Monthly Archives: February 2013

Query Letters

I work on query letters for a variety of fiction and nonfiction book authors. Every query has to have the following:
1. A great tagline. This is a single sentence that sums up the conflict and the protagonist’s journey. It’s one of the toughest things to get right…but it’s the grabber that keeps agents and publishers reading your query.

2. A short description of the book. This is 2 or 3 paragraphs long. Although it contains some plot highlights, it’s really about the character’s journey. The conflict and any antagonist come into play enough to enhance the protagonist’s journey…and you have to give an idea of how it ends.

3. A paragraph about you. This of course includes your credentials like other publication credits (even if unpaid) and editorial work at a newspaper or magazine. It should also include any awards your work has won. Also tell them why you wrote the book. The human connection is important!

4. Information on the current market trends that support your book, the manuscript’s length, it’s category and/or genre, and the fact that it’s finished. If you have a sequel or are already working on the next unrelated novel, they need to know that, too. They want to sign career authors, not flashes in the pan!

Let me know if I can help with your query letter.


Set Your Novel in a Famous Place

Here’s another article from Writer’s Digest. Author Josh Pahigian shares the reasons why.

All are valid for different reasons. One of the best is the fact that your marketing machinery will be built in. Tourist boards, local shop owners, and travel advertisements all help to keep your book in people’s minds…or to spark that important first interest in your story.

5 for the Writer’s Bucket List

Here’s a list from Writer’s Digest listing 5 things for your bucket list.

When I posted this to Facebook (find Writer’s Resource under CreationToContract), I noted that I liked the “Do something bizarre” tip best.

Also of interest is the “Self-publish something” tip. They’re not necessarily talking about a book, either. Blog posts, ezine submissions, and other short bits can be great for the author’s soul. And enhance your platform. And provide potential readers of your books with another way to find out about you.

An unbeatable combination!

Honors for Message Stick

Just a quick note on this blog post by Rick Rofihe. My first novel, Message Stick, was given the nod as one of the top entries to this year’s contest.

The story follows Gabriel Branch, a biracial Australian Aborigine, as he searches the outback for his best friend. He is stalked by a powerful Pitjantjatjara shaman who leads an artifacts smuggling ring. The novel won two national awards and now has been honored by this latest contest.

Check out his blog to enter your own novel!

House of Cards

NetFlix’s new series House of Cards was written up in the New York Times. The article talks about how the series was intended to be watched in long segments of two or more episodes at a single sitting. Many viewers, they anticipated, would watch all 13 in a single sitting.

The article compares the experience to that of reading literature. These days, many pundits have been talking about reading rates and how the internet has changed people from long-form readers into readers who want quick bites. This series in its own way proves that literature and other types of long-form reading is not dead.

The key is that the format has to be appropriate for long-form reading. Stories that delve into something deeper–in terms of a character’s inner or outer journey, for example–have always been in demand. They will continue to be, if this single-sitting viewing pans out as the newest trend.

And in case you’re wondering, I watched the series myself over the course of three evenings.

B&N Closings Mean New Opportunities

B&N announced that it plans to close about 10 stores every year for the next ten years. Publisher’s Weekly provides a little more detail on the announcement.

Now, before everyone panics and thinks that bookstores are going to disappear entirely, think. Whenever there’s a gap in the market for something people want, others swoop in to fill it. In this case, small, locally owned bookstores are poised to profit from every closure of the megastore in their area.

This could mark a new Renaissance in reading. Some of my associates are already looking at buildings they can buy and convert into bookstores. I, for one, am glad to see this happening. Readers everywhere will reap the results!

Ebook vs. Print Trends

In this article from Publisher’s Weekly, the growth of ebook sales is compared to print versions.

Ebook growth continues to be enormous just like it has in past years. But don’t let one important statistic slip away in the comparison. The 5% growth quoted for print exceeds the industry wide growth rate seen in recent years.

Also remember that these are Amazon’s statistics only. Be aware of what’s going on in the larger arena to get a real picture of what these numbers mean.

Marketing: Talk Radio

Talk radio is a perfect medium for connecting with readers. The shows have loyal fans, hosts talk in-depth about topics related to your books (even fiction), and you don’t have the expenses involved in physically attending signings.

Consider these stats from the 2013 Talk Radio Research Project and compare them to your target readership:

    • 72 percent of listeners are ages 35 to 64.
    • 70 percent are college graduates or have attended college or graduate school.
    • Men comprise 58 percent; women 42 percent.
    • Almost three-fourths of listeners earn $30,000 to $79,000 a year.
    • 79 percent of those eligible to vote do.


Here’s a rundown of points to consider when you’re thinking about whether to self-publish.

I would add one additional point: What are your book’s changes in the traditional market? That is, if you were to approach a traditional publishing house, what are your changes of being picked up by an established publisher?

Having a traditional publisher on your team means you don’t have to handle certain types of marketing, manage distribution, or fork over up-front investment costs for creating the book.

Self-publishing offers you much more control over artistic decisions and messaging, regional and niche marketing, and timeliness.

Compare and contrast the benefits and pitfalls of each before you decide.

And remember that you can also take BOTH paths at once!

Literary Agent

Here’s an agent to consider:

Rachel Hecht serves as Foundry’s Foreign Rights Director for Children’s Books, and also develops her own list of authors. Before joining Foundry in 2011, Rachel served as the children’s book scout for Mary Anne Thompson Associates, where she provided exclusive insight into the US publishing world for a diverse roster of foreign publishers. A graduate of Kenyon College with a degree in English, she began her career in New York at Condé Nast before moving into book publishing.

Query Letter/Book Giveaway

Very detailed post about one author’s journey. Click through the link in the post to leave a comment about her book and enter a giveaway for a free copy.

Two things to note in her entry:

1. She learned through failure how important the query letter is and what it should contain.

2. She was aware of publishing industry movements and decided not to submit for a time until things began to recover.

Take these lessons to heart and apply them to your own journey. You’ll find yourself further along that road to publication than ever.

Book Sales/Giveaway

Here’s a blog post that offers a free book. It lists 11 ways to help other authors increase sales. This is a very important activity for all writers.

Years ago, I was a member of a very active writer’s group. Monthly meetings often packed 25 to 35 people into a very small home. There were perhaps 150 people in the group, and at least half a dozen critique groups run by different members.

One very talented poet had released a chapbook and asked everyone to attend the book launch. When I arrived, I and my boyfriend counted for two in the crowd of four.

I was embarrassed for the poet professionally. I was more embarrassed for the other members of that writer’s group.

Yes, it’s tough to make time in our schedules to attend book signings. And yes, it’s important to our community that we take the time to do it.

Make a commitment right now to attend one signing for a local artist every quarter. That’s once every three months. You might be surprised by who you meet, what you hear, and how it affects your own writing. At the very least, you’ll feel good about having supported a fellow author.

Book Proposals

Book proposals aren’t just for nonfiction authors.

I know, shocking. It’s not a tip you’ll read in most writer’s magazines or books. But here’s why:

Fiction authors need to present themselves as professional, capable individuals. Writing fiction is as much a career choice as writing nonfiction. Show agents and publishers that you’re serious about your work. They will respond with respect!

Every time one of my fiction clients goes out with a book proposal, they hear very positive feedback about their efforts. Since most agents and publishers will gather the exact same information that’s in a proposal from their fiction authors at some point, having everything already prepared means you rise to the top of the stack.

In this business, every little bit helps!

Here’s a look at Book Baby’s take on the same topic.