Should You Re-Query an Agency?

Should You Re-Query an Agency? One of the most common questions I receive is, “When is is okay to send another query to an agent who previously passed?”Another is, “If an agent passed on my query, can I send the query to another person at the same agency?” There are various scenarios to consider, so here’s an overview. First, whenever you are going to re-query, it’s a good idea to open your letter with a brief mention of your previous interaction with the agent or agency, and an explanation of why you’re writing to them again. (BRIEF.) That way, if your name sounds familiar to the agent, they won’t be sitting their scratching their head trying to figure out why. Let’s look at some different situations. Sending the same query to a different agent at an agency that...
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Why You Should Pitch a Single Book

Why You Should Pitch a Single Book If you’re like most writers, you’re probably not writing just one book. You’ve written multiple books, possibly in different genres. You may have a whole 3 or 6 or 9-book series planned. So the question naturally arises: Should I pitch my whole series to an agent? Should I tell them about my entire body of work? After all, I want an agent to represent all my work, not just one book. Along similar lines, reader Jan wrote on Facebook: Whenever I check an agency’s guidelines, they always talk about pitching a particular book. I already have a book published, and I’m looking for an agent to help me build my career. How do I query/pitch in that situation? The answer is simple and clear: When querying or pitching an agent, always start with just one...
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How Do You Find a Literary Agent?

How Do You Find a Literary Agent? I asked readers on my Facebook  page for questions they’d like me to answer on the blog. It seems many are dying to know the secret to getting an agent. Stephanie asked: What is the single most important thing when approaching an agent? Aleah asked: What’s the best way for a first time novelist to get their foot in the door with an agent? Where should one start? These questions always make me feel like the writers are hoping I’ll reveal the secret handshake or code-word that will break down the barriers to getting an agent. I wish it were that easy! But it’s a process, with no shortcuts and no magic. Here are some things you can do: 1. Write a great book. If your book isn’t marketable, nothing else will matter. You’ve got to have a book people want...
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How Do You Know If Your Work is Any Good?

How Do You Know If Your Work is Any Good? A question from a reader on Facebook: I’ll ask the question that’s been asked a hundred thousand times by writers perhaps at all levels. Outside of selling, how do you know that your work is actually good? You may pitch a book, and it might be good but might not be what an agent likes. So how do you validate that what you are doing is good? Always a good question! And a tough one. Here are some thoughts: First, there’s the definition of “good.” Art and entertainment are completely subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While there are certain standards by which many of us agree to judge worthiness, it’s still not even close to being objective. Organizations routinely give awards to books that would bore the heck out of most  readers....
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Do You Have Impostor Syndrome?

Do You Have Impostor Syndrome? This week I’m celebrating the sale of a client’s project to a dream publisher—a project I first saw (and loved) two years ago. I knew the moment I read the manuscript that it was something special. I resonated with the author’s story and her writing, and I felt very strongly that many others would too. Eventually. My instinct was that it wasn’t the right timing to put it out to publishers. I suggested she take some time to polish the manuscript, while also working on her blog and building her platform. I told her the market just wasn’t ready for it, and I didn’t want to show it to publishers at the wrong time. I promised I’d be watching for the right time and the right editors to send it to. She handled all of this like a professional. She...
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Success in 90-Minute Increments

Success in 90-Minute Increments A few months ago, I blogged about interval training for writers. I referred to the growing body of research on human performance suggesting we’re most productive when we move between periods of high focus and rest, rather than attempting to maintain high focus for long periods of time. I’d been strongly influenced by Tony Schwartz’s book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working (which is still a favorite). I wrote that: 90 minutes is the optimum high-focus work time; and a maximum of three 90-minute focused periods a day provides for the most productivity.* Lately I’ve been experimenting with this, using a timer on my desk to create 90-minute intervals for highly focused work, usually writing. The first few times I did this, I was amazed at how I finished the...
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Can I Make More Money via Traditional or Self-Pub?

Can I Make More Money via Traditional or Self-Pub? These days, authors are carefully considering the merits of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and many are doing both at once. (My upcoming e-book: How Do I Decide? Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing, will help with these decisions.) I’m having almost daily conversations with my clients, most of whom are already traditionally published, about various ways they can extend their brands, increase their income and/or grow their readership by self-publishing e-books “on the side.” I’m coming across some interesting questions during these discussions. One that I’ve been hearing lately comes from authors trying to figure out how they can make the most money with their next book: through traditional or self-pub. They’re trying to estimate...
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What Does Your Online Activity Say About You?

What Does Your Online Activity Say About You? The age of Social Media is still relatively new, and can be tricky to navigate. One question we all should be asking ourselves is: What message is my total online persona sending to the world? You may need to step back and take an objective look at your social media presence as a whole. Look at your Facebook feed, your blog, and your Twitter feed over a couple of weeks. What kind of picture emerges? If a stranger looked at your social media presence, what kind of person would they think you are? Does your online activity reflect you appropriately for your professional or business life? Would you appear to be a well-rounded person with both professional and personal interests? Do you seem to be interested in others and in the world? Are you interesting? If there are people who are...
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Writing a One-Sentence Summary

Writing a One-Sentence Summary Let’s discuss the one-sentence summary, also known as a logline, a hook, or a one-sentence pitch. (It is not a tagline, however.) What: About 25 words that capture your novel, memoir, or non-fiction book. Why: To get someone interested in reading your book. When to use it: The start of a query, book proposal, or anytime someone asks you, “What’s your book about?” What it does: A one-sentence summary takes your complex book with multiple characters and plotlines and boils it down into a simple statement that can be quickly conveyed and understood, and generates interest in the book. What it should include: → A character or two → Their choice, conflict, or goal → What’s at stake (may be implied) → Action that will get them to the goal → Setting (if...
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There Is No Time For Despair

There Is No Time For Despair Here are some truths:  • Publishing is in flux and no one is quite sure what the future looks like. • Publishers are merging, resulting in fewer places to submit manuscripts. • Many authors who have published numerous books are finding their advances going down, not up. • With self-published books now plentiful, there are more books than ever before for readers to choose from. • It is difficult figuring out how to effectively market books. • A book’s potential sales are highly unpredictable. • Many authors’ books don’t live up to the publisher’s sales expectations, meaning the publisher might not want to renew their contract. • Poor sales figures can make it difficult or impossible to get another traditional book deal. • Writing can be...
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Manners Matter: 13 Etiquette Tips

Manners Matter: 13 Etiquette Tips As everyone becomes busier and more harried, and we all seem to communicate with electronic devices more than with people, I think it’s more important than ever to pay attention to basic politeness in business situations. It’s all-too-easy to rush through our days with little concern for niceties. Here are some tips I’ve gleaned, meant as simple reminders of the common courtesies that can make our days more pleasant. 1. Don’t say someone “referred” you unless they really, truly did. Agents are the recipients of far too many “suspect” referrals. Be honest in your communications. 2. Avoid discussing problems with your agent or publisher in a public forum like your blog. It can be so tempting to vent, but the way to actually solve problems is...
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9 Reasons to Quit Writing

9 Reasons to Quit Writing The publication journey isn’t easy, no matter how you approach it. I’m always encouraging people to be patient, persevere through the obstacles, and doggedly pursue their dream. For some people, this means persistence through years or decades. But… is there a time when you should give up? Maybe so. I could be wrong but I think there are a few signs the publishing journey is not for you. You may want to stop pursuing publication if… 1. You’re only doing it for the money. (In the majority of cases, the money’s not that great.) 2. You expect the publication journey to be anything other than the hardest job you’ve ever done. (The ups and downs alone can drive you crazy.) 3. You have an aversion to hearing bad news. (The path always seems to be strewn...
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How to Create Your Own Marketing Team

How to Create Your Own Marketing Team Whether or not you have a book to sell right now, you probably have reason to build a platform and gather a “tribe.” Monday we discussed blogging as one possible avenue for this, and I also gave you a list of several other ways to use the Internet to connect with people. But this is not an easy task, especially when you’re sitting at your desk by yourself trying to come up with creative ideas. Wouldn’t it be great to have a whole team of people with whom to brainstorm, exchange ideas, discuss successes and failures, and share encouragement? You CAN have your own marketing team — and it’s simpler than you might think. Most of you are familiar with the concept of a writers’ group or critique group, even if you’re not part of one. Your marketing...
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Should All Authors Blog?

Should All Authors Blog? A few years ago, the standard wisdom was that authors, both fiction and non-fiction, should have blogs in order to gather an audience and build relationships with readers. Now, not so much. As social media and online marketing have evolved, my thoughts on blogging have changed. I think each author needs to carefully consider whether blogging is an appropriate vehicle for them based on: 1. If they can do it well; 2. If they enjoy it; and 3. If their writing career can benefit from it. If blogging doesn’t suit you, don’t spend too much time trying to make it work. Why aren’t blogs the appropriate vehicle for all authors?  The proliferation of blogs in the last five years has made it increasingly difficult to stand out in the crowd. Many authors are blogging faithfully...
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