Category : Uncategorized

  • April 10, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Become a Hybrid Author


    2014AmandaAmanda 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 and Barnes & Noble.

    A couple weeks ago, I shared one of my oddities…whenever I hear “hybrid author” I can’t help but think of the movie Underworld. As silly as the post was, I stand by it 100%. The similarities between hybrid authors and the vampire-werewolf hybrid depicted in the movie are shockingly and hilariously real, folks. Real. Real. Real.

    And hybrid authors ARE taking over in a weird sense. They may not be the majority (yet), and all of them certainly aren’t millionaires, but they’re happy. And they’re profitable. And that’s a major WIN, folks. A huge win.

    So how do they do it? How do you become this mystical creature? This Hybrid Author?

    It looks a bit different for everyone, but for authors who have started on the traditional side and are considering making the leap, here are some thoughts…


    First, you need an author career with some sort of momentum. Maybe you have a couple books that are contracted or maybe you have releases lined up every six months or every year for the next few years? The logistics don’t matter so much as the fact that you are publishing with a traditional publishing house (one that can and does get books into bookstores) and will continue to do so.

    When you have this, here’s how you make the switch…

    1. Take a look at your contracts. Look specifically at the Non-Compete clause. You don’t want to end up in a situation where your publisher feels as though your self-pubbed books are competing with

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  • April 3, 2014

    Thursdays With Amanda: Lessons from a Bygone Hybrid Author (guest post by Erin Buterbaugh)


    First, let the record show that I thought Amanda’s Underworld/hybrid author analogy last week should win some sort of prize for awesomeness; if you missed it, you should take a moment to scroll down the page five posts or so and catch up on the definition of a hybrid author and his similarity to a vampire/lycan crossbreed. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

    Alright, now that everyone’s on the same page— today, I want to look at someone I would argue could be described as the original hybrid author, Charles Dickens, and the lessons hybrid authors of today can take away from his experiences.

    Charles Dickens, like many authors (as well as most of the MacGregor Literary agents) began his writing career as a freelance journalist, contributing articles, sketches, and stories to various London newspapers and magazines. When he started writing novels, Dickens of course followed the prescribed formula for success as a novelist and severed all his ties to periodicals, instead devoting his time to finishing his manuscript, polishing his query letter, and securing an agent.

    Wait. No, he didn’t.

    As you probably already knew, the majority of Charles Dickens’ work was actually first published in serial form in newspapers and literary magazines. What is less commonly known is that Dickens himself was the editor and part-or-full-owner of most of the periodicals that his work appeared in—the man virtually self-published the majority of his novels. Dickens used his position as editor of the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany to serially publish his second novel, Oliver Twist, and when he had a falling-out with the magazine’s owner, Dickens left his position as editor and started another magazine, called Master Humphrey’s Clock, written and edited entirely by himself. When Dickens, for a number of reasons which I refuse to do the correct amount of research to be able to annotate and recount with strict academic accuracy, got tired of Master Humphrey’s

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  • March 27, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: How the Movie “UNDERWORLD” Perfectly Portrays Today’s Publishing World



    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 and Barnes & Noble.


    Have you seen Underworld?

    In this rather awesome and yet equally terrible movie, the vampires and the lycans are at odds (duh). The vampires are snooty and privileged and literally SLEEPING UNDERGROUND while the world passes them by.  The lycans, on the other hand, are rule-breakers and thugs. They do what they want and for obvious reasons don’t get along with the vamps.

    There is a particularly attractive lycan-hunting vampire girl who is tracking a lowly human that most women my age would know as Ben from Felicity. Ben from Felicity is being followed by lycans, and the hot vamp chick wants to know why. The truth is soon revealed when the lycans bite Ben from Felicity and turn him. By now the hot vampire lady is torn! She has grown to care for Ben from Felicity, and how can she love her enemy?! She eventually decides to get over herself and love him anyway, but then he is once again injured and near death (wimp). She does what she has been warned not to do and bites him, thus making him both vampire and lycan–a creation that is rumored to be stronger than either species. They call him a hybrid. Eventually, he is able to bring about peace between the clans.

    So why do I bring this up? Why walk you through the ENTIRE movie premise?

    Because it adequately portrays what’s happening in publishing, and every time I hear the term “hybrid author,” I immediately think of Ben from Felicity (and I wanted you to

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  • March 3, 2014

    A Monday with Amanda: How to Break into Christian Speculative Fiction


    Amanda Luedeke, here. I don’t write too often on topics and issues that pertain to a particular genre or writer group. When you handle both Christian and general market books, you try to stay away from specifics. It’s what keeps everyone happy and coming back for more. But, since it’s Monday and since I have the microphone, I’d like to talk a bit about Christian speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror). I did this some weeks ago when the big sale of Marcher Lord Press hit the blogosphere, and I’d like to follow that up with something chock-full of the practicality that I’m known and loved/hated for.

    Writing and publishing Christian speculative fiction is hard.

    I could probably end the post there. But knowing this writer demographic quite well, I understand that it is full of fanboys and fangirls who suffer from addictive personalities and an ability to brush off that which is “hard” and escape into their worlds of fantasy.  For some, this his how they got through high school (specifically gym class, am I right?), so “hard” means nothing. “Hard” is simply part of life.

    So let me paint “hard” into a picture for you…and then let me offer some hope.


    There are only a handful of publishers who will truly consider a speculative fiction manuscript. Sure, I could get a spec fic project in front of maybe ten houses, but there are roughly four that would take it seriously. And of those four, only two are actively acquiring in the genre. (Meaning the other two only acquire when they think they have room…and 99% of the time they only have room for fantasy).

    Of those two active houses, one acquires primarily teen- or children-aged fiction.

    The other does primarily adult fiction.

    So that leaves most authors with one house to go to. One, measly house.

    There are a few others that I’m sure I’m missing.

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  • February 27, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Free Video Critique



    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 and Barnes & Noble.

    Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Here’s where your author, promo, or book video gets put to the test.

    We’ve been talking a lot about book trailers and videos lately. We started on this journey by looking at the different types of viral videos. Then, I compared two book trailers, showing how a great, viral-type trailer can increase awareness. Then we looked at the components of a viral video, and lastly, I shared some ideas that would make creating a viral video easier.

    Yet, all of this is just speculation. It’s just information.

    So let’s look at YOUR videos. I promise to be nice. But I also promise to be honest.

    Post the YouTube link to your book trailer/author video/video promo below, and I’ll share my thoughts. What I think was done right, what I think needs work, and maybe even some ideas of how you could recraft it to hit that viral potential that is so droolworthy.

    Any takers? Anyone? This is your chance to get my opinion on something for absolutely free!


    LIKE MY MARKETING ADVICE? My book, The Extroverted Writer is now available in print!

    FRONT Business_Card_Vertical


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  • February 20, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: The Cheater’s Way to a Viral Video


    2014AmandaAmanda 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 and Barnes & Noble.

    Last week I tried to tackle the components of a viral video…I say “tried” because that’s exactly what it was. An attempt to wrangle something that is so elusive for so many.

    But I also promised that there were alternatives to the high-budget, high production suggestions that I made. Now these alternatives aren’t magical, and many of you will still walk away feeling like videos are impossible. And that’ fine! Videos are not necessary to sell books. I think Divergent‘s terrible book trailer proved that. But for those of you who are wanting to give it a go, here are some ideas…


    There’s this site called 99designs. You upload your information and needs and then graphic designers from all over compete for your business. They present their designs and then you can actually have friends vote on their favorites. You then pay the winning designer something like $299 and that’s that. You have your design, and that designer has a bit of cash.

    Why can’t we do this with viral videos?!

    In college I was part of a number of “videos.” Someone on campus would have a camera and they’d write a script and we’d go out and film. Once I was even co-writer/co-director/co-actor of a video that we entered into the campus film festival! (We won most creative, by the way). My point is COLLEGE KIDS LOVE CREATING VIDEOS. And they’re pretty good at it. Especially if they’re part of a film program.

    There are two options here…


    Most professors are

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  • February 11, 2014

    The Ten Laws of Writing Critique Groups



    A reader wrote to say, “I’m going to a big writing conference that encourages us to join a critique group. You’ve talked before about the benefit of being in a critique group, but I was in a critique group that didn’t work. What I’m wondering is how to make a critique group actually WORK. Can you help?”

    I’m a huge fan of critique groups, and have participated in several until I moved or they wised up and threw me out. The experience has taught me a few principles for getting the most out of the group. Here are my Ten Laws of Critique Groups:

    •  1.  Ask yourself why you want a critique group. What do you hope to get out of it? You ought to have clear expectations going in, so that you’ve got something to evaluate the benefits later. Some people basically want to hang out with other writers — more or less the same reason they attend writers conferences. There’s nothing wrong with that, and if that’s your reason for joining, you should easily find a group that fits your needs. Others really want a dedicated group of professional writers to take a careful and thoughtful look at their material. If that’s what you’re after, you’re going to need to put a lot more thought into your group.
    • 2.  The value of a critique group is based almost entirely on the membership. So look for people who are AT YOUR LEVEL or maybe just a bit better than you (if your ego can take it) and talk to them about the group. Basically, people want to know what the commitment will be (a weekly or maybe twice a month meeting that lasts a couple hours), what the expectations are (that members will actually READ the other member’s writings before coming to the meeting), and what the benefit is to them (you’ll hear advice for
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  • February 10, 2014

    What Drives an Editor Crazy


    Someone wrote to ask a favorite question: “Are there certain editing errors that drive you crazy?”

    Yes! Of course! Here’s one! Novelists who use exclamation points as though the period key didn’t work on their keyboard! I hate this! Really! What’s worse is the writer who needs to use several at once!!!!

    Here’s “another” one: Occasionally you’ll find “authors” who feel a “need” to put any emphasized words in “quotes,” since they think it makes them look “official.” This is particularly tiresome when a “funny” author decides to put his “punchline” in quotations. An “idea:” cut the quotation marks.

    And a third (related) item: People who use an open parenthesis but no close parenthesis. (For example, this kind.

    Number four: The serial comma. The rule for using commas is that there should be ONE LESS COMMA THAN THE ITEMS IN YOUR LIST. So if you list five things, you’d use four commas. Let me offer an example… “Farnsworth visited Italy, Spain, Bermuda, and Angora.” Note that there are four countries and three commas — one less than the list. Writers will often drop the serial comma, in an apparent attempt to make “Bermuda and Angora” one country (sort of like Trinidad and Tobago, if you need a geography joke).

    5. Notice the unclear way I’ve used to create this list. I didn’t number the first or second. Then I used “third” and “fourth,” followed by the number 5. An editing error that drives me up a tree is jumbled numbers in a list. For some reason, Number-Impaired People will make an outline that reads, “First,” followed by “Two,” then “C,” and then “4.” (Or, occasionally, “13.”) Make all your numbered lists consistent. And try not to put a numbered list within another numbered list. Too many numbers drives editors insane.

    Sixth: Please notice I didn’t write “sixthly.” From a strict editorial viewpoint, there is no reason the word “firstly” or

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  • February 4, 2014

    The Joys of Technology


    So… we updated our WordPress site at the end of the year. And in doing so, somehow the system ended ALL of the subscriptions. That means nobody is receiving this blog any more, and we have to try and get everyone to re-subscribe. My apologies to all, and I promise — If I ever get to meet the person in charge of the WordPress update debacle, I’ll be sure to kick him in the shins.

    If you’re a loyal reader of our blog, offering inside information on writing and publishing in these changing times, we appreciate you subscribing, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience. But subscribe now, and… um… the NEXT PERSON YOU MEET WILL HAND YOU A TEN DOLLAR BILL! Really! It works like one of those chain letters. Failure to subscribe will mean terrible things are about to happen — Broncos fans will be forced to watch reruns of the Super Bowl. Seahawk fans will be forced to watch reruns of the Super Bowl commercials. Trust me on this.

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  • January 24, 2014

    Acquisition Editors



    Someone recently wrote in with this question: “When someone is hired and allowed to acquire, are they trained or do they just ‘go and do’? Is this something they do individually or as part of a team (observer, etc.)?”

    An acquisitions editor has usually spent time with the company and has a feel for what he or she should be acquiring. And yes, personal tastes will shape the books they bring in. Therefore, a publishing house gets reshaped by the editors who work there. Few editors (just a handful of senior editors) have the authority to simply go acquire.

    The system looks like this:
    Step one is that the editor must like the presented idea. He or she works with the agent and author to sharpen the proposal and make it as strong as possilble.

    Step two is the idea is taken to the editorial board or team. In this meeting the merits of the book are discussed, several people read it, the team evaluates it, petty politics come into play, etc. They may ask for further changes, they may reject it, or they may decide to continue the discussion. If the team likes it, the project then moves on to the next step.

    Step three is yet another committee, known as the publishing board (or publishing committee). This is the decision-making body at most every publishing house. It includes the top sales people to talk about market response, a representative from marketing to suggest ways the company could help get the word out, somebody from finance to count the beans, the publisher of the line to give strategic direction, some senior management types, maybe a sub-rights person, and various others. The editor presents the proposal.

    The participants read it, discuss it, explore sales and marketing potential, check their horoscopes, and do everything else possible in order to try and figure out if they should do the

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