• August 3, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference Part 2



    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda 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.

    I’m doing the conference thing again this week, so I’m going to continue the discussion on promoting yourself at a conference with a little story…

    Long, long ago, at an ACFW far, far away, there was a young woman with purple shoes. Now these weren’t just any purple shoes; they were magic purple shoes. Shoes that caused every agent and editor in the land to take notice of this young, unpublished writer.

    Now ACFW was full of blossoming writers–writers with hopes and dreams. Writers who threatened to steal the attention of the agents and editors. But as dusk turned to dawn on the final day of ACFW and the agents and editors went back to their homes and families, there was one aspiring author who the agents and editors remembered. One who stood out among all of the new writers in the land.

    It was the girl with purple shoes. Because not only had she worn purple shoes…her business card and website also carried her purple shoe brand.

    Let this be a lesson to you … branding can help you stand apart from the crowd. Even if you’re a new writer. And if you’re consistent with it…if you let it infiltrate your online presence, agents and editors will take note. Just like we at MacGregor Literary and some editors at big CBA houses took note of Halee Matthews, the girl with the purple shoes.

    What are your ideas for making yourself stand out at conference? It doesn’t have to be a physical trait…it can be a great book title, a tagline…really anything that’s different and unique but still professional.


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  • August 1, 2012

    The Wine Press Follies


    A few months ago (March 5), I wrote a blog post about the situation at Wine Press Publishing. They’re a big self-publisher of religious books, and their founder and former president alleges they’ve been taken over by a cult called Sound Doctrine Church. I’d read about the story online, and I made a comment on Facebook about it all — and was promptly served with a threatening letter from Wine Press, suggesting I was going to be sued, prosecuted, and presumably keel-hauled for having basically said, “Wow… I didn’t know this was going on.” They claimed I was a co-conspirator, and had their lawyer try to intimidate me with heavy-handed rhetoric.

    Their lawyer’s name, by the way, is Dumas. (Feel free to pronounce that however you want.)
    Well, several people have written to ask what the follow-up is, and what it was like when I ran into them at the ICRS book show. The fact is, I’ve stayed away from the topic on this blog. I mean, it’s not really my fight, I just happen to not like being barked at by a Dumas. Still, I noticed that the Brain Trust at Wine Press must have read my post, since they decided to write a couple responses on their church blog. (That’s right… I wrote a blog post about Wine Press, a publishing company claiming to NOT be a church, and their defense was posted on the church’s website.) On it, they took pains to detail what a “conspiracy” is, citing as their source that bastion of wisdom, Wikipedia. They also claimed that I was “lying about the facts,” though I notice they didn’t actually cite any lies, and concluded by saying I was “directly aiding… supporting, and contributing” to the people who oppose them. (You can read the whole thing here:   http://hardtruth.sdoctrine.org/realfacts/ )
    It makes for interesting reading. I particularly like the parts where they quote all
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  • July 31, 2012

    Lovely RITA and other awards — MacGregor Literary Winners at 2012 RWA Conference


    It’s always a big deal to win an award. We know authors can go a long way on recognition. And they aren’t the only ones.

    When we agents have the honor of being present when awards are presented to our authors, it adds a huge measure of joy to the work we do on their behalf. And often, we are the lucky ones to receive awards for them.

    I travelled to RWA last week, but knew I couldn’t arrive in time on Thursday last week to attend the Faith, Hope & Love chapter meeting at which our author Carla Stewart was up for an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award … but I had a feeling she’d win, and so asked Amanda to be there just in case. And YES!! Carla won for her novel BROKEN WINGS, edited by Christina Boys, (Faithwords/Hachette). Of course it’s a team effort around here — but thanks, Amanda, for accepting. We’re so proud to represent Carla and looking forward to more continued success together, to more of her lovely stories about bygone times, and more of those equally lovely Faithwords covers! Go team Carla!

    As the conference progressed and the RITA AWARDS approached, I had that feeling again. Really. It’s not like I actually KNEW we’d win again this year, but we had had a winner last year, and did have three finalists in the Inspirational Romance category this year: author Jenny B. Jones for her Thomas Nelson release SAVE THE DATE (editor, Natalie Hanemann) and Irene Hannon for her Revell title, DEADLY PURSUIT (Jennifer Leep, editor) and Serena Miller for THE MEASURE OF KATIE CALLAWAY, Revell (Vicki Crumton, editor) so, the odds were good. Thankfully I heeded the little voice telling me to jot a few key notes and be ready to accept on Serena’s behalf for her debut novel. Granted, she was up against some heavy hitters and long time authors, but …
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  • July 30, 2012

    How can I find a writing mentor?


    Mandy wrote to me and noted, “Recently you encouraged all serious writers to find a writing mentor. How does one do this? I’ve been to several writing conferences and am acquainted with some well-known authors, but I’m not sure I’d ever be bold enough to ask one of them.”

    Well, my first thought is that you keep in mind what a mentor is: Not someone perfect. Not someone on the top of the bestseller lists. Not someone who is necessarily your best friend in the business. A mentor is someone who is a bit further down the path from yourself — a writer with a bit more experience in the field, who can offer you some wise advice and direction, especially when you are trying to grow or you are faced with a major decision. Would you benefit from having that sort of relationship with another writer?

    If so, I’d suggest that it’s tough to walk up to someone you don’t know well and ask, “Will you commit to being my friend?” Most of us would probably find that a bit odd. So focus on one of those experienced authors you already know, perhaps someone you’ve met and enjoyed at a conference, and think about what you’ll say to him or her.

    By using the framework of “talking to a friend,” consider going to that experienced author you’re friendly with and talking with him or her about mentoring. What are their thoughts? Who mentored them? Take the time to write down what you’d like to receive from a mentor (a chance to talk things over? career guidance? some wisdom when faced with big questions? suggestions for writing exercises?), so that it’s clear in your own mind what your expectations are. If you don’t know what you want, it’s tough to explain it to someone else.

    Approach the person in a one-on-one setting sometime and simply say, “I have a favor

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  • July 26, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference


    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda 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.

    We’re all at RWA this week, and if you’ve never been to a BIG conference, then do yourself a favor and sign up for one. Lots of great information, lots of big-name authors, lots of agents, editors and aspiring writers.

    In short, there’s lots and lots of chaos.

    And I’ve noticed that within that chaos, you have numerous authors who seem to get lost in the mix…authors who are so intent on soaking up every last bit of the conference and attending every workshop, party, and award show that they lose sight of one of the most valuable uses of their time: SELF PROMOTION.

    In an attempt to avoid frantically writing a post and slapping it up in time for my next appointment, I’m going to cut this week’s Thursday with Amanda short. BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you! So, take some time to think about these questions, and then share your thoughts:

    • What have YOU done to promote yourself at conferences?
    • How have you dropped the ball?
    • How have you succeeded?
    • What has prevented you from going all-out with your promotions during conference time?

    Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive in to looking at what published and unpublished authors can do to promote themselves at conferences.


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  • July 24, 2012

    Summer Sabbatical – It’s a Very Good Thing


    Sandra Bishop, MacGregor Literary, Inc. Agent, shares her reflections on a rare thing indeed for people in the publishing biz–time away. Sandra represents fiction and nonfiction authors in multiple genres. 

    Each of the past few years as summer approached, I’ve told myself it’s what I would do. Slow down. Lay low. Say no. Cultivate my inner life. Spend undistracted time with my family. Reach out to friends. Remember what – besides work – brings me joy and satisfaction.

    I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t been forced this year to stop completely and take time to heal from surgery, I don’t know that I would have actually done so.

    It took me a full ten days before I was not schlepping around in my PJ’s at least part-time, but once I started feeling well enough to do more than sit around with my feet up all day, I began to enjoy the gift of just “being.” And I gave myself permission to take a full month off. Now that I have, it’s something I plan to do again next year – and something I recommend everyone do if possible. Not the surgery part, of course, but the taking of a good stretch of time away to rest, recharge, and remember what you love to do – besides work and write.

    It sounds easy – the notion of taking time away – but for those of us who are driven to produce, it is no small thing to stop and really enjoy the simple pleasure of taking each day as it comes. After being immersed in work day in and day out for years, it took me some time to relearn what I enjoy most in life. I’ve been a bit surprised that it really, really is the simple things that matter most.

    I’ve grown increasingly grateful for God’s lavish blessings in my life. In addition to understanding what a privilege it

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  • July 20, 2012

    The Golden Weenie Award


    I’m just back from ICRS (the International Christian Retailing Show), where I always enjoy getting to see longtime friends in CBA. A lot of people in publishing don’t really understand the Christian Booksellers Association — they still refer to it as “the inspirational market,” and have no idea that it’s a HUGE part of publishing. I think it’s funny that a major magazine recently admitted, while putting together notes about book publishing in the US, that they had excluded all religious works in their totals… then noted that religious publishing accounts for about 20% of all publishing in this country. That would be akin to a publisher saying, “Here are our sales figures for last year — but, of course, they don’t include any of the books we sold on Amazon.”

    Anyway, we at MacGregor Literary represent a bunch of Christian books. We don’t work exclusively with religious books (though I get that question frequently, we do about a third of our business in the general market), but Sandra, Amanda, and I probably sell as much Christian fiction as any agency in the country. So I was there, representing the company at the book show, trying to act nice, and remembering to wear a clean shirt.

    As usual, I loved seeing editors and authors. There were great new covers to see, some trends in books that we’ll get into later, and authors we represent won several major awards — so a good show all around. It was once again held in Orlando — faithful readers will know that the people in charge of ICRS hold high-level meetings each year, to try and determine which will be the hottest city in the country the next year, in order to book the show someplace completely uncomfortable. (“How about hell? Have we considered doing the show in hell?”) Rumor has it they light candles, throw the urim and thummin, and then decide to

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  • July 19, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Promote Old Titles


    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda 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.

    Today, we’re going to gear things a bit more toward published authors and, for the time being, away from strictly talking platform-marketing. Today, we’re going to talk a bit of book marketing, thanks to Tina’s question:

    I once heard MJ Rose say we shouldn’t stop promoting past novels. She even told a story about a guy who promoted his book for two years after a publisher dropped theirs and he sold an amazing 100,000 copies.

    It seems even more important to promote when we are in between novels, but I don’t want to beat people over the head.  At the same time, I feel like I need to keep promoting my writing to keep from disappearing from the industry. Thoughts?

    The simple answer (in my opinion), is yes. You should continue to promote all of your books. Lets talk numbers, here…

    You write a book. The publisher gives you $10,000 as an advance. The book comes out. It almost earns out that advance before the publisher wants to do another book. They give you another $10,000. In the course of one year, or so. You’ve made $20,000. Not too shabby, but it’s still not a solid income.

    At this point, most authors stop focusing on their old book and focus on their new one. New is exciting! Fresh! It’s a way to start over! And maybe earn out that advance!

    But let’s think about this…your first book is almost going to earn out. That means, once the publisher recoups the $10k, you’re going to start seeing royalty money come in. If you drop the book altogether, chances are it will go out of print, and you haven’t made

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  • July 18, 2012

    Another post about favorite books


    Marie Prys provides administrative support to MacGregor Literary’s agents as well as overseeing contracts and informational databases. She hails from the Northwest, lives in Richmond, VA, and enjoys a blessed life with her husband and four children. Reading is a favorite pastime she is always trying to find more time for.

    When it comes to favorite books, I would be remiss if I didn’t cover Children’s fiction. As a child I was sometimes punished with having whatever book I was reading be taken away until a misdeed had been rectified—such as completing neglected chores. (This was, by the way, very effective, as I was always reading.) As an adult I am again re-reading old favorites with my children, or sometimes just living vicariously through them as they find my old favorites, and together we’ve even discovered new reading gems. Reading in this way creates communion, interaction, and special memories, but it also teaches.

    When my daughter got hooked on the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, it was an addiction for me to ask her where she was in the series and what was going on. I relished her enjoyment of the descriptions of sisterhood (Laura is going to be Mary’s eyes now), her disdain for Nellie Olson (She deserved the leeches!), and her anticipation of what would happen when Almanzo Wilder came on the scene.  And as she was reading, she learned geography, American pioneer-era history, and about the intricacies of family relationships.

    The scene was no different when my son discovered J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. We discussed the pros and cons of mail by owl (how do the owls know where to go?), and Harry’s incredible successes in Quidditch (It would be the coolest game if it were real), and I taught him how to play chess after he read about Wizard Chess and realized we had that game. Going more deeply into his reading,

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  • July 16, 2012

    What if I’m asked to endorse a book I don’t like?


    Andrea wrote to say, “An author recently gave me a copy of her book to review. I wasn’t very impressed with the writing or the story, but I felt indebted to write a fairly positive review, since she gave me a complimentary copy. What is my obligation in this situation?”

    Eeek. I hate that situation. Been there many times myself, and I always felt like a weenie when I didn’t tell the truth. Besides, none of us like reading a glowing endorsement of a book, only to buy the book and feel ripped off by a reviewer who clearly either (a) lied, or (b) didn’t read the book, or (c) can’t read. It’s frustrating. So my advice is lifted entirely from my Grandmother: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

    There’s a limit to this advice, of course. If you’re hired to do a review, just close your eyes and tell the truth. But in a case like you’re describing, where you’ve been given a copy by someone who probably thinks of you as a friend, it is sometimes best to write back and politely say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do a review on this book after all. I wish you the best.”

    What advice do you all have in this situation?

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