Friday, April 30, 2010

Lets Talk Statistics by Terry Burns

I had a terrible time with statistics in college. I barely passed and even then I think it was the mercy of the professor. But now? I keep logs of submissions I make for my clients, logs of submissions that I have worked, logs of sales, and all of them automatically total up a variety of things. They can tell some interesting things.

One thing I often point out when I am presenting workshops is that 85% of all manuscripts will never be significantly published. People just don't spend the time learning their craft or doing submissions the proper way to be successful. They take themselves out of consideration more than they are actually being rejected. But this also means people that are really in the game are only up against 15% of what is available for sale. The 15% tend to be the people who are agented and being aggressively pitched to editors.

My logs bear this out. I have taken 60 clients out of over 2000 submissions. I am pitching 185 projects on them, or 9.25% of the projects that have been submitted to me. I have 47 proposals pending for me to consider them which means I have turned down 91.88% of submissions. That's a bit more than the 85% but then I'm getting close to my client capacity so the number is going up.

At present I have 221 proposals out and under consideration for these clients. Those are the ones that are still active out of the 746 that have gone out since I've been an agent. I've sold 62, which is 12% of the total proposals I have sent less the ones that are still in play.

These numbers (sales) would be less than a high profile or more experienced agent, but not too out of line across the industry on a percentage success to submission ratio. A large agency would have a number of agents feeding into the process and generating a large number of contacts and submissions but resulting in similar percentage numbers on the number of submissions out into the marketplace per agent.

One number in the log that is not particularly significant except as a matter of interest is the fact that I include the word count in the entry if it was given (everyone should have given it but quite a number of them don't). This column also totals and currently says that I have had 75,474,226 words submitted for my consideration. No wonder I have five editorial assistants helping me read, and of course on a bulk of them only the sample chapters were read or only so far as it took to determine that it simply was not a contender.

What do all these numbers mean? It means this business is very competitive and backs up the fact that most people are not doing what they need to do to meet that competition. Those that are, in fact, are only competing against 15% or less of those making submissions. Unfortunately, instead of doing what they need to do to raise their submission up to where it needs to be in order to be successful, quite a number of them will simply put it out themselves to avoid doing it. There are a lot of good reasons to self-publish but putting an inferior product out to keep from having to do the work to make it competitive is not one of them.

Who would have thought that statistics course would have ever come in handy?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Updates in the Publishing Industry brought to you by Diana

Recently some good news is circulating through the online sites that report on the CBA market. I thought I would share some of the recently posted info that I found interesting and encouraging.

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA),, is an international non-profit trade organization, comprised of over 150 member companies worldwide, representing a combined revenue of nearly $2 billion. Founded in 1974, ECPA is dedicated to serving the Christian publishing industry through equipping its members through cutting-edge technology, meaningful data, dynamic educational opportunity and unprecedented access to markets.

They recently announced some great news for Christian Publishing as well as a list of the Retailers Choice Awards winners for 2010 in their newsletter Rush to Press.

Phoenix, Arizona—Christian publishers have reported increased sales for the month of March over the same month last year and are also showing an increase in net sales (Sales-Returns) for the first three months of 2010. The month of March saw a gross sales increase of just over 1% and a net sales increase of 8% for March and 2% for the quarter. This is the first time the group has seen a positive change in net sales in over a year.

The 2010 winners were:


  • Audio: The Love Dare, Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick (Brilliance Audio)
  • Auto/Biography: Paul Harvey’s America, Stephen Mansfield and David A. Holland (Tyndale House Publishers)
  • Bible Reference/Study: The Names of God, Ann Spangler (Zondervan)
  • Bible (Devotional & Study): Couples’ Devotional Bible, NIV (Zondervan)
  • Bible (General): Bloom Collection (Zondervan)
  • Catholic/Liturgical: The Liturgical Year, Joan Chittister (Thomas Nelson)
  • Children’s Fiction: The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks, Jan & Mike Berenstain (Zonderkidz)
  • Children’s Nonfiction: The VeggieTales Bible, NIV (Zonderkidz)
  • Christian Education: Christian History Made Easy, Timothy Paul Jones, Ph.D. (Rose Publishing)
  • Christian Living (For this category only, we have two winners):

    Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World, Dr. David Jeremiah (Thomas Nelson)

    Forgotten God, Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski (David C. Cook)

  • Church & Culture: 2012, the Bible and the End of the World, Mark Hitchcock (Harvest House Publishers)
  • Evangelism: Evidence for the Resurrection, Josh and Sean McDowell (Regal Books)
  • Fiction (General): The Missing, Beverly Lewis (Baker Publishing Group)
  • Fiction (Mystery & Suspense): Green, Ted Dekker (Thomas Nelson)
  • Fiction (Women’s): A Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers (Tyndale House Publishers)
  • Health and Fitness: Eat This and Live!, Don Colbert, MD (Strang Book Group)
  • Personal Growth/Prayer: Uncommon, Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker (Tyndale House Publishers)
  • Relationships: The Love Dare Day by Day, Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick (B&H Publishing Group)
  • Social Issues: Inside the Revolution, Joel C. Rosenberg (Tyndale House Publishers)
  • Women’s Nonfiction: His Princess Bride, Sheri Rose Shepherd (Baker Publishing Group)
  • Youth/Teen: A Young Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices, Elizabeth George (Harvest House Publishers)


  • General Gift Product: Willow Tree: Close to Me, Susan Lordi (Demdaco)
  • Gift Book: Jesus Lives, Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)
  • Wall Décor: Moments of Faith Sculpture Plaque Eagle #11700 (Lighthouse Christian Products)


  • Backlist: Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (Thomas Nelson)
  • Children’s Media: Saint Nicholas—A Story of Joyful Giving DVD, VeggieTales (Big Idea)
  • DVD/Video: Book/Bible Study: Crazy Love, Francis Chan (David C. Cook)
  • DVD/Video: Movie: Fireproof (Provident Films)
  • Marketing/Promotion Campaign: Share the Good News of Christmas (Crossway)
  • Music: Come Alive, Mark Schultz (Word Entertainment)
  • Spanish: Santa Biblia de studio arquelogica, NVI (Zondervan)
  • Vacation Bible School: High Seas Expedition (Group Publishing)

Publishing Trends wrote:

Annette Tonti, CEO of mobile publisher MoFuse, predicted that 2% of the U.S. population will own Kindles by 2013, with 7.5 million active Kindles and $813 million in annual Kindle e-book revenues. But iPhone apps are the subject of most of the excitement and innovation in the mobile app world, even though the number of book-related apps is currently dwarfed by those of e-books on single-use reading devices.

The number of Book apps available in the iTunes Store (27,235) eclipsed that of other kinds of apps for the first time last month, reported app research company Mobclix. But according to a recent report by Dutch research firm Distimo, books still make up less than 5% of the apps actually downloaded.

Odds and Ends of Information:

A February 2009 study found that Twitter is the third largest social-networking site, after Facebook and MySpace. Many people and companies have ventured their ways on in the past year; it was ranked #22 in 2008. It has nearly six million users and 55 million monthly visits. Meanwhile, people are spending less time on MySpace and visiting it less often, as Twitter use surges.

In a February Abrams Research Social Media Survey of “over 200 social media leaders” from the U.S. and Canada,” 40% of respondents chose Twitter as the #1 social media service for businesses, with LinkedIn at a distant second. One survey respondent described Twitter as “the quickest way I’ve seen to spread information virally to a wide scope of people attached in a lot of random ways,” while another said it’s the “best way to bridge the personal-professional gap.

Personal Note:

I recently set up a Twitter account but have only tweeted a few times. I am wanting to make sure that I have something worth Tweeting about.After reading a few articles last evening, I need to just dive in and get started. Come join me there. We will give each other Grace as we learn together the best ways to use this network tool.

Have a nice day. I pray you all are enjoying Spring in your part of the world.
From my heart to yours,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Terry's Client Max Elliott Anderson guest blogger

As a child, I never liked to read. When I mention this to someone today, I can anticipate the reaction. Their mouth drops open in disbelief, followed by a gasp. “You’re kidding!” often follows. That’s probably because I’m also the author of a number of action-adventures and mysteries especially written for other boys who may be facing similar difficulties.

I used to think that a reluctant reader was simply someone who hadn’t found the right book yet. But the causes may go deeper than that.

At the outset, it’s important to understand our terms. Parents must be certain that, if facing a struggling, reluctant reader, there aren’t any problems with vision, neurological issues, or other medical conditions that might hamper reading. These should be diagnosed by professionals, but here are some things to look for.

Difficulty with vision.

Does he have good posture while reading?

In addition to vision, a child may suffer from ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia, or other learning disabilities.

For the purposes of exploring reluctant or struggling readers, let’s say that you’ve had your child tested, and we can rule out vision or medical problems. What is your next step toward getting him interested in reading?

Start with audio books. In some cases, this is used while also holding a copy of the same book. A child is able to both see and hear the words at the same time, and practice following along.

Select a book that is below grade level. You may also want to experiment with comic books, graphic novels, or magazines like Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, and others.

Some have found success by using electronic readers like Kindle and iPad.

Recently a study was released which noted that nearly 80 percent of children 6 and under, read or are read to in an average day. But it went on to say that children spend an average of 49 minutes with books in that same average day, compared with 2 hours and 22 minutes sitting in front of a television or computer screen.

If your child avoids reading in every way possible - choosing video games, or the computer over reading - you might set those activities aside as rewards. You can say, “After you’ve read for thirty minutes, or an hour,” for example, “then you may spend time doing those other things.” Here are some other ideas.

Read aloud with your child.

Get rid of distractions.

Above all, make reading fun.

Have your child try reading to a dog, a cat, a doll, or stuffed animal.

Look for high interest, low vocabulary books called Hi-Lo.

Anytime I’m asked if reading is really all that important, I give several reasons why it is, and add that readers are the leaders others follow.

-Books For Boys Blog

-Author Web Site

Friday, April 23, 2010

Diana's client Doug Varrieur talks about his guest spot on the 700 Club

Every once in a while, as agents, we experience highlights along our career path. One of the sweetest highlights for me recently was scheduling my client, author Doug Varrieur on a 700 Club segment and sitting in the studio audience that day to witness it.

Doug shared helpful, life changing information, found in his newly released book, Fat to Skinny Fast and Easy, (Sterling Publishers, Jan 2010) resulting in such great feedback they have rescheduled him for a return visit June 2nd.

Doug this title, Fat to Skinny Fast and Easy, was birthed from your personal experience. At age 46 you lost more than 100 LBS and have kept it off. When folks get a chance to meet you it is quickly evident that you are passionate about helping others lose the weight they carry. Do you ever tire of speaking about hidden sugars and the danger to ones’ health overeating sugar is? How does this support your mission?

I’ve watched the downturn in American health and I know the suffering first hand that being overweight and having diabetes can cause. I realize the pain many people are in, adults, children and entire families. I weep when I think of an entire generation of kids that will live a shorter life span than their parents. I get angry as I see the lack of commitment from the government and medical community to make the obvious known. Do I ever tire speaking the truth about SUGAR and foods that metabolize into SUGAR…..No…. If you had the cure for cancer could you keep it to yourself? I have the cure for obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, formally known as SUGAR Diabetes and I won’t keep it to myself. Someone MUST reveal the truth to our people, that someone is me.

Can you share here a bit about your experience preparing for and taping the Skinny Wednesdaysegment for the 700 Club at CBN studios? I would imagine it was quite different than doing a radio interview.

The staff at the 700 Club were very professional and gracious. I travel from place to place doing TV interviews. I usually get into town a day ahead of time and hit the grocery store and a couple of restaurants for my “props” During my televised presentation I reveal the hidden sugar in a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner. This requires laying out meals, beverages, sugar, plates, bowls measuring cups etc… I contacted the producer in advance to make sure I had enough time prior to our segment to shop. She laughed and requested a prop list and instructed me not to worry, everything would be set up when I arrived in the studio. It made me smile when I walked in and indeed everything was set up per my instructions. I felt like an honored guest and I was very comfortable with the entire crew. The only preparation I did was to get a good night’s sleep in their wonderful hotel, THE FOUNDERS INN the night before the segment.

What exactly was your schedule like on the day of the taping?

It was very structured and moved right along. 7:20 am off to the studio, 8:00-8:30 rehearsal, 8:30-8:50 make-up, 9:00, in green room waiting to go live.

Did you enjoy promoting your book in this venue, and do you care to share any personal highlights from this?

Being on TV is a breeze if you remember a couple simple rules. Minutes go very quickly so it’s important to prioritize your presentation information so you can get it all in. Always look at the host or hostess and forget about the cameras. In most cases there are three cameras working and it’s difficult to stay on track if you’re trying to also follow the cameras. Don’t sell your book or your website, “teach” your information and allow the host or hostess to bring up your book. You’re there to entertain the audience of the network. Always write back to the anchor and producer and request a short media reference for other potential producers to read. This way they’ll know in advance how you handle yourself.

What kind of response have you received since appearing on the 700 Club. Has it increased your book sales? Sent more folks to your website?

For two weeks solid FAT TO SKINNY Fast and Easy has been the #1 selling adult Sterling title at Barnes and Noble nationwide. Ranking on Amazon shot up to #32 with #1 position in three different Amazon book categories and stayed in the top 100 on for a week. Over the past two weeks since the 700 club interview I’ve had over 10,000 page views on my website and yes…..many book sales.

What are some of the other creative ways you have promoted your books?

Over and above radio and TV you’ll find an impressive web presence for my books. I think at last count there were 26 back to back Google pages on my name, Doug Varrieur. FAT TO SKINNY ranks #1 for a couple strong key words and phrases and my videos can be found on hundreds of web sites. I promote through the social networks as well like Facebook and Myspace. I keep in constant contact with readers and potential readers through my free support forum located at Here anyone who needs my help can register and get free weight loss support whether they bought any of my books or not. Check it out, it’s a great place to meet people of “like mind”.

Do you have other titles we can look forward to seeing from you?

FAT TO SKINNY is a series of 4 books with a fifth in progress, here’s the titles;

FAT TO SKINNY Fast and Easy!

FAT TO SKINNY Low Sugar Low Carb Cookbook

FAT TO SKINNY Low Sugar Low Carb Product Guide

FAT TO SKINNY Sugar and Carb Counter

The fifth book in progress is the FAT TO SKINNY Low Sugar Low Carb Bakery. It should be finished in about 3 months….lots to bake and test eat .

I also offer a title called THE CHERRY TREE which is a wonderful self help book based on my life’s experiences.

You have quite a schedule in the coming weeks, flying coast to coast doing more TV and Radio. Joyce and Diana are proud to have booked you on Cornerstone Television near them, and they look forward to seeing you face to face in the ‘Burgh.

Before we say goodbye and allow you to get back to your fans, tell the reader where they might find out more about you.

My website is,

My blog address is



CBN Segment clip:

Doug, any last words for our readers?

Yes, thanks for taking the time to read this interview and please feel free to contact me if I can be of any help to you or your family.

Blessings to all.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Book is self published by Terry Burns

"My book is self-published and now I need an agent to take it to a bigger publisher." Or perhaps "Should I take my self published book to show to an editor at a conference?"

I get several self-published books a day. First let me say I have no problem with self-published books, I've done a couple myself. That is, I don't have a problem if it was a business decision to do it and not just because the author didn't want to do the work necessary to traditionally publish.

But is it a viable strategy to circumvent the process and take a short cut to a major publisher? I hate to have to say it, because I know it isn't what authors want to hear, but once a book has been published whether self published or by other means, it is in print and to take it to a larger publisher generally means selling reprint rights. When I say that many respond, "but I retained the rights for it." It isn't about owning the rights to the book, it's about the fact that once a book is in print the first rights are gone, no matter who published it. First rights are what a publisher primarily wants to buy, and a book can only be published for the first time once. That means it's a reprint project or has to be offered as a new book which often requires a major rewrite.

Few publishers want reprint rights, and those that will look at them want to see sales figures up in the four figures that will show them the book deserves further print and promotion. As I said, there are a lot of good reasons to self publish, particularly if a book is aimed at a regional or limited market and the author recognizes that they will be doing the primary sales and marketing. However, as a strategy to get a book out in order to interest a major publisher in it, that strategy very seldom works and those times when it did work it was because of significant sales.

And how is an editor likely to see it if you bring a finished book to an interview to pitch it? A lot of self published books have poor covers or poor editing (which has a lot to do with opinions the industry holds of self-publishing) but let's assume neither is the case. To the editor we are showing them the book has already been done so a lot of editors are going to think we are offering them used goods. Were it to catch their interest their first question would be about those pesky sales numbers.

Most of the time the odds against taking a previously published book and trying to get a major publisher interested are too long for me unless there are some really good sales numbers. Our best means of getting those books in print with somebody else is to get the next one published, do well with it and establish a relationship, and try to get our earlier books in behind it with the same publisher.

Still, the agency has done something with a few self-published titles if there were some decent sales and it was a really outstanding book. But I mentioned that I get a number of them each day. How many have been able to make that next step? A handful. Is it a viable means to interest a major publisher? Very seldom.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Diana present’s Guest blogger Jena Morrow

Today Diana present’s Guest blogger Jena Morrow. Jena had the privilege of receiving her first copies of her soon to be released book, HOLLOW from Moody Publishers Thursday. She shares with us here a few excerpt posts from her I’m Just Saying blog.

Heartwarming post from a reader . . .
Posted: 15 Apr 2010 09:05 AM PDT

Received this today from a young woman via Facebook private message and she has agreed to allow me to share it. I am humbled and blessed to think that God would use my random confessions and musings to reach and touch others. How cool that He could do it without us, and yet He chooses to use us. I'll never get over the wonder of that.

Chelsey says . . . "I just came across your page after seeing a post on Remuda Ranch's wall and I decided to read over the blogs listed on your info. They are wonderfully convicting and remind me that although every day is a battle to not engage in self-hate and remain in recovery, there is unceasing hope and grace at the hands of our Father.

I don't know you but I also cannot adequately express my gratitude. After going into organ failure at the age of 18 (I'm 21 now), I was sent to Remuda entirely against my will. I've never felt more understood or loved, and for once I felt like I was allowed to heal -- that I didn't have to remain sucked into the lies I'd been told my entire life and that it was really okay to be okay, in fact, maybe I deserved that.

Anyway, that's just a short musing of my story. Know that your blogs are rays of light in the continual fight to truly live.
Love, Chelsey

P.S. I just saw you have a memoir being released in a couple weeks! That's awesome!"

Thank you again, Chelsey, for reaching out. I wish you all the best in your recovery and in your journey. Stay well! Continue to CHOOSE LIFE!

And another post:

Sunday, February 21, 2010
Remembering Cindy (A Personal Challenge)

This week marks the five-year anniversary of the death of a dear friend of mine, Cindy Ward. Cindy died of complications of anorexia at the age of 29—ironically, right at the beginning of Eating Disorder Awareness Week in 2005. This time of year, then, is always bittersweet for me as I see the efforts and outreach events planned to help raise awareness and educate people about the very thing which stole my friend’s life out of season.

Five years is both a short time and a long time, depending on one’s perspective—it’s a short time, for example, to be married; it’s a long time to be a prisoner of war. It’s a short time to enjoy the life of a child—and a very long time to live without the child after her passing.

We can do a lot in five years time, can’t we? I was thinking last night about all the things that have happened, just in my own singular, fleeting-as-vapor life in the five years since Cindy passed away. I’ve gone from mother-of-a-toddler to mother-of-a-second-grader. I watched my grandmother take her last breath. I’ve changed jobs twice. I bought a house. I got laid off. I wrote a book. And I got to wondering what might have happened in Cindy’s life that she never lived to see or accomplish. Would she have gotten married? Had a child? Gone back to school? Written a book or gone on a mission trip or shared her faith with dying hearts? She might have. But her own dying heart beat her to the punch.

I truly believe Cindy didn’t see it coming. Even after multiple heart attacks before age thirty, she didn’t really think she’d die. If she had known, she would have done things differently. I just know this.

So, naturally, I got to feeling philosophical and weepy about it all. It’s become a cliché, to lament that life is short, our days are numbered, blah, blah, blah. It’s become so trite, I think, that we forget that it is true—and we never know for whom it will be true next. What if it’s me? Or you? What do we want to do before our number is up? If it’s something huge and seemingly insurmountable, shouldn’t we at least give it a shot so it can be said that we died trying?

I’m not sad for Cindy; I know where she is and Who she is with. And I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that even if she could come back here, she wouldn’t—not for one minute. I’m not even all that sad for myself anymore, as I was when she first passed. It dulls after a while, the longing for one last hug, one more email or card or phone call. We move from grieving to acceptance—and maybe we even feel a little guilty about that as the grief becomes lighter and lighter a burden. What I’m sad about is the loss of what could have been—how Cindy could have contributed to the world over the past five years. She could have done so much with her talents, her generous spirit, her kind heart. And I’ll never know exactly what.

But all of you who are reading this are still here. And not to be morose, but of those who will read this, one of you will be next to leave this Earth. Someone has to be. Maybe it will be you. Or me. If it is, are we making the most of our time until we graduate out of this world? Are we chasing a dream or working on a goal or loving to the fullest of our hearts’ potential? I can’t answer for you; I can only answer for myself, and I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m not. I’ve gotten complacent in a few areas. I’m dragging my feet on some things for fear of failure. And really, what’s the worst that could happen?

I know my friend, and if she could come back for five minutes, I think she would tell us to shrug off the fear that binds us and go for it—whatever our particular “it” is.

So . . . shall we?

In joyful, loving memory:

Cindy Ward (1975-2005)
“Cowgirl up, Cindy!”

Jena’s book HOLLOW is dedicated to Cindy.

In the opening endorsements, author Jane Rubietta says, “Not just a haunting tale of a wicked disorder, but the story of a tenacious God who does not give up on His children. Jena’s story offers reality and hope to millions of people (not counting their relatives and friends) impacted by eating disorders.

Jill Flegal, a licensed counselor at Crossroads Counseling and Care Center writes, “In Jena’s words, it is a ‘cautionary tale’ told by one who tarried in the darkness, but who no longer lives there. Jena’s story moves beyond the slippery darkness into the strength of relationship with the living God. Just as her decent into anorexia was no solitary journey, so her wading into God’s mercy requires journey companions. Jena came to know her place in the grandest of all love stories. It’s the love story every one of us needs to hear, because it was written for each one of us.

One in every 200 Americans struggle with anorexia nervosa. Let’s pray that many of them through this book will be led to freedom in Christ and subsequent victory.

In prayer toward this end and from my heart to yours,


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Writing for the Lord by Terry Burns

Continuing our series of reporting on conferences that are upcoming or conferences we have attended to help people make decisions about where to go, this is the second time I have gone to this conference and it is an excellent one. ETBU does a most professional job of putting it on, the campus is beautiful, they have a great faculty, all of the conference is in one convenient place and I recommend it highly.

This conference has been held for many years but not last year. I told them that was very considerate for them to not hold it since I had broken my heel and could not attend. Actually, I believe they were simply in the process of moving it to a different date. This move was terrific as the weather could not have been better, shirt sleeve weather, neither too hot nor too cold. The conference runs a day and a half in a very concentrated format. Great regional conference.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I had changed the keynote I was about to give at the Heart of America conference in Kansas City at the last moment and after I did it a number of people came up and said it addressed a very urgent current need. At this conference I found myself taking my "Using Fiction to Spread God's Word" workshop in a new direction that I had neither planned nor decided in advance to do. It just happened. Again I had a couple of people come up and say it had addressed a very urgent need.

I said, "So you are the one God changed my talk for."

God does that. It has happened over and over. A number of people who have attended a session I give has heard me say I believe there are two ways to write for the Lord, to be called to do it, or to decide to do it in which case it is not a calling but an offering. I don't believe that everyone who would like to write for the Lord has been called to do so any more than I believe that everyone who would like to preach has been called to do so.

This led to a discussion of how to discern a calling and how to tell what the Lord wants us to do. This is intensely personal and not something someone else can decide for a person but there is a way someone can help describe the process, which I did. This brought relief to a couple of people who were distressed because they had not heard this calling and felt bad when they heard people say they should have. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing as an offering. If it is done right it will be well received and the effort blessed.

Then a couple of people were distressed about how long it was taking and surely it would happen quicker if God had asked them to do it. I pointed out how long God prepared Moses and Abraham and the Apostles, and even Jesus himself before they were actually used. If God has called a writer to a task He will prepare them before He brings the task to fruition. I stressed that He would not only insure that the WRITING was what He wanted it to be, but the writer themself was where he wanted them to be as well. It is even possible that instead of going faster with God's help that it might take longer than it would for a person preparing an offering out of their own abilities and resources. It most assuredly will if the person is not submitting themselves to him and to the way He wants it done because success is not likely to come until that happens.

I love it when the Lord helps me teach.

Those of you that live within range of the ETBU conference should definitely plan on attending next year. Information will be available at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Interview with Diana’s romance author Jean C. Gordon

Dear From the Heart reader, it is my privilege today to introduce to you, published author Jean Gordon.

Jean, tell us a little bit about yourself. What part of the country do you hail from and are you married with children or pets?

I’m from Upstate New York. I grew up in Western New York and after a short stint in Los Angeles for college, settled near Albany, NY. For the past eleven years, my husband and I have shared a big old (circa 1840) farmhouse with my daughter, her husband, and their two kids. Our son lives about 20 minutes away. And do we have pets. My husband and I have Xena, a two-year-old lab boxer mix, and Colossus, an almost 15-year-old lab mini-rottweiler mix. We also have a cat named Catskill Red; Red for short. My daughter has twin tiger cats, Cat One and Cat Two, and my grandson just got a lab-boxer mix puppy he’s named Mr. Buttons. Then, there’s my son-in-law’s “pets”: ten chickens, 15 pigs, and two rams that either think they’re dogs or that my Xena is a black sheep. They love her.

That is some extended family! When did you first know you wanted to take writing seriously enough to pursue publishing?

In high school. My undergraduate degree is in Journalism. (My master’s degree is in public affairs with a concentration in public law.) I’m a financial writer in my day job.

In your writing journey, how and when did you decide to focus your writing on writing romance novels?

1995. I had been reviewing romance novels for a magazine that’s since gone out of business and thought, “I could do this.” I joined the old Prodigy online romance writers community and Romance Writers of America and plunged in. Later, I helped the Capital Region Romance Writers and joined RWA’s Faith Hope and Love Chapter and the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Has it been a fun experience over all, having your writing published and promoting your books?

I have had a great writing experience. I think the best part has been all of the wonderful people I have met and stayed connected with, including my very eclectic critique partners. As for promotion, my books have all been with Avalon Books, which sells primarily to libraries, so my promotional efforts have been limited mostly to literacy book signings at writing conferences, my website, and some blogging.
I am currently shopping around a title, Everlasting Vows, for you. Where did you get your inspiration from for this particular story?

The idea for this book dates back about ten years, or maybe more. For a long time, it was a bigger book than I was ready to write, so I worked on it sporadically. I don’t really know where I got the idea. Maybe a little from my husband and me. He husband used to ride bikes and we married young and moved far away from our families. But that’s about the only similarities.

What do you hope people will take away from reading your book, Everlasting Vows?

To hop up on my soap box: a realization of the sanctity of marriage vows. I think that a lot of people don’t try hard enough to make their marriages work. They give up when they run into a little conflict. But I do understand that some marriages aren’t meant to be. Dana and Mac’s, the main characters in Everlasting Vows, marriage was. They just needed the maturity and faith to make it work.

Are the love interests in your story drawn from your personal life at all?

Not so much the love interests, but definitely story elements as I mentioned above. Another example is my first book Bachelor Father. The hero becomes the guardian of a baby his sister and brother-in-law were in the process of adopting when they were killed in a car accident. Our son is adopted from Korea. When we were attending pre-adoption classes, we heard about an adoptive family in which the mother died before the adoption was final. The Korean agency wanted to take the baby back because the father was a widower and the agency didn’t allow single parent adoptions. That was the inspiration for that book. Also, the heroine’s father in my second book, Love Undercover, is my dad. In fact, I used Dad’s first name in the original manuscript to keep in character and did a search and replace when I revised.

In your 2009 release Mara's Move, the characters are childhood friends who meet again on a Honeymoon cruise. Did you personally go on a cruise for ‘research’? Sounds like a necessary trip to me! Joyce and I are both rather fond of cruises!

My husband keeps suggesting cruises, but I get terribly motion sick. I do have a long-time friend who works in customer service for one of the major cruise lines. I ran many of my details by her.

What new projects are you working on, are they in the same genre and time period?

I have two projects going. One is another contemporary inspirational romance set in the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York. I’ve also started an historical romance with a heroine who’s involved in the Underground Railroad. It’s set in 1850 in my hometown, Attica, NY.

What new gadget have you added as a tool to help you in your everyday writing life?

My HP Netbook. It’s a great size to take anywhere. I love my Netbook as well. Saw Jill Hart using one in Colorado last year and the very next royalty commission I made, I bought one for myself. It goes everywhere with me!

Is there an area in your writing that you are working on improving?

Two areas: description and characterization. I once had a critique partner read three chapters of a draft manuscript and tell me that she had no idea what either my hero or heroine looked like. I fixed that immediately.

What obstacles have you run up against in your writing journey?

Time has been my biggest obstacle. With a demanding day job, I had to decide how important my fiction writing was and prioritize my book-writing time. It was a lot harder when my kids were small.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing and your previously published titles?

My website and Now and Again blog can be found at
I am also on FaceBook.

Jean, thank you so much for joining us here today and I hope our readers will check out your sites and your title. I would imagine you are building a healthy reader group who are anxious to read your next release. I hope we can soon satisfy them.

From my heart to yours,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oregon Christian Writers Conference

The Oregon Christian Writers Conference

Today, Tamela is thrilled to share information about the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference in Canby, Oregon. This year the conference will take place from August 2 - 5, 2010, at the Canby Grove Conference Center.

Tamela's writers Miralee Ferrell and Ann Shorey have both attended this conference. Ann is the author of the Beldon Grove series, including THE EDGE OF LIGHT, for Revell. Miralee's titles include LOVE FINDS YOU IN BRIDAL VEIL, OREGON for Summerside Press. Both authors' stories have been well received by readers and industry professionals.

Tamela has asked them about their experience with the Oregon conference:

1.) Aside from its location, what makes this conference unique?

Miralee: I think for me it's the casual atmosphere. I love that even the agents and editors often wear jeans or shorts, and very few conference attendees dress up. It's relaxed, friendly, and as a result, really cuts down on the amount of stress for new people trying to fit in. They don't feel they have to perform or be someone they aren't. I've met so many wonderful people at this conference who are 'down-home friendly'.

2.) With most conferences, faculty members change from year to year. However, could you offer guidance about what type of writer -- novelist vs. nonfiction -- genre vs. trade -- benefits most from this particular conference based on the type of agents and editors who normally attend?

Miralee: The past couple of years I'd have to say it's tipped in favor of non-fiction writers. There's a pretty good mix, though, along with magazine editors, children's books,'s nice for those who are trying to get their feet wet and not sure where they're headed. But for the more serious writer who knows where they fit, the conference always offers a number of agents as well as editors from well-known houses. I'd also say that the majority of the agents represent both fiction and non, and last year we had a marvelous group of agents to choose from.

3.) Does this conference favor new writers, or is it geared more to established writers?

Ann: To me it seems like a 50-50 mix. New writers are helped by the workshops and encouraged by mentoring from more established professionals. It's a conference a new writer shouldn't hesitate to attend because of the fear that "everyone but me" is published! A benefit of this conference for "newbies" is that all types of writing are emphasized--fiction in all genres found in the Christian market, nonfiction, magazine articles, poetry and screenwriting.

4.) What was one of your favorite workshops you took at this conference, if applicable?

Ann: I always enjoy Harvest House editor Nick Harrison's workshops. My favorite was "Literary vs. Commercial Fiction." Good content, and it sparked a lively debate. Also, this coming year I've been asked to teach a workshop I'm calling "How to Cut Without Leaving a Scar." I'm thrilled at the opportunity to share what I've learned about making seamless cuts in a too-long manuscript.

5.) Although you both have an agent, writers do benefit from meeting editors in person at conferences. Do you think making personal connections at this particular conference helped you make a sale?

Ann: I definitely do believe personal contacts at this conference led to my first sale. I didn't meet my particular editor at this conference (although I did meet her at another conference), but one editor took the time to thoughtfully read my work and make concrete suggestions. I firmly believe his input improved the story to the point where it sold.

Miralee: I'd like to answer this one too. I made a contact at my first OCW conference with an editor from Kregel. She loved the story idea I pitched and not only asked that I send in a full MS, she went straight to the phone and called the head editor, letting him know it was coming. That led to my contract for The Other Daughter, my debut novel. I've also made wonderful contacts with editors since then and have even seen personal relationships develop as a result.

6.) Not considering travel since driving is usually less expensive than flying, what should a writer budget to attend this conference?

Miralee: I think this year it's going to be around $550 for the conference, lodging and meals, but I'm not positive, as the details haven't been released yet. I typically stay off campus at a local hotel, since many of the rooms at the conference center are cabins and don't have A/C. I do know that anyone interested can find the cost at the conference web site soon , as well as a listing of the workshops and listing of the agents, editors and keynote speaker.

7.) Could you tell us about what a writer can expect in way of:

Lodging: Canby Grove Conference Center has several levels of accomodations from the air-conditioned Riverside Lodge to rustic cabins scattered among the trees in their beautiful setting. Wilsonville, Oregon, is nearby. Wilsonville offers several choices of top motel chains. The commute from Wilsonville to Canby Grove takes about 10 minutes.
Food: The food is served buffet style. Several options are offered with each meal, and special dietary needs can be accommodated with advance notice upon registration.
Weather: Oregon weather varies quite a bit. Mornings can be cool, with afternoons warming into the 80's. Last year it "warmed" into the low 100's, which was a record-breaker! Dressing in layers is recommended.
Amount of time walking outdoors: Since classrooms are spread throughout the Conference Center, conferees will need to walk from one session to another. The dining hall is located in the center of the campus, necessitating another walk. However, distances are not great, and handicap pathways exist for wheelchairs.
Conference web site: Click on the "Summer Conference 2010" link.

8.) Please share anything else that could be helpful to writers considering this particular conference.

Miralee: It's a lot of fun! With the beautiful woodsy setting and the creek running through the conference grounds, there's opportunity for leisure activities/walks in the area, or just lying in a lawn chair (should you choose to bring one) with a good book under the shade of a towering cedar tree. I love the chance to connect with other authors I've met online, or sitting with someone who needs a bit of mentoring and encouragement. The pace isn't rushed, you can steal away and skip a class if you need to, and sit outside at a table next to the little bistro. I'd highly recommend this conference to anyone wanting both a four day get away, and a chance to improve your craft.

Miralee and Ann, thank you for being my guests today, and for helping writers in this way.

Learn about Miralee at: and Ann at

Until next time,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Getting the Necessary Training by Terry Burns

I have a good friend that very badly wants to be a writer. He has a good feeling for telling a story, but he is ‘too busy’ to be in a writing group or critique group or even participate in some of the online possibilities. And of course a writer’s conference is out of the question. That’s like a person deciding they are going to do brain surgery by following the instructions in an open textbook. Telling a story and learning to write it well enough for it to deserve publication are two different things.

When I started writing I participated in all of the above, took a couple of writing courses at college and the Writer’s Digest Course. I learned my craft for six years before I was competent enough to get a book published, and by that time I had quite a bit of short work published. Now, as an agent, I am sent work all the time by people who have a story, but who are miles away from having it competently written. I see others that are a pretty good book, but there are thousands of good books competing for scarce publishing slots. No, even a good book is not good enough, it takes an exceptional book. It takes a unique story in a unique voice aimed at a good market that is currently acquiring.

I can’t imagine anyone expecting to do something well without getting the training to do it. I still try to write on the side and even after some twenty years of trying to do so I continue to try to learn and improve.

There is no shortage of training available. I just came from the Jerry Jenkins ‘Write for the Soul’ conference in Denver Colorado. It goes along with his Christian Writer’s Guild that has a mission of “equipping the next generation of Christian writers.” Last weekend it was the regional Romance Writers of America conference in Shreveport Louisiana. I work these conferences to try and find those exceptional books I was talking about. I also have been told that one of my spiritual gifts is the ‘gift of encouragement’ and I work them to use it to encourage writers and to pass on things that I believe will help them. Things I have learned from all of my writing training and from all of the conferences and workshops that I’ve attended not to mention the ones I have learned the hard way.

Others I have coming up are the East Texas Christian Writers conference at East Texas Baptist April 9-10, and the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation in Oklahoma City April 29th. May 12-15th it’ll be the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference in Estes Park Colorado, and the SW regional meeting of ACFW in Edmond Oklahoma May 22nd. June 25-26th is the Panhandle Professional Writers in Amarillo Texas and August 2-5th the Oregon Christian Writers Conference in Portland Oregon. Beyond that some others are pending.

I don’t get to pick the conferences that I work but am dependent on being invited. I’ve worked a forty or so other conferences besides these, but there are still some that I haven’t worked but would enjoy getting a chance to do so.

What sort of programs do I do? At present the most popular is “Pitch and Promote like a Pro” based on a month long program done for ACFW (the American Christian Fiction Writers). I have a book coming out on that which will make a nice companion piece for it. A popular feature at conferences is editor and agent panels but at smaller workshops and conferences where that isn’t done I do an “Agent Q & A” that is popular. I do a program on “Making a Living Writing” one on “Being a Christian Writer in a Changing World” which I have also done a couple of times as a keynote. I do a basic program for fledging writers on “So You Always Wanted to Write?” and one on “Using Fiction to Spread God’s Word.” There are others I haven’t been doing lately I could dust off and trot back out or as with a recent conference could design a couple of new ones to fit.

Every writer should ask themselves if they are getting the necessary training to be successful at getting published or if they think they just “know how to write a good book,” maybe because they have read so many. And when have we gotten enough training that we know what we are doing and can begin to teach? My opinion is that any teacher who is not also continuing to learn will soon be presenting stale or outdated material. I was fascinated at the Denver conference to look over and notice Jerry Jenkins making notes during Max Lucado’s program on writing. If a bestselling writer like Jerry is still working to improve his craft what excuse could the rest of us possibly have?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Can I sell on proposal? by Terry Burns

It depends on what it is and who you talk to. For many years it has been taught that you have to have a completed manuscript in fiction but could sell on proposal if you were established and anybody could sell nonfiction on proposal.

But after things tightened up during the heart of the economic turndown I started to get some responses that caused me to wonder if things were changing. I did a survey of over 200 editors, mainstream and Christian publishers alike. I surveyed editors that did only fiction, only non-fiction and those who did both. I got some surprising results.

The tightening of the economy did cause some to start seeing things differently. A majority of those surveyed said they DID like to know that the project was complete before they invested any time in it, even in non-fiction, particularly for unproven authors. They want to be able to say "I'd like to see the full manuscript" and get it quickly before they turn their attention to something else and lose interest.

So after the economy changes is this attitude going to change? Your guess is as good as mine, but I think a lot of them have discovered they prefer it this way. This is a hard pill to swallow for the established writer who likes to turn out a bunch of story ideas, write a few sample chapters, then run them up the flagpole and only finish those that garner interest. Do they have to swallow it?

Nope! Are there still those who do business the way they always have? You bet! The problem is knowing which are which. If we send to an editor that wants to know a full is available and it isn't, chances are they aren't going to say, but just pass on it. If we have the full available and they don't really need it, what does it hurt? Seems to me we are narrowing our potential market one way but not the other. Of course there is a trade-off in having to do more work.

I'm asking my clients to complete the work, fiction or non-fiction if they are less experienced writers. I'm doing a mix on my better published writers and trying some on proposal for them but asking them to finish the projects they believe in the strongest. We'll see if that makes a difference.

Things change so fast in this business, this is just another area that this is just another area that we are foolish to simply assume it works the way it always has.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good News by Terry Burns

I've been spending a lot of time on the road, working a couple of workshops or conferences a month, picking up leads for my clients and looking for that next big blockbuster. We're making deals too, however, and over the last 18 months my little band of clients has signed contracts adding up to 55 books. Not a record by any means, but not a bad average.

Some have been some nice deals, and some are helping my clients get their career started at a small house. That's important to me too, helping them grow their careers. When the current debut author deals hit the Publisher's Marketplace list it should put me in the first or second position of top dealmakers for getting debut authors launched.

When you visit my personal website, I hope you visit the 'Good News' page, which is where I post these success stories. If you do so now you will find congratulations for Max Elliott Anderson for a couple of contracts that he signed and which is for 11 books and is ultimately expected to represent NEARLY THIRTY TITLES. That's awesome! Four debut authors are getting a start at Crossover Publications, Richard Brown, Carolyn Rankin (with Ronni Hossli), Bobby Weaver, and Steve Hutson. Congratulations to them. Caron Guillo is another debut author that recently signed with Written World Communications, Graham Garrison signed a contract for the sequel to his new book from Kregel, and I even signed a couple of new deals for five books myself.

Also on the good news page you will see that Jennifer Hudson Taylor has a new book, Highland Blessings, releasing in a couple of months with a couple of others working through to that point. There are several that just released such as Trish Porter's Rekindle Your Dreams, Graham Garrison's Hero Tribute, Tammy Barley's Loves Rescue, and my own On The Road Home.

I encourage you to browse the Good News page anytime you stop by the website at

Have a Wonderful Easter as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Guest blog by Joyce's client Suzanne Woods Fisher

Promoting Yourself
By Suzanne Woods Fisher

"Publish His glorious acts throughout all the earth..."(Psalm 96:3, TLB).

When Timothy was a young pastor keeping the church of Ephesus on track, Paul wrote him a letter. Two, in fact. Filled with pastoral advice, there’s a lovely, underlying message that keeps bubbling up to the surface.

Paul’s motive in writing was to encourage Timothy to stay the course, to not let others intimidate him because of his age, to remember the great work God had ahead of him. It seemed as if Timothy was a talented, capable young man who didn’t know that he was very talented or very capable. But Paul certainly did. At one point, he urged Timothy: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of selfdiscipline...I pray that you...may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV).

One of the hardest aspects of being a writer is embracing the need to promote oneself. Self-promoting feels so…so…un-Christ like. Most writers are not flaming extroverts; we’re more the reflective sort who process our thoughts through the written word. We’re the Timothys of the Paul-and-Timothy duo. Hopefully, we have some Pauls in our life who can give us the encouragement we need when we need it.

One friend struggled with the expectation of the publishing house to promote herself after her first book was published. When the publisher recommended that she contact radio stations to try and schedule author interviews for herself, she shuddered. “Linda,” he reasoned, “you wrote a book that is meant to glorify God. How can you do that if you don’t publicize your book?”

The publisher made a good point. I could relate to Linda’s reluctance. When I signed a contract for my first novel, the publisher asked me to set up a website to start developing a reader base months before the book would be published. She also recommended that I start a blog (lingo for web log). I created the website but then I didn’t let anyone know about it for months. I felt too self-conscious. Finally, I took the plunge and sent the url to some friends, I created the website but then I didn’t let anyone know about it for months. I felt too self-conscious. Finally, I took the plunge and sent the url to some friends, who sent it to their friends. Same for the blog. To my surprise, both blog and website were easier to create and more fun than I had expected. The blog, kind of an on-line journal, has been a place to share my faith. I’ve considered it to be a near-daily writing exercise, like piano scales, to sharpen my skills. And a plus: it’s all without the need of an editor’s approval!

If God has called us to this work, and we believe that we are working to glorify Him, we need to put aside our own insecurities and false sense of modesty and do what we can to get our work to the public. That may include hosting your own website, keeping up a blog, asking bookstore managers for book signings, calling radio stations for author interviews.

It might mean being bold enough to ask other authors for endorsements. One editor at a writing conference even suggested offering to prepare an endorsement for an author and to ask permission to ascribe him credit. In other words, to market yourself.

Just remember, the focus isn’t self-glorification. The end result is to glorify the God whom we serve.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to be more like Timothy who, despite age and insecurities, carefully guarded all that had been entrusted to him (1 Timothy 1:19; 6:30). Amen.


Does the idea of promotion make you wince? Do you dread the thought? Why or why not?

How can you pray to be released from wrong thinking about promotion and be renewed by the right thinking about it?

Suzanne is the author of the bestselling novel, The Choice (Revell), and hosts a weekly radio program, “Amish Wisdom,” which can be listened to on-line : You can find Suzanne at

Reprinted with permission from Grit from the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers (Vintage Inspirations)