• June 1, 2010



    Winter 2010 headshot LOTS O' NEWS, so I'll get right to it:  



    Carla Stewart’s long awaited novel CHASING LILACS (FaithWords, a division of Hachette) is coning soon. With this book having received what her publicist calls the publicity Triple Crown: a starred Review in Publisher's Weekly; Library Journal Review; and 4 1/2 Stars in Romantic Times, plus a very nice review in Christian Retailing, we’re very happy for Carla, of course.  CHASING LILACS is available now at B&N or Amazon and due in stores June 17th.


    The 30th annual RWA National Convention takes place this July in Orlando, Florida where authors will receive awards in writing contests. Several MacGregor Literary authors are in the running …

    Nominees for For Faith, Hope and Love’s chapter award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award:

    -Linore Rose Burkhard’s THE HOUSE IN GROSVENOR SQUARE (Harvest House), Long Historical.

    -Jenny B. Jones’ JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME (Thomas Nelson), Long Contemporary.

    -Mindy Starns Clark, SHADOWS OF LANCASTER COUNTY (Harvest House), Romantic Suspense.

    Bookseller’s Best Award, sponsored by the Greater Detroit chapter of RWA, has nominated


    -Irene Hannon’s AN EYE FOR AN EYE (Revell, a division of Baker Publishishing Group), Mystery/Suspense.

    The winners will be announced at receptions during the RWA conference in Orlando.

    – Also, the 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence has announced Irene Hannon as finalist in Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense for both AGAINST ALL ODDS AND an EYE FOR AN EYE (Revell).


    Melanie Dobson wrote a feature article, WRITE WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW about the merits of solid research for current edition of CFOM (Christian Fiction Online Magazine.)


    Best selling author Susan May Warren and Chip MacGregor are scheduled to teach a seminar entitled WRITING BESTSELLING FICTION in Denver on June 18-19. Spaces are still available. For more information about this event, and a list of reasons why you hard working fiction authors can't

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  • May 31, 2010

    Defining a Packager


    Hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend. For today's post, we have a question from Gladys. She asked, "Are compilers (Allison Bottke, Chicken Soup, etc.) considered packagers?"

    Nope. Let's define terms. Somebody who requests stories from you in order to create a compiled book on a theme (God Allows U Turns, Chicken Soup, etc), which they then sell as a manuscript to a publisher, are compilers.

    A packager is somebody who creates the entire book for the publisher. They come up with the concept, hire the writers, get the work done, design the interiors, create the cover, and complete the entire book for the publisher. Normally at the end of the process, the packager turns over a disk that has the entire book on it — not just the text, as an author would do, but the entire book, complete with page spreads. All the publisher has to do is hand the disk to their printer and push a button. (And sometimes the packager will even have the books printed, so the publisher is simply purchasing pre-printed books.)

    Some of us have done packaged books before. I have done it with more than one magic book (that is, books of card tricks for magicians — PLEASE don't write to me with your concerns about card tricks being the tool of Satan). I concepted the book, wrote it, solicited tricks from other magicians, created the interior, hired the artist and approved the interior drawings, worked with a cover designer to create the cover, edited the whole mess, got bids from printers, and got the books printed and shipped. I then sent a couple sample copies to distributors and sold the entire print run to a magic distributor, who got them into retail stores. In a way, I was my own publisher (but I didn't actually sell them, so really I was just the packager).

    Most publishers do packaged books at

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  • May 29, 2010

    The Hidden Costs of Social Networking


    Today we're having a guest blog from marketing specialist Rob Eager, President of Wildfire Marketing…

    Facebook is great because Facebook is free, right? Same idea with Twitter, YouTube, and a host of other social networks popping up all over the Internet.  There’s no cost to join, and you get the ability to communicate with thousands of people all over the world. No wonder so many authors and publishers have jumped onto the social media bandwagon. But, are social networks really “free”? Instead, could using them cost you big-time?

    There’s a basic economic principle that affects us everyday called “opportunity cost,” which is the cost of passing up another choice when making a decision. Put another way, it’s the benefits you could have received by choosing a different action. What does this have to do with selling books via social networks?

    I’ve watched a lot of authors and publishers become avid social networkers who spend considerable amounts of time reading and maintaining their blogs, FaceBook pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels, etc. When you conservatively add up the hours that these people spend surfing and contributing to social sites, the total amount of time can easily reach over 10 hours a week! That’s over one-fourth of an author’s weekly time devoted to social networking activities. (Some people claim they spend only 15 minutes a day. But, they’re shocked when they actually track their hours.) My point is that if you’re going to spend 25% of a 40-hour work week on a specific marketing activity, then that activity ought to contribute at least 25% of your total book sales. Yet, I don’t see that happening.

    At Book Expo 2009, John Sargent, the CEO of Macmillan Publishing stated, “Viral marketing doesn’t sell a ton of books.” He mentioned a video based on a Macmillan book that spent time in the # 1 spot on YouTube in the U.K. Yet it wound up only

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  • May 25, 2010



    Winter 2010 headshot


    Even with me wasting brain cells trying to figure out who from Oceanic 815 might come back to life after "moving on" into into the great white light, and Chip and Patti welcoming their beautiful new granddaughter to the MacGregor clan, we've still got a bit of news to share this week…


    Poppy Smith will be doing a book with Harvest House, which at this point is tentatively titled WHY CAN'T HE BE MORE LIKE ME.

    Elizabeth Musser, author of THE SWAN HOUSE, has just signed to have three books release with Cook: TWO DESTINIES, TWO CROSSES, and TWO TESTAMENTS have already released in Europe, but now they're going to be available in the US.

    Jim Rubart, whose novel ROOMS is getting a lot of attention, has just signed to do BOOK OF DAYS with B&H. It's the story of a professor who has lost his wife and is in search of the Book of Days referred to in Scripture — a book he hopes will reveal the secrets of life and death. 

    Janet Lee Barton has signed with Heartsong Presents to do I'D SOONER HAVE LOVE, the story of an Oklahoma couple, and Darlene Franklin has signed to do LOVE'S RAID with the same company. 

    Continuing her series of books with Guideposts, Leslie Gould has agreed to do another in the STORIES OF HOPE HAVEN series, and Susan Page Davis is adding LOVE FINDS YOU IN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND to Summerside's romance series. 


    Irene Hannon's IN HARM'S WAY is not only a new release, it's on the CBA Bestseller list, having made the ECPA's  "Top Fifty"list of Christian books. Congratulations Irene!

    Shane Stanford's A POSITIVE LIFE released with Zondervan and has been getting endorsements from the likes of John Ortberg and Leonard Sweet. Shane, a United Methodist pastor, shares his story of being HIV positive.

    Charles Foster's THE SACRED JOURNEY released with Thomas Nelson. A

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  • May 24, 2010

    Random Notes on a Monday


    So many things to share, so little time…

    First, if you haven't seen this wonderful youtube ditty about booksignings, you should take a peek…


    Second, I want to suggest two websites to check out —

    Publishing Perspectives offers a really interesting take on the industry [ www.publishingperspectives.com  ]

    and the folks at www.absolutewrite.com/forums   solicit a lot of fascinating people to talk about the industry.

    Third, take a look at what one excellent writer, novelist Mark Bertrand, has to say about the future of publishing at www.cardus.ca/comment/article/2010/

    Fourth, if you haven't yet read Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Life, you are missing not only a hilariously funny look at contemporary Christianity, but some really insightful stuff on how we live out our faith. Jon was just profiled on CNN.com this past weekend, so he's getting huge press. 

    Fifth, you might want to check out what Barnes & Noble is doing with PubIt — B&N's own version of self-publishing, which lets you leverage the world's #1 bookstore by making your book available on the Nook. Lots of details online: www.fastcompany.com

    Sixth, people have been asking me when I'm teaching a seminar next…  Bestselling novelist Susan May Warren and I are teaching "How to Create Bestselling Fiction" in Denver June 18 & 19. It's easy to get to, is on a Friday/Saturday, and we'd love to have you join us. Susan is simply the best writing instructor I know. You can find out all the details at www.themasterseminars.com

    Seventh, you probably already know the names Lisa Samson and Susan Meissner. They are bestselling, award-winning novelists who are respected by everybody in the industry. The two of them have been teaming up to do a weekend retreat entitled "How to Add Depth to Your Fiction," and people are raving about it. They were going to do it in Detroit in July, but instead they

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  • May 22, 2010

    Guest Blogger: Who needs a publisher?


     Today we're happy to have back with us Jeff Gerke, president of Marcher Lord Press (a tiny publishing house that just got a finalist in the Christy Awards, even though he's up against the Big Boys!). Jeff was at a conference recently, and sent this my way…

    I wish you'd been at the Colorado Christian Writers' Conference with me last week. I was amazed at the change in attitude regarding self-publishing. The mood was sort of…who needs a publisher?

    Traditionally, publishers have been a good thing to have because they'll pay the author and get the author's book into bookstores. But those things are changing. New authors are finding it almost impossible to get contracts. Advances have dropped (some to as little as $3,000). Brick-and-mortar bookstores are becoming a less-important part of the scenario, especially with one of the giant chains apparently 180 days late in paying their bills (as someone said in a panel). Who buys books at bookstores anymore anyway? It's all on Amazon. So as long as you're there, who needs to go to bookstores?

    The other thing that kept coming up is the fact that publishers will keep whatever is earned by a book, since most books will never make back their advance. However, those few that do earn back their advance will make only $1 per book in royalties. Contrast that with self-publishing, where you keep everything beyond the cost of printing the book — the payout is more like $8 per book or higher.

    Most publishers aren't wanting to publish an author unless s/he's got a large "platform," sometimes even for novelists. If you can't guarantee 10,000 in sales, you may be told "don't bother." My question (which I asked over the microphone on at least one panel) is this: if you have 10,000 in guaranteed sales, what do you need a publisher for?

    I even went so far as to predict that in 3-5

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  • May 18, 2010



    Winter 2010 headshot Been on the road a lot this month, and as much as I love going to conferences, I'm glad to be back at my desk. I had a dream in the wee hours
    this morning that I was in the shower, shouting packing instructions to
    my husband, wondering if I'd still make my flight (to where, I wonder?)
    which was due to leave in twenty minutes.

    I was so relieved to wake up in my own bed, I can't even tell you!

    Hey, lots of stuff going on around here…


    ~ Irene Hannon's Romantic Suspense, IN HARM'S WAY is now #11 on the CBA
    June bestseller list.Second month in a row it's made the list, and it's currently also on ECPA Top Fifty list. Way to go, Irene!

    ~ Lisa Samson has been invited to be the speaker at the Christy Awards
    this year. It's the first time they've actually asked a CBA novelist to be
    the speaker (though earlier Christy speakers include noted authors Brett Lott and Walter Wangerin). We're thrilled, of course.


    ~ Jenny B. Jones is going to be featured on Teen Talk Radio next week
    — May 20th, hosted by Nicole O'Dell. Here's where to find it:
    www.choicesradio.com It's a fun, interactive show with Nicole giving
    guests a "scenario" with optional endings to discuss and vote on during
    the following week.

    ~ Theresa Flores just signed a deal with an actress who read her
    book THE SLAVE ACROSS THE STREET and who is seeking a backer to co-produce
    the television feature of her story. We often receive questions about
    dramatic rights, and do our best to exploit opportunities on behalf of
    our authors. But, it's extra exciting when an actress approaches us with
    this level of enthusiasm. Pray with us, if you will, about this coming
    together. Theresa's is an important message. If you'd like to take a

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  • May 17, 2010

    A Bit About How I Got into Agenting


    William wrote and asked, “Can you tell us why you became an agent?”

    Okay…I got into agenting by accident. I was making my living as a freelance writer, collaborating on books with some great Christian speakers (David Jeremiah, Bruce Wilkinson, Howard Hendricks, Joe Stowell, etc). I had worked as an editor, and knew about writing books, so I felt confident about the "word" side. But something had always stuck in my craw—the fact that when I did my first book
    deal, I simply didn't know what I was doing. The editor called me on the phone, made me an offer, and…I was stumped. I had no context for deciding. Was this a good deal? A bad deal? Normal? Incredible? No idea. So I said yes, wrote the book, and started doing my research on the "business" side.

    Over the next couple of years, I got a great education. I learned about printing and publishing. I studied contracts and read up on intellectual property rights. I did my doctoral work in Organizational Development, so I'm fairly well organized, and good at seeing the big picture. I began doing talks at writer conferences about "how to make a living writing" and "how to get your writer's business going." Pretty soon writers were asking me things like, "Would you take a look at this contract?" and "How would you handle this publishing situation?" In essence, I became an agent without realizing that's what I was doing. (And I was doing it for free!)

    The thing is, I have always had a heart for mentoring/discipleship. It's sort of been my ministry, and since I've spent my life as a words guy, I was naturally drawn to helping writers with things like career decisions, contracts, and proposals. And I suppose if I have a strength (a topic that could be debated), it would be simply that I get along with people. So pretty soon I

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  • May 13, 2010

    Some Tips on Marketing


    Now, back into the swing of things and back to your questions…

    Dana asked, "You’ve worn nearly every hat in the publishing kingdom and sat on both/all sides of the publishing desk (author, agent, in-house and—dare I say it—“outhouse” editor). How has your vast and varied experience helped you form a 'marketing paradigm' of your own? Can you sum up that paradigm for us?" 

    Sure. My marketing paradigm looks like this: "YOU, as the author, are in charge of your marketing. You. Not the publisher, not the editor, not the sales team. You.”

    This isn't a business where most of us can simply write a book, send it in, and expect others to take care of us (if in fact that world ever existed). It means an author is going to have to create a plan – an actual marketing plan, that dovetails with whatever your publisher is doing. I keep seeing authors talk about marketing, but my experience is that only one in ten actually does much. So be that one in ten – figure out what you can do in order to get the word out about yourself and your book.

    To start, become knowledgeable about marketing — how to promote yourself and your work. Read up on marketing. DO NOT settle for saying, "I'm going to say yes to interviews." Having a plan means knowing people, making contacts, staying in touch, looking for opportunities, and figuring out how to maximize yourself.

    So when your publisher announces that they're going to take out ads in TCW and toss copies from the balcony of the convention center at CBA, smile and express your appreciation. Then go do your marketing, because anything your publisher does is a bonus.

    Jana sent this: "We continually hear that Christian publishers want to be on the cutting edge and that we should 'think outside the box.' How true is that, and what exactly do

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