Read, Read, Read

As a follow up to what I wrote last week about getting away from your computer and getting to a bookstore… today I want to simply say this: Read. Yes, it’s that simple: You gotta read books! You hear it all the time. As writers, we need to first be readers. I know most of you are readers. But I am shocked at how many writers confess to not reading widely in the genre they’re writing. Or any genre, for that matter. At one conference, I met with a lady who was writing a suspense. I asked who her favorite suspense authors were and she got that deer-in-the-headlights look, and hemmed and hawed. I felt bad for her because it was like she’d finally been found out! I gently suggested she take a break from writing and spend some time sitting on the front porch with a tall...
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Ask the Agent: Walking the Line

Dear Rachelle,I have written a crime mystery that involves abuse, revenge, a murder, inappropriate conduct by a pastor, and a cover-up. There is no sex in the story, but there is some rough language. There is a message of redemption and truth. I’m not sure if this is CBA or ABA. What I think I have here is a “tweener.” The nature of the story and the language might be objectionable to the Christian market. Yet it’s probably too “Christian” of a story for the mainstream market. I’d be grateful for your impression of this unique situation. Sincerely,Puzzled Writer —————————— Dear Puzzled, Welcome to the world of CBA publishing! You’ve discovered the tightrope that many Christian...
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How Long is Your Book?

The question of “how long your manuscript should be” is sometimes hard to answer because different publishers have different guidelines. I’m going to give you some information here, but first I want you to know WHY this is important. It’s pretty simple: If your book falls within the standard preferred word-count range, it’s one less reason for it to be rejected. It takes the question of “length” completely off the table as an issue. Now the decisions can be made based on your writing and whether your book is a fit for that publishing house. (And that’s what you want, right?) If you are outside the normal range, it’s one more obstacle on your road to publication. That will also affect whether agents will want to represent it. The more...
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A Time to Write…

Are you in a critique group? Do you regularly share your writing with a friend / writer / editor who gives you suggestions for changes and corrections? Are you frequently sharing pages of your work-in-progress (WIP) with someone else who copyedits you along the way? That is, making word changes and suggestions, correcting grammar or punctuation? If so, there may be too many cooks in your kitchen. And you may be in danger of any number of pitfalls: losing your voice, losing your motivation, or getting STUCK. I’ve had conversations with two different authors in the last week who each told me they were “stuck” and needed my help. They couldn’t seem to move forward on their manuscripts. Careful digging on my part revealed that both of these authors (who don’t...
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Tightening Your Writing

I’ve been posting an awful lot lately about the business of publishing and not enough about writing itself. I’m going to try and change that…. so here’s a post about writing. *** There comes a time in every writer’s life when an editor requires them to reduce their word count. Ack! Not my precious words! Even if an editor hasn’t asked you to do this, most writers would benefit from tightening up their manuscripts before submission. (I, for one, would appreciate it. ) But how do you do this? Never fear. Most writers can significantly shorten their manuscript simply by eliminating extraneous adverbs, adjectives, gerunds, and passive verbs, i.e. things you don’t need anyway. If you cut 10 words per page in a 350-page manuscript, you’ve already...
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Ask the Agent: Decisions, Decisions

If you have a bunch of book ideas, how do you decide which ones are viable? FOR NON-FICTION:Spend some time on each idea, one by one. First work on a rough outline of what the book would be. List the themes and topics you’d want to cover. Ask yourself: is there enough material here for a whole book? Consider whether you’ll be able to gather the information needed to fill a book on this topic. Is there enough to say? Marketplace: Are there other books on this topic? Too many? Is there room or need for another one? Can you identify a hole in the market that needs to be filled? If there are no books on this topic, consider why. Is there a need but no one has filled it yet? Or is this something that people don’t want to read a book about? You: Consider whether you’re...
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About Branding…

Beth Jusino wrote a wonderful post on focusing your writing — otherwise known as “branding.”Go to this post at So You Wanna Be Published. Read and heed!
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