the rest of the week. And wouldn’t you know it, but the month was just about to get better.

The following week, there are two envelopes in the mail — one big one, with my official contract all signed and autographed from the famous agent the agency is named after, and the other is a shiny cheque for $12,000 from the Canada Arts Council!! I’d applied back in October and by now had pretty much given up on ever hearing from them. Ever the optimist, I was absolutely certain I was going to have my application rejected. I’d never applied before, I only had the minimum amount of required publication credits, yada, yada, yada…..but then, Holy Crap, it CAME!! And not a moment too soon, since I’d just run out of my other $12K from the Ontario Council.

So, as you can imagine, this was one of the happiest weeks of my life. Honestly, I was in hog’s heaven.

And then….it all went downhill. Got a horrible cold that practically killed me for a week, and worse even, I realized that I wasn’t going to click with my agent after all. As an unknown author, a newbie in the industry, the Big Name agent wasn’t going to rep me anyway, and not with a non-fiction book to boot, so I was being repped by two newbie agent associates. Not that it matters what their sales record is, given that they’re working with one of the biggest names among Can Lit agents. I mean, hell, I was represented by THE So-and-So Agency, right? And being told that they get hundreds, even thousands of queries a year and only take on only about 10 new clients per said year, it was an achievement in itself to be on their roster.

And then I realized that they weren’t the agents for me. That just because I was being repped by the same folks who represent Nino Ricci, Vincent Lam, Camilla Gibb and Lisa Moore and half the freaking country’s big-name authors simply wasn’t enough. Not if I got nothing back in the way of direction, input or enthusiasm.

Stay tuned for my next entry, Why I Fired My Literary Agent.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Posted in agent, blog, blogger, blogging, canadian literature, life, literature, manuscript, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Final Verdict: I got my scholarship to Humber

Posted by E on June 23, 2008

I’m starting to realize that to be a writer, you can’t write in a vacuum. Even if you have a moral and financial objection to being pitted against other writers in subjective contests that cost an arm and a leg to enter.
To be honest, I haven’t submitted anything to any mag/rag/poetry zine in years. Other than self-publishing my poetry book last year (see it on Amazon), the last time I got published was 6 years ago, when I had 3 pages of poetry appear in Grain Magazine. Why? Partly laziness, partly not enough thick skin to handle the rejection letters, partly lack of funds. When you send out even a few contest entries per year, the cost of entry fees is prohibitive. When you add to this the overwhelming chance of rejection due to editorial subjectivity, you may as well flush the money down the toilet or pay the idiot tax (aka play the lotto).

But when I make up my mind about something, I go for it with a calculated, psychopathic precision and intensity: I live and breathe the carrot in front of me; I sniff it like a hound dog, tracking its scent until it overwhelms my senses, shadowing everything else.

The goal this year: go to the Humber School for Writers’ Summer Workshop. It’s said to be the best program of its kind in the country, and you have the chance to be mentored by some of the most famous and popular Canadian writers of our time. It’s not a cheap course either; at $1000 for six days of instruction, I doubt any talented young people can get to go unless their fees are seriously subsidized.

I imagine that many of the attendants are either retired or wine-sipping middle-aged novice writers who are still plugging away at their daytime professions, likely something safe but still distinguished, say, middle-management perhaps. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Somebody has to pay the writers for their time. But the point is, I’ve had a hard time envisaging how a full-time writer, especially a younger person with student loans and a lower income can afford such exorbitant fees. Unless mommy and daddy pay for it. So I do feel for everyone who also applied to get a scholarship but didn’t get it.

So here’s my update.
The goal: get into Humber by any means necessary.
The means: (twofold)

1) submit a manuscript “portfolio” to Humber directly, and request financial aid/a scholarship (which is evaluated based on a combination of need and talent, and awarded to those who show “considerable promise”)

2) enter the CLGA essay contest, where a full scholarship to Humber would be given to a selected entry

1. The manuscript took me two and a half weeks to pull together (write and edit it to my satisfaction, which is still not what I would call “finished” by any means), and I had to Xpress Post it to Humber to get it just under the deadline
2. The short piece (2500 words) I submitted to the CLGA contest was written in one night. Not bad, for a piece that attracted the editor’s attention (we spoke the day the story was received) and ended up on a shortlist for the scholarship.

The outcome: I got my scholarship!!!!! from the Humber School for Writers directly! So I’ll be going the week of July 12-18.

I will be staying in residence for the week, so if anyone can contribute to the $300 room&board fee, it would be so much appreciated! You can feel good knowing that a future literary figure is forever indebted to you – and if you can spot me at least a portion of the fee, I PROMISE you to send you an autographed, FREE copy of my book when it is eventually published. And every cell, pore and fiber of my being tells me that it will be published.

When I am this certain of something, it always comes to fruition. The opportunity to attend a program I never could have afforded, and the determination to write a brilliant story in a span of a few hours, is proof of this. Remember, anything is possible if you have the burning drive, the unwavering belief in your ability to transcend the universal fear of inadequacy, and the courage to listen to nothing but your own, original voice.

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Never.

The mornings will be spent with my mentor (I’m still not sure who it will be) and a small group of other students. The afternoons will have lectures from other famous writers, publishers and agents. I can’t wait to meet other writers and students and make some connections with fellow brilliant minds 🙂

I’ll try to log in (if I can pick up wireless in residence) and write a few journal entries during the week to let everyone how the course is progressing.

Posted in canadian literature, literature, news, publishing, writer, writing | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Canada’s low rank in innovation – a culture of mediocrity

Posted by E on July 12, 2007

Last month an international study reported that when it comes to creativity and innovation, Canada ranks abysmally low when compared to other industrial nations.

When chalked up against 17 other countries, Canada ranked highest in complacency. Promptly upon the distribution of the findings, released by the think-tank Conference Board of Canada, waves were made and a lot of people began clucking and shaking their heads.

“This country is doing dismally in the critically important area of innovation,” wrote Anne Golden, board president of  the Conference Board of Canada. “And the implications of that failure . . . show up in the absence of creative policy and investment decisions across all the other domains.”

Although doing fairly well in the arenas of education and health care, when it came to the area of innovation, Canada scored 14th out of 17, behind the US and most countries in Western Europe.

“Canada’s scientists don’t keep up with their global peers in the number of articles published, and its inventors don’t keep up in the number of patents, the report shows. For its competitive advantage, it relies on natural resources, and adds little value to goods or services. Canada has a shortage of skilled labour and graduates a low share of science, engineering and trades experts.
The country doesn’t take advantage of high technology, or keep up in the commercialization of knowledge.

“Canadians are complacent and generally unwilling to take risks,” the report points out. “This culture holds Canada back.”

Hmmm, why does this sound so familiar? Could it be because I’ve been saying this for years?
Canada’s deplorable lack of innovation is nowhere more visible than in the Arts field. There is such resistance to anything new, fresh, and vibrant.

In literature today, if one can even call it that, there are very few noticeable talents. Most writers will not get published unless they copy the old style of the same snub-nosed literati who can be discerned by their penchant to stop by the Governor General’s residence for a mid-afternoon tea and a spot of ditty.

Innovation is not only unrecognized in the Arts, it is punished. The only rewards come from being rewarded for staying well within the ranks of a mediocre culture that doesn’t even recognize it has no culture anymore. It hasn’t for a long, long time.

For an in-depth analysis of this topic, please see my previous posts: Integrity vs. Literary Prizes, and Impending Downfall of the inbred Canadian literary world.

http://subversivewriter.wordpress.com/2007/04/17/integrity-vs-literary-prizes/

http://subversivewriter.wordpress.com/2007/04/16/impending-downfall-of-the-inbred-canadian-literary-world-2/

Posted in art, books, canada, canadian literature, commentary, culture, innovation, literature, news, press, publishing, technology, thoughts, writer, writing | Leave a Comment »

Video podcast becomes 6-figure Book Deal

Posted by E on April 16, 2007

Here’s a tidbit for all of you who still think stale old conventional publishing is the one-and-only, tried-and-true way to go:A recent quote from Publishers Marketplace:

“Internet sensation (and recent winner of the YouTube Video Award for Best Series based on viewer voting) AskANinja.com creators Douglas Sarine and Kent Nichols’s THE NINJA HANDBOOK: A Guide for Non-Ninjas To Become More Ninja-like, claiming to be the first “video podcast to book” deal, to Julian Pavia at Crown, for six figures, at auction, by Joe Veltre of Artists Literary Group (NA). Ask a Ninja is represented by UTA and manager John Elliott at Mosiac Media.”

Indeed. There are thousands of people every year, from online bloggers to video podcasters, to unwashed-in-their-parents’-basement-nerd-geeks who operate fan-driven websites, who are offered hundreds of thousands of dollars, some millions, in publishing and take-over deals.

The young guys who created YouTube, the other people who started Television without Pity, and so many others on the web, have been bought out in multiple million-dollar deals by major corporations.  There are online bloggers with a bigger fanbase than most Canadian writers today. Publishers come to them, and not the other way around.

Wake up and smell the possibilities, people! A new world is on the horizon. If you want to wait around for a publisher to call you – guess what? He won’t. He’ll be too busy having lunch with me discussing my new book tour. He’ll be too busy calling up people who have a track record of generating their own publicity and their own success. 

There are countless possibilities to begin making a name for yourself, the very least of which involves peddling your manuscript inconsolably while doors are getting slammed in your face. You don’t need to kiss a publisher’s ass any longer.  

YOU are your own agent.

Get busy. Start today. 

Posted in art, books, canadian literature, commentary, literature, media, news, poetry, politics, print-on-demand, publishing, technology, thoughts, writing | 1 Comment »