Our new webinar will help you score a book deal; early bird rate ends Friday!

Did you know that it’s important to have a great title and subtitle when you pitch your book to agents and publishers? That’s right. A title that grabs their attention, offers a promise, and has keywords that are searchable online is just one of the many things that a publisher looks for when assessing a book project. Even memoirs and novels are starting to include subtitles to help clarify what the book is about and attract readers who might be shopping online. For example: Wild: Lost & Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. See where we’re going with that?

That’s just one of the tips you’ll learn during our upcoming 2-part webinar. Still not sure if the class is right for you and your book project? A few questions to consider:

  1. Have a brilliant book idea, but don’t know where to start?
  2. Tried self-publishing but would now like to try traditional publishing?
  3. Been shopping a book proposal around with no luck and don’t know what you’re doing wrong?
  4. Want to score a book deal?

If the answer is YES to one or all of the above, our upcoming webinar, Score a Book Deal, is perfect for you! Scheduled on November 12 & 19 at 6pm PST, you can get all of our insider knowledge from the comfort of your home or office. And with 40+ years of publishing experience and 40+ books between us, we have a lot to say!

We’ll walk you through Secrets of a Successful Proposal in the first session and then follow it with What Every Publisher Wants You to Know. No matter where you are in the process or what your concept, we’ll give you all the tools—and the motivation—to create and submit an on-point, salable proposal with confidence to agents or publishers. Read more or register here—and do it quickly for the best possible price! Early bird pricing ends on 10/31.

And don’t worry if you can’t make the live dates. You’ll be able to watch the recording at your convenience for up to a year. We’re nice like that.

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Autumn Offerings from Jen & Kerry

The leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air, and you know what that means: It’s the perfect time to channel your inner bookandleafstudent and go back to work on your book project! Whether you’re still researching a book idea or polishing up a final draft of your proposal, we’ve got two new offerings to help motivate and inspire you to get the job done. Join us!

Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference: October 24-26. We’ll be giving three different publishing talks at this inspiring weekend conference on Whidbey Island. Join us for the whole event, or register for a one-day pass on Saturday, 10/25 (which includes not only seminars with yours truly and other esteemed instructors, but a talk and party with Daniel James Brown, author of the best-selling book The Boys on the Boat.) Click here for more info or to register.

Score a Book Deal” 2-Part Webinar: November 12 & 19 at 6pm PST. Do you have a glimmer of idea you keep meaning to work on? A finished manuscript? A submission that’s been making the rounds to no avail? No matter where you are in the process or what your concept, we’ll give you all the tools–and the motivation–to create and submit on on-point proposal with confidence. Read more or register here–and do it quickly for the best possible price! (Can’t make the live dates? Don’t worry. You can watch the recording at your convenience for up to a year.)

Looking forward to seeing you this fall! And as always, drop us a line at jenandkerry@gmail if you have any questions. We love hearing from you.

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How to Get an Agent: A Q&A with Author Curt Weiss

CurtWeissAfter wanting to know how to get published, the most common question we get is: “How do I find an agent?”

We feel your pain.

Securing an agent is just as hard as landing a publishing deal these days, and requires savvy, a thorough submission, and persistence. When we heard one of our former clients landed an agent, we asked him to share his journey, as well as any advice he picked up along the way.

After over thirty years of working in media and the arts, Curt Weiss knows a good story when he hears one. Now he’s ready to tell the oh-so-good story of one of the most influential and overlooked musicians of their time: Jerry Nolan of the infamous Punk Rock granddaddies, the New York Dolls.

Tell us about your path to seeking and securing an agent.
I had been writing and researching my book on and off since 2006. I hadn’t really given much thought to how I was going to sell the book, thinking I would figure it out after writing it. Little did I know…

In the summer of 2013 a writer friend of mine told me about the Willamette Writer’s Conference. When she explained to me that this was an event where you could meet literary agents, I figured that, after seven years, it was time to jump in feet first. My book was about 95-percent finished so I had no reason to wait anymore.

I researched the event and realized that I needed to learn how to pitch my book to agents. The whole gist of the event is setting up meetings (either one on one or in small groups) with literary agents where you’ll have a limited amount of time to convince them that you’ve got something that’s right up their alley. I needed to learn how to sell my book and myself in no more than two minutes (group pitch) and up to five minutes (one on one pitch).

Before I even learned how to pitch, I had to figure out which agents to pitch to. At conferences like Willamette, you pay for each agent you pitch to, so you need to be selective. Before reserving a spot with an agent, I read their bios (available on the conference website) and found agents who were looking for books like mine. As I was selling a non-fiction oral history on a junkie New York rock and roll musician from the Punk era, I looked for agents interested in the arts, urban grit, bios, etc. Conversely, if their interests were, for example, romance novels, science fiction or young adult genres, I didn’t waste my time and money booking time with them.

The week before the event I attended a pitch workshop given by Cynthia Whitcomb in Portland. I worked her system, practiced and practiced and then practiced some more. She reviewed and critiqued it by e-mail afterwards and my writer pal did the same. It was also important to time myself so I wouldn’t be rushed when the time came to pitch my book.

There was a pitch slam on the first night of the conference, where people lined up and one after another pitched to a panel of agents in front of hundreds of people. If you have trouble speaking in public, you need to get over it quickly. Besides getting in more practice of your pitch, I got to hear others. I noted what worked and what didn’t and kept refining my pitch as well as my delivery. I realized that you can’t read a script. It’s one-part conversation, one-part sermon, one-part advertisement, and another part political speech. You’re selling an idea (your book) but you’re also selling yourself, your abilities, and your credentials. No one can tell this story except you. And no matter how emotional your story is, DO NOT CRY. Practice selling emotion without crying.

The next day, I began two-and-a-half days of meeting agents and pitching. Here’s a tip: if you’re in a group pitch, sit in the center, opposite the agent. The agent will usually go in a circle and as you don’t know whether they’ll start on the right or left, you don’t want to be last and feel rushed if the pitch session is running long. Sitting in the center means you won’t go last and you can face them head on.

I had 13 agents to meet. I ended up getting 10 requests for proposals. Of course, I had no proposal and barely knew what it was. As I was doing 13 pitches, I started to see the same people at the agent’s tables and I started to talk to them between meeting agents. I noted who had already published a few books and asked them about their processes and any tips or suggestions. Like most conferences, there was a table of books for sale, including some related to writing non-fiction book proposals. I bought one that was suggested to me: Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon.

After working on the proposal for a few months I decided, as this was the first book proposal I’d ever written, I wanted some professional input. I chose to take Jen and Kerry’s proposal workshop and after that, used their individual review service. They helped me edit and hone it.

I was finally ready to submit a proposal. In spite of getting cards from each of the agents, I still needed to check their agency websites for particulars. Some require you to use a central mailbox as opposed to the individual agent’s e-mail address. Some want one sample chapter, some more. Always put the name of the conference and the agent’s name in the subject header.

I sent out six query letters. In addition to the one offer of representation, I received three rejections, one non-response and another acknowledgement of receipt that arrived after I signed my representation agreement. Before I sent out the next four, I got an offer, so I never pursued them. I took notes from the responses to my pitch and used them in each query. Here is the query I sent to John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich on May 14th:

Dear John Rudolph,

Thanks very much for requesting my book proposal and sample chapters at the Willamette Writers Conference last August. My book is titled Hit It! The Secret World and Public Life of Jerry Nolan: A Drummer’s Story, Before, During and After Punk Rock. In my notes from the conference, I wrote that you were interested in music and non-fiction. If that is still the case, my book should continue to be of interest to you.

Coming out of rough-and-tumble New York in the 1970s, Jerry Nolan played drums for two of the most influential and infamous bands of their time: The New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers. He was one of the driving forces and most memorable characters of both the American and British Punk Rock movement. Told as an oral history, HIT IT! features more than 100 new interviews, including Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame legends like the Sex Pistol’s Glen Matlock, Blondie’s Clem Burke and Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth. Unlike other books on Punk Rock, HIT IT! examines both the New York and London Punk scenes from their earliest days, and lays out Jerry’s important contributions, both musically and stylistically.

Those who knew Jerry say he had what it took to be a star, and his resume showed it, spending time in bands with Bette Midler, Suzi Quatro, and Punk icon Sid Vicious. Sadly, his battles with heroin stymied his career and caused him to contract HIV, ultimately ending his life at the age of 45. He is remembered as a cross between a Martin Scorsese film character and legendary Jazz drummer Gene Krupa: a stylish, wisecracking raconteur, with a streetwise charm and powerhouse drumming skills. But there was a destructive streak behind his attractive veneer that manifested in his prodigious drug use, ability to scam for “chump change,” lying to promoters and managers, or stealing from the women who loved him. Jerry was a walking contradiction: one part loyal, trusted friend and mama’s boy, another part duplicitous, junkie thief.

I knew many of the people involved in Jerry’s life and saw him play numerous times. During the 1980s, I drummed with major label artists including the Rockats and Beat Rodeo, with members of the Violent Femmes and B-52’s, and on recordings produced by Richard Gottherer (Go-Go’s, Blondie), Mike Thorne (Soft Cell, ‘Til Tuesday) and Scott Litt (REM, Nirvana). Transitioning to television in 1992, I joined the award-winning Seattle PBS affiliate KCTS, where, as Unit Manager, I worked on international productions as diverse as Perilous Fight: America’s Second World War in Color, The ACLU: A History, and Vaudeville: An American Masters Special. I have also written for Classic Drummer Magazine and guest DJ for original New York Doll Sylvain Sylvain’s “Rampage of Songs” web page.

I believe that HIT IT! would strongly appeal to male readers, aged 40-70, with an interest in the music of this era. At this time, I am also approaching other agents who have requested proposals.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Curt Weiss
Phone number
e-mail address
www.curtweiss.com

John responded on May 16th by asking for a different chapter, one with more “big names.” I sent it and he offered me representation on May 23rd. By May 27th, we had a signed agreement.

A proposal is not something you’re going to write in a weekend. It took me from August 2013 until May of 2014 to complete a proposal that I was happy enough with it to submit it to prospective agents. If you’re like most people you probably have a job, kids, aging parents, a lawn that needs mowing, etc. All of those things need to be attended to while you write and research your proposal. It’s hard work and it takes time. Not only do you need to convince someone that your book idea is great, but you have to present potential audience and market data, a promotion plan, a bio and, particularly if your book is non-fiction, establish yourself as a credible expert on your subject. You may also need to set up a website, blog and or Facebook page to establish your “platform:” how will you stand above the crowd? And of course, a sample chapter…or chapters. That’s many months of work. Just keep your eyes on the prize and keep at it.

What surprised you during the querying process?
Trying to settle on a format. There are so many to choose from and I kept finding conflicting info on the web: statements made about what the right format is, with examples contrary to the formula. Look for examples of a successful query in your genre and start there.

What’s the next step toward publication?
Working with my agent to get him the proposal that he’s happy with. Every agency has a format they like. It’ll probably be somewhat different from what your workshop suggested, which is different from what the book suggested. Your agent is your sales person. Give them the tools they need to make the sale. Grit your teeth and do what they say. I’m on version four. Still gritting my teeth!

For more on Curt, check out his website at curtweiss.com.

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New Author Success Story: Joe Guppy

lo res JG smileYESIn 1979, 23-year-old Joe Guppy was struggling with a bad breakup and existential angst, but a few stomach pills drove him into paranoid psychosis… and straight into a mental ward. He shares his story in My Fluorescent God, a raw, often comic memoir that’s a powerful spiritual and psychological adventure. He’ll be reading from this newly published memoir at Elliott Bay Book Company at 7pm on September 13.

But first, we caught up with the Seattle native, an award-winning writer and performer turned psychotherapist turned author, who shared with us his struggles and successes on the road to publication, as well as some sage advice for aspiring authors.

Tell us about your path to publication.
lo res lMFGcover 3I had had a lot of experience in journalism and writing for theater and television, but I had never written memoir before and knew nothing about the publishing business. My Fluorescent God was a “from the ground up” project. I was lucky to have deep archives for the project, all the medical records from my time in the mental hospital, my own and my mother’s thirty-year-old journals, even a taped interview from 1979 with my psychiatrist and some fellow patients. But I not only had to write the memoir, but also learn how to write a memoir. When it came time to seek a publisher, Jen & Kerry’s class showed me how to get a book proposal together. I started out with the traditional route, discovered Query Tracker, and collected plenty of agent rejections. I ended up landing with a local independent Seattle publisher, Booktrope. It’s definitely not self-publishing but I have had to do more work on the publishing side than a mainstream author. The trade-off is I’ve had a lot more control. As a control freak, I like that. I am very pleased with the quality of the finished product.

Why were you inspired to write this book?
This 1979 journey through delusional psychosis was the most traumatic and most meaningful event of my young adulthood. As a writer, I had known from the moment I recovered that I wanted to write about it someday. I didn’t know it would take me thirty years to get to the project or that the experience of writing it would be so personal and profound.

What professional services did you seek out in the process?
My cover designer had designed the Joe and Nancy Guppy annual comedic Christmas cards for years. I didn’t know if he’d be right for this more serious subject matter, but he nailed it on his first attempt. I love the cover. I’ve worked with two different editors, a couple years apart. The first editor, who had written her own terrific memoir, functioned more as a teacher. By the time I got the second editor, Seattle’s own Karin Snelson, I was able to collaborate head to head. We got into some wonderful and intense literary struggles, which resulted in the book being the lean, crisp, page-turner it turned out to be. Jen & Kerry started me on my road to publishing. The book proposal, and the ability to think in marketing terms—which came out of their class—was crucial.

What surprised you during the publishing process?
The amount of detail work in book design. Page headers, table of contents, placement of graphics, font choice. It’s seemingly never-ending. I’ll never look at books the same way again.

What’s been the best moment/aspect about getting published?
The reaction from readers. The most common comment is that the narrative draws the reader deep into the mind and the experience of a mentally ill person. And people often add that, while my story is fairly extreme, all humans have been there to some degree, and we all fear falling into that place of insanity. Above all, I want to engender more empathy and understanding for mental illness. No one should be dismissed or ignored as “crazy.”

What one piece of advice would you offer to burgeoning authors?
You need to be a bulldog. A bulldog with wings.

What’s next for you?
My wife Nancy and I have a project going, a comedic look at long-term marriage. Right now, I’m too swamped in marketing My Fluorescent God to think much about that.

 •••

Look for interviews with Joe later this month on KUOW-FM, on the Seattle Channel’s Seattle Voices with Eric Liu, and on KING-TV’s New Day Northwest. He’ll be speaking at the “Psychology for the Other” conference at Seattle University the weekend of November 7th. Read more about Joe and Nancy in this Seattle Magazine article.

Find out more about Joe, My Fluorescent God, and upcoming events at joeguppywriter.com and joeguppy.com.

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Wouldn’t you like to have Jen and Kerry in a binder?

art Toolkit cover_265wideDid you know you could get all of our publishing insight and guidance in one crisp white binder? It’s true!

The Business of Books’ Publishing Toolkit made its debut last year to rave reviews. Chock-full of information on researching your idea, developing the key sections of a proposal, honing your submission list, sending out your proposal, and navigating contracts and the business of publishing, the Toolkit is a resource that can stand in for us and keep you focused and inspired. As one attendee said, “The toolkit has been extremely informative and helpful. It is an anchor that I’ll refer to again and again.”

We’re excited to share this material with other burgeoning authors, namely you. The Publishing Toolkit is $99 plus shipping. This binder provides 100+ pages of insider information and includes worksheets and two actual proposals (rarely seen outside of publishing circles) to guide you on your path to publication. Click here to purchase the Publishing Toolkit through PayPal, or email us at jenandkerry@gmail.com if you have questions. Write on!

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5 Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference

Jen & Kerry at the 2013 Whidbey Island Writers Conference

Jen & Kerry at the 2013 Whidbey Island Writers Conference

To paraphrase Shakespeare, get thee to a writers conference! Conferences are offered throughout the year and in various geographic locations—including charming Whidbey Island, where we’ll be teaching October 24-26 at the Whidbey Island Writers Conference. They offer an excellent way to reinvigorate your writing. Aside from the obvious benefits of working on your craft and meeting like-minded writers, we detailed on the WIWC blog five compelling reasons why you should register for the Whidbey Writers Conference or another writing conference right this minute.

The conference is just a couple of months away, and an excellent way to keep your writing moving into the fall and winter months.

>>> Read the post HERE.

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6 Ways to Effectively Crowdfund Your Book

As more and more authors are turning to crowdfunding to bring their book project to market, we asked Justine Schofield, development director of Pubslush, a global pre-publication platform, to offer some tips on how to make the most of this resource.

Pubslush-LOGOCrowdfunding is a tool that authors now use to raise funds, collect pre-orders and market their book before publication. The number of authors, both self-publishing and established, who want to create a more personal connection with their audiences is rising and crowdfunding is the perfect solution to create and foster this connection between authors and readers.

Deciding to crowdfund your book is a big decision. Crowdfunding is not an easy task and it takes serious commitment to conduct a successful campaign, but luckily there are a lot of resources available to help authors throughout the process. For starters, here are some ways to make sure you get everything that you need out of your crowdfunding campaign, and then some.

  1. Create a marketing plan.
    This can be seen as the starting point for your campaign that will outline your plan of attack. Research and establish who it is that you will reach out to about your campaign, how to get in touch with them and when you will do so. Developing a marketing plan takes a lot of research and planning, but it makes effective crowdfunding not only more attainable but also more manageable. You should be able to refer to your plan throughout the campaign as a guideline and reference point.
  2. Research other successful campaigns.
    Check out campaigns that have already had success. See what they are doing that seems effective to you and notice what you don’t like so you can avoid or improve these points on your own campaign. It also never hurts to reach out to those who have already had success. Generally, people are very open to sharing their crowdfunding experiences.
  3. Create really amazing and enticing rewards.
    To effectively crowdfund your book, you have to offer rewards that will make supporters want to pledge their financial support. Again, research other successful campaigns to see what they offered their supporters. Although offering a copy of the book is always a great reward (hello pre-orders!), authors have the opportunity to create other rewards that supporters will love. Reward levels are your chance to get creative and generally, the more creative, the better!
  4. Secure “inner circle” supporters that will pledge to your campaign right away to kick it off.
    Before the campaign even starts, you should secure your “inner circle,” (mom, dad, grandma, your best friend…you get it) to pledge to your campaign as soon as it starts. This way your campaign funding will be boosted above $0 and other people will see that there’s interest in your campaign out of the gate. This is an essential way to build your momentum on the first day of your campaign.
  5. Execute your marketing plan.
    You’ve already carefully constructed your marketing plan and now it’s time to make it happen. It’s best to build your base of supporters from your own network before branching out. People in your own network are more likely to support you while your numbers may still be low. However, once you build momentum from your own network, other people in your targeted audience will see that your fan base (and book) is really impressive and will want to join in the movement.
  6. Thank supporters and provide updates during and after the campaign.
    One of the keys to successful crowdfunding is staying in touch with your audience and keeping them informed. During the campaign, you should be thanking supporters as they pledge and asking them to spread the word to their network as well. It’s also a nice touch to send out a newsletter or email that highlights the activity and success of the campaign. After the campaign, thank supporters again for their contributions and keep them updated on the progress of the project and the fulfillment of the rewards. Showing appreciation and communicating is necessary when you are trying to build a large and loyal fan base for your book.

Crowdfunding can be really rewarding and effective when one puts thought, time, and effort into it. With these tips and a dedicated state of mind, effectively crowdfunding your book is definitely attainable.

Justine Schofield is the development director of Pubslush, a global pre-publication platform that allows authors and publishers to raise funds, collect pre-orders and tangibly market their upcoming book project. A writer at heart, Justine has received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She has become a prominent voice in the publishing industry and an advocate for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding. She has contributed to IBPA’s Independent magazine, Self-Publishers Monthly, Book Marketing Magazine, Business Banter and many more online publications. She tweets for @pubslush.Connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

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Tips for Polishing & Submitting Your Book Proposal

In our experience, burgeoning authors spend a lot of time developing their manuscript. They may even create a strong proposal that covers the business and creative aspects of their project. Then they freeze. They feel as if they make one misstep and don’t follow all the (often invisible) rules, their project will be dismissed, rejected.

We’re here to reassure you. If you’ve put together a solid proposal about a compelling concept with great writing, you will get serious consideration from an agent or publisher. Your proposal won’t be kicked to the curb because you stapled it rather than used a binder clip.

Your submission packet should include your cover letter, your proposal, and any additional materials (if applicable). And for additional tips, here’s a handy checklist to make sure you’ve crossed your “T”s and dotted your “I”s.

  • Include a footer on every page of your proposal that includes your name and page number.
  • Staple or binder clip the pages together.
  • Use your best judgment when it comes to presentation (double-spaced, easy-to-read 12-point type is always a good way to go).
  • Spell check, proofread, be consistent in formatting (bullets, headlines), and enlist a second set of eyes to do a final read.
  • While it’s not necessary, you can use letterhead/heavier stock for your cover letter.
  • Be as specific as you can when addressing your packet. If you have a particular editor or agent to send your proposal to, great. If not, it’s fine; it will be reviewed by an appropriate person (it can be addressed to “Children’s Editor,” for example).
  • Do not give a publisher or agent more sample text than outlined in their submission guidelines. Giving them more than they ask for in terms of other components of the proposal (marketing and competing titles, for example) is always okay.
  • Unless otherwise specified in the submission guidelines, send your proposal via snail mail and be patient regarding a response. If there is an e-mail posted, contact the publisher or agent when the allotted time has passed.

While it’s good to heed the differences of submission guidelines (length of sample text, for example), don’t freak out about over-customizing your proposal. Most proposals can go as-is to multiple publishers and literary agents, as long as you have a complete, robust presentation. What’s most important is whether the CONCEPT is the right fit for that publisher or agent.

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7 tips to picking great sample text for your book proposal

ImageWe’ve reviewed dozens of proposals and it’s always surprising to see what sample text our clients choose to include. Sometimes we’re happily surprised. But frequently, we find that the manuscript excerpt, while well-written, is off base for a compelling submission. Here, a few do’s and don’ts to consider when selecting sample text for your book proposal.

1. Do pick your most representative sample.
This is the most important thing to consider when selecting sample text. Your text should convey the tone and voice of your book, the pace, the information, etc. If you are writing a how-to book, include a chapter that covers all the types of projects or instruction that would be in the book. If you are writing a novel, pick a selection that that captures the essence of the book. Don’t worry about giving away the climax; this is the chance to wow, and whatever part of your manuscript is going to do that is what you should use.

2. Do include examples of all your extra elements.
Along the lines of representative copy, think about all the various elements you envision in your book and include as many of them as possible. If you plan on having sidebars or charts, include at least one of them in your sample. If you plan on featuring your own photography, insert a sample (no originals, though) into your manuscript.

3. Don’t just include the beginning of your book.
Most writers gravitate toward including the first chapter or two of their book in their proposal. It’s usually the most polished and thought-out text. However, you may not be putting your best foot forward. If you are writing a novel, the first chapter might start out with a bang, but it can often include a lot of set-up and exposition that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter or the action. If you are pitching a romance, your excerpt better have some juicy bits. If you’re writing a travel memoir, there should probably be some travel going on.

4. Do use several excerpts, if it makes sense.
You don’t have to send complete chapters. If it makes sense to give a sampling of your book through several excerpts, go for it. If it’s a novel or memoir, set the scene with a few sentences to explain where each excerpt falls in the plot.

5. Do polish it. And polish it again.
You’ve probably looked at your manuscript a million times. That doesn’t mean that it’s perfect; in fact, it can mean that your eyes are glossing over typos at this point. Read your text over and over again. And enlist someone else you trust to read your proposal and sample text. Give them specific direction: do they understand the plot from the sample text? Do the instructions or recipes make sense? Do they have any questions after reading it?

6. Don’t get too attached to one piece of writing.
It may be the most lyrical, polished, gorgeous bit of prose you’ve ever written. But does it convey what the book is about, does it advance the plot? Step away from your manuscript and look at it with a critical eye, maybe even put yourself in the shoes of the acquiring editor. Ask yourself the hard questions and if this isn’t the sample that’s going to both impress and inform an inquiring editor, choose another excerpt.

7. Do read the publisher’s or agent’s submission guidelines.
We know it’s hard to choose just a few pages to include but be mindful of what an agent or publishing house asks for. If you send 50 pages when they’ve asked for 15, you’re in jeopardy of having your entire submission dismissed. Only send the amount of text requested.

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Who’s on YOUR Publishing Wish List? Honing in on the Right Publisher

ImageWhen you are developing your manuscript and your book proposal, start developing your wish list, those dream publishers or agents with whom you’d love to sign. As you peruse the shelves or search competitive titles online, pay particular notice to who’s publishing each title. Notice if certain publishers keep coming up again and again, which might indicate that they publish regularly into that category or genre. For instance, if you are researching spiritual books, you might find that Hay House or Thomas Nelson crop up again and again. Write them down; they might be the first publishing houses you add to your wish list.

Now, the fun part. Investigate those publishers! Hop online and look at each publisher individually. Note what books they are promoting on their home page, and then search by genre. See if they offer a mission statement or an explanation of their different imprints. Do you like what you see? Will your book feel at home here? This is an easy exercise that you can do in your pajamas or while watching TV.

If you think the publisher may be a good fit for your book, check out their Submission Guidelines. Virtually all publishers offer them online. Here, you’ll find out if they take unsolicited proposals or if you’ll need to work with an agent. They may also indicate how to send the proposal (e-mail vs. snail mail), how many pages it can be, response time, and other pertinent details.

Some other fun ways to compile your publishing wish list:

  • Look through your own bookshelf and make a list of the publishers of your favorite books. Jot down any names that may be on the acknowledgements pages.
  • Write down the sections of the bookstore where your book idea could possibly live, aside from the obvious.
  • Make a separate wish list of the qualities you’d like in your publisher (lots of hands-on interaction with editor, big book advance, prestige, etc.). Now rank them in order of importance. When looking over your list, take into account these priorities.

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