Category : Quick Tips

  • July 2, 2013

    The “b” word …



    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.”

    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

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  • February 7, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: 10 Prize Ideas for Giveaways or Contests


    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.

    Next week, I’ll revisit those social media critiques we were working through, but in them meantime, I thought it would be fun to list a smattering of prize ideas for giveaways…prizes that won’t cost you a fortune.

    1. Gift cards
    2. Coupons for ebooks (could be novellas, shorts, etc. that you have self-published)
    3. The chance to name a character (may only work for established authors, but the idea is the winner gets to name a character in an upcoming book)
    4. Twenty minute Skype call with the author
    5. Free book
    6. A book dedication
    7. A shout-out in the Acknowledgements section
    8. A “fan of the year” or “fan of the month” badge for their blog/website
    9. Book tchotchkes in the form of PDFs that you email to winners, such as paper dolls (for childrens or romance genres), detailed world maps (for speculative fiction genres), recipes (for historical genres, etc), paper crafts/Cubeecrafts (for childrens or speculative genres), basically anything that either appeals to readers’ children/grandchildren or to the inner nerd or hobbyist. This idea may cost a bit of money up front, but the long-term use makes it worth it.
    10. Themed gift baskets that tie in with your novel, such as gardening theme baskets for gardening cozy mysteries, etc.

    What else? What other great giveaway prizes can you think of (aside from huge doorbusters, like iPads).

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  • February 27, 2012

    What does an author need to ask about book contracts? (Part 1)


    Every once in a while, I'll set a contract in front of an author, and he or she will say, "Just tell me where to sign." I have to explain that they need to know what they're signing. The fact is, every clause in a contract can be deemed important, if you consider it's a legal document that will govern everything about your book for as long as it's in print. So let me offer several questions an author ought to think about…

    1. What's the grant of rights? Your contract should ask you to grant specific rights to the publisher. Not "everything, always, in all circumstances." And rights not specifically granted to the publisher are to be retained by the author. Keep in mind that you (as the author) own the work — you're granting a license to a publisher for them to produce and sell copies of your work. So understand what you're granting them. 

    2. Is the wording clear? Know what you're signing. Understand the due date, the word count, the rights being granted. Some publishers have exceptionally easy-to-read contracts (Baker, Harlequin, and Harvest House are three that come to mind). Others can have contracts that read as though they were invented by lawyers for whom English is not their first language. If you don't understand what you're signing, ask questions. And let me offer a word of advice: If you have an agent, he or she ought to be able to explain what you're signing. If you don't have an agent, you can get help from a contract evaluation service, which will charge you a couple hundred bucks to review your contract and suggest changes. [You can also have a contracts or intellectual property rights attorney review the contract, but DON'T have him or her negotiate it for you. The moment they pick up that phone, the clock is ticking…and the longer they can keep

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  • January 27, 2012

    From Amanda: How to Format Your Manuscript for Submission and Kindle Upload


    Amanda 2 CropAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    First, I'd like to say I'm sorry for missing my post yesterday. I had some personal things come up and just didn't get around to it. So, we're going to take a slight detour this week, since I know there are a number of people who tune in specifically on Thursdays to hear about building author platform. And, well, we don't want them missing the next installment, now, do we?!

    So for today, I'd like to share links to a batch of really helpful tutorial videos my author, the fabulous Jill Williamson, put together. They cover everything you need to know to format your manuscript for submission.

    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 1: Page Set Up and Text–
    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 2: Page Breaks–
    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 3: Paragraphs–
    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 4: Cleaning things up–
    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 5: Page Numbers–
    In addition to this, Jill put together a series of videos for formatting your manuscript for upload on Amazon as a Kindle ebook.
    Formatting Your Manuscript for Amazon Kindle–PART 1–
    Using Mobipocket to Format Your Book For Kindle–PART 2–
    They're short and to the point…excellent references for anyone getting ready to do something with that polished, perfected manuscript.
    Do you know of any tutorials to add to this list? Tell us about them!
    And tune in next Thursday when we get back to our discussion on building platforms…the topic? Platform-building blogging. See you next week!
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  • July 22, 2010

    How to Study the Market


    Clovis asked, "If you are seeking a market for a particular idea, how do you study the market? What steps are critical in matching the work to the right publisher? How much do you rely on the guidelines, samples, catalogs, etc.? And what other sources are helpful?"

    My answer: If you want to take steps like this , get to know the industry. I can think of a number of things that would help a writer do that…

    1. Read frequently.

    2. Read outside your genre (for example, if you’re a CBA person, read books outside of CBA).

    3. Study the bestseller lists (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, your local newspaper — all have them). Spend time on and to see what's selling.

    4. Note who publishes the books you read and the books on the bestseller lists. (In case you haven't figured it out, not all publishing houses were created equal.)

    5. Take a look at trade journals to find what's hot/what's not/what's happening. These journals would include Publishers Weekly, the email version of Publishers Daily, maybe Library Journal, or Christian Retailing, or Writers Digest, possibly Bookstore Journal. You may also glean some good information in some entertainment journals.

    6. Keeps tabs on the economic climate of publishing and bookselling. Right now everybody is talking about what bad shape the industry is in… but this year there will probably be more book pages published and sold than ever before in history.

    7. It's important that you study a publisher before sending anything to them. Harvest House may be the right place for your gift book, but it's the wrong place for your commentary on Habakkuk. So go to web sites and read catalogues to figure out who publishes what. If you research the house and its list, you'll be better able to target the right publisher.

    8. Check out market resources like the Writer's

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