Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hartline has moved


Hartline Literary Agency and the From the Heart blog have moved to a new URL location.

Please find Hartline Literary Agency at http://hartlineagency.com/

and follow our From the Heart blog to this new address:  http://hartlineagency.com/blog/

Hartline Agents represent over 100 years of combined publishing industry insights and experience. This valuable knowledge can help you start or grow your own writing career.

As a family owned business, Hartline strives to make each client feel like part of the extended Hartline family.

Our authors have won dozens of the biggest awards in the industry: the CHRISTY, the WILLA, the CAROL, and the RITA are just a few examples.

Whether it's helping writers prepare their book proposals, or mentoring authors in marketing and promotion, Hartline Literary Agency is a full-service agency that assists its clients in every aspect of their publishing careers.

We want to thank you for following us at this old address, and hope you will join us at the new addresses above.

Inflating Your Platform by Andy Scheer

How do you earn the attention of your followers?

Last week on Facebook, one of the hundreds of friends I’ve never met posted this:

I have a publisher's meeting in July. I need to build my platform on my Facebook page, [Impressive-Sounding Name.] I have invited my friends to like my page today to gain numbers, if you have a moment it would help me out to have a personal like. Thanks for the support.

Doubtless you’ve seen many such requests, maybe even sent them.

Perhaps they increase an author’s number of likes. But I doubt they fool publishers into thinking these authors really have a large following. More likely, they’ve calculated the average percentage of “ask-a-like” numbers—and accordingly re-figured the size of most authors’ real social media platform.

As for me, I seldom respond to requests to like a page. Why? Most times I don’t know the person. So I’ve never seen a reason to visit their page, let alone like it.

I restrict my likes to people I know—through working with them, meeting them at an event, or regularly seeing their posts that actually contain content of value. (I don’t consider a pitch to buy their book to be content of value.)

Still, a handful of writers have actually earned my likes. Some I’ve known for years. Others have earned my attention because they post regularly and memorably, with content that fits their brand and reinforces interest in their work.

And that work includes well-planned communication on social media—not just begging for empty likes.

I’m sure publishers notice that, too.

Monday, March 28, 2016

What Do You Want to See From Writers? By Linda S. Glaz

In a nutshell…exactly what we asked for on our agency site.

We don’t want colorful fonts or fonts the size of the Grand Canyon. We want New Times Roman, 12 pt. We want you to tell us exactly who has already seen the manuscript. We don’t want to take you on as a client and find out that you’ve already sent it to every editor in the industry. We want you to lay out your marketing strategies. Don’t tell us that you will start to build a social media and speaking presence. Tell us that you have already built this dynasty and are merely waiting for a fearless leader. 
Tell us you have researched your historic novel for a couple years, and it is now complete and looking for a home. Don’t tell us that you’ll start the research and finish the novel if we’re interested. And please…DO NOT tell us to go to your website to see a sample of who you are and what you do.
It truly is not rocket science. We tell you exactly what we want, what we expect, and you take it from there, using our guidelines.

There you have it. What do we want to see from writers? Exactly what we ask for on our site. If you follow this, you tell us that you already have a professional presence. And if your proposal looks good, you jump to the top of the pile. Welcome aboard.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Who Knows Where Your Words May Go by Andy Scheer

Your writing can reach people you’d never imagine.

In his novel, a man returned to his home town after an absence of forty years.

Set in the American South, the story spoke powerfully of reconciliation, forgiveness, faith in Christ, and revival. Vivid descriptions let readers place themselves in each scene. His protagonist noticed all that was familiar
— and all that had changed.

While the author targeted Christian readers in the United States, he got unexpected feedback. An English-speaking believer who’d just escaped persecution in a traditionally Islamic country read the novel. The story moved him. He saw how it could minister to other Christians in his nation — if it were translated into their language. So he tracked down the author and asked permission to make a translation.

The author has a burden for the people of that country — one to which it’s difficult for Americans to visit and even more difficult for them to speak openly about Christ. But books, especially stories, can speak to people privately, personally. In electronic format they can cross borders. They can change hearts and lives.

The author may never get royalty checks for this translated edition. His reward will be far greater.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Life Stands in the Way by Linda S. Glaz

Sitting down to write, edit, review, or any number of other writing jobs, one realizes that the moments stolen from life can be brief. For most authors, writing time is jammed between loads of laundry, crying babies, hungry husbands, and oftentimes, forty hour a week jobs as well.

There has to be an incredible burning and hunger to create stories. Or a severe case of masochism to be a writer. And to be an agent if truth be told. :):):)

I’m going to keep it simple today.

This is just a truth that I shared with a young woman in a writers’ group many years ago. She asked when she would be making a ton of money writing so she could quit the day job. And I told her this: “You might not ever make a pile of money. So decide right now if you are a writer. If you have to write as surely as you have to breathe, then, and only then, are you truly a writer.”

Life stands in the way many days, but if you can’t stop writing because of the burning in your soul, then you are probably a writer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Two Challenges Facing the Nonfiction Writer by Diana Flegal

Publishers are looking for nonfiction titles to address a felt need. And most large publishers publish what they call perennial titles every year. Parenting, relationship, and marriage are examples of titles they need for each year’s list.

Why? Because there is a continual felt need for these.

Other publishers are looking for issue related titles: Divorce Recovery, Depression, Spousal Abuse, Cancer, and Overcoming Living with Disabilities. These books will find a pretty large audience due to general relatability.
When one breaks these issues down to a smaller audience, then we are looking at a niche audience. Battling and Surviving Eye Cancer, Pastoral Wife Abuse, and The Plight of the Homeless Vet. We know these are actual demographics, but they are smaller, and more difficult to reach. This type of audience is best met through a speaking platform or online forum. For this author, most book sales will happen at the back of the room after a speaking engagement.
My nonfiction clients have several large challenges. One of the largest is discoverability (though the demands on a fiction writer’s platform are increasing). How is the reader going to find them and their book? The other is breaking into a publisher as an expert on a topic. If a large publisher has an established and well known writer on the subject of marriage, they will most likely continue to invest in the author making them money. As this writer ages out, the door will again open, but only to a writer well connected online with their readers felt needs.
One can have a great nonfiction book topic, well written outline and sample chapters and still get nowhere near a publishing committee.  If after a few query’s resulting in a rejection due to insufficient platform (though I believed they had impressive numbers), I recommend to my clients we table their book and dissect their individual platform building needs. Building up their speaking platform is of utmost importance. This means planning to attend a speaker’s conference, and joining a few speakers’ organizations. Contacting their local organizations with their speaking topics list, tweaked to meet that particular organizations needs.  And all of this takes time. If you do it right, at least two years.
For a nonfiction writer attempting to break into today’s market, the book comes after discoverability. In my mind speaking engagements and maintaining a vibrant online presence is a necessary ingredient to ones success.
If you believe you have been given something that can be a help to others, check out this list of organizations, conferences, and webinar offerings. Find one that fits your budget and schedule. Let this be the year you take a leap and develop your discoverability and expand your influence and reach.    






Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Every Careless Word by Andy Scheer

Yes, you’re judged by your spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
Last week, several authors’ Facebook posts took issue with grammar-shamers. They wanted to be judged by their online substance, not their delivery.
They’re missing the point.
If an error — of any kind — distracts a reader from your message, then you’ve failed to communicate clearly. Authors are judged by their written words. Once you put out your shingle as a professional, anything you write can be used as evidence: for you or against you.
The same day as the Facebook rant, I saw this post from professional writer Bob Hostetler: “I don't care how brilliant your meme is, if it contains poor grammar or a misspelled word, I can't like or share it.”
And this from publishing executive Dan Baker: “Job hunting tip: Applying for a position at a publishing house? Try very hard to submit a cover letter that's free of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors.
A few posts below Dan Baker’s was this (in ALL CAPS) from a novelist:
Now I GET to write two syonses for the next to stories in the trilogy.
I hope her agent likes the syonses — whatever those are.

Not convinced? Consider this from Julie Powell in Cleaving: A story of marriage, meat, and obsession.

“Many people will argue that email ... and instant messaging and all the rest of it have destroyed our capacity as a race for gracious communication. I disagree. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we’ve entered a new golden epistolary age. Which is another of the reasons I hardly ever use my phone as a phone. Why stammer into a headset when I can carefully compose a witty, thoughtful missive? With written words I can persuade, tease, seduce. My words are what make me desirable.” 

Monday, March 14, 2016

So We Have Another Time Change by Linda S. Glaz

And here we are. Sleepy, grouchy, and waiting breathlessly for a full pot of coffee. Daylight Savings has done it again. Our bodies scream what?!?, our minds are fogged for at least a week, our systems simply won’t do what we ask of them. 


I’m always looking for real things to add to my characters that will make them jump off the page. When I watch an action flick and see a guy who has been hospitalized while they stalk him, and then suddenly, he jumps up, pulls the IV from his arm, and is on the run once again, I groan. Reality? I think not.

So how do we make the character real while keeping tension flowing along with his red cells? And do it without cheating…

Take the opportunity to place your character in a situation that changes his body functions against his will. He might work out in a gym, eat healthy, and sleep exactly 8.2 hours a night. What can you do to throw off his normally healthy body?


Now you have the nut that won’t fit the bolt. He can no longer function correctly despite his wholesome lifestyle. And you can use that to ramp up tension like nothing else.

Suddenly she looks for the opportunity to take a ten-minute power nap, she slogged through her morning while the bad guy gets a two-hour head start, she can’t make logical decisions on the fly.
You’ve given her a wonderful reason to lose the fight!

Are you constantly searching for unique ways to stop your character from winning?
Try the everyday, overlooked, wonderful choices at hand. Look to life.

Daylight Savings Time, anyone’s nemesis!