Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why does it take so long? by Terry Burns

The other day I spent the whole day trying to get a couple of submissions out on a client. I was asked why it took that long. The client in question had given me the name of several publishing houses he thought would be appropriate, so all I had to do was shoot them a proposal, right?

Not that easy. You see, there is generally more than one editor acquiring at a publishing house, the larger ones may have a dozen or more. So if a client tells me that, say, Random House has published a book that is a great comparable for their manuscript, that is a good tip, but it is a long way from being the correct intel for a proper submission.

First, Random House has multiple imprints, and chances are only one of them is right for a particular manuscript. Send it to a different imprint and it will be promptly rejected. Second, working within the proper imprint are multiple editors, and if I send the manuscript to the wrong one, it will probably be rejected. I need something that tells me a particular editor is the right person for what I am trying to pitch. This research takes time. Finding that right person can be very difficult. On occasion one of my clients talks to an editor at a conference and discovers a lead for me—the right editor for a project. A number of the sales we have made started with just such a lead.

Third, the timing has to be right. A similar book can show us an editor has interest in a certain area, or it can be an indication that they just published one and is not interested in doing another. Hard to tell which one of those two possibilities it might be.

Fourth, I am often in possession of more information than a client, who may see something that looks like a great possibility. But my database info tells me that this company is only doing published authors, or maybe is no longer taking a certain thing, even though the market guide lists that they are. Or maybe I know they are not actively looking at submissions until a certain date. There are lots of factors like this that all of us at Hartline share with one another to help us stay on top of the rapidly changing industry. And the things clients pick up in their writing groups and at the conferences they attend often contribute to the picture to help us stay on top of things.

No, it isn’t as easy as just looking in the market guide, pulling out everybody that lists a certain genre, and shooting off submissions. If we did that our agented submission would stand no better chance than one just coming in blind, except it would probably get looked at a little quicker.

But that is outgoing submissions, so how about incoming ones? Actually, I give incoming ones a perusal as they come in, and if right on the surface I can see they don’t fit, I give an immediate response. A very fast answer is almost always no. If there is a possibility it could work for us, I set it up for a read (I may have an assistant work it up for me), but we do them in the order received. Because I get several hundred a month, not counting what the other agents receive, it can take a while to get to it. Coming out of a writing background, I am very sensitive to taking a project, putting it under contract, and then looking to see if I have a place to go with it. As part of our vetting process, we check if we have places to go with it as part of the reading process. If we take one, it doesn’t mean we will promise we can sell it, but it does mean we are confident that we have some places to pitch it. That means the same four delaying factors discussed above enter into the process when evaluating incoming submissions, as well.

Sometimes taking the time to do this means the clients sign somewhere else first. That’s how the business works, but if we take it, it will be with a confidence that we can do something with it. Doing something well means doing it right. As I said, I tell people who follow up on submissions they sent to me within a fairly short time that I can give them an answer right now if they want, but the only fast answer I can give is no. A yes takes more time. It’s that way with the editors I make submissions to, as well.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Keepin On by Diana Flegal

When you get to a fork in the road. Take it.
Yogi Berra

 There will always be decisions and choices to make as an author. The questions start out small, “Can I really write and complete a novel for publication or am I to just write for my own enjoyment?”

Confidence builds as you attend a writers conference, join a critique group and finish your story.

“Am I ready to submit this? How do I prepare a proposal, query letter, make my pitch?”

Then, “Who do I send this to?”, as you page through the Market Writers Guide.

Yogi was onto something. The point is- you can't let fear keep you from trying.
The most important thing is you keep going, keep learning and not give up. Many road blocks come our way, but if you keep learning, honing your skills, you will cross things off your list of goals. And hopefully, the very last one will be, ‘Get Published’.

This moment of inspiration was brought to you by one who has faced many forks in the road. And here we are.

Have a great over-the hump day!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hello Marie – I Mean Richard by Andy Scheer

The other day I got a query about a novel from Marie. I knew it was from her because that's the name that was displayed in my email folder. And that was the name that accompanied the email address at the top of the letter.

As I read the query, I envisioned how this female writer would handle the male POV character she described, especially considering he was a soldier during wartime.

Then I got to the closing paragraphs--and discovered the person writing me was actually a retired police office named Richard who lived with his wife, Marie.


I had to recast my impression of everything I had read in the letter. Especially my view of the author's professionalism.

How hard is it to get your own free email account through Yahoo! or G-mail? Yes, my wife and I share several email accounts—but not the ones I use professionally.

Meanwhile I've added to my list of writing pet peeves. One is a dramatic scene that, without warning, turns out to be only a dream. My new pet peeve is wanna-be writers who identify themselves one way with their email account—then pull a switcheroo.

Please, remember what you learned in kindergarten: Put your name—your own name—on the top of your paper.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscar Night by Linda S. Glaz

Beautiful gowns, classic tuxes and a few
(what were they thinking?)
And I guess that applies to the gowns as well.
Ladies, now is not a time to think
that less is more, sometimes, less is just…less)
I watch off and on, mostly only when commercials are on
with a show I REALLY want to see, but I must admit
to being a junkie to find out what the best movie is,
though it’s decided in the political arena of opinions.
I sometimes agree but only with the choices at hand.
Too often the real winners weren’t even nominated
(they stopped letting me vote oh, 2 or 50 years ago).
So…what’s important about the best movie to a writer?
At some point, that mah-velous movie started
as the kernel of an idea in some
head. That’s right, your story might end up
being voted best movie at the Oscars.
Doesn’t every writer think of that?
Deep down, where we don’t let anyone look, don’t we all sit back
and decide how we can have it written into our option contract
who we want to play our characters?
So, take a deep breath (your gown will fit better that way) and
hope that your novel is not only picked to become a movie,
but voted best movie of the year.
Watch out for the sign:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

After the Conference by Andy Scheer

Yesterday I returned after four days at a Christian writers conference. I unpacked my bags, then took the afternoon and evening off to relax.

This morning I listed nine followup points I need to take — starting today. I've already crossed off three. As soon as I write this (item four), I'll begin tackling the fifth.

I don't want to be like many of those writers who made appointments with me during my days as a magazine editor. I'd never ask people to send me their material simply to be nice. I didn't have time to ask for projects with no potential.

But in the weeks and months after the conference, most of those writers didn't send me their material. I didn't publish them. Yes, I did reject — or ask for revisions to — some of the material I received. But I also discovered and cultivated some of my best writers among those who followed up.

I just invested four intense days in a conference. Now I'm determined to get the maximum benefit from the experience. That's why I came.

Yes, I enjoyed staying in a great hotel for a few days, and times of fellowship with like-minded people. I appreciated listening to inspiring speakers. But those speakers kept reminding us that as Christian writers, we've been entrusted with talent—and have a message to proclaim.

Thanks to the conference, I'm better equipped to accomplish my job. It's time to put that to use.

Monday, February 18, 2013

By The Time You Read by Linda S. Glaz

So…by the time you read this, Downton Abbey’s final episode of Season 3 will be over.
Are you happy? Raging mad? Writing letters to the the UK, screaming objections?

A few years ago, okay, more than a few, in the sixties and seventies, it was wonderful and very chic to have extremely unhappy endings. Love Story, anyone?

Do you write what people want to read, or do you step outside of the box? Are you one for having your reader scratch his or her head and say, “Huh? What was that supposed to mean?” Or do you like closure? Like to tie up all the loose ends including whether or not the tertiary character, the guy begging on the street corner who was only in scene one, got a girl as well, or if a car ran over him? How important is it to you to have happy endings? Thought-provoking ideas?

Do you prefer to write genre fiction with a specific format that MUST be met?
What do you like to read? Like to write? Happy or sad, righteous or bad?

By the time you read this, Downton Abbey will be over for the season. What did you think?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ways Authors Can Sign E-Books by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Over the last couple of years, individuals and select publishers have been exploring various ways for authors to sign e-books with minimal security risk. This year, options for digital signatures are expected to expand, including the number of authors signing e-books.

In May 2011, Autography debuted their first e-book platform at BookExpo America in New York, covered by The New York Times. The way it works is that a reader poses with the author for a photograph, which can be taken with an ipad, tablet or phone camera. The image auto appears on the author’s ipad or tablet. The author then uses a stylus to sign and write a digital message below the photo. Once this is complete, the author taps a button on the iPad or tablet and sends the fan an e-mail with a link to the image, which the reader downloads into the e-book. The setup will require the author to purchase an app from Autography, and the publisher or author will need to send a digital file of the book. 

Another option would be Authorgraph. You will be asked to create an account or login through Twitter. You will then be asked to provide the Amazon ASIN for the books you want to add on Authorgraph. You will be asked to create an additional password if you sign in with Twitter, your email, and a confirmation will be sent to your email address. You will be required to login at Amazon, click on Manage Your Kindle, then Manage Your Devices, and find your registered Kindle email address ( Enter this email address on the Authorgraph site. Next, on Amazon click the Personal Document Settings link, then the link that says Add A New Approved E-Mail Address and insert the email that Authorgraph provides.

It's very quick and easy to add your books on Authorgraph. Once a person requests your autograph, you'll receive an email alert to login to your account on Authorgraph. You will have a message area notification and you will be taken to that person's request so you will know who to sign it to. Below is an image of where you can provide a message and where you would sign your name on your touch screen ipad, tablet, or phone. The only drawback to this option is that it's only available on Amazon, not Nook or other platforms.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried providing digital signatures? What was your experience?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Like an Author? Let 'em Know by Andy Scheer

A few weeks ago I waved the flag for for old-fashioned word-of-mouth publicity. If you like a book, tell others about it.

But I forgot to mention an important second step. I didn't even think of it. Fortunately an author whose work I admire gave me that advice through the back door.

I more recently wrote about my conflicted emotions in reading a novel that the author had announced would be the end of a long series. Somehow novelist Aaron Elkins discovered the column and thanked me for comparing his character Gideon Oliver to Patrick O'Brian's naval hero Jack Aubrey.

Busted. Why, in thirty years of reading his mysteries, had I never written to Elkins? Before the internet, search engines, and email, that would have meant mailing a letter via his publisher. But that excuse hasn't held water in more than a decade.

One of my part-time jobs brings me into contact with successful authors. Not one of them seems immune to life's frustrations—or so busy answering fan mail that they wouldn't mind an encouraging note.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Close to Valentine's Day by Linda S. Glaz

Gone With theWind
On my personal blog, I just posted some brief comments on Gone With the Wind, 
and it stirred some wonderful comments in return.
I have always thought that GWTW was the quintessential romance.
A handsome, oftentimes bad boy, Rhett Butler, and the not so fainting Lily, Scarlett O'Hara.
For a true romance to catch the reader's interest, there must be a tremendous attraction and plenty of obstacles preventing the couple from getting together.
And with Scarlett and Rhett, there were puh-lenty!
Ashley, the war, Ashley, Melanie, Ashley, taxes, Ashley, Mr. Kennedy, Ashley, loss of a child, Ashley, Belle, Ashley, THE KISS, Ashley, the staircase, and alas, Ashley....
Well, you get the picture. But the obstacles weren't only Ashley, they were plentiful and the romance never disappointed from page one to the very end. Margaret Mitchell understood the perfect elements for a romance. The only thing she didn't give us was the happily ever after. Or...
did she? If you've ever seen the movie, you know that Scarlett loses hope for only a few seconds. After she remembers her life-connection to Tara, all of her hope to get him back returns.
One reader commented about their flawed relationship and that was absolutely spot on. In fact, it was the flawed relationship that kept us turning pages. Kept us hoping they might grow up and listen to what each other's heart was saying, rather than what their words said.
Anyone wanting to write romance should take a lesson from Margaret Mitchell.
Because frankly my dear, I do care.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Blurring Lines - Personal & Professional Social Media Profiles

Social Media for business and personal use is becoming a hot topic and people's opinions range all over the place. Those who have resisted creating Social Media sites often feel overwhelmed and pressured to take the plunge or miss out on valuable connections. Others are dipping their toes in Social Media without whole heartily diving into all the major sites, wondering how best to represent themselves.

How much personal info should a person divulge on a profile? As Social Media becomes more integrated in business, the lines keep blurring even for savvy Social Media users, especially those who use Social Media in their profession as part of their job. Many employers now search prospective employees' Social Media sites to determine character, connections, and to view online portfolios. If you ever need a job outside of writing novels, every post, photo, and video could be viewed by potential employers at some point in the future.

You will need to decide if you want to keep a personal profile that is separate from your work-related profiles. If so, you will need to maintain both on all the Social Media sites you create, and you will need to stay on top of the ever-changing security and privacy settings. After a while, this can become quite daunting, especially for those who feel like their schedule is already overwhelming.

I prefer to keep my personal profile separate from my work profile since I blog and post for our organization. I do this under our logo instead of a personal photo because I want to build my company's brand, not me. I realize it may seem less personal, but I think it will be better in the long run to allow me to transition out and others to transition in. Also, it avoids potential lawsuits where some brands have been forced to sue for a profile that a former employee built and took with them when they left by blogging and posting status updates under their photo, own name, or a pseudonym.

As an author, I'm finding it more difficult to keep my personal profiles separate from my author profile since I write under my real name. I started out trying to keep these two separate, but I have evolved into doing what seems natural, depending on the culture and setup of each individual Social Media site. For instance, I have a personal profile on Facebook and I "consciously" post status updates to either be "public" or "friends only".

Since LinkedIn operates more like a professional network rather than a Social Media site, I have merged  my  personal profile with my work and my author info through my resume, of course, without my address and phone number. For a long time, I struggled with how much of my personal writing to put on my resume. For over a year, I didn't include the fact that I was a published author.

I was concerned that potential employers would think I couldn't handle focusing on a full-time job and write in my spare time, but I came to realize that it was like saying I couldn't have any other interests or hobbies. Second, I was concerned that some potential employers would fear that I would use their company platform to promote my Christian beliefs. Of course, I would not do this, but I have learned that fear provokes strange, irrational thoughts in people. I prayed about it, consulted my agent, and decided that I would not want to work for someone who could not trust me to be myself as Christian fiction author and at the same time respectful to the company for which I work.

For Pinterest, Twitter and Google+, I merely use my author profile as my personal profile. Most of my posts are author related, about writing, or inspirational. I rarely post personal status updates, but once in a while I do this to give my readers a personal connection. For instance, most know that I have a daughter with Epilepsy and Asperger's Syndrome, so I may post something regarding her progress. I appreciate their prayers so much.

What about you? Have you struggled with where to draw the line from personal to professional on your Social Media sites?

Other Articles
Should You Combine Your Personal and Business Social Media Identities?
Social Networking Strategies for Personal and Professional Use
Drawing the Line Online: Business or Personal Social Media?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Your vote is needed by Terry Burns

I just got the word that SAVING AMERICA written by client Jonathan Wakefield made the cut and is nominated for Christian Small Publishers Association 2013 Book of the Year in the Nonfiction - Christian Living Category.

I would greatly appreciate any who would like to go and cast their vote for this title. The link is attached.

The book was published by Crossover Publications, and the publisher, Randall Mooney, also happens to be a client. This is the third title for the second year in a row that Randall has had make the finals in this competition. Our sincere congratulations to both Jonathan and Randall, and we would greatly appreciate any who would go over to the link and cast a vote for the book.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don't Give Me That Static by Andy Scheer

The past couple weeks, I've had some shocking incidents with my computer.

Colorado seldom has much humidity, and this winter has been dryer than usual. I try not to scuff across the carpet, but almost every time I first touch my keyboard, I feel the discharging static.

Usually my Assus EeePC takes it in stride. But three times it hasn't. The screen flashed to black, then asked if I wanted to restart Windows in safe mode.

I'm grateful that each time, the automatic file recovery has worked flawlessly. I haven't yet lost a word.

But I've sure had some scares. So I'll keep Open Office set to do an automatic save of files every five minutes. Whenever I break for lunch and at the end of the day, I'll continue to back up that day's files onto separate devices. And every so often when I'm working, my fingers reflexively type Ctrl + S.

Yet my work depends on a medium that's inherently fragile, more the realm of magic than mechanics. I think of these words by old-school journalist and writer John Dunning:

Unlike a computer, a great old manual typewriter is an honest machine. You do your work, it does its work. There's no sneaky nonsense, no hidden screens that pop up and won't go away, and at no time in my 35 years as a writer have I ever “lost” anything because I hit a certain key, failed to hold my mouse right, or sneezed at the wrong moment.

I'm not sure my fingers could standing the pounding of a full day at a manual typewriter. But maybe it wouldn't hurt to check Craigslist in case someone is trying to sell a Selectric. Or a humidifier.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Ravens Win It by Linda S. Glaz

So, the Ravens win the Super Bowl! It’s a game. It’s for fun. For us!
For the players: It’s work!
Sort of…like writers. We sweat and strain over 300 or more pages of narration and dialogue, work to get all the punctuation and grammar as clean as we can, and then, if we’re lucky, it goes to a publisher for production. And the readers think…wow! This is a winner. It’s fun, just for us!
And for the authors: It’s work!
Someone told me one day, “I’ve had such an interesting life. I should write a book.”
Yup, just like that. Sit down, write it out and publish a book. Not so much. That would be like expecting Tebow or any other QB to throw a touchdown without ever going to practice, just show up in a uniform and expect to play a good game. Doesn’t work that way.
Writers, like many other artists, bleed their lives into their novels. They have to create a little world all their own, invent the lives of the characters (as much as the characters will allow—and if you don’t understand that, you aren’t really a writer) and then painstakingly put the work out there to be torn apart so they can go back to square one again.
We’re all looking for the Super Bowl win. And while I was tickled for the Ravens, my heart broke for the 49ners. And it’s much the same with writer friends. I’m excited for those who get published, and I cry with those who don’t.
While we all strive for the Super Bowl ring (a lucrative publishing contract) remember to continue to celebrate with the others who worked hard and won before you!