- Author News, Deals
- Bad Poetry
- Blog News
- Collaborating and Ghosting
- Current Affairs
- Deep Thoughts
- Favorite Books
- Marketing and Platforms
- Questions from Beginners
- Quick Tips
- Resources for Writing
- Social Media Critique
- The Business of Writing
- The Writing Craft
- Thursdays with Amanda
Category : Career
School is out, summertime is upon us all, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who has heard the “b” word from their kids more than once recently. I’ll confess, I used to hate it and get terribly frustrated when my son would utter it. Lately, though, I actually find myself smiling when he uses it. And I’ve been looking for opportunities to use the word myself.
I think you should too.
In our house, the “b” word is spelled B-O-R-E-D.
I want to challenge you to actually try embracing it and exercising the meaning of the word. As in doing nothing on purpose, and sitting still through the restlessness until you feel like you did the last time you said “there’s nothing to do! I’m bored!” (And … I wonder, how long has THAT been?)
I also wonder if the reality that being, and staying busy – just for the sake of not being still – is potentially one of the most overrated endeavors humans undertake. To that point, I agree with several of the ideas in this article on the topic of being caught in “The Busy Trap.” http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/
I’ll admit, not producing is one of the hardest things for me to do, er, not do. Or not, not do. Ack. You know what I mean.
Sometimes, after dinner, when my son says, “Mom, just sit down with us,” or my husband suggests we go for a bike ride or walk the dog, I usually have a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t. Emails I should write or answer. Calls I should schedule. Manuscripts I should look at. I’m a hard worker. I naturally gravitate to being productive. It’s just who I am.
Or is it just what I do?
Recently, I’ve begun to realize that pursuing a state of boredom/idleness/stillness is the best antidote to the “crazy busy, purpose-driven over-achieving” state of
Someone wrote to say, “I’ve been asked to speak several times since my book came out — some large venues, some very small. My problem is that I don’t know what to charge when I speak? A flat fee? A sliding scale? Is there some guidance you can give me?”
Happy to begin this conversation. Okay… start to think about creating a matrix for your speaking events.
First, there are certain topics you speak about. (We’ll name those A, B, C, D.)
Second, there are lengths of time you can do each one — for example, let’s say you can talk about Topic A for 30 minutes, for 2 hours, or for an entire weekend retreat, but you can only talk about Topic B in a couple one-hour blocks of time, so you could do a one-hour or two-hour chunk of content; and Topic C is nothing more than a 20 to 40 minute casual talk.
So now you have some options… You’ve got A1 (30 minutes of Topic A), A2 (2 hours on Topic A), A3 (a whole day on Topic A), B1, B2, and C1, etc. Still with me? That starts to give you important ways to figure out the topic and time.
Third, you need to consider how many times you speak. If they want you to just show up and give a speech, that’s X. If they want you to teach several workshops, that’s Y. If they want you for a weekend retreat, that’s Z. (This will start to get confusing, but it means you’d be doing a Y Day — several workshops, where you’ll do A2, B2, and C1, for example. If you hate my numbering, create your own that makes more sense.)
Fourth, you need to consider the venue. The bigger the venue, the more you charge. Most speakers have one to three tiers (small setting, medium sized setting, large or arena setting).
Today we have a guest blog, from Claire Morgan at OEDB…
It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or a professional writer: there’s always something new to learn and ways to make your writing more refined, better researched, and more effective. Writing is essential for students who want to succeed, whether they’re enrolled in one of the top online colleges or an Ivy League university. As essential as it is, learning to write well isn’t easy. The best practices for writing and research can sometimes be subjective, and the finer points of syntax and style often take a backseat to looming deadlines and strict citation guidelines.
Luckily, there are many helpful resources that make it easier to build on your existing skills while
learning new ones. We’ve compiled links to sites dedicated to helping students, bloggers, and professional writers improve their techniques while also becoming better editors and researchers. Browse through the following list or focus on categories you need most. It’s organized by subject and resources are listed alphabetically within. With more than 150 resources to chose from, you’re bound to find something that can make your writing life a little easier.
These blogs can help you learn more about the profession of writing, brush up your skills, and even see what it takes to get a book published.
- Copyblogger: On Copyblogger, Brian Clark offers tips on how to improve the content, marketing, and business of a blog. A must for any writer hoping to gain readership in the digital sphere.
- The Creative Penn: Joanna Penn offers up her insights on writing, publishing, and book marketing on this useful blog.
- Evil Editor: Learn what not to do when submitting your work to an editor through this entertaining blog.
- Fiction Writing: This About.com blog is a great place to get some basics insights on how to write better fiction.
- Harriet the Blog: The Poetry
Someone wrote to ask, “Should an author who writes historical fiction stick only to fiction? Since so much historical research has to be conducted, how do you feel about authors using their novel research to also pen nonfiction?”
I think it depends on the author’s preference, or maybe their gifting. I don’t have any problem representing authors who write both fiction and nonfiction. However, it’s really tough for a writer to succeed at both. In my view, a novel requires a different set of writing skills than a nonfiction book — novelists require the ability to show, not tell, while nonfiction is all about telling. There are very few examples of writers who have excelled at both. (Yes, there are some, but not many.) And readers simply don’t cross over – most tend to be either fiction readers or nonfiction readers. And historical fiction readers aren’t generally that interested in reading a nonfiction book from a favorite writer, so even a bestselling novelist will find her nonfiction book to be a hard sell in the marketplace. For those very practical reasons, most historical fiction writers tend to stay with the fiction genre.
Another writer wants to know, “What particular skills do you look for in a writer of historical fiction?”
A strong voice, first of all. The one thing that makes a novel unique is not so much the setting or the characters so much as the voice of the writer. Too many historical novels feel the same — the setting has changed, but the book could have been written by anyone. So what really sets it apart, and the first thing I look for, is a strong author voice. That being said, a strong sense of history and adequate research so that the story feels genuine are essential, of course. I want a story that’s unique and interesting, so it’s best if the writer has a passion for
Someone wrote to say, “I’ve been thinking of changing agents. I’m not convinced my current agent is a good match for me. What wisdom would you have for me?”
I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve occasionally had authors approach me to talk about the possibility of dropping their agent. It usually goes something like, “I’m just not happy with my current agent, and I’m thinking of switching…”
For a long time I struggled with how best to respond to those words. I have a policy against actively poaching other authors, but I have a business to run, so it’s not like I can refuse to answer the phone when a good author calls me to talk about his or her situation. However, I’ve learned to always start the conversation with the same sentence: “Have you talked this through with your current agent?” I mean, it would seem like a reasonable expectation that an author who is unhappy would go to his or her agent, express the dissatisfaction, and try to seek some sort of resolution. If there’s a communication problem, or some unanswered question, it seems like two people who have invested in each other would talk it out. (In other words, we’d all act like adults.)
“Lack of communication” is the #1 problem between authors and agents. So having regular communication can alleviate a lot of the problem. But that doesn’t always happen, especially when there’s some disappointment in the job being done. People seem afraid of conflict, and would often prefer to flee the situation than to have a potentially difficult discussion. I can understand that reasoning, but I can’t really respect it. You see, the majority of people will claim they’re leaving an agent because there’s some sort of problem with the work being done. But my experience has taught me the real reason most authors leave an agent is because “the agent hasn’t
Someone sent me this question: “What role do agents have in today’s changing market? And I know you do a lot of work in the religious publishing scene — do agents work in that area as well?”
Yes, I do a lot of work in the Christian market. Not exclusively — I work in both the general market as well as the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association). So yes, there are agents who both areas, though not many. The role of agents is changing, just as the role of publisher is changing. Most publishers, including most religious publishers, simply do the bulk of their business through agents. That is to say, most books are represented by a literary agent. Publishing houses rely on agents to do the initial weeding, so that the proposals being considered by acquisitions editors have already been vetted in some way. That’s a change that has come over the past ten or fifteen years — the dross has already been skimmed away. Publishers also expect agents to know contracts, to help make sure the author makes his or her deadline, and to keep the author on track with all the pieces that come with creating a book.
Authors should expect agents to know the bookselling market and have the relationships in place to get a proposal seen by the right people at publishing houses – something many beginning writers lack. Every author expects his or her agent to understand (and explain) publishing contracts, so the agent can protect you from making a bad decision – an important but often overlooked point, since the document you sign is a legal agreement that will govern the terms of your writing as long as it’s in print. And a good agent will know current publishing economics, so that he or she can negotiate a contract on your behalf that is in line with current market standards. The book world is
A guest post from Holly Lorincz, assistant to Chip MacGregor
Recently, I was forced given the opportunity to learn to master the art of uploading ebooks onto Smashwords and Amazon for this persistent Scottish agent I know. After extracting multiple promises that haggis or blood pudding would never be served at staff parties, I agreed.
I can’t approach the simplest assignment without first reading at least seventeen reference books (the heftier the better), and yet, after all that research and putting my own book up for esale, I’ve really only learned one thing about self-publishing: marketing your ebook is a full time job. Selling it successfully? There’s magic involved and a lot of patient plodding, and messing around with algorithms. I know, I know, I shouldn’t use that word algorithm, since it just screams ‘first period math class.’ Sorry. Unless you’re going to hire a publicist, get used to it. Also, if I’m being totally honest, you may want to bypass the whole formatting and uploading issue, hire a professional, if you have a life away from your computer.
Still here? Okay then. The following is a list of random ebook publishing and marketing tips that I’ve picked up from books, other self-publishers, and my own stumble down the publishing path. Some of it will be common sense and common practice, so just view it as a reminder.
1. Remember those early beta-readers you sought out as you were finishing your book? Remember that one that drove you crazy, the one that only commented on dangling participles, improperly used pronouns and linguistic improbabilities? If you haven’t burned that bridge, find that grammarian and ask him or her to read your book one last time, tasked with catching typos, specifically homonyms and homophones. (Because, you know, spell check silently chuckles when you use the phrase “his voice was a horse whisper.”)
2. Decide if you are going to use KDP Select
THE POWER OF A PERSONAL MEETING
I haven’t traveled much in the last six months, but I’ve just returned from a three-day conference. Though I fully registered for it, I only attended two conference events, but my time there was incredibly valuable and enriching regardless.
Aside from the three-hour-thaw-by-the-pool-mini-sabbatical I scheduled for myself on Friday afternoon before boarding the plane home, I spent every waking hour while there in pre-arranged meetings with editors and authors. In the end, when responding to questions about how my trip went, I heard myself say “I really enjoyed connecting with everyone!” And I today, I added several items to my task list newly motivated by an urge to help each of these people succeed in their roles.
Sure, when I requested time together, I had a project in mind. But as usual, I found that holding “my” agenda a bit loosely, and taking the position of investigator vs. sales person always returned a rewarding and gratifying encounter that will begin, or enrich, a long-term relationship.
There’s so much more to personal meetings than just “putting a face to a name.” When I meet an editor or other prospective associate in person, the encounter requires real listening. I’ve learned that more often than not, my “canned” speech goes out the window in favor of personal dialogue once an editor or prospective author and I start talking about whether what’s working well for them and how/if what they’re hoping to publish next aligns with the project(s) I’m interested in.
A side perk of meeting in person is that, unlike with email, I must also practice the art of keeping the conversation going in both directions. I’ll admit, I’m still working on controlling my tendency to be so terribly interruptive – an inexcusable habit that I still give into when I’m especially enthused about something.
As anonymous, and bottom-line, and impersonal as this business can sometimes feel,
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon andBarnes & Noble.
Last night was our GET PUBLISHED teleseminar with Michael Hyatt. What a great time, talking business and answering questions! It was a blast.
We weren’t able to get to some of the submitted questions, so I’ve gone ahead and answered them below. Would love your thoughts on what was discussed during the teleseminar, or what is talked about below.
And don’t forget! We have a special opportunity for friends (that’s you!) of MacGregor Literary.
Michael Hyatt, former CEO and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers (one of the largest publishers in the world), has recently released a comprehensive solution for authors called GET PUBLISHED. It’s a 21 session audio program, accessible online, that distills Michael’s 30+ years of publishing knowledge into a step-by-step guide to help authors get published and launch a successful career, even perhaps a bestseller!
Michael is offering a special limited time discount on GET PUBLISHED. Not only can you save significantly on the program, you’ll also get access to several bonuses worth over $150. Bonuses include items such as Michael’s popular “How to Write a Winning Book Proposal” ebook and more.
For details and to take advantage of this special offer, go to http://michaelhyatt.com/getpublishedoffer
(Note: This discount offer is only available through April 17).
Okay, on to those questions!
Brooke asks: What makes an agent take a chance on a first-time author?
When we fall in love with a fiction author’s story idea and writing, or when we see the potential of the book idea, writing, AND platform of a nonfiction author.
Mark asks: What do you think about
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her book on author marketing, The Extroverted Writer, releases March 15.
In the months leading up to a book release, I oftentimes find authors doing one of two things. (1) They’re sitting at home, waiting for their edits to come in or waiting to see the cover art or waiting for the ARCs. Or (2) they’re panicking, because they know they should be doing SOMETHING. They just don’t know what.
So at the request of one of our wonderful readers, here’s a snapshot of what you should be doing as you approach your book’s release. Remember! This isn’t set in stone, and because each marketing plan is different, there needs to be lots of flex room. Also, things are bound to happen to put you off course. But don’t worry about it. Stay flexible. Stay committed, and you’ll be fine.
BOOK RELEASE TIMELINE (FOR PRINT BOOKS)
6-8 months before release: Write up your marketing plan and compare it to that of your publisher. You want the two plans to build off one another as opposed to going in opposite or duplicate directions. For example, you may have plans to put a media kit together only to find out that your publisher will be doing that as well. In that case, you could simply ask them to send you 25 kits or so.
6 months before release: Begin gathering your info. Your marketing plan may include hitting up blogs, speaking at schools or businesses, launching a new website, asking for reviewers, and more. Now is the time to begin research on those things, which can include Googling reader blogs, compiling a list of potential speaking opportunities, talking with