Q4U: A Room of One’s Own

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/33fdf076a8f3e61931dd10fa0e6cae79.jpg We writers tend to make a big deal about the physical spaces in which we write. There are countless blogs and websites that feature photos of writers’ workspaces, and I admit I love looking at them. There have even been entire books full of photos of writers’ desks. I guess it’s fun trying to see what we can learn about a writer just from looking at his or her desk. Most of us are dreamers, too, and so we spend time envisioning the perfect writing studio. Ah, I could be so productive if only I had a… (loft with a view of the ocean, desk the size of Montana, whatever). A couple of weeks ago an article in The Guardian dared ask, Does a room of one’s really help you write a great novel? One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I can get restless...
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Perseverance Really Is Key

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/943ab60cb5af733fa4ca0d44cbcffd42.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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Afternoon in a Bookstore

Afternoon in a Bookstore 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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More on Writers’ Conferences

Some UnFunny, Not-Snarky, Deadly Serious and Totally Anti-Sarcastic Tips For You I know a lot of you will be attending writers’ conferences soon, so I wanted to mention a few more things here. First, I can’t overstress the importance of having a verbal pitch ready. There are numerous opportunities at conferences to give a brief pitch of your book, sixty seconds. This can be at a meal (where the person hosting the table often asks writers to share what they’re writing) or any number of other occasions. You’ve heard about the “elevator pitch,” right? Well, this last conference I took my very first bonafide elevator pitch, in an elevator. (I’ve received plenty of hallway pitches, bathroom pitches, dinner-table pitches, etc.) It was fun! Anyway, I...
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Do You Have the Competitive Advantage?

I hope you all have read the posts and comments from the last several days over at Michael Hyatt’s blog, From Where I Sit. I can’t possibly summarize it all, but there are a couple of really important thoughts I want to share with you. It seems the biggest worry of the unpublished author is (understandably), “Will there be room for the new voices? The non-famous? The good-but-as-yet-unpublished-writer? In other words, me?” As you can imagine, that question affects all of us, agents especially. I have currently under consideration around 200 queries, partials, proposals and manuscripts. Most of those are from unpublished authors. So the question for me is the same as for you. Not just “Do I believe in them?” which is my first question, but, “Can I...
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Simultaneous Submissions

On a panel at the PPWC on Saturday, one of the New York editors said, “It is so hard to get published these days, it doesn’t make sense not to do simultaneous submissions.” The panel went on to discuss how inefficient it is to send something to one agent or editor, then wait until they respond before sending to someone else. Most agents and editors agree, and I am definitely one of those. The normal response time from an agent or editor can be anywhere from a couple of months to a year. Because of the volume, there’s just no way to get to things faster. So obviously, you will go crazy if you are only submitting to one person at a time. We all expect that you are simultaneously submitting. If you’re not, and instead you’re submitting to one person and...
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Writers Beware – Don’t Try This At Home

Sometimes my in-box turns up the most interesting things. For example, this query I received: r It showed over a dozen agents’ email addresses in the “to” line. r It was addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam.” (I don’t answer to either.) r It was not even remotely related to “Christian worldview” which is our agency’s specialty. r It didn’t include the elements required in a query letter as explained in the WordServe submission guidelines. r Best of all, the letter stated that that the writer believed I was “exactly the right agent” for the project – apparently all the other dozen-or-so agents on the list fit this description too. r And just to make things interesting, the book was pitched as a novel but was only 35,000...
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THE MAGIC: The Joy of Discovery

Have you ever read a wonderful novel and thought, I really want to meet this writer? Wouldn’t it be great to sit down and chat over coffee with your favorite authors? There’s something about a well-written novel that makes you want to get to know the person who put their heart and soul into creating it. That was one of the biggest motivations for me to enter this business. I’m a voracious reader and I absolutely adore fiction, and there’s nothing more exciting to me than working with authors on their books. I especially enjoy that moment when I’m reading a new manuscript and start to get goosebumps because it’s so good. When I realize… I can’t stop turning the pages. It’s a thrill I can’t compare to anything else. Back when I was an in-house...
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