Category : Deep Thoughts

  • October 25, 2010

    All Good Things Must Come to an End

    by

    Think about this for a minute…

    4 years.

    Hundreds of posts. 

    250 average readers per day. 

    A half-million visitors. 

    Time to hang it up. 

    I've said what I have to say, and while there are still questions out there (including about 300 in my in-box that I meant to get to), I'm going to wrap it up. I feel like I've said plenty, I'm starting to go over some of the same material, and I need to just go focus on the authors I have the privilege of representing. So I'll blog once more, to say good-bye, but then I'm done. I'm going to fold up my tent, cash in my soup ladle, hand over my keys, and all those other overdone metaphors for wrapping it up. 

    No more blog posts. No more bad poetry. No more whining about dopey queries and stupid ideas. No more offending the faithful. Time to spend my words on something else. I'll leave it all up, so you can wander through the archives a bit (once more, for the hundredth time — if you come to the bottom of the page and see a little yellow arrow that looks like this > , there are more pages to see on the topic). But I'm done. It's been fun. 

    Chip

    Continue Reading "All Good Things Must Come to an End"
  • October 25, 2010

    All Good Things Must Come to an End

    by

    Think about this for a minute…

    4 years.

    Hundreds of posts. 

    250 average readers per day. 

    A half-million visitors. 

    Time to hang it up. 

    I've said what I have to say, and while there are still questions out there (including about 300 in my in-box that I meant to get to), I'm going to wrap it up. I feel like I've said plenty, I'm starting to go over some of the same material, and I need to just go focus on the authors I have the privilege of representing. So I'll blog once more, to say good-bye, but then I'm done. I'm going to fold up my tent, cash in my soup ladle, hand over my keys, and all those other overdone metaphors for wrapping it up. 

    No more blog posts. No more bad poetry. No more whining about dopey queries and stupid ideas. No more offending the faithful. Time to spend my words on something else. I'll leave it all up, so you can wander through the archives a bit (once more, for the hundredth time — if you come to the bottom of the page and see a little yellow arrow that looks like this > , there are more pages to see on the topic). But I'm done. It's been fun. 

    Chip

    Continue Reading "All Good Things Must Come to an End"
  • October 11, 2010

    Getting To Know Us

    by

    We've had a bunch of "get to know you" questions lately, so I thought I'd group several of them together…

    Andrew wrote to say, "You used to be a publisher with Time-Warner — why did you go back to agenting?"

     

    I love agenting. I enjoy working closely with authors, doing book development, planning careers, and spending time talking over projects. Actually, I never really got comfortable in my role as publisher – I always felt like a “suit.” Much happier being back on the agenting side of the desk.  

    Janice asked this: "It seems like you and Sandra have had a lot of success in a short time — to what do you owe your success?"

     Most likely it’s my good looks and Scottish heritage. But aside from that, I have a pretty good eye for writing. And let’s face it – an agent is only as good as the authors he or she represents. If I’ve had good success, it’s because I’ve had the privilege of representing really good writers. Go to my web site, select any author, and read a novel… all of them can write. That’s the main reason I’ve been successful.  

    Jim wants to know, "What types of projects do you get excited about?"

    always tell authors at writers’ conferences that I’m looking for “books that change me.” It’s true. I get excited about reading a book that will leave me changed, since I know it will have the potential to significantly impact readers. I also look for a strong voice – your book shouldn’t sound like everyone else’s book. If there’s great writing, a strong voice, and a message that has the potential to change me as a reader, I know I’ve got a winner.

    Dana asked, "Are there stories that you know right away you're going to be tired of?"

    Sure – The tough-guy hero opens his eyes,
    Continue Reading "Getting To Know Us"
  • October 11, 2010

    Getting To Know Us

    by

    We've had a bunch of "get to know you" questions lately, so I thought I'd group several of them together…

    Andrew wrote to say, "You used to be a publisher with Time-Warner — why did you go back to agenting?"

     

    I love agenting. I enjoy working closely with authors, doing book development, planning careers, and spending time talking over projects. Actually, I never really got comfortable in my role as publisher – I always felt like a “suit.” Much happier being back on the agenting side of the desk.  

    Janice asked this: "It seems like you and Sandra have had a lot of success in a short time — to what do you owe your success?"

     Most likely it’s my good looks and Scottish heritage. But aside from that, I have a pretty good eye for writing. And let’s face it – an agent is only as good as the authors he or she represents. If I’ve had good success, it’s because I’ve had the privilege of representing really good writers. Go to my web site, select any author, and read a novel… all of them can write. That’s the main reason I’ve been successful.  

    Jim wants to know, "What types of projects do you get excited about?"

    always tell authors at writers’ conferences that I’m looking for “books that change me.” It’s true. I get excited about reading a book that will leave me changed, since I know it will have the potential to significantly impact readers. I also look for a strong voice – your book shouldn’t sound like everyone else’s book. If there’s great writing, a strong voice, and a message that has the potential to change me as a reader, I know I’ve got a winner.

    Dana asked, "Are there stories that you know right away you're going to be tired of?"

    Sure – The tough-guy hero opens his eyes,
    Continue Reading "Getting To Know Us"
  • August 24, 2010

    When Good Titles Go Bad – from Amanda Luedeke

    by

    Going Nude: How I Kicked an Addiction, Gained a Dress Size, and Discovered the Real Me

    The above title is a fictional example of a writer being too clever for her own good. Sure, it has everything. It’s perfectly-structured, in that the subtitle properly explains what the book is about, while the main title merely suggests at awesomeness. It has wording that makes passersby do a double-take. It’s catchy, relevant and zeroed in on its target audience.

    And yet … it’s the very type of title that is exactly what a publisher asks for but not what they want.

    Let’s break this down:

    1)    Shock-value Words. SEX! PORN! DRUGS! SEX AGAIN! This is a serious soap box of mine. I’m sick and tired of writers trying to grab my attention with shock-value words. The worst part is they usually appear just like that … lined up in all caps. The truth of the matter is, yes, publishers want a title that grabs attention. One that’s in your face and, to some degree, shocking. But they’re never interested in titles that are offensive. Or creepy. Or just plain in bad taste. Though GOING NUDE would maybe fly with some publishers, others would simply roll their eyes and toss it aside. Because shock-value words always come across as cheap. Not to mention they tell the publisher that the author’s plan for selling the book has everything to do with a great title and cover. (And in case you haven’t heard Chip’s story, that plan’s already taken… by the publisher).

    2)    Unintentional negatives. Even though the title clearly indicates that the author’s increased dress size did nothing to damage her confidence, appeal, or looks, readers aren’t going to see it that way. Imagine yourself in a bookstore, desperately looking for the perfect book to give your sister who’s struggling with an addiction. Are you going to choose the title

    Continue Reading "When Good Titles Go Bad – from Amanda Luedeke"
  • August 24, 2010

    When Good Titles Go Bad – from Amanda Luedeke

    by

    Going Nude: How I Kicked an Addiction, Gained a Dress Size, and Discovered the Real Me

    The above title is a fictional example of a writer being too clever for her own good. Sure, it has everything. It’s perfectly-structured, in that the subtitle properly explains what the book is about, while the main title merely suggests at awesomeness. It has wording that makes passersby do a double-take. It’s catchy, relevant and zeroed in on its target audience.

    And yet … it’s the very type of title that is exactly what a publisher asks for but not what they want.

    Let’s break this down:

    1)    Shock-value Words. SEX! PORN! DRUGS! SEX AGAIN! This is a serious soap box of mine. I’m sick and tired of writers trying to grab my attention with shock-value words. The worst part is they usually appear just like that … lined up in all caps. The truth of the matter is, yes, publishers want a title that grabs attention. One that’s in your face and, to some degree, shocking. But they’re never interested in titles that are offensive. Or creepy. Or just plain in bad taste. Though GOING NUDE would maybe fly with some publishers, others would simply roll their eyes and toss it aside. Because shock-value words always come across as cheap. Not to mention they tell the publisher that the author’s plan for selling the book has everything to do with a great title and cover. (And in case you haven’t heard Chip’s story, that plan’s already taken… by the publisher).

    2)    Unintentional negatives. Even though the title clearly indicates that the author’s increased dress size did nothing to damage her confidence, appeal, or looks, readers aren’t going to see it that way. Imagine yourself in a bookstore, desperately looking for the perfect book to give your sister who’s struggling with an addiction. Are you going to choose the title

    Continue Reading "When Good Titles Go Bad – from Amanda Luedeke"
  • August 17, 2010

    12 Deep Thoughts from my Mailbox

    by

    So I went to check my mailbox today. In it was….

    1. A proposal with a cover letter that starts with the words, "Firstly and most importantly…"

    2. An incoherent sci-fi book proposal (even though it says clearly on my website that I don't do sci-fi) that was something about children, dogs, demons, and a white vase. No idea what the story was, although I'm sure it had deep meaning. 

    3. A proposal from a guy whose mailing address is a correctional facility.

    4. Two action-adventure novels,  neither any good, and both sent to me by people who haven't spent five minutes on my website to figure out who I am or what I'm looking for. One began with the words, "Dear Agent." The other had my name, and began with the words, "You probably won't like this, but…"

    5. A nonfiction book by a guy who claims that to become a Jesuit priest you have to murder a protestant (um… I'm not making that up).

    6. One very nice card from an author.

    7. Random business crap (apparently every bank on earth wants to offer me a credit card).

    8. A letter from the AARP. NO KIDDING. THE AAR-frickin'-P! Like they think I'm old or something.

    9. Two new books I represented — Lisa Samson's wonderful new novel RESURRECTION IN MAY, and Chad Gibbs' hilarious look at the role of faith and fanaticism in SEC football, entitled GOD AND FOOTBALL. 

    10. And a letter from a woman who sent me an unsolicited proposal for a book about her abortion. I sent back a short note saying that the book she's created won't sell, that there's no market for the book she is proposing. Her response was to send me this note:

    Hatcheting? Demolishing slowly? Destruction? Is that not your very identity? Your cruelty oozes. Do you perpetrate this innate meanness onto other writers? You haven't so much as

    Continue Reading "12 Deep Thoughts from my Mailbox"
  • August 17, 2010

    12 Deep Thoughts from my Mailbox

    by

    So I went to check my mailbox today. In it was….

    1. A proposal with a cover letter that starts with the words, "Firstly and most importantly…"

    2. An incoherent sci-fi book proposal (even though it says clearly on my website that I don't do sci-fi) that was something about children, dogs, demons, and a white vase. No idea what the story was, although I'm sure it had deep meaning. 

    3. A proposal from a guy whose mailing address is a correctional facility.

    4. Two action-adventure novels,  neither any good, and both sent to me by people who haven't spent five minutes on my website to figure out who I am or what I'm looking for. One began with the words, "Dear Agent." The other had my name, and began with the words, "You probably won't like this, but…"

    5. A nonfiction book by a guy who claims that to become a Jesuit priest you have to murder a protestant (um… I'm not making that up).

    6. One very nice card from an author.

    7. Random business crap (apparently every bank on earth wants to offer me a credit card).

    8. A letter from the AARP. NO KIDDING. THE AAR-frickin'-P! Like they think I'm old or something.

    9. Two new books I represented — Lisa Samson's wonderful new novel RESURRECTION IN MAY, and Chad Gibbs' hilarious look at the role of faith and fanaticism in SEC football, entitled GOD AND FOOTBALL. 

    10. And a letter from a woman who sent me an unsolicited proposal for a book about her abortion. I sent back a short note saying that the book she's created won't sell, that there's no market for the book she is proposing. Her response was to send me this note:

    Hatcheting? Demolishing slowly? Destruction? Is that not your very identity? Your cruelty oozes. Do you perpetrate this innate meanness onto other writers? You haven't so much as

    Continue Reading "12 Deep Thoughts from my Mailbox"
  • August 13, 2010

    Metaphors, Collaborations…and a Story

    by

    Daniel asked, “Is the ability to craft great similes and metaphors a gift, or can it be learned?”

    My guess is that it's a gift. I've watched some people in the industry and been amazed at their ability to "see" the link between one action and another. I wish I could do that.

    And his follow up question: “What are some good learning tips for creating great metaphors?”

    Beats me. I've never been good at metaphors. (Or, in metaphor, "When it comes to creating metaphors, I'm a lawn chair." See? Awful. I hate coming up with good metaphors.) Maybe you could just learn to steal the good ones.

    Lynn asked, “I've been asked to collaborate on a book with someone — what are some of the legal necessities I need to keep in mind?"

    It’s a random list, depending on the topic of the book, the audience, the authors… but here are a handful of suggestions:

    1. What's the subject of the book?

    2. How long will it be?

    3. How many words/chapters are each person's responsibility?

    4. What are the due dates for each?

    5. Who gets to pitch the idea? (me? the partner?)

    6. What's the split of the money? (50/50? 60/40? 70/30? In whose favor?)

    7. Are both names on the cover, the title page, the copyright?

    8. Who owns the finished product?

    9. Who has to get permissions?

    10. Who pays for permissions?

    11. Will each writer warranty their work?

    12. Will we promise each other not to create competing works?

    13. Who takes the lead with the publisher on things like title, subtitle, cover, art, etc?

    14. Is there a kill fee if the book is cancelled?

    15. If killed, who owns the work that's been done?

    16. Can either party withdraw? If so, how?

    17. Worst case #1: does moral turpitude effect this?

    18. Worst case #2: upon death, what happens to the

    Continue Reading "Metaphors, Collaborations…and a Story"
  • August 13, 2010

    Metaphors, Collaborations…and a Story

    by

    Daniel asked, “Is the ability to craft great similes and metaphors a gift, or can it be learned?”

    My guess is that it's a gift. I've watched some people in the industry and been amazed at their ability to "see" the link between one action and another. I wish I could do that.

    And his follow up question: “What are some good learning tips for creating great metaphors?”

    Beats me. I've never been good at metaphors. (Or, in metaphor, "When it comes to creating metaphors, I'm a lawn chair." See? Awful. I hate coming up with good metaphors.) Maybe you could just learn to steal the good ones.

    Lynn asked, “I've been asked to collaborate on a book with someone — what are some of the legal necessities I need to keep in mind?"

    It’s a random list, depending on the topic of the book, the audience, the authors… but here are a handful of suggestions:

    1. What's the subject of the book?

    2. How long will it be?

    3. How many words/chapters are each person's responsibility?

    4. What are the due dates for each?

    5. Who gets to pitch the idea? (me? the partner?)

    6. What's the split of the money? (50/50? 60/40? 70/30? In whose favor?)

    7. Are both names on the cover, the title page, the copyright?

    8. Who owns the finished product?

    9. Who has to get permissions?

    10. Who pays for permissions?

    11. Will each writer warranty their work?

    12. Will we promise each other not to create competing works?

    13. Who takes the lead with the publisher on things like title, subtitle, cover, art, etc?

    14. Is there a kill fee if the book is cancelled?

    15. If killed, who owns the work that's been done?

    16. Can either party withdraw? If so, how?

    17. Worst case #1: does moral turpitude effect this?

    18. Worst case #2: upon death, what happens to the

    Continue Reading "Metaphors, Collaborations…and a Story"