Writing a Series

(Today’s peek into my mailbox.) Dear Rachelle, I’ve been writing a series of novels, and have completed six books. My question is: How do I go about submitting a series? I have a query that describes the series an includes an excerpt from each book. Would this be the correct way to present the series? Or should I just send a query for the first book in the series? Signed, Prolific *** Dear Prolific, Congratulations on finishing so many books. Definitely a great accomplishment! Most professionals in the industry would advise you to write only the first book in the series, or maybe the first two, then perhaps leave the others in outline or synopsis stage. The problem is that if you don’t sell the first one, you may not be able to sell any of the others unless they can...
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Common Questions Answered

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/S50G0MSt_OI/AAAAAAAADrM/RbsXLliF5LU/s200/question.bmp Thanks for all the questions you sent me on Friday’s post! I answered most of them in the comments, so be sure to check that out. But there are a few questions that I seem to get repeatedly, so I’m addressing some of them here. What is the appropriate length of time to follow up with an agent who requested a full manuscript? Agents typically take a long time to respond to partials. Two to six months is common. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to follow up after two or three months, but you’re likely to get no response, or just “I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.” Personally, I don’t like to make people wait that long for an answer, but I know I have partials that have been in my stack for longer than that. (See my post on A Day in the...
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(Possibly) Bad Advice I’ve Heard Lately

Like most of you, I do a fair amount of reading on the web. I keep up with what’s going on in publishing and I like to read what industry professionals are saying. However, sometimes I cringe when I read advice that doesn’t square with what I’ve experienced. It might not be wrong, per se, but it certainly isn’t true across-the-board as it is presented. Here are a few pieces of advice I’ve read on the web lately that I don’t think are always true. 1. “If an agent asks for a proposal package for a novel (aka fiction) they don’t know what they’re doing and you should run a mile.” Ack! According to this, I don’t know what I’m doing and you should never query me. I do, in fact, require a proposal prior to submitting to...
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School of Write

Mary Bailey wrote: “What discourages me is the huge emphasis on continuing education, joining writer’s groups, attending conferences, etc. This really puts a crunch in the budget!” Good point, Mary. Believe me, I understand about having a tight budget. But this is one of those times when I will encourage you to make a paradigm shift. If a writer doesn’t see the value and even the necessity of continuing to learn, then I suspect that writer may not be treating writing seriously enough. And if you’re stuck on the financial cost, you may not be taking advantage of all the options available to you. Continued, lifelong learning is the norm in many professions. Schoolteachers are required to put in a certain number of hours of learning each year. Lawyers are...
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Guest Blogger: Renee Hagar

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SgcuYBZsJQI/AAAAAAAAC78/9Q_TincYkEQ/s200/Renee%2BHagar-Headshot--small.JPG Does Your Image Need Refreshing?You’ve polished your manuscript and refined your synopsis. Your query letter shines so bright you have to wear sunglasses to read it. But what about your image? Does it shine with the same brilliance? Are you as polished as your novel? Your appearance says how credible, approachable, and accessible you are. Whether you’re giving a speech, doing a book signing, attending a writer’s conference, or meeting a prospective editor for the first time… is your image up to par? It doesn’t take much to increase your professional presence. Here are five ways to start: 1. Consider your brand. Your author brand encompasses everything from how you look and present yourself at a conference, to the appearance of your website, business cards, MySpace,...
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So, about that Susan Boyle…

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/Sfkj_feoMYI/AAAAAAAAC30/W3tBWYfYaLg/s200/susan_boyle.jpg You didn’t think you’d avoid reading about the famous Miss Boyle on my blog, did you? It’s pop culture! How could I avoid writing about the media’s latest darling? The question I’ve been asking myself is: What can writers learn from The Susan Boyle Phenomenon? Amazingly enough, I came up with a couple of things. Remember how Susan walked out on stage and started answering Simon’s questions, and everyone—audience and judges alike—rolled their eyes and shook their heads? “As if” is what they’re thinking. Riiiight. Dream on, lady. Its a good reminder: We all judge books by their covers. And by books, I mean, “books.” But I also mean it in the metaphorical sense: Everything about you that is presented as part of your...
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A Potpourri of Questions & Answers

Today I’m going to give my thoughts on several questions I’ve been asked the last couple of weeks. Kathleen Elizabeth asked: Should you be basically finished writing your novel before you begin the search for an agent? → If you’re previously unpublished: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. The novel should be finished, edited, polished and ready to go. Published authors usually only need an outline and a few sample chapters. Nonfiction: you need a proposal and three sample chapters. Janet asked: Is it reasonable to expect an agent to put together the book proposal? → Nope. You should have your proposal ready before you query an agent, especially with nonfiction. There are books and downloads available to help you write a book proposal. I’ve got some tips here. Terri...
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More Wise Words from Agents

News about the poor economy continues to rock the headlines, including more announcements from publishers about belt-tightening and cost-cutting. I think it’s important for writers to look at market realities and understand that this isn’t going to be an easy road. (But really, when was it ever easy?) To find success, we may need to step up our games—write better, market better, be more persistent. Here are a few more agents’ answers to my question, “What’s the ONE thing you’d like to tell writers in these tough economic times?” Jeff Dunn, Winters & King, Inc. Let us drop every reliance we have on man, whether it be ourselves, our spouse, our employer, our publisher, our president. We are not citizens of this earth for long—as the late,...
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10 Ways to Be a Dream Client

1. Reveal that you’re related to Harper Lee and that she has finally decided to publish her second novel and she wants you to recommend a good agent, preferably someone you’ve worked with and whose first name starts with the letter “R.” 2. Make sure spellchek is on when writing. 3. Start a blog dedicated solely to celebrating your agent’s many gifts and talents. Here are a few suggested titles for your blog: “Rachelle Rocks”; “Brilliance, Personified”; “I Don’t Care if I Ever Get Published, It’s Honor Enough Just to be Represented by Rachelle.” 4. Stop crying long enough to repeat after me: Revisions make me a better writer. Revisions make me a better writer. Revisions… 5. Laundry day is Thursday. Just let yourself in with the key I keep in the flowerpot. And...
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10 Traits of a Good Agent

10 Traits of a Good Agent This is the first in my new “10 Things” series to (hopefully) appear weekly, for awhile anyway. If you have ideas for future “10 Things” posts, please let me know. Many of you might be looking for an agent… and it can be hard to know exactly what to look for in your literary representation. So I wanted to give you a few tips. First, it’s all about the relationship, so the it’s important to find someone you click with, someone who seems to “get” you. Beyond that, you’ll want to find someone who’s working style fits with yours. Some agents are more hand-holding and nurturing, others are all business. Some are interested in career-building, others just want to know what book you have to sell right now. Which style fits your...
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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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A Whole Lotta Questions

I was going through some old posts and found several questions people have asked that I’ve somehow neglected to answer as of yet. Here are a few random ones. Do more people get a yes or an “I want to read your ms” from sending sample chapters per your website’s guidelines, or by meeting you at a conference? For me, it’s all about the writing—and the platform, when applicable. It doesn’t matter where I first come across an author. If I like the initial pitch, I’ll ask to see more, whether I came across the writer via email or at a conference. The advantage of meeting an agent at a conference is that you get a full fifteen minutes (in a standard appointment) plus other times such as meals to let them know who you are. It’s possible to...
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ICRS Part Three: Tidbits from Editors

ICRS Part Three: Tidbits from Editors On the Saturday before ICRS officially began, I attended a gathering of published novelists. They had invited editors and agents to participate in panel discussions, and I knew the questions would be interesting, coming from multi-published authors.So, I sat on the agent panel along with Janet Grant, Steve Laube, Danielle Egan-Miller, Joanna Mackenzie, and Wendy Lawton. It started off great, with each of us telling who we are and what distinguishes us from the others. Of course I said I was different because I was the new agent on the block, actively seeking clients and hungry. After that we went immediately into the questions which were pretty complicated… generally having to do with the state of publishing in general, plus some of the more intricate contract issues, the expanding...
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Afternoon in a Bookstore

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SEFVsUbQjAI/AAAAAAAABdk/lys3Z3SEYpU/s320/host.jpg Last week my youngest daughter turned 9, and one of the things she wanted to do for her birthday was go to Barnes & Noble. (Cool, huh?) So my girls and I spent part of an afternoon hanging out in the bookstore. They love to browse the stacks, grabbing books off the shelf, sitting on the floor to read for a few minutes, putting them back and moving on, eventually deciding what to buy. That gives me a lot of time to walk around the store doing some browsing of my own. I have to admit that I spend so much time on Amazon that I don’t get to the brick & mortar bookstores as often as I should. I’m saying this to myself as much as to you: As writers and publishing professionals, there is no substitute for getting to the bookstore regularly and spending an hour or so looking...
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