Telling Your Personal Story

Telling Your Personal Story Dear Rachelle, People are always telling me, “You should write a book!” For years I have been ignoring them, but more and more people are telling me that I shouldn’t let my experiences be wasted, that I need to share them because they are not only inspirational, they will make people laugh, make them cry, and entertain them. I’ve finally decided I need to bite the bullet, so I’m starting with you. Can you help me? Signed, Hopeful Memoirist * * * Dear Hopeful, I get several query letters each month that begin with some variation of: “For years, all my friends have been telling me I should write a book.” Maybe it’s because of an amazing incident or an inspiring life journey. Maybe you’re funny or have a way with words. Whatever it...
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Answering Your Questions

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TUeox8w1cNI/AAAAAAAAEXA/SR70TXrLUN0/s200/mug.jpg John said…Do you welcome queries from England in the same way as you would from America? I welcome fiction queries from everywhere. Non-fiction is tougher, because most non-fiction books are more dependent on the author being able to promote the book here in the US, but if I loved the book I wouldn’t say no just because the author doesn’t live here. Debbie Barr said…If you get a query for a book that’s not for you, but sounds like something one of the other agents at your agency would like, do you pass the query letter on to them, recommend the author query them instead, or do you not say anything? We only have two agents in our agency, and if I think a project might be right for Greg, I forward it to him. I think most agents do this; some agencies say it’s okay...
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Your Questions, My Answers

Okay, here are more questions I’ve received lately. I’ll warn you right now, my answers are NOT FUNNY. They are, in fact, boring. Sorry. JR Beasley said:I have queried multiple agents. One agent has requested a full manuscript and three others are reviewing partials. When offered representation by an agent, what is the proper protocol regarding the other agents? First, congrats! That’s a terrific situation in which to find yourself. When you’re offered representation and other agents have requested partials, send them each an email to let them know and give them an opportunity to respond before accepting representation from the first agent. Exception: If the agent who offers representation is ME, just say yes and forget the rest. Missives From Suburbia...
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Your Questions Sweetly Answered

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TGthh1ri9dI/AAAAAAAAEBk/OGQ9CVmTLe4/s200/questions.jpg Kati Patrianoceu asked…Do you get tired of writing about the same things on your blog over and over? Do you enjoy writing dozens of blogs about good-and-bad-queries, or does it drive you nuts?I like writing the same things over and over. I like writing the same things over and over. I like writing the same things over and over. I like writing the same things over and over. I like…who am I kidding? It drives me nuts. Steven Till asked…Does getting your book on the front table in a bookstore have something to do with how much a publisher will pay for that spot? I’ve always heard that’s valuable real estate, and publishers compete for those spots to promote their titles. That’s an urban legend. Books are chosen for the front table based solely on how well they...
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One-Sentence Summary Critiques & Tips

Today I’m offering some thoughts on a few of the one-sentence summaries that were entered in the contest. Sometimes it’s helpful to see what’s not quite working, in order to learn how to do it better. Maybe these examples will help you spot something you can improve with your own pitch. We’ll group them according to common problems. Issue: Not using specific language. Many pitches suffer from being a bit too vague to effectively build interest. When things are not what they seem, Kimberly must overcome many obstacles in her life, to find herself again…at any costs.>>Notice the general, not specific words. “things are not what they seem.” “overcome many obstacles.” “find herself.” They lack real meaning and don’t give us anything to...
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Random! Questions! Answered!

Over the weekend I asked my Twitter followers to send me questions. Here are some of them, with my brief answers. Kennectto asked:Do publishers sometimes accept queries and/or manuscript ideas from writers without agents? Some publishers accept unagented queries and proposals, but most of the majors don’t unless an editor met the writer at a conference and requested the material. (“Manuscript ideas” are not saleable with or without an agent.) WriteOnRideOn asked:For an experienced journalist writing books, is it worth it to seek agent+publisher or better to self-publish? And how does someone with numerous writing credits find an agent for book proposals? Like all writers seeking to publish books, it’s your choice whether to seek commercial publication or...
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YA & Middle Grade Fiction

Stephanie Reed wrote: A fellow CBA children’s author and I heard that, because there are already so many good mainstream children’s novels, there’s not much need for CBA children’s novels. Do you agree? And if so, please tell me how great mainstream novels and great CBA novels for adults have peacefully co-existed for years. My point is, why not provide an excellent selection of CBA novels for children NOW (and believe me, we knock ourselves out to do just that), and thus have a ready-made market of loyal adult readers someday? My thoughts: You said “novels” so I assume you mean middle-grade and YA fiction (as opposed to illustrated children’s books). I agree the market is difficult for NEW authors to break into. In my opinion, this is true for a...
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Ask the Agent: A Matter of Time

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SZCxNzomf5I/AAAAAAAACsM/iiSgiIPJe9U/s200/alarm_clock_ringing.jpg I always get questions about how long the publishing process takes. Of course, the biggest question is why does it take so long? My answer: it just does. There are a lot of reasons, but even if I tell you the reasons, it won’t change anything. It won’t make you happier about the length of time it takes. So, I’ll skip that for today. However, I’ve recently received a few specific time-related questions from blog readers, so I’ll do my best to answer them. Amy Storms asked: How long does it typically take an agent to get a contract? From the day you agree to represent a client, until you’ve sold their book. My answer: First, it depends how much work it will take to get the project ready for submission. This can be a matter of a few days, even up to a...
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Ask the Agent: Writing in Multiple Genres

One of the most common questions I receive is: Can I write books in more than one genre? Well, sure, write whatever you want! Can I write books in multiple genres and expect to build a successful publishing career? No. A lot of people have asked me this question, and they don’t understand my answer. Hey, they can write historicals, suspense, and fantasy. Why wouldn’t I be ecstatic about a multi-talented author who can do it all?? This is a marketing issue, first and foremost. If you want to publish books, attract a loyal readership, and have long-term success as an author, then you’ll need to pick a genre, do it well, and keep doing it over and over. Simple as that. All the arguing in the world and all the talent in the world is not going to change this reality. You need to...
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One Last Post about the Kindle

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SXOIAoPOTrI/AAAAAAAACjo/ucllU1sFg5g/s200/kindle.jpg I hope you don’t get too annoyed with me for doing another post about the Kindle. There were several great comments and questions after last week’s post, and I wanted to take the discussion a little further.Here are my answers to a few of the issues raised: → What if I lose or destroy my Kindle? Insurance doesn’t cover the cost of all those book downloads. Amazon saves all your downloads, so if you delete them from your Kindle, or even lose or destroy your Kindle, you can re-download the books without paying again. → Reading on a computer hurts my eyes. The Kindle uses a new and completely different technology from a computer. It’s a high resolution, similar to reading paper-and-ink, and doesn’t hurt your eyes. For me, it’s even better than reading...
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Does the Agent HAVE to Sell Your Book?

Kristi asked: How often do you turn down projects from your clients because you don’t think you can sell them? If you have a client who’s written a good book, will you submit the book even if you think it might not sell? If you won’t submit it, is the client free to sell it on her own then (and keep her 15%)? I think there is a misconception that if you have an agent, then you can write whatever you please and the agent has to sell it. Interesting questions. I don’t have a heckuva lot of experience with this yet, but I do have some, and what I lack in experience I certainly can make up as I go along. Here are my thoughts. Whether I submit my client’s project is a decision we’d have to make together. If I don’t think it will sell, there’s a...
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Answering Some Questions

I have an agent and a novel currently out on submission. The agent asked if I had anything for her to look at. I sent her another manuscript. She sent a two word rejection: “Not unique.” This tells me she didn’t read it because it has a number of unique plot twists. My question is, as a client aren’t I entitled to a full read, not just a quick flip through the first few pages? Also, shouldn’t she have read enough to offer suggestions? 1. All agents are different, so maybe she’s not the type who gives editorial input.2. An agent generally only needs a few minutes to determine if they like a project. For a current client, yes, they probably should spend a little more time. If they like it, they’ll continue reading. I wouldn’t say you’re...
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Ask the Agent: Communication Part Deux

I really appreciated all your comments on yesterday’s post. Lots of wisdom there! Related to the situation I wrote about, Katy sent this question: Is it sometimes true that a new author, who’s just signed with an agent, will find the agent unwilling to try to sell some of her already-written manuscripts? How can that be prevented in the author/agent relationship as it moves forward? First, I would hope there would be some kind of discussion prior to the agent/author agreeing to work together. Ideally, they would have an understanding about how things were going to proceed. We all know there’s a possibility that not every manuscript we write, especially our first, is going to be saleable. But many manuscripts can be improved—rewritten, revised, polished—especially...
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Ask the Agent: Submitting an Improved Version

Lately I’ve received quite a few questions like this: So, let’s say I submitted a proposal that was requested by an agent. While waiting for the agent to respond, the novel was significantly improved (not just a few spelling errors, but bigger things like tightening, deepening the POV, author affiliations/platform, etc). Would you suggest a re-submit (upfront- telling you it’s a resubmit) or just hold out and let the original proposal be reviewed? I guess my first thought would be, why you didn’t make all those improvements before you submitted to an agent in the first place? In other words, why did you rush to get your proposal out before it was ready? Now I know you’re thinking about how you’re never quite sure when your manuscript is...
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