• November 8, 2013

    SPREAD THE WORD! We’ve Moved.

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    Earlier this year, our agency moved to the Oregon coast. We love the new digs! We’re less excited about how much mail is still being sent to our old office address.

    For all regular US mail please use this address:

    PO Box 1316, Manzanita, OR 97130
    If sending something via UPS or FEDEX, our office address is: 158 Laneda Avenue, Manzanita, OR 97130. Please don’t send mail to our street address as Manzanita only delivers to PO Boxes. All phone numbers and email addresses remain unchanged. But please update our mailing address. Thanks!
    And though it’s not always sunny in Manzanita, days like when this pic was snapped make up for it.

    Chip MacGregor and Sandra Bishop

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • November 7, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Social Media Overload

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    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. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    When I first started using Facebook, it was really a member’s only type of site. It was a site for you and your friends and others like you. You had to be a college student with a college email address in order to register. I mean THAT’s how closed-off it was. Eventually, it opened up to high school students. And then in what I imagine was an attempt to not exclude homeschoolers, and other less traditional students, it opened up even more, allowing people to register using any old email account.

    And now…

    I log in to my Facebook account, stare at my news feed and realize that I don’t know half of the people showing up in it. I check my number of friends: 726. …and I can’t help but feel that I haven’t even met that many people on earth, let alone that I feel close enough to them to consider them “friends.”

    I’ve noticed that numerous Facebook “Friends” have gone on Facebook sabbaticals lately. What used to be a thing that would happen maybe once a year to one of my “friends” now seems to be a monthly occurrence. There always seems to be someone who is announcing a FB break-up. Someone who has decided to take a day, a week, a month off. Someone who has had it with the weird sense of responsibility and addiction that social media can cause in a person’s life.

    I’m not gonna lie: I used to think this was a bit silly. I mean who lets Facebook–FACEBOOK–spiral so

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  • November 5, 2013

    The word from the marketing seminar…

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    I’m just back from our MacGregor Literary Marketing Seminar in Chicago, had a wonderful time with more than 50 authors we represent, and enjoyed the Windy City. One of the discussion points that came up at the gathering was the topic of career planning for writers.

    As regular readers know, I have a background in organizational development — that is, the study of how an organization grows and changes over time. In my job as a literary agent, I’ve found it’s proven very helpful when talking to writers about their careers. You see, my contention is that some agents pay lip service to “helping authors with career planning,” but many don’t really have a method for doing that. (Actually, from the look of it, some don’t even know what it means. I think “career planning” to some agents is defined as “having a book contract.”) During my doctoral program at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), I served as a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Career Planning and Placement Office. The focus was on helping people graduating in the arts figure out how to create a career plan, and that experience allowed me the opportunity to apply the principles of organizational theory to the real-world setting of those trying to make a living with words. So here are a few things I like to consider when talking with a writer…

    First, I want to get to know the author. Who is he (or she)? What’s the platform he brings to the process? Does she speak? If so, where, how often, to whom, to how many, and on what topics? Does he have experience with other media? What kind? What’s her message? What books has she done in the past? What other writing is the author doing that could boost the platform?

    Second, I want to find out about the author’s past – the significant events and accomplishments. I also like

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  • November 1, 2013

    Writing as Marketing (a guest blog)

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    When I put my mind to marketing, something I have noticed is that things feed in to each other.  As I am not outgoing by nature, ‘putting myself out there’ has not worked well for me, but a strategy that has succeeded and suits the person I am, is to keep writing.  After a while it seems one becomes somehow established just by having enough writing published.  I write (paid or unpaid) in every magazine or journal that gives me an opportunity, and I keep plugging away at writing my own books.  People who have read one thing I’ve written seek out another, so the writing itself becomes a marketing tool.  Only this last week a friend on the other side of the world wrote to say she has suspended a simple-living pledge, to pre-order a copy of a Lent book I have coming out with Monarch.  She knew about the book because she came to my blog and saw it.  She came to the blog because she, like other semi-regular readers, was attracted by the post on The Breath of Peace, my new book in The Hawk & the Dove series, and discovered on Facebook where I posted the link.

    Meanwhile the editor of a magazine, where I write a regular column, has allowed me to make my new book the focus of this month’s column, and to supply three copies of The Breath of Peace and three of the initial trilogy of the series, as give-aways.  Sure, it cost me quite a bit to supply the free copies – but I’m thinking of it as sowing seeds.

    My blog and Facebook are my main sales stalls.  The blog is a way of offering freebie writing to people, because I blog on what I think and believe, not promotional material.  If I do have a new book out, I write an article about it that has something

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  • October 31, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Using Google to Find Your Readership

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    Amanda Luedeke is a zombie literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform and eating brains. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her cravings for human flesh and wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    This weekend, we’re having our annual MacGregor Literary marketing seminar, where we invite our authors to come out to Chicago (this year, we opened it up to the general public, as well!), set up camp in a hotel conference room, and talk nothing but marketing for an entire day.  For an industry comprised primarily of introverts, I’d say the word “exhausting” barely begins to cover how this event makes authors feel. And yet we’ll see fifty-plus authors who have dusted off their luggage, said goodbye to the comfort of their pajama-friendly workspaces, and braced themselves for a barrage of smalltalk and awkwardness…all because they realize the single truth that can make, break, or change an author’s career:

    Careers are built on great sales numbers. They aren’t built on awards or fan mail or an extensive publishing history. They aren’t built on publishing with the biggest houses and befriending the most top-selling authors and contracting multiple books in a year.

    They’re built on the number of copies sold. And the only way an author can ensure that they have truly done all they can to get those numbers is to promote, promote, promote.

    It is as this point–when the book begins to earn money for the publisher–that it is no longer seen as a risk, but instead, an investment. A wonderful, magical investment for which the publisher will do anything to keep.

    And so, we’ll be spending a weekend, going over this essential part of the puzzle. My contribution this

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  • October 29, 2013

    How do I go about getting an agent?

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    Someone wrote to ask, “Can you tell me the basics of how to get an agent, when to get an agent, and how the agent relationship works?”

    I have responded to this basic question in the past, so let me repeat some of my old ideas…

    First, remember I’m a literary agent, so I’m either “experienced” or “biased,” depending on your position. I’ve been in the publishing business for a couple decades now, full time as an agent for the last 15 or so. I made my living as an author and, later, as an editor before I fell away from the Lord and became an agent. I was with one of the top literary agencies in the business for many years, and now I’m out on my own – so I admittedly have my own perspective. Second, I’m pretty successful at what I do, in a business where some people call themselves “agents” but don’t seem to know what they’re doing (and, consequently, don’t last very long), I’m fairly well known in the industry and, by and large, have developed a pretty good reputation (more evidence for the existence of God). Feel free to ask around and see what others say. Third, most people who know me will tell you that I’m not an agent evangelist. I happen to know there are some very good things a literary agent can do for you (no matter what that dipstick Konrath says), but I’ll be the first one to tell you that not everybody needs an agent. And I’m fairly safe in talking about this because I’ve been saying the same stuff for years.  So I’m going to give you my opinion…

    When NOT to get an agent:

    -When you’re not a proven writer. Generally, publishers are looking for great ideas, expressed through great writing, and offered by a person with a great platform. Sometimes they get all three, usually

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  • October 29, 2013

    Spread the Word — We’ve Moved

    by

    Earlier this year, our agency moved to the Oregon coast. We love the new digs! We’re less excited about how much mail is still being sent to our old office address.

    For all regular US mail please use this address:

    PO Box 1316, Manzanita, OR 97130

    If sending something via UPS or FEDEX, our office address is: 158 Laneda Avenue, Manzanita, OR 97130. Please don’t send mail to our street address as Manzanita only delivers to PO Boxes.
    And though it’s not always sunny in Manzanita, days like when this pic was snapped make up for it.

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  • October 28, 2013

    What do I need to know about agents?

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    Someone wrote to ask, “With all the changes in publishing these days, what do I really need to know about agents?” Let me offer a dozen thoughts…

    1. Do your homework before selecting an agent. DON’T sign up with somebody just because they say they’re an agent and they want to represent you. I know that’s a temptation, but this is a professional relationship. Would you go to a guy’s office for your health problems just because he claims to be a doctor? Ask around. Check him out. This is the biggest mistake people make with agents, in my view. This past year at ACFW you could toss a rock in the air and when it came down it would most likely hit somebody claiming to be an “agent.” Um… these guys are going to be taking your ideas and helping you sign legal agreements regarding them. Don’t take that lightly.

    2. Be wary of any agent who charges a fee or advertises what the charge is to work with them. That’s a total violation of the guidelines for the Association of Author Representatives (and, in fact, those agents wouldn’t be allowed as members of AAR). There are a couple fairly successful agents in CBA who do that. It’s unethical, and authors should stay away, if they want to keep from being scammed. On the other hand, I was VERY glad to have someone write and tell me that “Steve Laube is my agent and he’s good.” Don’t we all get tired of people sort of beating around the bush, telling us one person is bad and another is good, but never mentioning names? The fact is, Steve IS good. So is Joel Kneedler at Alive, as well as Janet Grant and Wendy Lawton and Rachelle Gardner and Natasha Kern and Greg Daniel and Karen Solem and Greg Johnson and Andrea Heinecke and Robert Wolgemuth and Sandra Bishop and Amanda

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  • October 27, 2013

    Writing Out of the Box (a guest blog)

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    My novel Digging Up Death, the one Chip signed me with five or six years ago, made its debut last year at this time. Yes, I know. I did the math (and the waiting,) and the fact that it didn’t sell right away had nothing to do with the efforts of my brilliant, hard working, loyal agent. (Brownie points, Chip?)

    From the feedback I got, I believe it had more to do with it not being a good fit or timing, or something. for the inspirational fiction market. Then we shopped around another, similar story. The comments from editors: “Too edgy, not CBA enough, too melancholy.” Again, the project just didn’t fit. Big surprise? I was beginning to see a pattern, and starting to think my stories were just never going to fit the Christian market. Or maybe I didn’t fit as an author?

    And maybe that realization was a good thing.

    Really? How could not fitting the market be a good thing?

    Okay, maybe it wasn’t good for my bottom line, but I have to put a positive spin on things in this business or I’m in trouble. So back to not fitting the market being a good thing… Let’s face it, every novel preaches something. There’s some kind of faith or world view in every story. And your novel will speak what you believe, no matter if it’s pro-Christian or anti-Christian, pro-faith or anti-faith.

    But faith in your fiction shouldn’t be about fitting into a mold or a box someone else built. It should be about sharing the unique story you have inside you — your faith as you see it, as you believe it, as you live it, because chances are there are readers out there who see it just like you and need to hear your message of faith.

    That’s all good, but I want to make money at this.

    So do I. And you

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  • October 26, 2013

    What did the publisher do to help make the novel succeed?

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    Recently I had a couple writers ask me about two particular novels that did well in the market. In both cases I had been the agent for the books, and they wanted to know what the publisher had done to help make each book a success. I can think of a number of things that were done well, and I think they offer a model for others to follow…

    First, in both cases the authors spent a couple years building a readership for her writing through websites. That took a lot of patient work and investment by the authors, and it helped immensely (and I realize that’s not a publisher activity, but I bring it up because it wouldn’t be fair to talk about the success of the novels without that fact). Both authors worked tirelessly at marketing, which also helped. I’m one of those who realizes writers don’t get into this business to become “marketers” — they want to be writers, so investing a bunch of time into marketing is a sacrifice. Both of these authors made that sacrificed and did the hard work to make their books succeed.

    Second, each author wrote a very good novel. The publisher’s role in that was to push the writers to make their books better. The editors weren’t satisfied to let the novels be adequate — they pushed them toward greatness. So I think the publisher really believed in the books. That may sound trite, but I think it makes a difference. A publisher can’t believe in every book — no matter what they say, the lists are too long, and there’s only so much time to invest. They need to spend the bulk of their energies on their current bestsellers, since that’s close to being a guaranteed source of income. It’s tough to invest a lot of time, money, and manpower on a newer author who may or may not pan

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