Category : Publishing

  • July 10, 2013




    Someone wrote to say, “I know you’re going to the big RWA conference this month. Of the appointments you have at a conference like that, how many actually result in your asking for more material? How many result in you giving serious consideration to an author? How many will you actually sign to represent? Just curious.”

    Of the appointments I have at a normal writing conference, I’d say I might have 15 to 30 appointments — some formal, some informal.

    Of those, maybe 5 or 6 result in my asking to see more.

    Of those, I may get serious about 1 or 2.

    Of those, I may or may not sign one to an agency agreement.

    For years, most of us have agreed that we’re looking for ONE GOOD PROJECT at each conference. That will mean the conference basically pays for itself. Sometimes I don’t get any. Sometimes I get one or two. And I should note that RWA is one of the very best conferences in the country – a great place to learn about writing and the industry (not just for romance writers, but for anyone looking to make a living with books in this country). It’s coming up in Atlanta later in July, and it’s worth every penny to attend.

    On a related matter, I had someone ask, “What is the most important piece of advice you can give to a writer heading to an agent or editor appointment at a writing conference?”

    The most important piece of advice is simple: Have your proposal and sample writings so well honed that an agent or editor has no reason to say “no.” That’s easier said than done, of course, but that should be the goal. A great idea, expressed through great writing, in a great proposal, preferably by an author with a great platform. All of those things take time and talent, of course, but

  • April 23, 2013

    Before you post your book online…


    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

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  • April 22, 2013

    Sandra on The Power of Personal Meetings



    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,

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  • April 11, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Questions from Last Night’s GET PUBLISHED Teleseminar


    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

    (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

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  • April 4, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Book Piracy, Idea Piracy, and What Happens When You Live in Fear


    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.

    I received a question the other week on the danger of posting ideas, content, and other deliciously stealable things online.

    Then this week, I fielded a few emails from authors who are seeing their books available for free on some pretty sketchy sites.

    So, BECAUSE I’m a big fan of ebooks, and BECAUSE I’ve encouraged writers to throw their content online and therefore subject it to the all of the content pirates that lurk about, I figured I should say a few things about this very unfortunate…yet inevitable…problem.

    1. There is no way to fully prevent others from stealing your work. Especially if you publish anything digitally. Amazon brags about their DRM anti-piracy thing-a-majig, but it’s really a bunch of fluff. There’s zero way for us to adequately patrol and safeguard digital content.

    2. There will always be people looking to get things for free. There will always be people who abuse creative content. The good news is these people aren’t as prevalent in the book industry as they are in, say, the music industry. Piracy FOREVER changed music. We aren’t seeing it doing much to change publishing, because while it exists, it’s not as prevalent, and the music industry paved the way for lots of anti-piracy legislation that has helped minimize the problem.

    3. There is always a chance someone will steal your book idea. And this doesn’t just happen online. Go to a writer’s conference or critique group or MFA program and tell your idea to the wrong person and BAM. It’s stolen.

    4. There is always a chance someone

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  • April 1, 2013

    Get Published teleseminar with Michael Hyatt, Chip MacGregor, and Amanda Luedeke



    Join us (Chip and Amanda) and Michael Hyatt, bestselling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson, for a complimentary LIVE teleseminar on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).

    During this call you’ll have the ability to get your publishing questions answered by the three of us. You’ll also learn many of Michael’s insider secrets on getting published and building a platform for success.

    The call will last about an hour. It’s free for all to join and there will be an MP3 recording / replay shared with all who register. When you register you will have the option to submit a question for us to answer

    To register now, click here.


    Q: What is a teleseminar?

    A: Think of it as a giant conference call. You dial in (or listen via streaming web audio), along with others and listen while we share and answer questions.

    Q: How much does this cost?

    A: It’s free. If you choose to access the LIVE call via phone, you may incur standard long-distance charges if you choose a dial-in number that is not local to you (there are multiple dial-in number options). Other than that, no fee at all.

    Q: What is the date and time?

    A: The LIVE call will take place on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).

    Q: How can I access the LIVE call?

    A: You’ll have two options. Our call capacity is 3,000 total. Five hundred can access the call via phone, the rest via streaming web audio (listening via your computer). Access is on a first-come, first-served based on registration and which access option you chose. We will notify you prior to the call with the specific phone number and web address.

    Q: I can’t make the LIVE call. Will there be a recording?

    A: Yes, we’ll make the recording available to all who registered

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  • March 7, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Rejections Don’t Determine Your Worth as a Writer


    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.

    I usually post marketing and platform-building stuff, but today I’m gonna get all warm and fuzzy on you. Because, well…I think it’s high time for a pep talk.

    As an agent, I see lots and lots and LOTS of rejection on behalf of my authors. There are days when the rejections just seem to roll in, and the very relationships that I’d been counting on coming through for me don’t. So then I have to go to the author, explain the rejection, and try to help them through it.

    And here’s what I’ve noticed…too many times, authors look to editors and big publishing houses to validate their ability as writers.

    So when the rejections come in, it’s so common for authors to begin doubting and questioning and “oh, if I can just fix that one thing…tweak that one chapter…” I’ve seen this happen over and over, and you know what? I’M SICK OF IT.

    When you’re on my side of the desk, the picture is much bigger. Yes, there are lots of rejections…sometimes for good reason. But there are also AMAZING books that never get picked up. Blame it on timing, budget constraints, weird personal preferences, or a bad day at the office, but it’s true. There are great novels and book ideas that don’t receive offers. They don’t see that one “yes” that makes all of the rejections fizzle into nothingness. So for me to say that a string of rejections from editors means that there’s something wrong with my author or their writing or their ability would be to say there’s something “wrong”

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  • February 25, 2013

    What does an acquisition editor do?


    Someone wrote to ask, “Can you explain what an acquisition editor is, and how that’s different from a regular editor?”

    As the name implies, the main role of an acquisitions editor is to acquire manuscripts for the publishing house. That means he or she knows what sort of books the house wants to do, and in the role will talk with agents, read the proposals that are sent in, perhaps go to conferences to meet face-to-face with authors, and evaluate everything in order to identify the manuscripts the house should pursue. Understand that most good acquisition editors are actively going out to hunt down authors and projects and ideas — not just sitting in an office and reacting to what’s sent to them.

    Another author asked a similar question: “Are people hired into that type of position? Or does one have to ‘work one’s way’up to do that? What is the usual period of time/experience required to do that?”

    Most new editorial hires start out as editorial assistants, working with an editor to assist with general office stuff. There’s not necessarily a major in college for becoming an editor, so we see a lot of English and Journalism majors, but also Business, History, Marketing, and Communications grads hired into the role. They learn the process of what a manuscript goes through in order to become a book. Then they are graduated to assistant editor, where they learn to actually edit. Then usually to associate editor, where they can begin to learn how to acquire. Eventually they become a full-fledged editor (in case you know of any editors who are only partially fledged). Most editors have two roles: to acquire books and edit them. At some houses they have “Acquisitions Editors,” whose sole job is to acquire new titles — in most cases others will do the actual editing of the manuscript. So yes, you work your way up. And the

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  • February 19, 2013

    What fiction trends are coming and going?


    I’m trying to catch up on the hundreds of questions people have sent in. Someone wrote to say this: “The popularity in genres seems to go in cycles, with perhaps the exception of romance, which always seems to sell well. Where in this cycle do you see the historical fiction genre right now? In the near future?”

    Fiction goes through a cycle with publishers: produce some, watch it grow, produce more, produce too much, cut back, start selling again, produce some, watch it grow, etc. Right now one could argue that there are more historicals being sold than there used to be, but I agree with you — that’s simply a cycle. People love reading about other eras, so while we may be trending down a bit right now in some genres, it will trend back up. That’s how fiction works. In a lousy economy, people want a book that’s an escape to a simpler time, so historicals were doing well. Now that the economy is brighter, we’re seeing a swing back to more contemporaries. Suspense, which also had an explosion with the growth of e-books, seems to have been waning a bit, but since it’s cyclical, they will come back. 

    Another reader sent me this: “Is there a certain sub-genre of historical fiction (fantasy, romance, thriller, mystery) that you think is selling best now? And is historical fiction fading out?”

    A sub-genre that seems to be trending up is the romance novel with a strong suspense line. Another has been the romance with fantastic or supernatural elements. Some historical periods continue to sell, so there is renewed interest in the Edwardian and Victorian periods (thanks to Downton Abbey, an entire period of time that’s been overlooked is once again popular). And despite slowing, plenty of readers are still in love with the Amish and all things simple. Romance novels set in Texas seem

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  • February 13, 2013

    How can I become a freelance editor?


    Someone wrote this: “My friend wants to be a freelance editor. What advice would you have for her?” 

    Right now it’s a tough time to be a freelancer in book publishing. The publishing economy has been down, it’s hit publishers hard, and there are a lot of out-of-work editors and writers who are trying to freelance. (I just spoke with a publisher at a conference who told me she’s got a long list of good freelance editors she can’t use.) So that’s the bad news. The good news is that if your friend is willing to move away from strictly book publishing, there are plenty of opportunities. Every company on the planet is putting together content for their website, and somebody has to write and edit all those pages. Consider talking with businesses (or with the marketing and ad agencies that assist businesses) about providing writing and editorial help. 

    One thing that has long been true in publishing is that good copyeditors are hard to find (and even harder to keep, since they generally get bored and want to move on to substantive editing). If you’re well-grounded in grammar, can spell well, and have a basic sense of what makes writing work, you might consider taking a class in copyediting, either online or through a local college. Emerson University, long a leader in programs for those interested in publishing and communication, now offers a certificate in copyediting, with classes in grammar, clarity, fact-checking, indexing, and using bias-free language. 

    I think the best introduction to the role is still the Dummy’s book — Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies, which I liked so much I used as a textbook in the Intro to Editing class I taught. But there are other books you should be familiar with — The Chicago Manual of Style is the bible for book editingwhile The AP Stylebook is the choice for magazines. So if you’re

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