Friday, October 30, 2015

Unpublished Author Check List by Jim Hart

Unpublished author check list: 
1. Take writing classes. Either on-line or a local community college. See if your library has to offer continuing education classes.
2. Attend writers’ conferences. Take advantage of every resource that you can. Even a small one-day conference will have something of value.
3. Keep writing content.  Submit to blogs, magazines and newspapers.Write for your church bulletin.
4. Engage with your future readers. Write quality blogs that invite comments and grow an e-mail list; make a YouTube channel; do pod-casts.
5. Craft a killer proposal.  Really do your research on this one. Your proposal is either going to open that door just a bit wider for you, or cause it to slam shut. Every section of your proposal needs to sing, there should be no weak links.
6. Find a literary agent. Again, research is key in this area. If you send a proposal for your five-part epic YA fantasy to an agent who does not represent that particular genre you’ve not succeeded in making a friend in the industry.
7. Practice patience.  This doesn’t mean that you do nothing while waiting for a response from your agent or publishing house. Keep writing, keep learning, keep working, keep moving forward. Memorize the Chicago Manual of Style. Patience is an attitude, not a coffee break. And you can quote me on that.
And finally, but perhaps the best point to both begin and end with:
8. Give it to the Lord. Pray for His wisdom, leading and direction. He will be faithful.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 The Message)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rewriting Makes for a Better Book by Diana Flegal

I’ve recently been working with an author client, responding to requests from a publisher for changes to her nonfiction proposal outline and sample chapters.

Two different publishers are interested in two different books she is writing. A great problem to have, isn’t it?

Both publishers like her titles mission, and her credentials are excellent; in other words she is qualified to write on the topics she is writing about.

One publisher asked her to widen her target audience and that has resulted in changing the chapter outline and the books focus.

The other publisher asked her to tone down the sometimes academic voice into a more conversational tone so she can better connect emotionally with her reader.

It has been so rewarding, collaborating with these editors, willing to sacrifice their time and wait patiently while she made the changes. She and I have learned a lot in the process. As a result, both of the books have expanded and grown into much better books than they were before.

I hope the work will result in contracts for my client, but I know this- she has grown as a writer, learned new skills and I am very proud of her progress and willingness to do the work involved in making the changes. It was a lot of work.

Has it ever been suggested you make changes to your WIP (work in progress)? Are you willing to rewrite if asked too?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Post-Conference Must-Do’s by Andy Scheer

I still have some important tasks.

I’m back home, but I still have work to do. Late Sunday, after a ten-hour drive, I unloaded the car, unpacked my bags, and went to bed early.

But I still haven’t completed my obligations to the writers conference. Yesterday morning, to make sure I didn’t miss anything, I made a short list.

I’ve already written three thank-you notes: to the conference directors, to the person who hosted me and another faculty member for three nights, and to someone who gave me a solid lead for a potential client.

But I’m still not done. Before I put away my folders for the three classes I taught, I should update some material, based on the latest comments. And I’ve promised to email copies of handouts to people in one class that drew double the expected attendance.

If I’d attended the conference as a camper, I’d remind myself that if I really wanted to remember the points from all the classes, I’d retype my session notes into my computer. That way I’d have a second interaction while the information—and my handwriting—is still relatively fresh.

I know I kept receipts for all my travel expenses and meals en route. But I’m not sure I’ve found all of them yet. Once I do, I need to tally them in my spreadsheet and put all the originals in a folder. April 15th is still five months away, but I want to be ready.

Being moderately obsessive, I keep a computerized list of the clothing, equipment, and sundries I take to a conference. To make sure I’m on top of things for next time, I really should make a note to take again my newest backpack and the 12-cup coffee maker instead of that 4-cup model. And also a note that for a cross-country trip, nibbling Corn Nuts can be less messy than pretzels.

Your list of post-conference must-do’s will likely differ. If you attend as a camper, I hope it includes thanking the editors and agents with whom you had appointments, clarifying any details about their request to send a proposal or manuscript, then following through and actually sending that material.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Still Hope In Spite of the Climate by Linda S. Glaz

Just returned from Maranatha Christian Writers Conference. Heard some amazing speakers: Carol Kent, Bill Myers, Dave and Cindy Lambert, and many others.

There is a huge black cloud of doom that permeates the hearts and souls of most new authors. And it hangs above their heads whispering, “Not a good idea. Get a day job. Forget about it! No new authors wanted.” And we believe it! We let it get into our heads and speak to our hearts. After which, any time we are turned down or outright rejected, the words become louder. They become our spiritual mantra and force us to face the supposed reality in this industry.

Still, this weekend, we heard such inspirational things from the speakers, and they weren’t saying don’t try. Not at all. They told us to put on our big girl (or boy) undies and give it a try! Allow yourself to be exposed. To be vulnerable.

To never give up. To PERSEVERE! Which is what I tell all authors.
You can’t be a success if you don’t first step out and try.

So what are you doing, sitting there in front of your computer reading this?

Why aren’t you in the middle of your story? WHY AREN’T YOU WRITING?
Persevere. There’s still hope for new authors, but you won’t find that out if you don’t try!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Best and the Worst by Diana Flegal

I was recently asked by a conference presenter if I could share with him my best and worst experience of a 15 min. pitch appointment. Here is my response. I thought you might find it informative.


Most Positive 15 minute appointment:


I was presented with a well crafted nonfiction one sheet, answering all the questions I might have asked. As we further discussed her book, she showed me her incredible platform. She had gathered thousands of blog followers, as well as an outstanding number of followers on her twitter and Facebook sites. She spoke three times a month on average and showed me where she had procured a VERY famous celebrity to write the forward of her book, along with several A list endorsers. A nationally known organization had already committed to ordering large quantities of her book and were offering to advertise it on their website.


Then I woke up. Unfortunately none of the above is true. :-(


I actually enjoy meeting with authors at any stage in their writing journey. But a good appointment is one where the writer is informed, comes prepared and is open to advice. There has only been two times that I signed an author at a conference in 8 years.


Worst 15 minute appointment I have experienced:


A woman sat in front of me and handed me a full proposal. After quickly reviewing her one page I said that I did not believe this was a book I could sell. She burst into tears, placed her head on her arms, and sobbed hysterically. Everyone in the appointment room stared at me like I was the meanest person. I later learned she had gotten the same response from many of her appointments. I was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.      


Unfortunately this is a true story.


She obviously did not come prepared and had not done her research.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rising with the Tide by Andy Scheer

Some recent publishing industry stats.

A rising tide lifts all ships. Some exceptional breakout books will always defy expectations by selling well in a slow market. But it sure helps if overall book sales are on the upswing.

So you may appreciate this recent industry news, which publishing veteran Terry Whalin offered to members of a writers group that includes Hartline agent Diana Flegal. I pass this along with Diana’s blessings. (Emphasis added.)

Because of my job as an acquisitions editor, I have access to Nielsen’s Bookscan and I get a newsletter every other month with statistics about book sales. Here’s some information on sales trends from this newsletter.

In the, overall sales are growing through August and nonfiction leads over fiction. Nonfiction sales year to date grew 4% on last year with solid growth in craft/ hobbies and art, fueled by adult coloring books and biography.

Fiction saw a 3% gain compared to the same period in 2014, driven by several categories including classic, thrillers, graphic novels and biography.

Also they took a closer look at the Christian market saying “Religion has performed ahead of the overall market in the last few years....In the Christian market specifically, nonfiction leads the charge with Adult Nonfiction increasing at 11% and Juvenile Nonfiction at 18%.

"Christian Adult fiction is declining at 12% while Juvenile Fiction is growing at 6% over the five-year period."

If you don't know, Nielsen has added Lifeway Christian stores and a number of other Christian bookstores in the last few years so their numbers are much more accurate than years ago--when they didn't even add in the Christian bookstores--so people like Chuck Swindoll and Max Lucado had terrible bookscan numbers. Today all of that has improved and changed.

While the news may not be as encouraging as we’d all like, especially those writing Christian adult fiction, it’s nice to know the tide is rising. Even if yours will be the next breakout book, that can’t hurt.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Catch 23, Because Catch 22 is Already Taken by Linda S. Glaz

So, let’s talk social media and networking and its importance to our writing.
“Get the numbers up. Show growth!”
“Build that platform!”
“We’d love to take on this new author, but they need to have a stronger platform!”
“Platform’s pretty good, but he might want to work on editing a tad more.”
“How about having her showcase her work at conferences, workshops, libraries, and the like.”
What’s a person to do?
As writers, let’s face it, we wanna write. But we’re also being pulled in dozens of different directions. Everyone, mom included, loves the story. And when I say everyone, I mean local readers, readers I’ve met at conferences, other editors, agents, agents’ assistants, and even a librarian or two. So what’s the problem? And we all know the answer: the writer needs to build his or her platform and present a flawless work.
Time is precious. We all know that. Particularly those would be contracted authors who also much hold down a day job. “Don’t quit your day job! You have a family to care for.” And whether that means the CEO of a company, or a mom raising 3 or 4 adorable little rugrats who have a right to her attention…as well as the housework. We all have outside responsibilities, even if our true love is the computer and the stories dancing in our heads like sugarplums.
And now…the added pressure of social media. So how do we plan our writing time?
First and foremost is story. It simply has to be, because all of the rest means nothing if there isn’t a wonderfully well-told story to peddle.
Second is social media. Yes! I said second. Focus. Target. You need to decide what aspects of social media that you’ll use and go for it.
Do you enjoy spending those precious five extra minutes a day playing on Pinterest? Then make Pinterest your work as well. Decide how much time each day and then go for it. Put everything you have in connecting on Pinterest and developing your book as you go along. Get your literary foot in the door, and make it fun.
How about FB? Enjoy the banter? Be sure you aren’t wandering on FB. Decide on a short daily presentation that will benefit others, either writing, or giving to the common good. Have fun with it, but reach as many as possible.
Do you have wonderful little daily tidbits of wisdom that you’d like to share? How about Twitter? Again, make it fun, and focus your efforts.
The most important thing to remember is to focus. Don’t get sidetracked with others’ rants, playing games, or deciding who will best rule the world in 2090!!! Connect with readers, other writers, and those who might be willing to swap help along the way.
And even though story trumps everything else, you can still give yourself a time allowance for social media each day, even if it’s just fifteen minutes. Target that time to the place where you find the most interaction for yourself, and make the comments and time spent be focused. On point. Always on point.
One: choose your extra media
B: focus your time
Four: don’t get distracted
XI: story trumps all
Five: You can do this!