Monday, April 30, 2007

Publishing Questions

I suspect the newest edition of Writer’s Market has just been published. Why? Because I’ve been receiving a lot of email questions about the business, things I would assume people should know before they begin the submission process. My personal opinion is that Writer’s Market is the easy way out and used primarily by new or inexperienced writers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great resource to begin your search with, but once you’ve narrowed your agent list from Writer’s Market you need to take the next step and review other resources to know for sure they are a fit.

You should also be aware that as far as I know, Writer’s Market still doesn’t have a strong vetting process. In other words, you can’t guarantee that all of the agents listed are reputable. So for that reason alone it’s imperative that you do research well beyond Writer’s Market.

To make my life easier I’m going to try to answer some of these questions in one place. That way, when they come around again next year I can simply supply people with the blog link.

I am an unpublished author and I've been doing some research on this. I know there are no types of reading fees, but what other fees are there besides your cut of the royalties? I mean, surely you guys don't pay out of pocket for advertising and things like that in hopes of making a big sale . . .

A literary agent is an author representative. My job is to look after the interests of my clients—authors. I represent the author in the sale of her work to publishers, which includes submissions, contract negotiation, the collection of money, handling other rights, as well as working with the author on career guidance and planning. I do not publish the book, advertise them, handle distribution, or any of the other jobs that are the responsibility of the publisher. And yes, I am paid entirely on commission.

I recently wrote a fictional book that is around 125 pages. It comes under the category of mystery/thriller. Everyone who has read my book really likes it. There are some mistakes in the book that can easily be corrected, but how should I go about getting published, because I do not know what should be the next step that I should take after writing the book?

I’m a literary agency, not an editing service. I want to see your book only when it is completed and polished and you feel it’s in fabulous shape and publishable.

How do you go about getting your book published?

You learn about the industry first. You polish, edit, and revise your book. You research literary agents and understand the different genres. You know which genre your book is in and you target only those agents who represent those genres. You then submit according to their individual guidelines. That means writing a strong and professional query letter. That also means learning to accept rejection. Once you get an agent she will start submitting to publishing houses on your behalf and you will work together to make that deal.

Oh, and 125 pages, assuming it’s double-spaced, is way too short. Fiction should be a minimum of 75,000 words for some categories, but primarily between 80,000 and 100,000 words. If yours is too long or too short, it’s time to edit and revise.

A proposal or partial consists of a synopsis of your entire book, including the ending, and the first three chapters, but no more than 50 pages. Make sure it’s the first three chapters.

Publishing is a business. Agents and editors don’t do these jobs as hobbies and publishers are in the business to make money, like all businesses are. Therefore you need to start thinking like it’s a business. You wouldn’t become an accountant without learning how to account. So don’t think you can get published without learning how to get published first. There are a lot of great books and resources on the subject. I’m sure I can get some people to make recommendations. . . .

—Jessica

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Friday, April 27, 2007

BookEnds Talks to Sue Owens Wright

Sue Owens Wright
150 Activities for Bored Dogs—Surefire Ways to Keep Your Dog Active and Happy
Publisher: Adams Media
Pub date: April 2007
Agent: Jacky Sach


(Click to Buy)


Sue Owens Wright is the author of The Beanie and Cruiser Dog Lover’s Mystery Series and What’s Your Dog’s IQ? She is a seven-time nominee and two-time winner of the Maxwell Award by the Dog Writers’ Association of America. Sue resides in California with her husband and two basset hounds.

Awards: Nominated seven times for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers’ Association of America. Won the Maxwell in 2003 and 2005 in the categories of Best Magazine Feature and Best Newspaper Column. Received special recognition in 2004 from the Humane Society of the United States. Also nominated for the American Legion Auxiliary “Heart of America” Award.

Author Web site: www.beanieandcruiser.com

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Sue: 150 Activities for Bored Dogs helps turn bored dogs into active dogs with a great mix of activities for the home-alone dog as well as activities that let you in on the fun. Includes chapters on Fun Fur One, Fun Fur Two, and Fun Fur the Whole Doggone Pack.


DOGMA FOR THE WRITER’S LIFE
How to Unleash Your Inner Author

Sue Owens Wright

Gustav Flaubert said, "A writer’s life is a dog’s life, but it’s the only life worth living." If you write about dogs, as I do, this statement is especially true. If Flaubert had dogs of his own, he must have known that they have much to teach us about the writing life. There’s no breed better suited to be a writer’s role model than the indomitable basset hound, which it so happens is as French as Flaubert.

I’ve been owned by seven bassets, which is why one named Cruiser is featured in my Beanie and Cruiser Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. Having observed basset behavior within drool-slinging range for many years, I have come to understand they are the perfect barketype for any writer’s life. To lead the pack in pursuit of success in the literary field, a writer must emulate many of the same traits that make a scent hound so good at tracking hares in the field.

Here are some tricks my dogs have taught me about unleashing my inner author. I hope you’ll find them as useful as I have.

Pick up the Scent—Every writer begins with the same question: What shall I write about? A basset ranges in the field, searching for the scent of game. Then suddenly he picks up a hot scent. Tally-ho! He begins to bay with the joy and excitement of having discovered the quarry he will pursue. The joy is no less great for a writer who has found the subject he loves to write about.

Stay on Track—A basset hound won't ever quit until he has tracked the hare to its lair. Dogged determination is key to success in the field or on the page. If a writer is ultimately to see his work published, he must never give up.

Find Your Voice—Every dog has a different bark: the mailman bark; the neighbor's cat on the fence bark; the squirrel in the tree bark. A baying basset hound has a distinctive, melodious voice. Writing, writing, and more writing will help the writer discover his unique voice.

Use your Ears (and all your senses)—Dogs have a keen sense of hearing. Writers have good ears, too, for listening or eavesdropping. By using their ears, eyes, and other senses, they perceive details around them that enrich their stories.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race—When I'm walking my stubborn hound on the leash, trying to rush him along, he puts on the brakes and looks up at me as if to say, "What's the doggone hurry?" The same is true of writing. Take your time to edit and improve your writing before you submit it. Editors will thank you, and publish you.

Follow Where the Path Leads You—When a basset follows a scent, other scents may dilute and weaken the scent he was following. He may stray off on the wrong path, but then he catches the scent again and he’s back on the right trail. The writer may also stray off the path now and then and be distracted by any number of things, but focusing on your end goal gets you there faster.

Enjoy the Journey—A basset hound knows how to enjoy life. He eats, plays, chases squirrels, and naps. He naps a lot! He conserves his energy and regularly recharges his batteries. So should a writer. All work and no play produces dull, uninspired writing and results in burnout.

Hang with the Pack—Bassets work best in packs. So do writers. Writing is a solitary pursuit. Spend some time (but not all of it) with other writers. Attend writing workshops or join online writers’ groups. By sharing and learning, you’ll become a better writer.

Bark up the Right Tree—A scent hound doesn't waste time following a trail that will not lead him to his quarry. A writer must not waste precious time sending out material incorrectly to the wrong markets.

Take the Bite out of Rejection—Dogs don’t take anything personally. If a dog gets rejected, he doesn’t give up. He doesn’t sulk or whine but tries again and again until he eventually gets his reward.

Be a Publicity Hound—A publicity hound is the breed that has the biggest mouth and the longest tale. Howl your successes, bury your failures, and hire a good publicist to help you promote your book. Speaking of publicity, a well-designed Web site is a must for promoting your work. Mine has been worth its weight in Milkbones.

Share the Rewards of the Hunt—At the end of a successful hunt, the hunter rewards his hounds. Generously share your reward with others. Teach. Mentor. Be gracious. It makes success all the sweeter. And don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done.


Feel free to ask Sue questions in the comments section. She'll pop in during the day to answer them.

To learn more about Sue, see Our Books at www.BookEnds-Inc.com.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

An Editor Leaves

This week we say good-bye to a good one. An editor I have worked with on a number of different projects and someone I think is truly talented, smart, and an asset to the publishing community. The really sad thing is that this editor is not just leaving a publishing house, but the business altogether. Why does it seem that the ones who leave are always the best? Since I started my career in publishing almost 15 years ago I have seen the loss of so many great and talented editors, people who, for one reason or another, felt burned out, needed a change of scenery, or just didn't think the job was a passion anymore.

While I think this happens in every business, I feel the loss more deeply in publishing. Editors are, strangely enough, often treated as the bottom of the food chain at publishing houses. They get paid the least, get the least amount of recognition, and editorial departments are often deemed the least important department within the publishing house. How ironic since publishers wouldn't have a product if it weren't for the talented editors who bring it to them.

I don't know all of the reasons this editor has decided to leave and, truthfully, it's none of my business. I do know, however, that she is leaving a hole in publishing. She will be missed by the authors who have benefited so greatly from her talents and I will miss her because in all things she was always a pleasure to work with.

—Jessica

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Market Update

I recently had lunch with an editor at Perigee. We went to a sushi restaurant on Carmine Street—Yama. Kim was very disappointed in me. It’s one of her all-time favorite restaurants and I’m afraid the yumminess was lost on me. While I’m fine with sushi, unlike Kim and Jacky I just don’t have a passion for it. Give me good Indian any day.

Perigee is one of the nonfiction imprints of Penguin. It’s a house that does primarily what are called backlist titles—these are books that might not sell huge numbers right out of the gate, but they will be around for years and years to come. In truth, they are the types of books all nonfiction agents want to have on their lists.

This particular editor is looking for some career and personal business books. Not the big, sweeping general books, but those that individuals can find helpful. Books on negotiation, career planning, etc. The kinds of books I like to represent. She also has a real passion for green living and organics and was so excited about two new upcoming titles of hers that we spent most of our time talking about vegetarianism, and toxins in household products. It really makes you think twice about what you buy.

Green living is obviously a hot topic these days and I would love to add some of these kinds of titles to our list. I’m going to speak for Jacky and say that I’m sure she would too. It’s something that’s close to both of our hearts. It’s not easy though. Not just anyone can write this kind of book. It’s got to be someone with a platform, of course. Someone who is really active in this community and has a respected and known name. The Perigee editor also pointed out that there are a lot of general books on the subject and that part of the bookshelf is getting flooded. Now they need more specific books, but not too nichey. One of the titles in their most recent catalog was The Toxic Sandbox. I thought it was a brilliant idea and will have to make sure I get a copy. It’s a book that discusses all of the toxins that children are exposed to on a daily basis. Did you know plastic bags were so bad? What a great idea!

So I will keep my eye out for toxic books (ha-ha) and I know exactly who to send them too.

—Jessica

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Questions to Ask Before Signing with an Agent

If you didn’t pick up on it yesterday, I want to remind you today: You are hiring an agent. This person works for you and you pay her. Therefore she should be the person you feel the most comfortable with and who you trust with your money and your work.

So what can you ask and how should you interview an agent. That’s up to you. While I definitely suggest you take the time to talk with each interested agent on the phone, it’s also perfectly acceptable to email your questions. This way she can either reply via email, or has the questions in front of her during your phone call and you won’t feel like you’re peppering her with a million different questions.

The first place to go for questions is The Association of Artists’ Representatives. They have a good list of questions that will get you started. Not every question needs to be asked, but this will give you an idea of what is important to you.

And the rest is personal. What do you want in an agent? What’s important to you? Are you an email or phone person? Do you need hand-holding or editing or are you a loner? Do you need someone with a strong personality who can put you in your place or are you afraid of overly aggressive people?

Here’s a list of the questions I think are most important when interviewing an agent. But you are the only person who can decide what’s important to you.

* How does your agency handle subsidiary rights, including film and foreign rights? (Most agencies use co-agents for this. As long as an agency has experience and contacts in this area you are in good hands.)

* Who in your agency will actually be handling my work? Will the other staff members be familiar with my work and the status of my business at your agency? Will you oversee or at least keep me apprised of the work that your agency is doing on my behalf?

* Do you issue an agent-author agreement? May I review the language of the agency clause that appears in contracts you negotiate for your clients?

* How do you keep your clients informed of your activities on their behalf?

* Do you consult with your clients on any and all offers?

* What are your commission rates? What are your procedures and time-frames for processing and disbursing client funds? Do you keep different bank accounts separating author funds from agency revenue? What are your policies about charging clients for expenses incurred by your agency?

* When you issue 1099 tax forms at the end of each year, do you also furnish clients upon request with a detailed account of their financial activity, such as gross income, commissions and other deductions, and net income, for the past year?

* How do you handle submissions? Will you stop submitting my work after a certain time or number of rejections?

* Do you want to represent just this book or are you interested in my other work?

* Do you place a minimum time requirement on our relationship? Can either of us terminate the agreement at any time?

* How would our relationship be terminated if I’m not happy?

* If we part company, what happens to any outstanding subsidiary rights?

* How do you help your clients with career planning?

* How frequently do you update your clients or keep them informed of the work you’re doing? How do you prefer me to communicate with you?


So, what questions have you asked or would you ask any potential agents?


—Jessica

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Multiple Offers from Agents

You get that call. Finally, an agent wants to offer representation and you’re over the moon. Your first instinct is to shout, “Yes, anything you want,” into the phone. But I’m here to tell you to suppress all first instincts. This is the time when you are finally in the driver’s seat and can take the opportunity to hire the agent you feel is best for you and your work. Think of it this way: Would you marry the first man who asks you out? Well, I guess you might, but hopefully you’ve interviewed him or at least dated others first.

So how do you handle that call? Thank the agent, ask her to give you a day or two, and hang up the phone to do your celebratory dance. Then get to work. Where is this agent on your list and why is she there? Have you met her before, talked with her, and know that you have a connection? If that’s the case there’s probably no question she’s already the right agent for you. But, if like most authors, you’ve never met her, or any other agents, and other than knowing her reputation you don’t really know her, then it’s time to set up an agenting hiring process.

Contact (I would call and email) all the other agents who are currently reviewing your material. For those you are interested in working with I would simply let them know you have an offer of representation and are entertaining any other offers. Let them know that you need to hear of their interest by Monday or Tuesday or whatever day you choose. If you’re someone who needs timeliness from an agent then this is your test. If she doesn’t respond by the date you’ve both agreed to then she’s probably not right for you. It also shows a level of enthusiasm. Those who are excited about a little competition and the prospect of a new client are very likely to get back to you quickly.

For any agents you suddenly find you’re not that interested in working with, simply send a letter or email to let them know that you received another offer and are pulling your work from consideration. (You can wait to do this after you have officially accepted an offer.)

I’m not going to kid you, this is probably going to feel like one of the most stressful times of your life, but it’s also going to be worth it. Hopefully you are giving yourself the time you need to hire the right person for the job. The person who is going to work best with you and meet your needs (not necessarily the person your best friend loves or the “big name” that everyone suggests). This is your agent. Choosing an agent, like choosing a spouse, is a personal decision, and when it comes right down to it the biggest name or the best reputation, or even the person who your best friend loves, isn’t necessarily the person for you.

So what should you be doing while waiting. You should be celebrating and you should also be preparing for your interviews. Tomorrow I’m going to talk about questions you should have on hand when talking to a potential agent.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from any agented authors who went though this process and what you learned. Did you give all potential agents an opportunity or just accept that first call? What worked for you and what didn’t?

—Jessica

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Friday, April 20, 2007

BookEnds Talks to Sally MacKenzie

Sally MacKenzie
Book: The Naked Earl
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Pub date: April 2007
Agent: Jessica Faust


(Click to Buy)


Sally MacKenzie was born in Washington, D.C., and still lives in the Maryland suburbs with her transplanted upstate New Yorker husband. After years driving her four sons around, she wrote and sold her first Naked book, mortifying them and giving her youngest son the perfect college application essay.

Awards: The Naked Duke: finalist in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest; winner, 2005 New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf award for Best First Book; nominee, Romantic Times BOOKreviews 2005 Reviewers’ Choice Award for “Best First Historical Romance.” The Naked Marquis: recipient, Road to Romance Reviewers’ Choice Award (December 2005). The Naked Earl: Romantic Times BOOKreviews K.I.S.S. for April.

The Naked Earl recently hit #10 on the Borders bestseller list for Romance. And just announced! A USA Today Bestseller!;

Author Web site: www.sallymackenzie.net

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Sally: When a naked Earl climbs through her bedchamber window, Lady Elizabeth does the proper thing: She screams. And then . . . well, Lizzie has had enough of being proper. She wishes to be bold. Wanton, even. She won’t be commanded to put on her nightgown. Just this once, she will be absolutely daring. . . .

BookEnds: What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other authors of this genre?
Sally: There are many, many Regency-set historicals on bookstore shelves, ranging from serious and emotional to light and funny. I consider my Naked books to be primarily funny, but with serious—and, I hope, touching—moments. I was a reader long before I was a writer, so I try to cut out of my books the parts I used to skip when I read Regencies. You won’t find many details on dresses or furnishings or politics in a Naked book. Instead I have a lot of dialogue, short paragraphs, and situational humor, sometimes bordering on the slapstick. While I try not to get any historical points wrong and to keep a Regency “feel,” I focus more on the romance than the history.

BookEnds: Where do you get your ideas?
Sally: Some ideas arise naturally from the societal structure of early-19th-century England and the plot conventions of the Regency genre. Then my characters supply the details. I put them together and see what they say and do. When everything is going well, they take charge and lead me where they want to go.

BookEnds: What is your writing process like?
Sally: Messy. Since my books are related, I usually know whom my story will be about, but not what will happen. I spend pre-writing time thinking about my characters, their histories, families, relationships, what happened to them in my earlier books. I jot ideas in a notebook and write character descriptions and other musings on note cards. I might have a few scenes I know I want to get to. Then I start. I try to write five pages a day, seven days a week. I like to have about a month between finishing the book and turning it in to revise and polish.

BookEnds: How do you spend your time when not writing?
Sally: Next fall when my “baby” goes to college, things will change, but now I’m still very busy with his school and sports. I proofread the parents’ club monthly newsletter and am vice president of the local summer swim league—and chair of the Rules Committee. I spend huge chunks of my life at swimming pools, timing swimmers or chatting with other spectating parents. (For my birthday one year, my husband gave me a T-shirt with the “Swim Parents’ Creed”: “If I have but one day to live, let me spend it at a swim meet . . . they last forever!”) I’m also in a constant battle with age and gravity, trying to get to the gym three mornings a week to keep everything in semi-working order.

BookEnds: What one thing do your readers not know about you?
Sally: Hmm . . . how about three things? I was admitted to the University of Notre Dame’s first class of women. I’m a law school dropout. And I wrote regulations for the U.S. federal school nutrition programs. (Anyone remember ketchup as a vegetable?) Oh, and one more. I hadn’t realized until I started doing these interviews that, except for college, law school, and my first year of marriage, I’ve lived my whole life within ten miles of where I grew up!

Feel free to ask Sally questions in the comments section. She'll pop in during the day to answer them.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reader Question: Choosing the Name

Two years ago I was looking for an agent. I received two offers of representation. One from a small, newish, up-and-coming agency, made up of three agents, one from a big-name, established agency.

I went with the big agency for their muscle and contacts and record of success. I felt the name alone carried weight.

After five submissions, my agent told me basically based on the uniform (meaning no thank you) feedback from editors, the book was unsellable in today's market, and that was it for submissions. Maybe later, when the cycle turned.

I'm working on the next book and meanwhile very unhappy that this is their policy. I hadn't realized this was a question to ask. Is this the general rule with big agencies? I thought I was better off bigger, but I'm questioning my decision.

I liked the other agent. I just felt the big guys had more juice. And how, if I decide to go back to the other agent, do I approach him? Will this bad choice color the rest of my writing career?


This question actually comes at a good time for me. I’ve seen a lot of postings on blogs, message boards, and the like about authors who know exactly who they would sign with before talking to any agent. Many feel that signing with Big Name Agent is always the right thing to do. I’ve wanted to address this situation, but wasn’t sure how to do so, and I think this gives me just that opportunity. . . .

I can’t stress enough how important it is to choose an agent that works for you. Ms. Big Name Agent isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t agree with her policies, are afraid of her, or disagree with every editorial suggestion she makes. The other problem is that Big Name Agent and their counterparts often get that way because of their years in the business, the success they’ve had with a client or two, or because they are really good at talking themselves up. I can name at least one or two Big Name Agents that don’t have nearly the reputation in publishing houses that you all think they do. There are definitely Big Name Agents that authors revere and publishers couldn't care less about.

Name isn’t everything. Do you buy tennis shoes for the name only or do you try them on first and see which pair works best for you? While I hate to compare myself to a tennis shoe, I think it works. Try on an agent, interview her and make sure that she works for you. Obviously you want someone with a good reputation, but a big name doesn’t always mean a good reputation.

If you’re unhappy with your current agent, chalk it up to experience, fire her, and start fresh. Contact that other agent, as well as others, and use your experience to ask the questions you feel need to be answered.

Oh, and by the way, what is a big name agent?

* On another note, beginning tomorrow we're going to try to make our Friday interviews more interactive and give readers the chance to directly ask questions of the authors. Tomorrow's interviewee, Sally MacKenzie, will check in on the blog periodically during the day and answer any questions you've posted in the Comments. So if there's anything you want to know directly from Sally or any of our other interviewed authors, ask away!

—Jessica

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Writer's Revenge

I was very dismayed to see this comment on a recent post of mine:

What happens when it's not the editors and agents that drag you down, but the other writers? How do you handle the added stress of other somewhat more successful writers who once encouraged you and now are telling not only you, but their editors and small fan base, that you are a horrible, unoriginal, immature person? When you've barely made a handhold and a few steps in the cliff of a writing career, how do you handle other writers stomping on your fingers?

Sadly, I’ve heard lots of stories like this—critique groups or even writers' organizations who can’t handle the success of someone else or are afraid that someone else is going to rise up and outshine them. Do you know what I think you do? Find new friends. Editors and agents listen to gossip with half an ear. It’s interesting, but in the end we are adults and know how to make our own decisions. People badmouth other people. It happens, it happens to me all the time. I personally find it amusing. I figure that I must have made it if people feel the need to try to sully my name. If other writers, friends, your critique group, whoever, are the people bringing your down, then it’s time to cut the cord. Find a new critique group, new friends, and new writing buddies (unfortunately there’s only so much you can do about family).

Usually it’s jealousy that causes people to talk the way they talk. If you aren’t published and they are, it’s fear. Maybe they know you’re a better writer, or just fear that you are. Maybe they like being the star and are afraid someone else might outshine them. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Every single writer, or at least most writers, have had an experience like this at one point or another. So how did you handle it or what was your horror story?

—Jessica

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Reader Question: What's Hot!

Is there a particular genre that is hot in the marketplace right now? Something editors are requesting or looking for more than other genres?

I guess that depends on what genre you write in. All genres have a sub-genre hot list of the moment, but I don’t necessarily think that one genre is hotter than another. Romance is always an area that sells well, as does SF/Fantasy and Mystery. What sells within those genres, though, can differ. Horror and thrillers, for example, are not easy sells these days, and while it seems I hear a lot of editors asking for suspense or romantic suspense, you really need to have an amazingly written and flawless book and a good hook to get it sold. Obviously erotica and erotic romance is still selling well, but I’ve already noticed a slowdown in buying. Editors have filled their lists and are now sitting back a little to see how it’s going to play out. And paranormal is everywhere—in romance, in mystery, and even in nonfiction. It seems editors and readers can’t get enough.

At least they can’t get enough at certain houses. What a lot of authors don’t realize is that what is hot can also differ from house to house. Some houses are voracious for erotica, while others want sensuous romances but are not interested in books that would be classified as erotica or even erotic romance. Some houses will buy almost any cozy mystery we send their way, while others "can’t sell cozies." Some want business and parenting while other houses are telling me that parenting isn’t really selling well for them these days and therefore they aren’t actively looking for new books.

During a recent conversation with an editor, what we concluded is that the hot thing now is really a hybrid of genres. Editors are looking for erotic romantic suspense, paranormal anything, and fantasy romances. They want mysteries with a heavy romantic element and romances with a lot of mystery. I think it’s a really fun and exciting time in publishing. The ideas can be huge and different and push so many boundaries. It’s really giving authors time to challenge their creativity and think outside of the box. For those of you who always thought you’d write in two different genres, you can now make those genres one (unless you want to write children’s books and erotica). How cool is that?

No matter what, though, try not to write to what is selling. If you aren’t a paranormal writer don’t write paranormal. If you can’t do romance, or don’t like romance, don’t write romance. Markets ebb and flow and trends change very, very quickly. Last year I could sell almost any erotic romance I sent out. Now editors have the time and full lists that allow them to be choosy again. If you jumped on the bandwagon last year, and it took you a year to write the book, you could be too late. Always keep an eye to the trends so you know if what you’re writing is suddenly hot, but try not to let the trends guide what you’re writing.

—Jessica

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Reader Question: An Agent/Author Disagreement

What happens when you and your client disagree on a plot point in her manuscript? Say shifting POVs, the ending or beginning? Say she agrees with 90% of your suggestions, but disagrees with some. How much of your advice do you expect her to use?

Keep in mind that what I do and what other agents do are completely different so how I answer this might not help you at all, unless, Anonymous, you happen to be a client of mine.

I expect my clients to use the advice that works for them. I’m not a writer, but I am an agent and a former editor. I know what sells books and I know what things in a manuscript can bring in rejections, but I can be wrong too. I truly think I give good suggestions and advice on what is working, what’s not working, and even my own thoughts on how it can be fixed. But it’s not my story. I would hope that if a client disagrees with my comments or suggestions she would feel comfortable enough to call and discuss, brainstorm, or share her own thoughts. This is a collaborative process. Together we are working as a team to sell this book, and while I might be the team leader (or at least think I am), I am not a despot.

I suspect that you can get better advice on how to handle a situation like this from other authors who’ve been there. So, readers, how do you handle your agent when you disagree with her suggestions, or how do you deal with your agent during the editing process?

—Jessica

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Friday, April 13, 2007

BookEnds Talks to Stacey Kayne

Stacey Kayne
Book: Bride of Shadow Canyon
Publisher: Harlequin Historical
Pub date: April 2007
Agent: Kim Lionetti



(Click to Buy)


Having a passion for history and flair for storytelling, Stacey Kayne strives to weave fact and fiction into a wild ride that can capture the heart. She will have four western romance novels available from Harlequin Historical this year. Stacey lives on a ranch near the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her husband of eighteen years and their two sons.

Awards: Four RWA Golden Heart finals and numerous regional contest wins.

Author Web site: www.staceykayne.com

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Stacey: Jed knows he's in for trouble when the widowed boardinghouse keeper he's come to retrieve turns out to be a scantily clad saloon girl. He vows to protect Rachell and get her safely to California, after he takes care of the trouble on her tail by luring them to Shadow Canyon. As they face the feral wilderness of Utah and the man determined to keep Rachell’s voice in his saloon, it is Rachell's innocent passion that becomes Jed's greatest threat, threatening to bring the light of love into his shadowed soul.

BookEnds: How did you come to write this book?
Stacey: An American History college course was a major catalyst in my writing aspirations and completely responsible for unleashing the hero that led to Bride of Shadow Canyon. I had just gone back to college and bought my first computer, and while watching a documentary in my American History night class, Stacey-Vision kicked in. I had this strong visual of a woman in buckskins, surrounded by windswept foothills—I immediately began trying to figure her out: where was she from, why was she in danger, why was she sad, where was she going, what was she after, how was she going to get her man. . . ? For the fist time, I started jotting my thoughts onto paper as the story spun in my mind. That night I sat at my new/used computer and decided to try and type out my daydream. By the time the sun came up I had a hundred pages and the start of my first book. By the end of my history course, my first historical western romance novel was born.

While writing Bride of Shadow Canyon I discovered that an adventurous setting with ever-changing untamed scenery was a driving force of my imagination. My mind is constantly searching for ways to submerge my characters in the beauty and grandeur of the American West. And hey, what’s not to love about hunky, rugged cowboys?

BookEnds: What is your writing process like?
Stacey: A book usually emerges in my mind as a funny or high-tension scene—no telling where that scene will end up in the book, because I do absolutely nothing in a linear fashion. Once I have a solid vision and vague idea for the course of the story, I start throwing down the bones of the book . . . for me, that’s dialogue. I’ll sketch out the major turning points of the story, roughly one hundred pages of nothing but dialogue and a few placement tags here and there. Once I have a solid flow for the story and the voice and personality quirks of my characters, I’ll start fleshing it out until I end up with what I like to call—the chunky stuff. At this point, I start to mold and merge, bridging the chapters together and brushing in the scenery. I clean as I go—by the time I write the last word in the last scene (no telling what chapter that will be), the book is finished.

BookEnds: What was your road to published author like?
Stacey: Writing was more like a surprise detour. I ignored all the hazard signs and pressed the pedal to the metal :) I’ve always been a daydreamer and used to wish I could find a job that would allow me to daydream all day . . . but I wasn’t a reader and I’d never written more than a term paper. I never guessed I would enjoy trying to pluck images from my mind and capture them on paper. It only took one night of watching my characters come to life on the screen to get me hooked. In 2001, when I realized I was trying to write a romance novel, I called up my mom and said, “Hey, can you bring me some of those books you read?” (It’s never too late to become a fan of romance!) I read at least a hundred novels that month, trying to unlock the rhythm of prose and dialogue. Over the next few months I began entering contests, a few months later I began winnings contests. I signed with an agent in January of 2002. When I finaled in the Golden Heart a couple months later, I made my career choice—I’d become a published author or go insane trying. No one told me that would be the year the bottom fell out on the western romance market *g*. After 4.5 years of trying, entering more contests than anybody should, and completing nine manuscripts, the insanity part was a near thing . . . but as I kept hearing over and over, persistence is the key.

BookEnds: What’s your next book? When and where should we look for it?
Stacey: Bride of Shadow Canyon is in bookstores everywhere. This title will have a follow-up late in the year, Bride of Vengeance. My third novel, Maverick Wild, will be out this fall, a follow-up to my debut novel, Mustang Wild, which was released in March.

BookEnds: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Stacey: 1. Get involved—join writers’ groups, network with other writers. There are great groups out there with wonderful resources for just about any genre. In addition to the advantages of networking and databases, having the support of a writing community, sharing successes and disappointments with other authors, is a huge bonus and really helps when the road gets long and bumpy.

2. Put your work out there—whether through critique partners, critique groups, or contests, get your work in the hands of readers. Personally, I was never comfortable in critique groups. I preferred the anonymity and no-holds-barred feedback of contests and the freedom to easily ditch feedback I didn’t agree with. The fact is, criticism is part of writing. Published or unpublished, not everyone is going to like our work. And that’s okay. A good book begins with the author’s passion—write the book that speaks to you.

3. Set short-term goals, give yourself deadlines—whether it’s a prospected complete date, agent submissions, or contest entries—mark the dates on a calendar and stick to them. It’s a great way to track progress and to keep moving forward. Above all, finish the book.

4. SUBMIT—you never know unless you try. To quote my pal Marlene’s sig line, “If at first you don’t succeed . . . try not to act astonished.” Start the next book and submit again.

5. Don’t lose sight of YOU. Writing requires hours of sitting in front of the computer, which is not so great for the cardiovascular system. Obsessive compulsive as I am, I found it quite impossible to make time for anything extra like exercise. After five years of full-time writing, it’s a scary thing to look down and realize you can count your finished manuscripts in weight gain—eesh. While talking plot with a few of my writing pals on the phone, we realized we all had headsets, a treadmill, and a need for more mobility. We formed the Sweaty Chat Sisters . . . teenagers aren’t the only ones who can tie up the party-line. For at least a half hour each day (okay, most days, a few days a week!), we talk plot, complain about stubborn characters, brainstorm, and walk . . . jog . . . lift weights . . . whatever gets the circulation grooving. Make time to get up, get out, and get sweaty.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Reader Question: What's Wrong with My Book?

I've been shopping around a paranormal romance. I've had requests from agents for partials, even for fulls, but ultimately no requests for representation, and the only thing I'm told is, "I wasn't as taken with the project as I hoped."

If there's something wrong with the plot/characters/etc., I'd love to know what it is so I could fix it. I'm already part of a writing/critique group, and the members all made their comments before I started shopping it around, so my question is, is my book just not going to work out?

I've already started shopping around a new one, but I'm disappointed because that one was part of a series, so it's like I wasted a lot of time/effort on four books that don't look like they'll see print.

I truly understand how busy all of you agents are, and with the amount of submissions you receive you don't have the time to do more than a standard rejection letter, I just wish it was possible to even get a one-sentence reason for rejection —"I didn't like the characters, the last act didn't appeal to me, I thought the situation was implausible, etc."


Here’s a secret that few agents will tell you . . . sometimes there’s just nothing to say.

I don’t know your situation and I don’t know your work (at least I don’t think I do). So I can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong with your book and it’s likely that the agents who reviewed it can’t either. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with it. The characters are good, the plot is good, the hook is good, but it’s not fantastic. It’s just that: good, fine, okay. Not special enough to sell.

Or sometimes those first three chapters were great. They were dynamic, enticing, attention grabbing, and the rest of the book just fell apart. Maybe it was slow, boring, or just plain bad.

My suggestion is to stop worrying about it. You can’t control it, and even if an agent said, “I didn’t like the characters,” would you know enough to make the changes necessary to get representation? If you can’t look at it objectively and figure out why it’s not selling, then don’t worry about it. Start writing your next book and make sure it’s better. Make sure it’s more exciting, the characters are more realistic, and your hook is hookier (if that’s a word).

—Jessica

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Marketing News — March Recap

I’ve been remiss in keeping you all up-to-date on my lunches and meetings with editors and I apologize. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels over here lately. It’s conference season, which pretty much guarantees at least two missed office days a month. Add in lunches, client meetings, etc., and I wonder when I’m ever at my desk (and I imagine some of my clients do too).

So, since I’m so far behind I’m going to do a bit of a recap on what I learned in March and then I’m going to try to keep you updated more regularly. I don’t think you need to hear about every meeting, since not every meeting is worth reporting on, but here are some highlights.

When talking with an editor at Kensington I learned more details about what is working in their erotic Aphrodisia line. When it comes to erotica and erotic romance they are seeing the greatest success with paranormal and historical stories. Futuristic and fantasy is also starting to move ahead, while SF is not. Interestingly enough, contemporary seems to be working, but it’s on an author-by-author basis. In other words, they haven’t really pinpointed specifics, but it does seem to depend on the appeal of certain authors. Sadly, multicultural isn’t working as well for them as they would have hoped. They also find that fetish or fantasy books seem to work. In other words, you cowboy lovers are gravitating toward erotic cowboy collections, and the same holds true for firefighters, etc.

As all of you mystery writers probably know by now, NAL is planning to launch a new mystery imprint, Obsidian. They are looking for all types of commercial thrillers, cozies, and more traditional mysteries. Keep in mind, they have always published mysteries, so they are not building a list from scratch; they are, however, going to use this new line to highlight their mysteries in a different way.

One romance editor at St. Martin’s Press is actively looking for romantic suspense and paranormal romance. Interestingly enough, this desire to add more romantic suspense to a list seems to be universal (me too, me too). The key, I think, is to make sure your hook is there and your suspense is strong, and a little scary. Think Allison Brennan, one of the newest stars in this genre. If she’s the hottest new thing then that’s what everyone else is looking for. Okay, back to St. Martin’s . . . they have a lot of werewolves and vampires and this editor would rather see something fresh. She’s not a fan of futuristic or fantasy titles, but likes beasts and creatures and especially demons. She wants a new twist on vampires and werewolves. She would also like to see (like everyone else) heartwarming women’s fiction that could cross over into romance. Think Debbie Macomber.

Lunch with an editor at HQN was actually very enlightening for me. I had no idea that they were only looking for contemporary romance. No paranormal, no historical. Of course, they have exceptions on their list, which is why I had assumed they were also open to more. See, even I can learn something shockingly new from these lunches.

So, this is today’s wish list from editors. Trust me when I say it will all change tomorrow. I promise to keep marketing news coming at a faster clip.

—Jessica

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A New Client

I just signed a new client, not my first of the year, but an interesting story. I actually have another interesting story, about another new client, that I hope to share at a later date.

I met this author at the PASIC conference (the published author chapter of Romance Writers of America) here in New York. Well, "met this author" might not exactly be correct. In fact, we’ve known each other for years, have kept in touch through submissions, and I’m always thrilled to see her at various conferences and RWA events. She’s incredibly talented and just a great writer, so I was thrilled when she got in touch to say that she felt it was time to get an agent (she’s currently writing for Harlequin).

During our meeting we talked about her career, what she’s looking for, what she plans to write, and how I would handle various situations, how I work and what I thought of her goals. We also talked about life and other things in general. She actually gave me some fabulous feedback on the blog. Generally we spent some time getting to know each other and trying to see if we were compatible. You know, we had a first date.

At this time the author also informed me that she was talking to other agents. Of course she was! I would be stupid to assume she wasn’t and she would be negligent not to. While I might compare this meeting to dating, finding an agent is not a game. You want someone you can trust, someone you’re compatible with, and someone you look forward to working with. And, I assume, you want someone you can work with for a long, long time. In other words, you never want to go through this process again.

We had a good meeting. In fact, I think it was too short. We could have sat there for hours, but it was time to go. I officially offered representation, she told me she was going to have to consider all offers (because she did have others) and would get back to me.

And now I’m nervous. When I see her around the conference I wave, smile, say hello and good-bye, but I also don’t want her to feel like I’m putting the pressure on (I leave that aspect of my personality for editors). And then, later that day, I see her going into the restaurant with another agent (a group of people with an agent really). Is that one of the agents who offered representation? Does that dinner give her the leg up? Oh dear, the thoughts start running. See, you authors aren’t the only ones who get neurotic and you’re not the only ones with an active imagination. I can get into some serious trouble on those train rides in and out of the City.

Needless to say, seven long days later I finally got the call (see, we get them too). Yeah! I won! I won! Tee-hee [evil laugh here]. In all seriousness, though, I am truly thrilled. I am very picky about taking on new clients and because of that there is more competition when I do offer representation. What it comes down to is that when I offer to work with someone it’s because I truly, truly love her work and believe in her. I believe in this author (like I believe in all my clients) and welcome her aboard.

—Jessica

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Monday, April 09, 2007

The Synopsis

Anytime I mention the word "synopsis" in front of a group of writers I hear a collective groan. It seems that many of you would rather go up in front of an editorial firing squad than write a synopsis. Well, I’m here to tell you to get used to it. For the published or unpublished, the synopsis is part of the game. You usually need it to sell your first book and you often need it to sell your hundredth book. If you don’t, you need one for the Art Department, the Marketing Department, or Sales. At some point along the line it is very likely you are going to need a synopsis of some sort. So, where do you start? And how concerned should you be?

Relax. While you want to make sure it’s free of grammatical errors and that an editor can actually read it, your synopsis doesn’t have to be perfect. The point of the synopsis is to give your reader—an agent, editor, or publicist—the key selling points of your book. We don’t need to know about every secondary character or every storyline, we only need to know how the plot progresses and what makes your story different. If you’re writing erotica we’re going to need an idea of how sexy this book is and where the sex scenes, at least some of them, come into play. If you’re writing suspense we’re going to need to know how the suspense progressively builds throughout the story and, of course, how things are resolved. Mysteries obviously need to show us how the clues are dropped and how the case is solved, and a romance should clearly define the conflicts the characters face as well as show us what makes the book different—how it’s not just boy meets girl. Do you see where I’m going with this? I need a basic timeline of the story, written in your voice and giving some idea of who these characters are. It’s not easy, but once you find a format that works for you it shouldn’t be that difficult.

And that’s another hint, the format that works for you. You can find a million different synopsis examples online or through your writer’s groups. Just like writing your book, you have to create a synopsis in your own voice and in a style that you’re comfortable with. There is no right or wrong to this. Three pages, five pages, ten pages, it doesn’t matter as long as you are including the important information—who, what, why, where, and how.

When I look at a synopsis I need to know those things that are enticing, those things that make the book stand out—does your werewolf also have magical powers? Show me how that works in the synopsis, and of course show me how the main plot carries through. But most important, I need to know how the book ends. When I request chapters and a synopsis I expect the synopsis to be a spoiler. I want to know how the rest of the book is going to play out, how the story is going to progress, how the characters will grow, and yes, I want to know who the killer is.

—Jessica

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Friday, April 06, 2007

BookEnds Talks to Kate Douglas

Kate Douglas
Book: Sexy Beast II/CHANKU FALLEN
Publisher: Kensington Aphrodisia
Pub date: March 2007
Agent: Jessica Faust



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Kate Douglas has found her writing niche with her sexy shapeshifter series, Wolf Tales. Currently writing her way through a twelve-title contract for Kensington’s Aphrodisia line as the imprint’s lead author, she’s still waiting for her editor to call and tell her it was all a big mistake.

Author Web site: www.katedouglas.com

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Kate: Mik and AJ are unusual among the Chanku—a bonded male pair. The men rescue a young prostitute who slips seamlessly into their sensual world, but is she Chanku? Will Tala come between them, or bind Mik and AJ even closer in a sensual yet loving ménage a trois?

BookEnds: What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other authors of this genre?
Kate: I don’t hesitate to take risks with my Wolf Tales series. The stories are dark and edgy, the sexuality of my characters is written in graphic and often extreme language, but I believe it fits the world I’ve created for my Chanku shapeshifters. I’ve learned that readers either love or hate the series, which tells me I’m pushing a lot of buttons. To be perfectly honest, I never expected the books to find such a wide audience, but their success tells me there are a lot of readers out there who are looking for stories that reach them on a very dark emotional level, while managing to provide a satisfying conclusion. I always deliver that “happily ever after” in my books, mainly because I hate reading stories that don’t leave me with a good feeling at the end.

BookEnds: What’s your next book? When and where should we look for it?
Kate: Wolf Tales IV will be out in July 2007. This is Tinker McClintock’s story—Tinker has always felt like a man apart from the rest. He’s the sole black male Chanku among the members of Pack Dynamics and the only one without a mate, but his sense of being different was born in a childhood spent in the foster care system, where he was raised by a white family. Growing up as a young black man without knowing the “rules” of the streets gave him an even greater sense of isolation. When he meets Lisa Quinn at the High Mountain Wolf Sanctuary in Colorado, Tinker finally has a chance to connect on a level beyond race. Lisa is white, but she is Chanku—and she is also in danger.

BookEnds: Besides making your first sale, what has been the most fun thing to happen to your writing career?
Kate: That one’s easy—walking into bookstores and seeing my books on the front table. That’s something I didn’t even dream of, as I’d always aimed my work at category romance, which rarely gets that kind of placement. To see my books displayed alongside authors I’ve long read and admired is probably the greatest thrill imaginable. (Autographing a book for a reader in the ladies’ room at the Romantic Times conference in Daytona Beach comes in a close second!)

BookEnds: How do you spend your time when not writing?
Kate: There IS no time when I’m not writing. I used to take long hikes and work in the garden, babysit my grandkids and experiment with new recipes. I love to walk the dog in our mountain community and cook big dinners for family and friends. Now, though, if I’m not writing I’m either working on promotion, planning for an upcoming conference, putting together a proposal for the next book, or sleeping . . . and I don’t have much time for that! Am I complaining? Not really, because I love to write and I’m enjoying the success of my series, but there is a niggling little voice in the back of my mind that keeps whispering, “Be careful what you wish for!”

BookEnds: What do you see as some of the biggest mistakes beginning writers make?
Kate: It seems so basic, but a lot of the material I’ve read by new and unpublished writers is so lacking in basic technical skills that my first inclination is to tell the person to practice their writing skills and THEN write a book. It’s important to know how the language works, how to structure a sentence, a paragraph, a story. Not that authors always follow the rules, but unless a writer knows them, she can’t break them and get away with it. I would suggest reading poetry to get a feeling for good writing. Learn to use the flow and rhythm of words, and keep that flow grammatically correct! (Yes, I AM on a personal rant today!)

To learn more about Kate Douglas, see Our Books at www.BookEnds-Inc.com.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Welcome to MySpace

Lately it seems I have been having numerous conversations with clients about the use of MySpace in publicizing their books. Some feel its audience is too young for their writing, while others are just intimidated by MySpace in general. And yet others have embraced it wholeheartedly.

Last week, author Barry Eisler wrote an extremely effective piece on how MySpace can best be used, and not used, for promotion.

In reading between the lines of what Barry Eisler says, I’ve come to discover that one of the reasons I think MySpace might make some authors nervous is that it takes you out of your comfort zone. Let’s face it, most authors are solitary individuals. You spend most of your day alone, in front of the computer, and many of you would call yourself introverted. The last thing you want to do is get out in public to publicize your book. You don’t like to speak in front of crowds and you certainly don’t want to strike up conversations with strangers just to hand them a bookmark. Maybe that’s a little stereotypical, but I think in the grand scheme of things we can say that about most people. Unless you’re a publicist or marketing professional you don’t get a rush from promotion, especially when you’re forced to promote yourself.

So why does MySpace take you out of that comfort zone? Because, as Barry Eisler points out, in order to truly make MySpace work you need to seek out potential readers. No longer is publicity just mailing bookmarks or letters. You actually need to hike up your pajama bottoms and dig through the trenches of MySpace to find potential fans. In fact, MySpace requires you to do what all successful publicity and marketing campaigns should do: It forces you to get in touch with your readers and to reach out to them first. It requires you to really strategize and think beyond just bookstores and reviewers to people passionate about the type of book you’re writing and its hooks.

So what’s my suggestion? Whether or not you feel that MySpace is the place for you, if you really want to make sure your money is well spent when it comes to publicity and marketing, you need to get down and dirty. Quit sending thousands of bookmarks to random addresses. Instead get in touch with gardening clubs to promote your gardening mystery or wine lovers to promote your Napa Valley-set romance. In other words, do the legwork to find the readers who will actually feel a connection with your book. It might take a little more effort up front, but I bet the rewards will be bigger in the end.

For those of you doing your legwork and already have established MySpace pages, I wonder whether or not it’s working for you. If it is, what are you doing to make it work? Are you, as Barry Eisler suggests, seeking out potential readers, or are you simply waiting for them to come to you? Have you noticed a sales bump since you launched your MySpace page? And for those of you who surf MySpace, what do you notice that attracts you or doesn’t catch your attention about an author or her page?

—Jessica

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Reader Questions: Agent Involvement

I would like to know more about how involved agents get in their authors' careers. How much of an author's short stories, novels in progress, novel ideas, marketing plan, etc., do you like to see? Would you prefer your author to keep you in the loop about these things, or do you expect an author to do a certain amount on their own and only let you know about the "big stuff" (i.e., a completed novel)?

Agents differ as to what level of involvement they expect and want, so make sure you have this conversation early on to clarify these points. Some agents are strong on editorial input, others are not. Some agents represent an author’s entire body of work, while others might prefer a more limited scope. I do prefer to be kept in the loop. Authors sometimes don’t let me know what kind of marketing they are doing and I miss out on opportunities to relay their efforts to a publisher or to use the information to negotiate better terms. And I certainly like to know about any novels in progress. Information, as they say, is power, so the more armed I am, the better off you might be. A good author/agent relationship involves a good amount of synergy, which won’t exist unless the agent is informed.

—Jacky

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Submission Reminder

While I know I’ve said this before, it obviously bears repeating. Whenever, anytime, every time, you send a submission to an agent, make sure to include a professional, detailed cover letter. To make it simple for you, here’s what I advise. Every query, proposal, full manuscript, or attachment you send an agent should include the following information:

* Name, address, email address, Web site, phone number

* Dear Ms. Faust (Jessica if you know me personally)

* An opening line that tells me why this material is coming my way (either I’ve requested it, you think I’m great, or you’re just looking for representation). The title of your book, word count, genre, target market.

* Your opening line should also include any details that make you stand out from the crowd. Are you published? A major award winner? Do you have editors reviewing requested fulls? All of this information can help get you to the top of my stack.

* A blurb of your book. This is that very exciting one-paragraph blurb that is so strongly written the editor will want to use it for the cover of the book. The blurb is your hook. Editors don’t need to know each and every plot point, they simply need to know what makes your book stand out.

* Additional information about you, your book, contests, organization memberships, professional background, etc. All of this can close your letter.

I can’t stress this enough. Each and every time you submit work to an agent you should include this letter. We don’t remember names, we don’t remember titles, and we don’t always remember why we requested something, so that gentle reminder (your blurb) is critical. When you send an email attachment (this should only be sent when requested), I would suggest you include your letter in the email and as the first page of your attachment. That way when I send it to my printer I know exactly what is coming back.

—Jessica

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Guest Blogger Debbie Allen on Shameless Self-Promotion

While there are many things that we can knowledgably talk to you about when it comes to publishing, there are many more times when it’s better to bring in a real expert on the subject. So over the course of the year we are going to try to have a number of guest bloggers come in and talk to you about what they know best. We’re hoping to cover everything from publicity and promotion to sales, marketing, and even bookselling.

Today we welcome Debbie Allen, BookEnds client and author of
Confessions of Shameless Self-Promoters, a book I review regularly to inspire me in my own shameless self-promotion. Debbie is one of the world’s leading authorities on self-promotion. Recognized for her expertise, Debbie’s book, Confessions of Shameless Self-Promoters, was bought by McGraw-Hill after its incredible success as a self-published title.

—Jessica









(Click to Buy)

Develop a Positive Belief About Self-Promotion

Self-promotion, when done effectively, works for ANY business or career. Once you begin to implement the proven marketing strategies behind it, it’s EASY to be successful in anything you set your mind to. In fact, when you promote yourself over and over again, you will begin to enjoy it more, and it will reward you many times over in return.

I shockingly discovered that an average of 87% of the thousands of businesspeople I’ve surveyed did NOT feel comfortable promoting themselves and avoided it MOST of the time.

In business we understand that if we don’t promote and market we can’t be successful. Right? No matter how great your service is or what amazing value you offer, if prospects don’t know about you, you’re not going to win the opportunity to do business with them.

Therefore, if you don’t promote yourself, it goes against the grain of all sales and marketing success! Right?

But why do so many people feel uncomfortable with self-promotion?

Because much of what they believe to be true about self-promotion comes from past programming that dates back to their childhood. When you grew up you may have heard comments like this, “It’s not polite to talk about yourself. It will come across as pushy or rude.”

Too many of us have 10, 20, 30 or more years of negative and/or limited beliefs rattling around in our heads about the concept of self-promotion. These limiting and negative beliefs have been programmed into our subconscious minds for years.

What were your parents, teachers, or guardians like when you were growing up? Did they believe in promoting themselves? Did they promote your self-esteem to believe that you could do anything you set your mind to? Were they risk-takers or were they conservative?

We usually hate to admit it, but we are all creatures of habit, especially when habits have been programmed into our brains since childhood.

Some people are so conditioned against self-promotion they are closed-minded about it; no matter how much it might benefit them. Now, I don’t expect you to change your belief overnight, but you can start by opening your mind to believing differently about self-promotion from this day forward.

Why believe differently? Because you can’t be truly successful if you aren’t willing to let people know that you, your product and/or services exist? If you aren’t willing to promote your talents, expertise, and products, others will quickly pass you by. The world is not going to beat a path to your door unless you pave the way.

Resenting self-promotion is one of the greatest obstacles to success.

"If you don’t toot your own horn, you can’t enjoy the music." —Debbie Allen

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