Category : Books

  • April 23, 2013

    Before you post your book online…

    by

    A guest post from Holly Lorincz, assistant to Chip MacGregor

    Recently, I was forced given the opportunity to learn to master the art of uploading ebooks onto Smashwords and Amazon for this persistent Scottish agent I know. After extracting multiple promises that haggis or blood pudding would never be served at staff parties, I agreed.

    I can’t approach the simplest assignment without first reading at least seventeen reference books (the heftier the better), and yet, after all that research and putting my own book up for esale, I’ve really only learned one thing about self-publishing: marketing your ebook is a full time job. Selling it successfully? There’s magic involved and a lot of patient plodding, and messing around with algorithms. I know, I know, I shouldn’t use that word algorithm, since it just screams ‘first period math class.’ Sorry. Unless you’re going to hire a publicist, get used to it. Also, if I’m being totally honest, you may want to bypass the whole formatting and uploading issue, hire a professional, if you have a life away from your computer.

    Still here? Okay then. The following is a list of random ebook publishing and marketing tips that I’ve picked up from books, other self-publishers, and my own stumble down the publishing path. Some of it will be common sense and common practice, so just view it as a reminder.

    1. Remember those early beta-readers you sought out as you were finishing your book? Remember that one that drove you crazy, the one that only commented on dangling participles, improperly used pronouns and linguistic improbabilities?  If you haven’t burned that bridge, find that grammarian and ask him or her to read your book one last time, tasked with catching typos, specifically homonyms and homophones. (Because, you know, spell check silently chuckles when you use the phrase “his voice was a horse whisper.”)

    2. Decide if you are going to use KDP Select

    Continue Reading "Before you post your book online…"
  • April 20, 2013

    The Power of Words (a guest post)

    by

    A guest post by Karen Swallow Prior

    In Charlotte’s Web, the first hint Wilbur the pig receives about the odd spider’s true character comes when she tells him her name, Charlotte A. Cavatica. What an oddly beautiful name for a creature usually associated with ugliness, fear, and death. Upon hearing her name, Wilbur tells Charlotte, “I think you’re beautiful.” And Charlotte, naturally, agrees.

    Names are powerful words. We don’t think about names quite the same way people of old did, and this is our great error. In ancient times, a person’s name often signified an event, a personal quality, or a family relation. In this way, a name offered not only a label for oneself, but even more importantly, a connection to the world one was born into and a part of. The acts of naming and being named were momentous events laden with significance—just as it is significant that the first work God gave Adam in the Garden of Eden was naming the animals. To name something or someone is a gesture that is both creative and powerful. In Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White bestowed a spider with the name of Charlotte A. Cavatica. And he gave a little girl—one a lot like me—the name of Fern Arable, a name resonant with the pastoral qualities that permeate the pages of the book.

    As for me, my mother chose my middle name, Irene, first because it is my grandmother’s name, and then she picked a first name suitable to accompany it. For most of my life, I thought of Irene as an old, ugly name. But now that I am older, and my grandmother is much more so, and I can better appreciate who she is and the life she has lived, I think it is a pure, strong name. Its origin is Greek; it means peace. I’m thankful for this name, not only because I think it is beautiful

    Continue Reading "The Power of Words (a guest post)"
  • March 13, 2013

    Have you ever written a book?

    by

    Okay, so I have a new book releasing. My longtime friend, editor, and longsuffering co-worker Marie Prys and I were interested in the spiritual lives of our US Presidents. I suppose prayers have been uttered in the oval office since before that uniquely-named place existed. Many of those words were captured, and some still resonate today. Mostly they prayed for wisdom as they served the country, sometimes for thanksgiving or appeals for justice. We did our research, included some biographical data on the men who filled the role of president, tried to keep out all the partisan bickering, and just made an attempt to introduce readers to a different side of the presidents. This is an ebook (we originally did a print version about ten years ago, but went through and updated everything), and it’s only $2.99 on Amazon, B&N.com, the iBookstore, and Kobo. Give it a read and let me know what you think. Thanks!

    -Chip MacGregor

    Continue Reading "Have you ever written a book?"
  • February 28, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: My New Marketing Book for Writers!

    by

    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    Have you enjoyed our Thursday chats on marketing, promotions, and platform-building? I sure have! But so many times it feels as though I’m cramming info into my posts or even breezing over content. And what’s worse, is it’s become clear to me that this site doesn’t exactly make it easy to dig through my old posts!

    So, I have some exciting news! 

    I’ve written a book ALL ABOUT how to use the Internet to grow an author platform! Here’s a peek at the cover:

    From websites to Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest and more, I cover the essential topics, pulling from some of my best posts while also adding in plenty of new content. Whether you’re a social media newbie or guru, an unpublished writer or an industry veteran you’ll come away with actionable items that you can put into practice now.

    THE EXTROVERTED WRITER: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform releases March 15 on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and Smashwords (for ePub version or all other ebook devices). For now, it will be only available as an ebook.

    If you’d like to recieve a notice when the book is available, sign up for the newsletter here. (It’s not the fanciest newsletter provider, btw. So don’t judge me!).

    Please share this post with your friends! AND if you’ve been a fan of Thursdays with Amanda and would like to offer an endorsement, hit me up at ExtrovertedWriter@gmail.com. I’m hoping to receive testimonies from writers in all walks of life, published or unpublished, who can testify that my Thursday with Amanda tips help make their social media platforms stronger.

    Thank you all, and let me know

    Continue Reading "Thursdays with Amanda: My New Marketing Book for Writers!"
  • December 10, 2012

    Why don't publishers want to fast track most books?

    by

    Someone wrote and asked, “Do publishers have a ‘fast track’ for an idea that is time sensitive? Do they leave room for hot topics in their publishing pipeline?”

    Sure, publishers have a fast track, but they use it very carefully. When you turn in your completed manuscript, it’s usually going to sit with the publisher for a year before it hits store shelves. That’s partly because they have artistic and production decisions, but it’s really more of a sales issue — stores order books months in advance. So right now stores are looking at what books they’ll have in their stores next summer. A book that is dropped into a list hasn’t been given much time to create a marketing buzz, it hasn’t been presented to stores to order, and the whole process gets rushed. So publishers don’t want to drop a bunch of new titles into their lists that don’t have support and won’t sell.

    What I’ve found is that frequently an author wants to fast track a book, when if fact it would do better if the sales and marketing types put it through the usual process. Every author feels as though he or she can’t wait — that the book needs to be released immediately in order to capture the moment. In my view, that’s usually a time trap. Most books will do better if they aren’t rushed, and allow  the system to work. So keep in mind that, if you’re going to be working with a traditional publisher, you’re probably going to have to take the long view to get the full benefit of the relationship.

    At the same time, ebooks allow a faster turnaround, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s possible to get a book out very quickly and speak to an immediate need — but we’ve all seen a bunch of books that were rushed and really not ready for the

    Continue Reading "Why don't publishers want to fast track most books?"
  • March 30, 2012

    Want to have a million seller?

    by

    In this business, you often see the term "million seller" bandied about. "This book is going to sell a million copies!" is a phrase I've had thrown at me dozens of times at conferences and conventions. In my view, people who talk about million sellers tend to over-promise and under-deliver. The numbers on 2011 book sales are in, and…well, nothing gives clarity to promises like some hard numbers.

    How many hardcover novels released last year hit the million mark? One–John Grisham's THE LITIGATORS. (Stephen King's 11/23/63 fell just short.)

    How many hardcover nonfiction books released last year sold a million copies?  Two–Laura Hillenbrand's UNBROKEN, and Walter Isaacson's STEVE JOBS. (Bill O'Reilly's KILLING LINCOLN just missed, selling more than 990,000 copies.)

    How many new trade paper releases last year sold a million copies? Three–Todd Burpo's HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (the biggest selling book of the year, at just under 5 million copies), Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP, and Steig Larson's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. 

    How many YA and children's books hit the million mark? Four, and every one of them was part of a series: Jeff Kenney's DIARY OF A WIMPY KID #6, Christopher Paolini's INHERITANCE #4, Rick Riordan's HEROES OF OLYMPUS #3, and his KANE CHRONICLES #2.

    How many mass market releases in 2011 sold a million copies? Five, and three of them were from the same author. The list includes Grisham's THE CONFESSION, Nora Roberts' THE SEARCH, and three from George R.R. Martin: A FEAST FOR CROWNS, A GAME OF THRONES, and A CLASH OF KINGS.

    And a new category, how many newly-released ebooks sold a million copies in 2011? The answer will undoubtedly surprise you–one. Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP.(HEAVEN IS FOR REAL just missed hitting the mark.)

    The numbers for backlist books are pretty skinny–only three backlist titles sold a million copies, and all three were from the same author. Suzanne Collins'

    Continue Reading "Want to have a million seller?"
  • March 30, 2012

    Want to have a million seller?

    by

    In this business, you often see the term "million seller" bandied about. "This book is going to sell a million copies!" is a phrase I've had thrown at me dozens of times at conferences and conventions. In my view, people who talk about million sellers tend to over-promise and under-deliver. The numbers on 2011 book sales are in, and…well, nothing gives clarity to promises like some hard numbers.

    How many hardcover novels released last year hit the million mark? One–John Grisham's THE LITIGATORS. (Stephen King's 11/23/63 fell just short.)

    How many hardcover nonfiction books released last year sold a million copies?  Two–Laura Hillenbrand's UNBROKEN, and Walter Isaacson's STEVE JOBS. (Bill O'Reilly's KILLING LINCOLN just missed, selling more than 990,000 copies.)

    How many new trade paper releases last year sold a million copies? Three–Todd Burpo's HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (the biggest selling book of the year, at just under 5 million copies), Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP, and Steig Larson's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. 

    How many YA and children's books hit the million mark? Four, and every one of them was part of a series: Jeff Kenney's DIARY OF A WIMPY KID #6, Christopher Paolini's INHERITANCE #4, Rick Riordan's HEROES OF OLYMPUS #3, and his KANE CHRONICLES #2.

    How many mass market releases in 2011 sold a million copies? Five, and three of them were from the same author. The list includes Grisham's THE CONFESSION, Nora Roberts' THE SEARCH, and three from George R.R. Martin: A FEAST FOR CROWNS, A GAME OF THRONES, and A CLASH OF KINGS.

    And a new category, how many newly-released ebooks sold a million copies in 2011? The answer will undoubtedly surprise you–one. Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP.(HEAVEN IS FOR REAL just missed hitting the mark.)

    The numbers for backlist books are pretty skinny–only three backlist titles sold a million copies, and all three were from the same author. Suzanne Collins'

    Continue Reading "Want to have a million seller?"
  • September 22, 2010

    Home from ACFW … (where Sandra won Agent of the Year!)

    by


    MacGregor Team at ACFW 2010  Chip, Amanda, and I are all just coming off a six
    day road trip to ACFW conference, followed by visits to several publishers. It’s
    always good to get home.

    The conference was great. We had a lot of fun
    connecting with friends and associates in the world of ACFW.  I worked very hard meeting hopeful authors;
    connecting and praying with my clients; squeezing in times to confer with Chip
    and Amanda whenever possible. Between us, we taught or participated in at least
    half a dozen teaching and/or industry sessions. Chip did a great job as emcee
    of Susan May Warren’s My Book Therapy pizza party. Though I had to duck out
    early to attend a publishing dinner, I hear he helped move things along at the line
    dance lesson which followed. Here’s a YouTube link to one of the most well
    organized line dance lessons I’ve ever seen …
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNvFf7tQH0w.

    At the awards banquet, we were pleased to cheer
    for all the winners, and picked up a few awards ourselves. Our very own Jenny
    B. Jones won twice;
    once in the Young Adult category for I’m So Sure (Thomas Nelson) and again in the Long Contepmorary
    Romance category for Just Between You and
    Me
    (Thomas Nelson).

    Jenny is always a hoot, and her off the cuff
    acceptance speeches were no exception. If you weren’t there and would like to
    get an asparagus-free taste of the awards banquet, check out the liveblog at
    http://acfw.com/conference/liveblog.shtml
    led by Tyson Wynn of Wynn-Wynn Media.

    By the time the Agent of the Year was announced, I’d
    thoroughly decided there was no way I would possibly be walking up front to
    accept the award, so I was thoroughly shocked, quite honestly, when my name was
    called. I think my thirty-second-at-best acceptance remarks relayed this.

    I will admit I was asked to prepare a speech just
    in case, which I did. But learning mid-conference

    Continue Reading "Home from ACFW … (where Sandra won Agent of the Year!)"
  • September 22, 2010

    Home from ACFW … (where Sandra won Agent of the Year!)

    by


    MacGregor Team at ACFW 2010  Chip, Amanda, and I are all just coming off a six
    day road trip to ACFW conference, followed by visits to several publishers. It’s
    always good to get home.

    The conference was great. We had a lot of fun
    connecting with friends and associates in the world of ACFW.  I worked very hard meeting hopeful authors;
    connecting and praying with my clients; squeezing in times to confer with Chip
    and Amanda whenever possible. Between us, we taught or participated in at least
    half a dozen teaching and/or industry sessions. Chip did a great job as emcee
    of Susan May Warren’s My Book Therapy pizza party. Though I had to duck out
    early to attend a publishing dinner, I hear he helped move things along at the line
    dance lesson which followed. Here’s a YouTube link to one of the most well
    organized line dance lessons I’ve ever seen …
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNvFf7tQH0w.

    At the awards banquet, we were pleased to cheer
    for all the winners, and picked up a few awards ourselves. Our very own Jenny
    B. Jones won twice;
    once in the Young Adult category for I’m So Sure (Thomas Nelson) and again in the Long Contepmorary
    Romance category for Just Between You and
    Me
    (Thomas Nelson).

    Jenny is always a hoot, and her off the cuff
    acceptance speeches were no exception. If you weren’t there and would like to
    get an asparagus-free taste of the awards banquet, check out the liveblog at
    http://acfw.com/conference/liveblog.shtml
    led by Tyson Wynn of Wynn-Wynn Media.

    By the time the Agent of the Year was announced, I’d
    thoroughly decided there was no way I would possibly be walking up front to
    accept the award, so I was thoroughly shocked, quite honestly, when my name was
    called. I think my thirty-second-at-best acceptance remarks relayed this.

    I will admit I was asked to prepare a speech just
    in case, which I did. But learning mid-conference

    Continue Reading "Home from ACFW … (where Sandra won Agent of the Year!)"
  • September 8, 2010

    Still talking books and authors…

    by

    Okay, so on Monday I spent some time answering questions from people about which books I’ve been reading and what I like. On Tuesday I got this response from someone: “Well, there’s really only ONE BOOK – the Bible. It’s more than a book, so nothing compares to it. But books written by the muse of man that I have enjoyed would include…”

    Um… where do I start? First, there isn’t only “one book.” There are a lot of books, many of great value – even to people of faith. Second, I’ve never heard of a book that wasn’t “written by the muse of man.” For crying out loud. Third, that is without a doubt the most pompous note I’ve received in years. 

    Look, I appreciate that I have people of faith reading my blog. I'm a person of faith, and I represent a lot of Christian books. But I also live in the real world, not some hokey spiritual world where we need to always point out that we are religious. So give it a rest. Learn to write words that people want to read and you'll find more success. Geez…

    Janet wrote to say, “Looking at all the religious fiction writers being published today, who do you 
think will be read and admired 25 years from now?”

    First, this is a great question. It's also a bit of a slippery topic, since "popularity" and "longevity" don't always go hand in hand (in writing or in any other art). Tastes change and that pushes the culture away from one author and toward another. For example, Ernest Hemingway has long been considered one of America’s greatest writers. But as readers have moved away from his books, and as time has marched on, his reputation as a stylist has flagged considerably. And his buddy F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was reduced to writing B-movie scripts late in life because the reading public had

    Continue Reading "Still talking books and authors…"
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