• April 25, 2013

    One Thursday (and only one) With Erin


    “Erin? Who’s Erin? I didn’t even know MacGregor Literary HAD an agent named Erin,” you might be saying. I actually started just about a year ago, but have been keeping a low profile where the blog is concerned while I learn everything there is to know about the business in preparation for staging a coup and re-naming the agency “Buterbaugh Literary.” I’m almost ready to put my plan into motion. In the meantime, thanks to Amanda for letting me fill in today! *Step one: replace Amanda– Check.*

    With all the outlets clamoring for authors’ time and attention when building a social media presence, it can be easy for authors to get into the habit of constantly feeding their Internet pets- Tweet four times, update Facebook status, post new blog, chime in on Goodreads discussion group, engage, engage, engage! While it’s true that you have to make regular appearances at any of these places for them to be truly effective in building your platform, I’ve noticed a negative side-effect of the “feed the Internet” mindset among authors: namely, a lack of good judgment when it comes to responding to both positive and negative feedback/commentary at their various Internet watering-holes. Your responses to reviews and comments have the potential to seriously derail your PR train, so take a look at some of the scenarios in which authors tend to sabotage themselves  and see how your response practices measure up!

    Responding to reviews:

    -Don’t respond to negative reviews.
    This is hard. I’m a person who always likes to have the last word, and when a bunch of strangers who don’t know you and don’t seem to understand your book begin to post lackluster reviews to Amazon or to Goodreads, it can be extremely tempting to provide an explanation or defend an aspect of the book the reviewer dislikes. I saw this recently on Facebook; an author posted a link to an online publication’s

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  • April 24, 2013

    What are the first steps in writing a book?


    Someone asked, “If someone feels a passion to write a book, what would you say should be the first steps (realizing most people want to fast-forward to the ‘contract’ stage)?”

    Sometimes it seems as though everyone is writing a book. But a “passion” doesn’t constitute a “call,” of course. Neither does a “need” constitute a “call.” Nor does “a cool personal story, complete with miracle” constitute a call to write a book. I mean, I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, and I realize the world is made up of millions of people who apparently all want to be rock stars. But the desire to be a rock star doesn’t mean you can actually sing, or that people will pay money to come hear you sing. There’s a big difference between sounding pretty good in the church choir and asking people to plunk down $18.99 for your new CD at WalMart.

    Let me explain it this way… I’m a pretty good swing dancer, and can usually make a beginner look okay as a partner on the dance floor. But there’s quite a difference between being a pretty good amateur dancer at the publisher’s ball and asking people to pay $65 to buy a ticket and come see me dance in a show. Writing is an art, and with any art it takes practice, training, creative vision, talent, and hard work. I too-frequently see people who want to do a book because they think they can make a fast buck, and they lack all of the above. Or they think they have a “lesson” to teach the world, and they feel a need to write it down — as though all of life’s lessons are publishing-worthy. Every book is a combination of a great idea, expressed through good writing, preferably from an author with a solid platform. Your great lesson may just be for you and those close

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  • April 23, 2013

    Before you post your book online…


    A guest post from Holly Lorincz, assistant to Chip MacGregor

    Recently, I was forced given the opportunity to learn to master the art of uploading ebooks onto Smashwords and Amazon for this persistent Scottish agent I know. After extracting multiple promises that haggis or blood pudding would never be served at staff parties, I agreed.

    I can’t approach the simplest assignment without first reading at least seventeen reference books (the heftier the better), and yet, after all that research and putting my own book up for esale, I’ve really only learned one thing about self-publishing: marketing your ebook is a full time job. Selling it successfully? There’s magic involved and a lot of patient plodding, and messing around with algorithms. I know, I know, I shouldn’t use that word algorithm, since it just screams ‘first period math class.’ Sorry. Unless you’re going to hire a publicist, get used to it. Also, if I’m being totally honest, you may want to bypass the whole formatting and uploading issue, hire a professional, if you have a life away from your computer.

    Still here? Okay then. The following is a list of random ebook publishing and marketing tips that I’ve picked up from books, other self-publishers, and my own stumble down the publishing path. Some of it will be common sense and common practice, so just view it as a reminder.

    1. Remember those early beta-readers you sought out as you were finishing your book? Remember that one that drove you crazy, the one that only commented on dangling participles, improperly used pronouns and linguistic improbabilities?  If you haven’t burned that bridge, find that grammarian and ask him or her to read your book one last time, tasked with catching typos, specifically homonyms and homophones. (Because, you know, spell check silently chuckles when you use the phrase “his voice was a horse whisper.”)

    2. Decide if you are going to use KDP Select

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  • April 22, 2013

    Sandra on The Power of Personal Meetings



    I haven’t traveled much in the last six months, but I’ve just returned from a three-day conference. Though I fully registered for it, I only attended two conference events, but my time there was incredibly valuable and enriching regardless.

    Aside from the three-hour-thaw-by-the-pool-mini-sabbatical I scheduled for myself on Friday afternoon before boarding the plane home, I spent every waking hour while there in pre-arranged meetings with editors and authors. In the end, when responding to questions about how my trip went, I heard myself say “I really enjoyed connecting with everyone!” And I today, I added several items to my task list newly motivated by an urge to help each of these people succeed in their roles.

    Sure, when I requested time together, I had a project in mind. But as usual, I found that holding “my” agenda a bit loosely, and taking the position of investigator vs. sales person always returned a rewarding and gratifying encounter that will begin, or enrich, a long-term relationship.

    There’s so much more to personal meetings than just “putting a face to a name.” When I meet an editor or other prospective associate in person, the encounter requires real listening. I’ve learned that more often than not, my “canned” speech goes out the window in favor of personal dialogue once an editor or prospective author and I start talking about whether what’s working well for them and how/if what they’re hoping to publish next aligns with the project(s) I’m interested in.

    A side perk of meeting in person is that, unlike with email, I must also practice the art of keeping the conversation going in both directions. I’ll admit, I’m still working on controlling my tendency to be so terribly interruptive – an inexcusable habit that I still give into when I’m especially enthused about something.

    As anonymous, and bottom-line, and impersonal as this business can sometimes feel,

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  • April 20, 2013

    The Power of Words (a guest post)


    A guest post by Karen Swallow Prior

    In Charlotte’s Web, the first hint Wilbur the pig receives about the odd spider’s true character comes when she tells him her name, Charlotte A. Cavatica. What an oddly beautiful name for a creature usually associated with ugliness, fear, and death. Upon hearing her name, Wilbur tells Charlotte, “I think you’re beautiful.” And Charlotte, naturally, agrees.

    Names are powerful words. We don’t think about names quite the same way people of old did, and this is our great error. In ancient times, a person’s name often signified an event, a personal quality, or a family relation. In this way, a name offered not only a label for oneself, but even more importantly, a connection to the world one was born into and a part of. The acts of naming and being named were momentous events laden with significance—just as it is significant that the first work God gave Adam in the Garden of Eden was naming the animals. To name something or someone is a gesture that is both creative and powerful. In Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White bestowed a spider with the name of Charlotte A. Cavatica. And he gave a little girl—one a lot like me—the name of Fern Arable, a name resonant with the pastoral qualities that permeate the pages of the book.

    As for me, my mother chose my middle name, Irene, first because it is my grandmother’s name, and then she picked a first name suitable to accompany it. For most of my life, I thought of Irene as an old, ugly name. But now that I am older, and my grandmother is much more so, and I can better appreciate who she is and the life she has lived, I think it is a pure, strong name. Its origin is Greek; it means peace. I’m thankful for this name, not only because I think it is beautiful

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  • April 18, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Marketing Tip and Social Media Critiques, part 12


    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 andBarnes & Noble.

    I’ve been hard at work this month, marketing my book The Extroverted Writer…and I’ve learned A LOT.

    So before I offer a few Social Media Critiques (the offer is now closed, for those of you wondering), I figured I’d give a few marketing pointers, based on what I’ve learned.

    I’ve appeared on numerous blogs this week.

    Am I missing anything? I feel I am. Which leads me to my point…

    When you’re in the midst of heavy marketing, it’s so easy for things to spiral out of control–for you to forget what you’ve done where and when and then miss opportunities to connect with others. I can’t stress how important it is to stay organized during this process. Spreadsheets, calendars, and obsessive compulsive disorder are your friends at this stage in the game. Without them, you’re going to sink.

    Another truth that was reinforced is that appearances on blogs and the like don’t always translate into big sales. But what they do is plant the seed. You see, readers aren’t going to buy a book on a whim. But they’ll buy it if they see it popping up in numerous places or if they read something about it and then a few months pass and they hear someone talking about it.

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  • April 16, 2013

    Living the writer’s life.


    Guest post with Philip Patterson

    I’ve been blessed. I’ll admit it. I broke in to both publishing and college textbook publishing when an unsolicited manuscript was opened, usually returned and sometimes had constructive comments scrawled on it. That’s a long time ago. But after I got my foot (feet?) into two doors, I found that the work had just started. A couple of decades later, here’s what I know about the writer’s life. None of this is unique to me, but if you catch a pattern in what most of your advisors are saying—it’s for a reason.

    ONE: Write everyday. Don’t wait for the muse to come to you, entice the muse by writing.  Most writers work at the same time every day and for about the same amount of time (or word count) each day. Resist the marathon session. When time allows, edit what you’ve already written instead or do the research for future writing. Resist stalling. A neat desk is not a substitute for 1000 useable words.

    TWO: Write at the best time of day. For some, their best time is early morning; for others, it’s after work or even late evening. My longest book—a 365 day devotional Bible with 500-word essays each day—was written almost entirely outside my home. The bulk of it was written early each morning at a local coffee shop where everybody there knew what I was doing and gave me the space and the encouragement to do it. They were my “writers group,” and because of the nature of my book, they were a good one.

    THREE: Write what you know. Your own experience and everyday observations should give you a wealth of information to begin. I started with my known field of mass communication and wrote a couple of books for the religious market on parenting children in a media age. It worked because, as a journalism professor, I had the academic

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  • April 15, 2013

    Why do we write?


    I’m sorry to have dropped out of the teleseminar last week. If you stopped by and were expecting me, I apologize for doing a no-show. Knowing I was going to be talking with Michael Hyatt, I went to a Mexican restaurant and ordered fish tacos for lunch (since everyone knows Mike believes fish tacos are the secret to great book publishing). Anyway, lesson for the day: When eating at a sketchy Mexican place at the beach, stay away from fish tacos. I got sick, and ended up in bed. My apologies, but I hear Mike and Amanda rocked it. Thanks for participating, thanks to Michael for being fabulous, and a huge thank you to Amanda for pinch-hitting and taking leadership of the event. 

    If I can go back to writing and publishing questions, I thought you’d like to see this question someone sent me: “I’ve been writing for several months now, and I’m trying to figure out what my motivation is. Can you help me understand WHY I want to become a published author?”

    A fascinating question. Okay, this may surprise you, but I believe most new writers basically want to get published so that they’ll be famous. They want that thrill of holding up a book with their name emblazoned on the cover, show it to their friends, leave it on their coffee table, maybe peruse a copy at the bookstore and casually mention to someone in the aisle, “You know… I wrote this.” I think most new writers are seeking fame and encouragement, that they believe validity and meaning will arrive out of publication. They see fame as offering a measurable amount of worth and competence. 

    That’s not to say most new writers don’t also have something they want to say — they do. It’s just that many newer writers struggle with having a worthwhile story. Think about it — we all know it takes a while for

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  • April 11, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Questions from Last Night’s GET PUBLISHED Teleseminar


    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 andBarnes & Noble.

    Last night was our GET PUBLISHED teleseminar with Michael Hyatt. What a great time, talking business and answering questions! It was a blast.

    We weren’t able to get to some of the submitted questions, so I’ve gone ahead and answered them below. Would love your thoughts on what was discussed during the teleseminar, or what is talked about below.

    And don’t forget! We have a special opportunity for friends (that’s you!) of MacGregor Literary. 

    Michael Hyatt, former CEO and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers (one of the largest publishers in the world), has recently released a comprehensive solution for authors called GET PUBLISHED. It’s a 21 session audio program, accessible online, that distills Michael’s 30+ years of publishing knowledge into a step-by-step guide to help authors get published and launch a successful career, even perhaps a bestseller!

    Michael is offering a special limited time discount on GET PUBLISHED. Not only can you save significantly on the program, you’ll also get access to several bonuses worth over $150. Bonuses include items such as Michael’s popular “How to Write a Winning Book Proposal” ebook and more.

    For details and to take advantage of this special offer, go to http://michaelhyatt.com/getpublishedoffer

    (Note: This discount offer is only available through April 17).

    Okay, on to those questions!

    Brooke asks: What makes an agent take a chance on a first-time author?

    When we fall in love with a fiction author’s story idea and writing, or when we see the potential of the book idea, writing, AND platform of a nonfiction author.

    Mark asks: What do you think about

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  • April 6, 2013

    Get Published teleseminar with Michael Hyatt, Chip MacGregor, and Amanda Luedeke


    Join us (Chip and Amanda) and Michael Hyatt, bestselling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson, for a complimentary LIVE teleseminar on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).

    During this call you’ll have the ability to get your publishing questions answered by the three of us. You’ll also learn many of Michael’s insider secrets on getting published and building a platform for success.

    The call will last about an hour. It’s free for all to join and there will be an MP3 recording / replay shared with all who register. When you register you will have the option to submit a question for us to answer

    To register now, click here.


    Q: What is a teleseminar?

    A: Think of it as a giant conference call. You dial in (or listen via streaming web audio), along with others and listen while we share and answer questions.

    Q: How much does this cost?

    A: It’s free. If you choose to access the LIVE call via phone, you may incur standard long-distance charges if you choose a dial-in number that is not local to you (there are multiple dial-in number options). Other than that, no fee at all.

    Q: What is the date and time?

    A: The LIVE call will take place on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).

    Q: How can I access the LIVE call?

    A: You’ll have two options. Our call capacity is 3,000 total. Five hundred can access the call via phone, the rest via streaming web audio (listening via your computer). Access is on a first-come, first-served based on registration and which access option you chose. We will notify you prior to the call with the specific phone number and web address.

    Q: I can’t make the LIVE call. Will there be a recording?

    A: Yes, we’ll make the recording available to all who registered after

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