• January 27, 2014

    The Amazingly Easy Short Cut Guide To Becoming A Great Writer (Tongue-In-Cheek Advice for The Lazy)



    Some are born great writers, some aspire to being a great writer and some have writerly
    greatness thrust upon them. Then, sometimes, neither of those three options apply to us and we have to bushwhack our own path to greatness.

    Is it just me, or does that sound like a lot of work?

    I’d like to suggest that our writerly ambitions can be accomplished with little or no effort. In fact, I have a list of ten things you can do (or not do) to accomplish this goal. (If accomplishing goals is your thing.) I would have come up with eleven, but I got tired.

    1. Don’t Write. Your day is busy enough. In fact, spend your down time doing things like hurling birds into piles of thieving pigs. Tell yourself that this is brain work! Your writing future is dependent on whether or not you see Downton Abbey! Every time you have a nagging thought that tells, you that maybe you should do Nanowrimo or something like that, just watch an episode of Hoarders until the feeling goes away. Smugness, with lack of physical activity, can be just as comforting as that pesky sense of accomplishment that comes with dedication and commitment. Trust me.

    2. Don’t read. This is obvious. Since really there aren’t any new plots, there isn’t any point in reading at all. If you need to know something, don’t go any deeper than a search on Wikipedia. If you want a story to entertain you, you’ve got Netflix, right? Besides fiction is made up stories, which are basically lies. Just don’t bother. In fact, if you are reading this blog, stop right now and turn on Pandora, the Shakira station.

    3. Hang Out With Stupid People. This should be easy. If you want to avoid greatness, then spend a lot of time with those who are content to stay where they

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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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  • January 23, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: The Beauty of Social Media


    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. Today, it is on sale for $2.99…check it out!

    It’s been snowing here like crazy (I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana). There was one snowfall in which we got something like 16″, and the snow has continued to come. Three inches here. One inch there. And we’re only halfway through winter.

    I’ve been ridiculously curious about the total amount of snowfall, but couldn’t find the information anywhere. I mean weather sites seem to all be trapped in the 90s, and news sites are only interested in the here and now. So I almost gave up…until I decided to reach out to one of our weathermen via Facebook.

    Curtis Smith has over 31,000 Facebook followers, but when I visited the page I found that he is fairly active on it. So, I posed my question. He replied in a couple hours and instead of providing me with a website I could use to get such information in the future, he invited me to come to him with my questions.

    Oh, and for the record, we’re at 34.6″ so far.


    Yesterday morning, I was doing the Health Care Juggle. After being on hold for an hour, I was told that I had called the wrong number, and so I was transferred. That person said that I had been transferred to the California office, so they transferred me again. Then THAT person said that I had reached the Connecticut office, so I was transferred a third time. That person told me I had reached the wrong department and they gave

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  • January 16, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: 5 Reasons Readers Stop Reading Blogs



    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. Today, it is on sale for $2.99…check it out!

    When I worked in marketing, part of my job was to stay on top of mommy blogs. Every day, I’d catch up on my favorites and try and discover a few new ones (not hard to do, of course).

    It’s been at least three years since I had to do this, and I still find myself checking in on my favorite mommy bloggers…even though I don’t have kids and even though I rarely read blogs in general. This got me thinking about my time as a blog reader and how some blogs would be high on my list only to drop down and eventually fall off the list altogether soon after, while other blogs stood the test of time.

    So, I figured I’d share the TOP 5 REASONS I WOULD STOP READING A BLOG:

    1. The blogger changed their approach. This happened all the time…a blogger would be in their groove, churning out great content that hits their reader and then WHAM. Things change. With Dooce.com, I was an avid reader until she started doing a bunch of endorsements for products and brands. Suddenly, most of her posts were sponsored by Pampers or Verizon or Whatchamacallit. Though she tried to keep the posts Dooce-like, it just wasn’t the same. I soon stopped reading. Another example is when the blogger suddenly brings in a bunch of guest posts. We’ve done this on our blog, in fact, and we’ve noticed numbers go down. So yeah…while it may help pay the

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  • January 15, 2014

    Taxes for Writers



    mainDanica Favorite works as an online moderator for a major publisher where she connects readers and writers with new fiction releases. Having spent time in the corporate world teaching tax law and preparing taxes, she much prefers fiction to numbers. Her first book with Love Inspired Historical will be available in late 2014.



    As some of you know, I spent about five years preparing taxes and I
    teach on the topic of taxes for writers. I took a class with the
    Colorado Department of Revenue about a year ago on the very topic of
    sales tax. I had heard a number of things about sales tax and was
    concerned that at some point, I would need to know this information for
    my business, plus, I was working on something I wanted to do that might
    have tax implications.

    Here are a few VITAL things to know:

    1. Sales tax is an extremely complex topic. Not only does it vary by
    state, but it varies by locality. You must make absolutely sure that you
    are following both the laws of your state as well as any laws of the
    states in which you are selling to- this includes when you sell a book
    online!! Everything I am telling you is based on COLORADO law. If you
    are not in Colorado, please be sure to check your state’s guidelines.
    That said, it may not be enough to look it up on your state’s website.
    Colorado law is so complex that I, as someone tax-trained, could not
    figure out what I needed to know based on the website, so I took a
    day-long class. Yup – an entire day. And it barely scratched the surface.
    Please, please, please get advice on sales tax from someone who is
    very familiar with sales tax law in the area in which you are selling
    your books!

    2. Here is

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  • January 13, 2014

    A Fabulous Beast is Born




    One of my earliest memories is of sitting in a darkened cinema and wailing, “But I don’t want to see his head explode, Mommy!” My parents loved scary movies and didn’t want to pay a sitter. I was doomed.

    Nightmarish creatures haunted my childhood dreams. In an effort to tame the monsters, I invited them to tea parties. I’d lower the blinds in my room, close the curtains and lock the door. Then, pretending it was midnight, (so both Dracula and the Wolfman could make it) I’d host elaborate festivities.
    I grew to love my monsters. After all, it was the monsters in the movies that made people pull together and rise above their petty agendas. (Bloodlust is a powerful organizational tool.) It was monsters that made us human.

    So while I was mentoring middle schoolers and waiting for a new book idea, I read a book on the psychology of fear and monsters. I was surprised to learn that scholars consider Aristotle to be the father of Monsterology. (Or, as my PhD scientist friend, Jodi, says, “Cryptozoology.” Then she rolls her eyes and changes the subject.)

    But Aristotle was also considered to be a major influence on Christian theology. Why was such a brilliant man mixed up with monsters? Unfortunately, Aristotle’s monster hunting days were cut short…he died under mysterious conditions. Then all his books were destroyed. (The writings we have of Aristotle today are mostly his lecture notes.) What happened to him? What secrets about monsters did he take to his grave? I clipped a picture from the book of an ancient, legendary monster and slipped it into a box for safekeeping.

    Unsure what to do with this mystery, I got on with life. I like to read fitness magazines, especially if I’m avoiding exercise. One day I read about a respected triathlete, who is disabled. She described picking off

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  • January 9, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: I’m an Agent and I Self-Published


    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. Today, it is on sale for $2.99…check it out!

    Hi. I’m an agent and I self-published. Nice to meet you.

    It goes without saying that when you’re in a certain industry and then specifically choose to do something within that industry but without following industry expectations, it’s going to raise some eyebrows. I mean shouldn’t I be on the side of TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING?! Shouldn’t I HATE Amazon and CreateSpace?

    Maybe. But I don’t.

    I hadn’t faced much interrogation over my self-pubbing decision until I had lunch with an editor a few months ago. She looked me straight in the eye and asked me why I didn’t traditionally publish. And I knew the question was more than that. It was her asking me why I avoided giving her and her industry my business and instead hopped over to Amazon, the bully on her playground. Was I indicating that I didn’t trust their skills? Was I showing my true colors? Was I making a statement?

    There are a number of reasons that I chose to self-publish. Sadly for all of you readers looking for a dose of entertainment, none of those reasons are malicious or argument-inducing. But still, it’s time to talk about it. It’s time to share why I published the way I published…

    1. I needed it NOW. I began work on The Extroverted Writer last January. I had effectively established as an agent and deveopled a following, particularly with my marketing advice. But how long was this image going to last? Was I going to tire

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  • January 7, 2014

    A Workshop on Getting Published




    A new writing conference is fast approaching — and you’re invited.

    On Saturday, February 15, I will be speaking at the Dallas Writers’ University. It’s a one-day event, with a rather intensive agenda:

    • I’ll speak on “developing a book proposal that sells,” and the focus will be on giving practical, hands-on help to writers who want to create a proposal that will get noticed.
    • I’ll also be speaking on “creating your long-term publishing strategy,” with an emphasis on traditional publishing, niche publishing, self-publishing, and alternative strategies for writers to make a living.
    • Michelle Borquez, bestselling author and entrepreneur, will explore “building a platform around your concept.”
    • There will be a Q&A time, and everybody there will have a face to face meeting with me sometime during the day.
    • Finally, Michelle and I will be talking about the secret to success in contemporary publishing.

    I’m really looking forward to this opportunity. I’ve largely taken time away from conferences the past couple years, but I love talking to authors about proposals and strategy. And you’re invited. Again, every participant gets face time with me, where we’ll be reviewing proposals and talking about next steps in a one-on-one setting. That means our space is limited to just 30 people.

    Here’s the thing . . . there are a hundred conferences you can go to in order to get some basic information on writing. But if you really want to join a small group and find out how to create a book that will sell, make some money, and gain entry into the world of publishing by talking to some experienced people in the industry, I hope you’ll consider joining us. I don’t do many conferences anymore (and rarely do a writing conference), so I’m excited to be asked to be part of this one.

    The event is going to be in the Dallas area, at a church in White

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  • January 1, 2014

    My Publishing Predictions for 2014


    I sometimes hate reading people’s predictions for the new year, since they tend to be incredibly safe (“a new author will arise and start selling well”) or so obvious a moron could have guessed it (“it will rain a lot in Oregon”). But I enjoy the notion of trying to guess what will happen, since I’ve spent my life in this business, and I tend to try and stay ahead of the curve. So here are my un-safe, non-obvious thoughts on what may happen this year…

    1. Amazon is going to start a chain of stores. Maybe it’ll be in airports, maybe they’ll start micro-stores like the kiosks you see selling headphones and chargers in airport terminals, but Amazon NEEDS to find an outlet for their Amazon-branded books. No brick and mortar store will touch them, and they need a presence in paper somewhere.

    2. Barnes & Noble is going to be sold but remain in business. Okay, I don’t have ANY insider information, even though my wife worked for them for years. We all know B&N is struggling. They may sell off their Nook business (and I’m a huge fan of my Nook, as I’ve noted on this blog several times), but I don’t think America’s largest book retailer will go under. Instead, I’m wondering if the good folks at Microsoft (who propped up the Nook with an infusion of cash two years ago) might buy the entire chain. Someone will.

    3. We’re going to see a bunch of publisher mergers. Hear me out: the rise of ebook readers led to a flood of category novels. That in turn led to the creation of countless smaller publishing houses — start-up companies that focused on one genre. But with ebook sales gone flat, and dedicated e-readers failing due to tablets, a bunch of those semi-successful smaller houses are about to be taken over by the Random Houses and HarperCollins of

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  • December 31, 2013

    What were the biggest publishing stories of 2013?


    So we’re in a state of revolution in publishing — a season where everything about books is changing. The writing, the editing, the production, the marketing, the sales channels, even the way we read books is different from the way we did five years ago. In the midst of all that change, there has been a lot of debate over the state of the industry, with some people decrying the changes and other embracing them. Some folks (see the letter from Richard Russo that I shared on the blog last week) are worried about the decline of bookstores and the takeover by a handful of conglomerates. Others (see Konrath’s harangue via the comments section) are celebrating that power has begun to move from publishers and bookstores to writers. There are strong feelings on each side, and no doubt some truth to be gleaned from several sources.

    In the midst of all the noise, I thought it would be good to review some of the biggest publishing stories of the last year (before we all start making predictions about what will happen in 2014).

    Before I offer my thoughts, let me just state that I’m of the opinion there’s never been a better time to be a writer. There are more readers than ever before. There’s moire training available than ever before. The industry is producing more books than ever before. And the web has created more opportunities for writers than ever before. So consider me an optimist when it comes to the publishing future. With that in mind, here are what I consider the ten biggest publishing stories of 2013:

    1. Flat sales for ebooks. While it’s true we’ve watched ebooks capture a huge percentage of the market over the past five years, the expected rise to a 50/50 split between print books and ebooks hasn’t materialized. Instead, ebooks make up about 20 to 23% of all books sales… and

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