• August 17, 2013

    What is "new adult" (and other questions from a conference)


    I just got back from a writing conference, and I kept track of several interesting questions that writers wanted to ask me…

    “What is New Adult?”

    A number of people asked me about this relatively new term — we’re using it in publishing to talk about books aimed at the 18-to-25 year old audience. These are basically readers who grew up buying “young adult” books (those aimed at the 13-to-18 year old audience), and they’re ready to move to new topics, but perhaps are looking for books that explore the transition from “young adult” issues to standard “adult” themes. So most of the “new adult” (or “NA”) titles focus on that transition — relationships, independence, identity, sexuality, empowerment, moving, career choices, etc. It’s a growing category in publishing, even if you may not have heard the term yet.

    “If a publisher expresses interest in my manuscript at a conference, does that change the way I approach another editor or agent?”

    I doubt it changes the way you approach other editors at a conference (and the words “another editor asked me to send it” tend to mean little, since every experienced conference faculty member can tell you that new writers tend to take ANY encouragement from an editor as “they love my book and are going to publish it!”). Most agents won’t be swayed by the thought that an editor asked to see your proposal, since the agent has to like it personally (I’d never agree to represent someone based on the fact that an editor liked the manuscript). So no, a publisher expressing interest at a conference, while certainly fun and encouraging for you, probably doesn’t mean you should change the way you approach others.

    “If an editor asked me to send my manuscript at a conference, should I mention that in the query letter?”

    If an editor asks you to send your manuscript to him or her, by all

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  • August 15, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Organizing Your Street Team


    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.


    So, we know the reasoning behind why you need a Street Team and then the basics of building one, but once you have your tribe of minions, what do you do with them? Before you send them out into the world (which will probably be next week’s post), you need a home base. 

    Street Teams are all about communication–that is you communicating with them and them communicating with each other. Now a simple (and lame) way to handle this is to send out mass emails. BUT we all know how annoying those can be, and there’s always a guy who hits “reply all” EVERY FREAKING TIME even though he has nothing to say except for some stupid joke that no one finds funny.

    So, your other options are to form a private Facebook or Yahoo! Group (or something similar). You can even make the space fancy by adding pictures and files and other items that you would normally email everyone. In turn, using such an outlet will encourage your Team to actually interact with one another…which reminds me…


    I know it’s great to believe that your peeps will all get along like one big happy family, but let’s be real. There are going to be personality clashes, competitiveness, overwhelming personalities, and maybe even a few street brawls. So be clear about group etiquette. Make sure everyone plays nice.

    Some other ideas include…

    You could go one step farther with your group (if you have a big enough team) and create regional groups. This way, if you

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  • August 14, 2013

    How can I create a purpose statement?


    Someone wrote and asked, “Chip, can you help me create a purpose statement for me as a writer? I think I need to clarify my purpose statement. I’m a literary novelist… can you assist me in moving forward?”

    If you’re thinking about creating a mission statement or a life purpose statement, here are some questions to think through:

    1. If I could sum up the purpose of my life in one word, what word would I choose?

    2. What if I were to sum it up in three words?

    3. How would I want my epitaph to read? If I were to live to be 100, what would I want people to say about me at my 100th birthday party? [And kudos to Bobb Biehl for these questions. Bobb is the president of Masterplanning Group International, and was thinking and writing on these topics long before anyone else in the business. You can find him at www.bobbbiehl.com –and yes, he spells it “Bobb.”]

    You may also find it helpful to ask yourself some questions like these:

    4. Over the course of my life, what do I want to do?

    5. What do I really want to be? How do I want to describe myself?

    6. Who are the people or groups I most want to help?

    7. What sort of things would I like to accomplish in my writing over the next three to ten years?

    8. As you look back over your writing career, what are the themes that are evident? Who have you written to? What have you written about? What are the timeless questions you continue to speak to?

    As you look at your answers, you’ll start to see some themes. Once you have a feel for those, consider creating one non-technical sentence that can be sort of umbrella statement for your work life. Don’t think of this as art, even though you’re a writer –

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  • August 8, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Build a Street Team as an Author


    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.

    Last week, I made the argument for Street Teams. But this isn’t the sort of venture you just throw together. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, I do have some guidelines for when you’re in the BUILDING PHASE. That is, when you’re taking applications and adding people to your team.

    1. I’d argue quality over quantity. You want people you can trust. People who will follow through on their commitment. So while it may be a big ego stroke when you get 100 people ready to sign up, remember that you’re looking for people you can count on…not just people who are wanting free stuff.

    2. You’ll need some sort of application process. Unless you have time and money to spare, you want to vet your team members, ensuring that you have only the most dedicated followers on your roster. Ask questions like:

    • Are you on any other Street Teams?
    • What are your favorite books?
    • Are you on social media? If so, what are your numbers on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Your blog? Etc.?
    • Do you have connections with local groups or organizations that you believe you could tap into to help promote me and my book? List them.
    • What ideas do YOU have to help promote me and my book that you’d be willing to spearhead?
    • Are you able to commit for a full year?
    Weed out anyone who doesn’t measure up or who comes across as less enthusiastic than others. And definitely weed out those who are already on Street Teams with other authors.
    And while
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  • August 7, 2013

    Remember field trips? Did you get to go to a Literary Office?


    Today our office was inundated with small children. Because, you know, kids love hanging out in literary agencies.

    “What do you do?”

    “Do you make books?”

    “Do you know the guy that wrote Diary of a Wimpy Kid?”

    “Can I use the bathroom?”

    All very good questions from the local youth center kids on a field trip. Chip MacGregor, president of MacGregor Literary, had it under control, however, entertaining the local youth with verve and made up stories.  He had a lot to live up to, since they had just come from gorging themselves on chili dogs and playing on the beach.

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  • August 6, 2013

    Does an agent treat authors differently?


    Someone wrote to say, “You obviously enjoy your job. But does an agent have to treat authors differently than you would clients in another business?”

    It’s true — I love my job. In fact, the one time I stepped away from agenting (to be a publisher for Time-Warner) turned out to be a bit of a career mistake, so I can’t imagine doing anything else. I get to work with talented, creative people and develop books – which I think are the most powerful life-change tools we have. (As I’ve said before, we all love music, but few times does someone say, “My life changed when I heard that song.” Most of us appreciate dance, but it’s rare to hear someone say, “I was never the same after I observed that ballet.” And yet I know all sorts of people who will tell you, “My life changed when I read those words…”)

    But to answer your question, no, I don’t think I treat authors any different that I would clients in another business. In fact, I’m not sure I’d know how to treat people differently. I have done organizational consulting and fund raising, interviewed people on the radio, taught at colleges, served on some staffs as an executive/organizational type, and I think I’ve learned that people basically want to be heard and helped to succeed. Sometimes I do that well; other times I suck at it. There’s no single relationship I have with all my authors — some are close friends, some less so. Some want to talk through book ideas, others don’t care what I think of their ideas. Some want to read the contracts carefully, others basically say, “Just tell me when it’s ready and I’ll sign it.” If  there was one way to be an agent, we’d write it down. and anyone could do this job. But there’s not — instead, it’s a series of relationships, which

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  • August 5, 2013

    A Guest Post: How a Book Publicist Launches Her Own Debut



    Jessica Dotta has always been fascinated by the intricacies of society that existed in England from the Regency through the Edwardian era. She writes in a manner that blends past and modern fiction techniques. She lives in the Nashville area and works as a freelance media consultant and publicist. Her first novel, Born of Persuasion, releases September 2013.

    How does one best introduce a book that is best described as Downton Abbey meets Wuthering Heights or as Bronte meets Austen?

    I’ve worked many years as book publicist, but when it came time for the online promotion of Born of Persuasion online, I felt as overwhelmed as any new author might. There are many options!

    But the first step of PR plan is always to identify your target audience and then set about reaching them, so I started there. That part was easy. My audience, I knew. They are historical fiction, romance, and women fiction readers.

    When promoting authors, I worked under the assumption that the author’s personal interests will help me enlarge their target audience. After all, our personalities are woven into our books and who better to reach than kindred spirits? I always gain great insight on where to pitch his or her book just by asking what magazines they subscribe or by finding out what blogs they follow.

    For me, I’m a crafter, decorator, I love Victoria Magazine, I drink tea, and collect teapots. So I added that to the mix of ideas. Authors can pull out themes and ideas from the genre of their novel. Since the Price of Privilege trilogy is set in England I added that, too, into consideration.

    When you factor that together, it’s not hard to see why I chose an online tea party. I mean, what’s more British and tailored for women than tea?

    So a tea party it was. But now the question was how to make it fun.


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  • August 2, 2013

    How do you stay on top of trends in publishing?


    Someone wrote to ask,  “What sources are there for authors to keep an eye on writing and publishing trends?”

    Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Lunch, Publishers Weekly, Digital Book World – all of those resources will keep you up to date on the industry. Watching the various bestseller lists can be helpful, as can finding some blogs that talk about the industry. I like www.rachellegardner.com and www.stevelaube.com, but there are a ton of good ones: PubRants, GalleyCat, SlushPileHell, BuzzMachine, Adventures in Agentland, BookSquare… there are too many to count.

    Each year Writers Digest does a list of “the 101 Best Websites for Writers,” and they always have some great advice. I discovered GrammarGirl, InkyGirl, and Editorial Anonymous by seeing them in the magazine. (I’m one of those who still thinks Writers Digest is one of the very best resources any writer could have.) To watch trends specifically, check out Seth Godin, Mashable, and Alan Rinzler’s blog. Great spots.  It often seems like agent blogs have become a key resource for writers who need to know what’s going on across the industry, so checking out your agent’s blog (or those of other members of AAR) is probably one of the best sources of information.

    Going to conferences is really helpful, since it allows you to talk face to face with authors and editors, gaining firsthand knowledge of what’s happening. There’s nothing like having an editor say to you, “We’re looking for a book on Amish vampire pirates in space” to know that everyone in this industry has lost their freaking minds. (Or that they’re all thinking creatively.) If you go to a book show, you can quickly spot the latest trends in covers, colors, themes, what types of books everyone is doing, what everyone is NOT doing, and what the latest scuttlebutt is. And while I no longer do any online writing communities, I know many authors enjoy being part of the

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  • August 1, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Why Authors Need Street Teams


    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.

    Remember in the 90s how you’d buy a CD (or tape) and inside would be inserts that advertised band t-shirts and other artists on the label? And remember amidst these inserts there was one that promised to make you a groupie and all you had to do was send your postal address?

    Before the Internet…before musicians connected with fans via Facebook and Twitter, Street Teams were all the rage (look! There’s even a Wikipedia page about it!). You’d simply send your info and in return you got a boatload of band paraphernalia. Bumper stickers, flyers, buttons, posters–you name it. And all you had to do in return was promise to plaster your high school with said items.

    To any teen wanting closer contact with their favorite band, this was a must. I mean you didn’t get any cooler than being known for being such-and-such band’s local promoter. (Me? My method of band promotion was to wear band t’s everywhere…to the point where a college professor remembers me as the “Death Cab for Cutie Fanatic.” But that’s neither here nor there.)

    So where am I going with this?

    Bands of the 90s were on to something. And they HAD to be. In a competitive industry that demands you travel from run-down venue to run-down venue via a 15-passenger van in hopes that you make a good impression and create enough buzz to be invited back to a BIGGER venue that hopefully maybe sells out so that your single gets radio time so that more people hear your music so that

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