Perseverance Really Is Key

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/S6bfdVghSfI/AAAAAAAADr8/-O2ia4iq5X8/s200/code+blue+cover.jpg A few weeks ago, author Sandie Bricker wrote a guest post about how she followed her “writer GPS” to find the genre in which she could successfully break into publishing. There was an important lesson in the comments to that post. Sandie’s former agent, Steve Laube, chimed and and mentioned that when he’d been representing her back in 2004 and 2005 and submitting her projects to publishers, they received 100% rejections. Sandie hadn’t hit her stride. Nowadays, her biggest struggle is keeping up with her deadlines. She’s had three books published in the last 18 months, and she has five more contracted and scheduled for release. Another one of my clients, Kathi Lipp (who has been a guest blogger several times) is a non-fiction author who spent ten years...
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Walking the Tightrope

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/S4GPAhXuteI/AAAAAAAADmU/LNP4iAxf5fU/s200/tightrope.bmp Last week I was corresponding with a client whose book contains a message that’s fairly edgy and in some ways, counter-cultural. He knows I totally believe in him and his book, but in this one particular email I used some cautious language. I told him we were “walking a tricky line” trying to find the right publisher for the book—one who was both liberal enough for the subject matter, yet not objecting to the underlying Christian message. (Can’t say any more about it right now, sorry.) My client wrote back with a gentle reminder to let go of the fear of failure, and to stop thinking small. He had a good point. I don’t think small. If I were thinking small, I wouldn’t take on a book that’s somewhat risky and definitely challenging—for me, as...
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A Bad Economy? Whatever.

I’ve had a pretty good summer as far as book deals go. In the last week I wrapped up three exciting deals that I’ll tell you about when the contracts are signed. Just prior to that, Kathi Lipp (author of The Husband Project) signed on with Harvest House for two more books (making a total of four): The Kid Project and The Me Project. And J.L. Miles, author of the fabulous novel Cold Rock River, signed with Sourcebooks for her next novel, All That’s True. Lots of good stuff happening, and to top it off, I’m sitting on a couple of manuscripts that I’m absolutely over-the-moon about and will be submitting to publishers in the next few days. Can’t wait to share the details! My point is, even though the economy has been making a lot of people miserable for...
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Do You Have a Story to Tell?

What’s the difference between a person with a story to tell, and a writer? What’s the difference between a person with something important to share, and a writer? This is a tough one. I honestly think that everyone – yes, every single person – has a story to tell. Everyone has something valuable to say. But everyone might not be a writer. Everyone has something amazing happen to them. A huge tragedy. A gigantic obstacle they overcame. An important lesson learned. A spectacular achievement. An epic love. But not everyone has the talent, drive, determination, skill to be a writer. Everyone has a story. But it’s possible that not everyone has a book. If you have an important story to tell, then ask yourself if you really want it to be a book. If so, then I...
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On Being a Brick Wall

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SXN0UEnk7lI/AAAAAAAACjg/5D0tF1f2wME/s200/SMALLLastLectureCover.jpg I’m sure most of you are familiar with Randy Pausch’s story and his book, The Last Lecture (co-written with Jeffrey Zaslow). In his lecture and his book, Randy spoke with great wisdom about achieving your childhood dreams. One of the things he said that resonated with me was that the obstacles to our dreams are like brick walls, put there to test how badly we really want something. He wrote that those brick walls “stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.” Of course, those are the other people. (Not you or me.) Reading his positive spin on obstacles was freeing for me as a literary agent, because I’m frequently one of the brick walls with whom writers collide in the midst of chasing their dreams. I read so many good queries from people with good...
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Encouragement and Courage

Happy holidays! Can I just say how amazed I am that SEVEN people sent me queries on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? What’s up with that? Does an agent’s in-box EVER get a rest??? Apparently not. Well, I’m on vacation now so anything that comes in will be unanswered until January. The following is a re-run of a post from last year. I was speaking to the Denver chapter of ACFW, and several writers mentioned wanting and needing encouragement in their writing journey. It got me thinking (well, everything gets me thinking). It’s a hard business to break into and often the news seems so depressing. They just want to hear something good for a change, something heartening. I pondered… what exactly do we mean by encouragement, anyway? I have the feeling that...
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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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Responding to the Difficult Economy

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.Charles Swindoll The biggest news in our world today is the economy, and many are suffering the effects. Last week we were bombarded with news of difficult realities in the publishing industry. What should our response be? I asked a handful of literary agents the question: What’s the one thing you’d like to tell writers in these difficult economic times? Here are some of their responses; I’ll post more on Thursday. Wendy Lawton, Books and Such: We all flinched at the painful reports of layoffs in our industry and at the grim prognostications that followed. No one is buying. The industry is grinding to a halt. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, “Reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated.” Good...
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The Blessing of Everyday Tasks

“The best time for planning a book is when you’re doing the dishes.” -Agatha Christie Lately I’ve been having conversations with a friend about the importance of the menial, everyday tasks in our lives, and how they provide wonderful opportunities to let our minds loose to roam, explore, and process. We live in such a noisy world. Whenever we’re driving or folding laundry or jogging, it’s tempting to always have our iPods or cell phones in our ears, or the TV or radio on in the background. How desperately we avoid having few moments of silence! But I am more and more aware of the importance of allowing our minds to be free once in awhile. We can create silence—when our hands are busy—so that we can hear our own thoughts, so that ideas can form, so...
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The Stories We Tell

Whenever I walk into Barnes & Noble and see all those thousands of books… Whenever I hear statistics like 400,000 books published last year… Whenever I look at the query section of my inbox (currently at 105 emails)… Whenever I attend a writer’s conference and meet with writers passionate to see their words in print… I find myself getting all philosophical. Why so many books? Why do so many of us want to write? What is this thing inside us that drives us to want to share our truth with the world? And of course (me being me) I come up with answers. I think that before there was the Internet, before television and movies, before radio, before newspapers, and even before books… (I am talking about the whole entire history of humankind, not just our...
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Are You a Fighter?

Everyone knows getting published is an uphill battle. With few exceptions, it’s a long, difficult and often frustrating road with the possibility of heartbreak at every turn. (I’m so optimistic today, aren’t I?) The fact is that many of us have a desire, a dream, a passion which we believe is fueled by God. We want to write books. And we want to be published authors. So today I want to remind you that you are going to have to fight for it. You’ll have to fight off impatience and develop fortitude. You’ll have to fight off insecurity and believe in yourself and your God. You’ll have to fight off weariness and build perseverance. You may have to fight off pride and learn humility. You’ll have to fight off all the forces that constantly endeavor to...
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Are You a Writer?

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SDT343StsII/AAAAAAAABbQ/qI0mOGEfDys/s320/David+Cook.bmp Oh my gosh, wasn’t that exciting? David Cook ROCKS! I love that guy! Yeah bay-bee. Woohoo! What a fun night. My girls and I were screaming the roof off. This whole season has been loads of fun and I gotta be honest, I’m gonna miss A.I. (Can I just say how glad I am that I didn’t have my laptop in front of the TV tonight? SIX of you wrote me about the results before I had seen them! I’m a Rocky Mountain girl, remember? You east-coasters, what am I gonna do with you.) As it happens, American Idol relates directly to my blog topic for today. (Is A.I. ever an inappropriate topic for a writing blog? I think not.) So let’s get to it. I received a query awhile back that contained the following line: “I can’t give you a hook or a synopsis—I am a writer, not...
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Hard to Say Goodbye

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SCel9jz7f_I/AAAAAAAABbI/0EEU8Qngagc/s320/idol.jpg Time for another American Idol metaphor. Can’t help myself… DC fever is getting the best of me. 🙂 So here we are, down to 3 contestants. Remember when there were 12? After being culled out of so many thousands of hopefuls, those top 12 seemed uber-talented. How sad it would be to see any of them go! Yet week by week, they left. These top 3 are so talented they ALL deserve to win! But no… only one will win. Those are the rules. Out of those top 12, probably at least 4 or 5 will find commercial success in singing. But only one will win this particular contest. The ones that don’t win and go home early… it doesn’t mean they’re not any good. They’re plenty good. But various factors combined to make THIS contest not theirs to win. So, this is...
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