Monday, November 21, 2011

Jennifer "The Brilliant" Laughran on "The Market"

Wondering if "there's a market" for what you're writing? You'll want to read Children's agent Jennifer Laughran's (aka Literaticat) post on the topic. It's here:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Very Special #AskAgent

Well, today was my Writer's Digest webinar on self-publishing and its relationship to traditional publishing! I had a great time, I hope everyone else did as well. I think you can buy a copy or something even if you didn't see it live, so check out Writer's Digest's website.

At the end of the webinar, there was question time. I want to dedicate today's #AskAgent (open a lot longer than normal!) to questions that you didn't think of during the webinar! And if you didn't attend the webinar, don't worry. Ask your questions on other topics as well!

Questions are open from 3:30 pm EST (now) to 3:30 pm EST tomorrow (Friday)
I'll answer questions by the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Tweakers: Steve Jobs and Writers

I read a very, very excellent article by Malcolm Gladwell last night on the train home. It was about our recently departed Einstein of Design (he would have hated that), Steve Jobs. 

Gladwell points out that there are two types (well, for our purposes) of genius: the Creators and the Tweakers.

The creators make huge innovations. Come up with things that have never been done before. The Tweakers, well, "tweak." Tweakers make the "micro inventions necessary to make macro inventions highly productive and remunerative." In other words, tweakers take the big bangs and, with a series of small, well-placed sparks, make a bigger one.

I think this is relevant to writing, in the sense that writers live in fear of not being original. Fearful of that old adage: "There are no new stories."

Gladwell points out, and I agree, that small innovations are as important as the earthshaking ones--can, in fact, be the earthshaking ones. 

So write what you're writing, and don't worry that J.R.R Tolkein did it first. You're doing it different. Shoot, you might do it better. (Just don't tell me that in your query)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

No Response Means No. Rawr.

I'm just going to say a couple of things about all of this No Response Means No/Querying nonsense.

  1. To all of you that are thinking "FORM REJECTIONS TAKE 3 SECONDS YOU LAZY LOUTS": Try 3 seconds...multiplied by hundreds of queries. Every day. That I'm handling at 9 pm. After working all day...not on queries.
  2. No agent has ever argued against multiple submissions.
  3. I'm one of those crazies that actually responds to all of my queries. I have an ungodly number backed up. I work on them every single day. And I have interns who work on them. 3 seconds is not nothing.
But, shoot, if you're still fed up with us, there's always self-publishing, on which I'm teaching a Writer's Digest webinar tomorrow at 1pm. And I'll be offering a which I promise to respond. Sign up here:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Query Etiquette

A lot of people ask me how long they should wait after a rejection to requery the rejecting agent.

That timeframe depends on what you'd be querying when you do requery. A new project? A new draft of the old?

If it's the latter, a new draft of an already-queried book, I'd say you should wait at least a year. And in that time you should be revising and using beta readers to figure out how the book can be made genuinely better. We all know my opinions on too-quick revision. (If not, read the #AskAgent archives)

If it's a new project, I say you can requery immediately, so long as the book is ready. Meaning it's been read, revised, read by beta readers, revised, let sit, revised again, and then queried.

A different project, for me, is a fresh start.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Writer's Digest Webinar: Self-Publishing

I'll be giving a webinar through Writer's Digest on Thursday, November 17th, about self-publishing.

We'll cover everything you could possibly want to know: the strategy behind self-publishing, its relationship to traditional publishing (aka will it help you get signed or published), file formats, different platforms to use, metadata, etc. etc. etc.!!

And just for icing, there'll also be question time and a guaranteed critique from me. Sign up here:

See you there!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We're Back!! #Ask Agent 9

After a bye-week for the Backspace Conference (which was awesome, by the way!), we're back for #AskAgent!!

What's on your mind?

Questions are open from noon to 3 EST.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Trailers

Today, the LA Times did a story about book trailers: their blockbuster-like budgets and their ability to sell books the way movie trailers sell tickets.

I don't know, though. I've enjoyed the book trailers I've seen, but I wonder if they really have an effect on sales.

What do you think? Has a book trailer convinced you to throw down at the cash register? Share your favorites in the comments!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Conference 101: Pitch Sessions

Easily the most terrifying thing about the conference. But before you decide to sneak in some mini bottles, consider this. Pitches are hard because they ask you to verbally represent a written medium. You're taken way out of your element--so don't beat yourself up.

You're going to a writer's conference. It's actually a bit unfair to ask you to take something that's hard enough to do well: write a query, and convert it to something even harder: an elevator pitch.

Elevator pitches are definitely good to have. They're particularly helpful when talking to other authors and finding beta readers, because they keep you concise. And at some point, you're probably going to have to whip out that short verbal pitch, so don't discount it.

But at a writer's conference, your main goal is to learn (not, as we've covered, to get signed). The verbal pitch is important, but more important is your written pitch. Your query.

When you sit down to pitch, you should have copies of three things (all with contact information):

  1. Your query
  2. The first five pages of your book
  3. Your synopsis
When you sit down, have the query out and start like this: 
"Hi, thanks so much for taking the time. I've got a [CATEGORY] [GENRE] complete at [WORDCOUNT] called [TITLE] for you today, and I have my query here as well, just in case." 

Then start into your pitch. It should be only two sentences maximum, and in the first sentence you should name your main character and the main problem. Then, STOP TALKING. The agent or editor will then give the session some direction by asking for the information that's most important to them. Or they might read over your query. Either way, the pressure's off of you after those first two or three sentences:
  • Sentence including wordcount, title, category, and genre
  • Sentence or two (max) that names the main character and presents the main conflict
The synopsis and first five page are there just in case. If the editor or agent really seems enthused (beyond requesting a full--that's not so uncommon) ask if they'd like to take the pages or synopsis with them. Most of the time, they'll say no. But you never know, right?