- Author News, Deals
- Bad Poetry
- Blog News
- Collaborating and Ghosting
- Current Affairs
- Deep Thoughts
- Favorite Books
- Marketing and Platforms
- Questions from Beginners
- Quick Tips
- Resources for Writing
- Social Media Critique
- The Business of Writing
- The Writing Craft
- Thursdays with Amanda
Category : Uncategorized
While our hardworking agents are attending BEA in New York this week, several authors are filling in with guest posts. Enjoy!
Rajdeep Paulus decided to be a writer during her junior year in high school after her English teacher gave her an “F” but told her she had potential. She studied English Literature at Northwestern University, and began writing on the island of Dominica, while her husband of two months biked down to campus to begin his first day of medical school. Fifteen years, four daughters, and a little house on a hill in the quaint town of Locust Valley later, she now writes YAFiction and blogs weekly In Search of Waterfalls.
I’m not the first newbie author to wade through the waters of marketing her first book with a bit of trepidation. Truth be told, when I learned that a writer’s job was not simply to write a great story, sit back and wait for readers to come in flocks to scoop up copies galore, I welcomed the challenge that lay before me. Simply because I’m a tad atypical to the hermit-writer stereotype: I love people and rubbing elbows with the world outside my writing cave.
So when I read a title like “The Extroverted Writer” by Amanda Luedeke, I think, oh, she’s talking about me! When, in fact, she’s composed a book chalk full of practical advice for all types of writers who find the whole marketing thing as messy as a knot on a bad hair-day morning. Something I am all too familiar with since I have four princesses. Hair balls up the ying-yang, but where was I?
Yes. The art of marketing your first book. How do you do it? Successfully? And how do you know how to proportion your time, giving yourself time to write, edit, market and still take time to breathe.
So I began my marketing momentum by brainstorming. A bunch of ideas
While our hardworking agents are attending BEA in New York this week, several authors are filling in with guest posts. Enjoy!
Keri Wyatt Kent writes and speaks on slowing down to listen to God, and occasionally tries to follow her own advice. She and her husband Scot have two teenage children and live in Chicago. This piece originally ran on Tim Fall’s blog.
In an oft-quoted lecture on women and fiction, Virginia Woolf remarked that a woman needs a room of her own if she is to write.
Woolf had been asked to lecture on women and fiction. Here’s a bit more of the context: “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.”
What is meant by “a room of her own” has been discussed countless times since Woolf said those words in 1928. It’s obvious she meant much more than a physical space with four walls to contain it. But certainly she was talking about some space, and boundaries to protect it (whether physical or metaphorical).
In the same lecture, Woolf noted that because of her gender, she was barred from walking on the lawn or even entering the library at the university she was visiting, unless accompanied by a man. Certainly independence and autonomy were part of what Woolf longed for and recommended.
I am a writer by profession, and if you take these requirements literally, I do indeed have both financial resources and a “room of my own.” The spare bedroom in our house is my office. And I earn my living—modest as it is—by writing.
Women have far greater access to resources than they did in Woolf’s day. And yet, sometimes we think we’re still not allowed in the library. We
Elizabeth Musser, an Atlanta native and the bestselling author of The Swan House, is a novelist who writes what she calls ‘entertainment with a soul.’ Her latest novel, Two Destinies, from The Secrets of the Cross trilogy, was recently nominated for a Christy Award.
Bonjour from just outside Lyon, France. My just-got-a-little older but still-sharp-as-a-tack agent, Chip, graciously invited me to write a post about my novella, Waiting for Peter, which was recently released as an e-book with MacGregor Literary. While I was thankful for the opportunity, it is a little daunting to follow all that bad poetry with a semi-serious post about, well, a dog. And a boy. And his mother.
But here I go.
Five years ago, my Dutch publisher, Kok-Uitgeverij Voorhoeve, asked me to write a novella for ‘The Week of the Christian Book’, a cool annual offer where, for one week, Christian bookstores throughout Holland give a free novella to customers who purchase over ten euros of products at their store. The only criteria given me was to work the story around the theme of animals.
And so I went about writing Waiting for Peter. I had plenty of inspiration for the story from personal experience with our loveable mutt, Beau, who is actually the dog on the cover of the novella. If you are a dog-lover, this next part will make sense. If not, it may sound a little heretical.
Throughout the years, I had often journaled about lessons I was learning from our dog as well as the way he ministered to our two sons as they navigated elementary school, Jr. High and high school. I also included in many journal entries how Beau was teaching me a lot about what my relationship with my Master, the Lord, should look like.
So I came up with the story—fictional, yes—but with some parts sounding a lot like those journal entries. Here’s a description of
Someone asked, “If someone feels a passion to write a book, what would you say should be the first steps (realizing most people want to fast-forward to the ‘contract’ stage)?”
Sometimes it seems as though everyone is writing a book. But a “passion” doesn’t constitute a “call,” of course. Neither does a “need” constitute a “call.” Nor does “a cool personal story, complete with miracle” constitute a call to write a book. I mean, I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, and I realize the world is made up of millions of people who apparently all want to be rock stars. But the desire to be a rock star doesn’t mean you can actually sing, or that people will pay money to come hear you sing. There’s a big difference between sounding pretty good in the church choir and asking people to plunk down $18.99 for your new CD at WalMart.
Let me explain it this way… I’m a pretty good swing dancer, and can usually make a beginner look okay as a partner on the dance floor. But there’s quite a difference between being a pretty good amateur dancer at the publisher’s ball and asking people to pay $65 to buy a ticket and come see me dance in a show. Writing is an art, and with any art it takes practice, training, creative vision, talent, and hard work. I too-frequently see people who want to do a book because they think they can make a fast buck, and they lack all of the above. Or they think they have a “lesson” to teach the world, and they feel a need to write it down — as though all of life’s lessons are publishing-worthy. Every book is a combination of a great idea, expressed through good writing, preferably from an author with a solid platform. Your great lesson may just be for you and those close
THE POWER OF A PERSONAL MEETING
I haven’t traveled much in the last six months, but I’ve just returned from a three-day conference. Though I fully registered for it, I only attended two conference events, but my time there was incredibly valuable and enriching regardless.
Aside from the three-hour-thaw-by-the-pool-mini-sabbatical I scheduled for myself on Friday afternoon before boarding the plane home, I spent every waking hour while there in pre-arranged meetings with editors and authors. In the end, when responding to questions about how my trip went, I heard myself say “I really enjoyed connecting with everyone!” And I today, I added several items to my task list newly motivated by an urge to help each of these people succeed in their roles.
Sure, when I requested time together, I had a project in mind. But as usual, I found that holding “my” agenda a bit loosely, and taking the position of investigator vs. sales person always returned a rewarding and gratifying encounter that will begin, or enrich, a long-term relationship.
There’s so much more to personal meetings than just “putting a face to a name.” When I meet an editor or other prospective associate in person, the encounter requires real listening. I’ve learned that more often than not, my “canned” speech goes out the window in favor of personal dialogue once an editor or prospective author and I start talking about whether what’s working well for them and how/if what they’re hoping to publish next aligns with the project(s) I’m interested in.
A side perk of meeting in person is that, unlike with email, I must also practice the art of keeping the conversation going in both directions. I’ll admit, I’m still working on controlling my tendency to be so terribly interruptive – an inexcusable habit that I still give into when I’m especially enthused about something.
As anonymous, and bottom-line, and impersonal as this business can sometimes feel,
I’ve been blessed. I’ll admit it. I broke in to both publishing and college textbook publishing when an unsolicited manuscript was opened, usually returned and sometimes had constructive comments scrawled on it. That’s a long time ago. But after I got my foot (feet?) into two doors, I found that the work had just started. A couple of decades later, here’s what I know about the writer’s life. None of this is unique to me, but if you catch a pattern in what most of your advisors are saying—it’s for a reason.
ONE: Write everyday. Don’t wait for the muse to come to you, entice the muse by writing. Most writers work at the same time every day and for about the same amount of time (or word count) each day. Resist the marathon session. When time allows, edit what you’ve already written instead or do the research for future writing. Resist stalling. A neat desk is not a substitute for 1000 useable words.
TWO: Write at the best time of day. For some, their best time is early morning; for others, it’s after work or even late evening. My longest book—a 365 day devotional Bible with 500-word essays each day—was written almost entirely outside my home. The bulk of it was written early each morning at a local coffee shop where everybody there knew what I was doing and gave me the space and the encouragement to do it. They were my “writers group,” and because of the nature of my book, they were a good one.
THREE: Write what you know. Your own experience and everyday observations should give you a wealth of information to begin. I started with my known field of mass communication and wrote a couple of books for the religious market on parenting children in a media age. It worked because, as a journalism professor, I had the academic
Guest post by Genny Heikka
When I first started my parenting blog several years ago, I had no idea what I was doing, other than I knew I wanted to share some of my writing and parenting articles with moms.
I was instantly struck by the sense of community online and the desire among moms to connect with each other. There seemed to be such an openness about all that comes with being a parent (the good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly), and it taught me to be more open in my own parenting journey.
It also helped me find my writing voice. I was encouraged and inspired by the stories and comments from women on my blog, and I wanted to find a way to bring more moms together and encourage them too.
So I began writing a book for moms. About seven months later, I finished the first draft of Finding Mommy Bliss.
That was in 2009.
I wrote a proposal for it, sent it to an agent (that would be Chip)… and held my breath, hoping he liked it.
The good news was, he did.
But the not-so-good news (for me at the time) was that he declined it, explaining that the market wasn’t right for that type of book just then, and that I needed to continue to build my platform. He said he’d be happy to look at it again in the future.
A few years passed and, after many revisions and edits to my manuscript, I emailed Chip to ask if he might still be interested in looking at the project.
He said yes.
And now, here it is several months later, Chip is my agent, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be part of the team represented by MacGregor Literary.
In between these happenings, I was invited to be one of the authors to take part in the launch of
Join us (Chip and Amanda) and Michael Hyatt, bestselling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson, for a complimentary LIVE teleseminar on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).
During this call you’ll have the ability to get your publishing questions answered by the three of us. You’ll also learn many of Michael’s insider secrets on getting published and building a platform for success.
The call will last about an hour. It’s free for all to join and there will be an MP3 recording / replay shared with all who register. When you register you will have the option to submit a question for us to answer
Q: What is a teleseminar?
A: Think of it as a giant conference call. You dial in (or listen via streaming web audio), along with others and listen while we share and answer questions.
Q: How much does this cost?
A: It’s free. If you choose to access the LIVE call via phone, you may incur standard long-distance charges if you choose a dial-in number that is not local to you (there are multiple dial-in number options). Other than that, no fee at all.
Q: What is the date and time?
A: The LIVE call will take place on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).
Q: How can I access the LIVE call?
A: You’ll have two options. Our call capacity is 3,000 total. Five hundred can access the call via phone, the rest via streaming web audio (listening via your computer). Access is on a first-come, first-served based on registration and which access option you chose. We will notify you prior to the call with the specific phone number and web address.
Q: I can’t make the LIVE call. Will there be a recording?
A: Yes, we’ll make the recording available to all who registered after
For decades, Authors have been told there are two things they really should do:
1. A website.
2. A newsletter.
The website is self-explanatory, and I’ll discuss it in more depth in another article. For now, it’s sufficient to say that when readers, booksellers, or industry professionals are interested in an author or intrigued by something an author did or said–or something else has spurred curiosity–these people first look to the author’s website to find out more about that author.
They often skip the search engine “search” and go straight to the author’s name followed by .com. That’s the biggest reason you’re always advised to try to get your name (or pseudonym, if you use one) and set your site up (author’s name).com.
The newsletter is a bit more tricky. There are multiple reasons why they’re a good idea. Here are a few:
1. It’s the author’s personal connection to the reader. A dialogue, if you will, that is between just the two of you.
2. It’s an efficient way to exchange information, to keep readers current on what’s going on with the author’s work.
3. It’s essential to notify readers of special events and special deals of interest to them. (For example, for one day or one month, a bookseller has reduced the price of your $15.99 book to $5.60. That’s helpful information for readers.
How to let them know brings us to newsletters, and that brings us to mailing lists: the means through which we can connect for those purposes. I hear authors groaning already about another writing-related task that keeps them from writing the books, but let me share that your mailing list is an enormously valuable asset. Why?
I touched on the personal connection and information sharing and awareness factors above. But this is also the author’s opportunity to create bonds. They’re important–to authors but also to readers. In your newsletter, readers see
How to Be a Christian Author without Embarrassing God
Tony Campolo wrote a book a while back titled Following Jesus without Embarrassing God. In it Campolo challenged Christians to let go of practices and attitudes that had very little to do with Jesus. Campolo’s goal was for more of Jesus to come through.
As an editorial director for Baker Publishing Group I work almost exclusively with Christian authors, which is both my joy and my passion. Every day I get to help authors write about the most sublime and sacred truths the world has ever known.
That’s why I want to write this post. Sometimes we Christians do things that make the rest of the world squirm, including other Christians. We are good news people, but sometimes we get in the way of the good news, and that includes me.
So, with a nod to Tony Campolo, I humbly submit the following ways to be a Christian author without embarrassing God.
Don’t say, “God told me your publishing house is supposed to publish my book.”
Whether God did or not, you don’t have to tell us about it. Honestly it freaks publishing people out, and we’re tempted to say back to you, “God told us to run away from you!”
One of the most powerful things we Christians can do is faithfully and transparently tell others why we believe. Avoid putting on airs.
Stop proof texting.
Proof texting is when you pull Scripture out of your butt to serve your own needs and make you sound smart or spiritual. Don’t do that. Have some respect for the text. Keep it contextual and organic.
Find some friends with whom you can be real about your struggles.
The thing I’ve noticed about high-profile Christian authors who end up in the news for moral failure is that they lose connection with, or never had, friends with whom they can be