Books & Such Literary Management http://www.booksandsuch.com Wed, 24 Aug 2016 05:15:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Is Blogging Necessary for Authors? http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/blogging-necessary-for-authors/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/blogging-necessary-for-authors/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 05:15:13 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27608 Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

A few years ago, the standard wisdom was that authors, both fiction and non-fiction, should have blogs in order to gather an audience and build relationships with readers. Now, not so much. As social media and online …

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Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

A few years ago, the standard wisdom was that authors, both fiction and non-fiction, should have blogs in order to gather an audience and build relationships with readers. Now, not so much. As social media and online marketing have evolved, thoughts on blogging have changed. I think each author needs to carefully consider whether blogging is an appropriate vehicle for them. How do you know? You can make your decision based on:

1. If you can do it well;

2. If you enjoy it; and

3. If your writing career can benefit from it.
 

If blogging doesn’t suit you, don’t spend too much time trying to make it work.

 
prolific writerWhy aren’t blogs the appropriate vehicle for all authors? 

  • The proliferation of blogs in the last ten years has made it increasingly difficult to stand out in the crowd.
  • Many authors are blogging faithfully but it doesn’t seem to be increasing readership of their books. 
  • Many authors seem to be blogging to an audience that’s mainly other writers.
  • Many authors have a hard time figuring out what their blogs should be about (mostly fiction authors).

So, how do you decide if you should have a blog? Here are my thoughts:

Have a blog if:

 
1. You have something important to say and it seems people want to hear it.

2. You understand that blogging is about offering something of value, NOT about promoting yourself and your books.

3. You enjoy blogging (for the most part, anyway).

4. You find blogging contributes to your creativity and enthusiasm for writing your books, rather than sucking all the energy out of you.

5. You can find the time for blogging without it completely stressing you out.

6. Your books have a highly defined target audience, making it easy to target your blog.

7. Your books are topical (especially non-fiction), so that you have a clear and obvious theme for your blog.

Don’t have a blog if:

 
1. You keep asking yourself and others, “But what should I blog about?”

2. You only want to blog to promote your books and/or because you think you “have to.”

3. The whole idea stresses you out.

4. You honestly don’t have the time in your schedule to blog regularly.

5. You’ve been blogging for a couple of years or more, and haven’t built up to a traffic level that seems worth it.

Nowadays there are numerous alternatives to blogging when it comes to online networking and promotion.

For example:

  • email newsletters
  • using Facebook effectively
  • leveraging all the various ways Goodreads offers for promoting books
  • learning how to attract a readership through Pinterest
  • having an effective LinkedIn profile page
  • leveraging other social platforms such as Instagram

Do you think authors need blogs nowadays? Do YOU blog? If so, how’s it going? If not, why not?

 

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Trend Spotting http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/trend-spotting/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/trend-spotting/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 05:00:14 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27612 Blogger: Wendy Lawton

As Lauraine Snelling and I traveled last month, visiting bookstores all across the Midwest, trend spotting was unavoidable. In fact we were gobsmacked by one particular trend in the Books A Million store in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. …

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Blogger: Wendy Lawton

As Lauraine Snelling and I traveled last month, visiting bookstores all across the Midwest, trend spotting was unavoidable. In fact we were gobsmacked by one particular trend in the Books A Million store in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I’d like to use this bit of trend spotting to talk about book trends and what we can learn from them.

As we walked into the store, the first thing we saw was a huge gondola of adult coloring books.IMG_7110 What fun! Then we began to look around the store. Right in that front area there were seven large displays of adult coloring books– every subject, every area of interest, every level of artistic talent. I began taking pictures of each display to share with you. Yes, these photos were taken from one store only.IMG_7113 IMG_7112 IMG_7114 IMG_7115 IMG_7118

 

Why did I do that? Because this is a great springboard to talk about what you can learn about trends. Let’s talk:

If I want to jump on a trend, when is the time to do it? The best place to be in the arc of a trend is the trend setter. The trend setter “owns” the trend and every other book is compared to that trend setter. In the case of adult coloring books I believe it was the Enchanted Garden.

How does one become a trend setter? Here’s the rub: You can’t make it happen. You can only create cutting edge “product” and wait to see if it catches. Acceptance and enthusiasm of the masses is what makes a trend.

So what about jumping on a trend? The best time to jump on a trend is when it is emerging. But it takes real market savvy to spot a trend in its infancy. In adult coloring books, those who published in the first couple years saw gargantuan sales. We kept hearing, “Who would have guessed?”

When do you not want to jump on a trend? When that particular trend is mature. For instance, if you decided to create an adult coloring book now, do those photos give you a taste for how difficult it would be to stand out in the market? Remember Chick Lit of about ten years ago? As soon as the first few authors were successful with it, a significant number of novelists tried to jump on board. That trend, however, had very limited appeal and disappeared quickly. Quirky is fun for a change but a solid diet of it is like overdosing on candy.

So how does someone take advantage of a somewhat mature trend? You figure out how to morph the trend into something new–like Books & Such client Lisa Bogart did with her 13925085_10210380183406673_6100368751276495461_ndevotional that had design to color and text (each devotion has a coloring page to go with it). She married two strong concepts–coloring and devotionals–successfully. (I know. I know. Not many Books & Such clients dye their hair to match their book.) Or you might want to find the one variation of the trend that is missing or underrepresented. For instance, in every store we visited, Lauraine looked for an adult coloring book featuring horses and never found one. Is there room for a coloring book for those who love horses?

Should I try to be taking advantage of a trend? Only if that trend is exactly who you are and what you would like to write anyway. Trends can change in the blink of an eye. If you are avidly trend spotting and even if you believe you are catching an emerging trend, a good book likely cannot be created fast enough to take advantage of that trend. And even if you got it written while the trend was still strong, it takes about a year for a book to be published once it’s been acquired. It’s a big risk to chase trends.

So why do we engage in trend spotting? Because we learn about the reading (or coloring) public by seeing what they love. Our job is to figure out what is at the heart of a trend and find ways we can satisfy that need with our work.

So now I hand it over to you to finish this blog. Here’s the question I need you to answer:

Knowing that people fell in love with the idea of adult coloring books, what does that tell you about those potential readers and how can you satisfy that need in your work?

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4 Types of Literary Agents http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/4-types-literary-agents/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/4-types-literary-agents/#comments Mon, 22 Aug 2016 01:00:24 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27596 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Recently I had a conversation with Dee, a potential new client, and our chat turned to four different approaches agents take to teaming up with authors. I explained to Dee some of those methods. I think …

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Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Recently I had a conversation with Dee, a potential new client, and our chat turned to four different approaches agents take to teaming up with authors. I explained to Dee some of those methods. I think they’re instructive in understanding how an agent can help to structure an author’s writing career.

Just-Show-Me-the-Money Type of Agent

This person is all about the business side of the equation and sometimes is indifferent to the creative side. She wants to work on the financial stuff and not cross over into the right-brain territory.

That means, in terms of career planning, that thecompass focus will be on getting more money for the next book. Such an emphasis is inevitable because the agent isn’t tuned into helping to shape the project so that it not only satisfies the author’s vision of what it should be but also appeals to the market. That’s more nuanced than this type of agent tends to want to be. In turn, that means the agent gauges only one way to grow the author’s career–through the size of the next advance.

Move-‘Em-in,  Ship-‘Em-Out Type of Agent

This person receives a proposal from a client, puts a cover note on that proposal with the agency contact info, and then ships the proposal out to pretty much every editor on the agents’ list. Funny thing about this type of agenting: All the editors know which agents operate this way.

How? First, by the sheer number of projects submitted to the editor, many of them inappropriate for that publishing house. Second, the proposals aren’t adequately focused, don’t contain all the elements that should be in them, and the writing can be flawed–often containing grammatical and spelling errors.

This agent is unlikely to want to work with clients to create a plan for future writing projects. Taking each proposal as it comes is the method that works best for him. If you think you write stellar proposals, then no problem. This agent will get your concept in front of the editors to take a gander.

I’m-in-for-a-Chapter Type of Agent

This agent agrees to represent one project at a time. If all goes well, then the agent wants to continue the relationship; if not, the agent is ready to slip away.

The idea is to try out the relationship to see how it works for each person. On the surface that sounds good, but in actuality, it gives the client no assurance that the agent is committed in the long-haul. I describe this as teaming up with a writer for one “chapter” of a writing career rather than signing on for the entire “book” of a career.

The  Long-Haul Type of Agent

This agent takes a long view on each decision made: Should a significant offer be accepted for a book several publishers were interested in, knowing that the book might not earn back the advance? Should the author dabble in different genres rather than settling into one to build a reputation for a particular type of writing? Should the author devote six months to each manuscript so momentum can build quickly, or does it make more sense to take a year for each one to make sure the client is growing as a writer?

These are the questions an agent who is in the relationship long-term would ask. This type of agent thinks about the client’s work in a different framework than the other agents.

Who is Right for You?

Each type of agent appeals to different authors. If you don’t want your agent to mess with your creative business, then you want a Show-Me-the-Money Agent. Or if you want to make as much as possible on every project without being overly concerned about the future, than Show-Me-the- Money is for you.

If you don’t want feedback on your ideas, then a Move-‘Em-In, Ship-‘Em-Out Agent is for you.

If you want someone who will be involved in all phases of your writing career, than a Book-vs.-Chapter Type of Agent is for you. Or, if you’re satisfied to try out the relationship, by all means head in the direction of a Chapter Type of Agent.

The best adage to help guide you in selecting an agent–or changing agents–is simply this: To thine ownself be true. Form an alliance with an agent who’s a good match for your expectations.

And don’t be afraid to ask agents how they function with their clients. It will help to avoid disappointment all the way around.

What aspects of the different types of agents appeal to you?

TWEETABLES

4 types of lit agents with 4 different approaches. Click to tweet.

What type of lit agent appeals to you? Pick from these 4. Click to tweet.

 

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Conference Advice for a First Timer & Giveaway http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/conference-advice-first-timer/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/conference-advice-first-timer/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2016 07:01:58 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27577 Blogger: Rachel Kent

With ACFW happening next week, many of you will be flying to Nashville to participate. ACFW is a big conference and I think it can be a bit overwhelming for new writers. Because of this, I thought …

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Blogger: Rachel Kent

With ACFW happening next week, many of you will be flying to Nashville to participate. ACFW is a big conference and I think it can be a bit overwhelming for new writers. Because of this, I thought it might be nice for us to pass along our best conference advice for the “first timers.”

Here are a couple of tips that I have:

  1. Remember that editors and agents are people too, so you don’t need to be so nervous while meeting with them. Take a deep breath and try to enjoy your appointment time. Feel free to ask questions during your meeting time, too.
  2. Try to get some sleep. It is tempting to stay up all night chatting with friends, but this can really harm your time at the conference during the day. Stay up awhile to mix and mingle, but make sure you are getting the rest your body needs.

Please share a tip or two that you have for a first time conference attendee.

Or share a story about your first writers’ conference. 

If you haven’t been to a writers’ conference yet, please tell us which conference is your dream conference.

Anyone who comments today will be entered into a drawing for a copy of The California Gold Rush Romance Collection, with a story by my client Amanda Barratt. I met Amanda at the ACFW conference many years ago. 🙂

I will draw the winner Monday morning and will announce the winner on Monday’s blog comments, so please leave your comment on this post before Sunday night!

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You, Your Agent, and Your Publisher http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/dont-know-can-hurt/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/dont-know-can-hurt/#comments Thu, 18 Aug 2016 07:01:27 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27580 Blogger: Mary Keeley

“You have an offer for a publishing contract.” I don’t think those words from your agent will ever cease to thrill an author, whether you are multi-published or this is your debut. Being prepared for what comes …

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Blogger: Mary Keeley

“You have an offer for a publishing contract.” I don’t think those words from your agent will ever cease to thrill an author, whether you are multi-published or this is your debut. Being prepared for what comes next will give your book its best chance for success. Part of the preparation involves knowing when to involve your agent during the book production process.

Marketing and Promotion

I can’t speak for all agents, but my preference is to be in on the marketing conference call between the marketing and PR managers and my client. A client recently told me about the scheduled meeting and asked if I would like to participate in the conference call with the acquisitions editor, marketing manager, and publicist. My client is marketing and promotions savvy extraordinaire. You might wonder why I felt I needed to take time for this call. In her case the conversation was going to focus on blending her own multi-faceted efforts with what the publisher plans to do, making each initiative that much stronger. Because my client understood the value of my knowing the plan first-hand, I’m in a better position to do my job monitoring follow-thru.

Once your book is contracted, your publishing team will work with you directly. This means the marketing manager assigned to your book will contact you, the author, to schedule the marketing conference call. It’s up to you to make sure your agent is included in the call. Be sure to contact your agent any time during the production and launch process if you sense a problem arising. That is part of your agent’s job. Your communication at the earliest sign of a problem will help her to negotiate a solution for a small issue before time passes and it becomes a bigger one.

Conversely, you need to fulfill all the items you listed in your proposal’s marketing plan and continue to find additional opportunities to promote your book. Email your marketing manager once a month with updates and results of your promotional efforts. It will help them to maintain a high level of enthusiasm for your book. And don’t forget to keep your agent up to date too.

Cover and Interior Design

The publisher has the final say in the cover design, and for the most part, you need to trust their judgment because your publishing team knows what sells books. However, occasionally the direction the designer has chosen clearly isn’t right for the book. In a busy production season, your team might not have time to read your whole book, or perhaps the designer, who has multiple books to work on simultaneously, missed something significant in yours that you feel should be captured on the cover. This is why I always negotiate for the author’s input on the cover in the contract.

Covers sell books; they’re that important. Talk to your agent right away and let her be the bad guy. Agents are experienced at negotiating issues like these while you maintain your good working relationship with your team. Of course the best procedure is for you to ask the acquisitions editor to send your agent a copy of the cover at the same time yours is sent. That’s the type of request you never should feel reluctant to make.

Keep your agent informed during the production process. Your agent can explain the how’s and why’s of what your publisher is doing, advise you on the best way to respond, and intervene if necessary.

There is no need to feel you are being a pest. I prefer a quick email to say, “My editor marked changes on the page proofs that I don’t want to accept,” or “Here is a jpeg of my cover, which I think misses the mark.” That is enough to alert me there is a problem. Believe me, I would rather be over-informed than under-informed. The goal is to make your book a financial success, because superb sales numbers of your current book make the strongest case for a publisher to offer you the next contract.

What additional circumstances would prompt you to seek your agent’s advice or intervention? Have you been under the impression that you are on your own with the publisher after your contract is signed? Do you feel prepared for what comes next after you have a signed contract?

TWEETABLES:

Keep your agent involved during the production process after you have a book contract. Click to Tweet.

Inform your agent at the first sign of a problem during your book’s production process. Click to Tweet.

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8 Ways to Be a Happy Author http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/8-ways-happy-author/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/8-ways-happy-author/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 05:00:34 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27571 Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

The writing life has its ups and downs, as we all know. From many years of observation and experience, here are my eight best ideas for being a happy author.

1. Love.

Write primarily because it’s what …

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Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

The writing life has its ups and downs, as we all know. From many years of observation and experience, here are my eight best ideas for being a happy author.

1. Love.

Write primarily because it’s what you love to do.

2. Avoid comparison.

Resist comparing yourself to others. When you find yourself doing it—pull yourself back, pray, meditate, practice mindfulness or whatever you do to find calm, and remind yourself of all the reasons comparison is futile.

Happy kitty3. Manage expectations. 

Understand that getting published for the first time is exciting and worth celebrating, but will not make you a different person. You will still be you.

4. Hold your writing loosely.

Refuse to idolize your own words. Let them be edited and made better from the input of smart people. Happily throw away the ones that aren’t good enough.

5. Overcome discouragement.

When you start thinking this whole pursuit-of-publishing path is hard, give yourself a reality check. Crab fishing is hard. Neurosurgery is hard. Being a fighter pilot is hard. You can do this.

6. Develop resilience.

Expect bumps in the road and determine to handle them, rather than letting each obstacle plunge you into an emotional pit. If you DO fall into the pit, climb out as quickly as you can.

7. Don’t let setbacks get you down.

Dream big and keep your expectations high, but manage your response to adversity.

8. Be grateful.

Writing is a gift and a privilege. Just the fact that you write means you’re literate, you have a computer, and you have something to say. Celebrate that!

What are some other ways to be a happy author?

 

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The Unpublished Writer http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/the_unpublished_writer/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/the_unpublished_writer/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2016 08:19:32 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27566 Blogger: Wendy Lawton

A question asked of nearly every agent panel is, “What do you look for in a client?”

I’ve heard this question answered by hundreds of people, some agents, some not. Unfortunately their answers often bear little resemblance …

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Blogger: Wendy Lawton

A question asked of nearly every agent panel is, “What do you look for in a client?”

I’ve heard this question answered by hundreds of people, some agents, some not. Unfortunately their answers often bear little resemblance to mine. What are some of those things you’ve heard? How about “a great book?” That’s a given, but only part of the answer.

I’ve heard untold writer-hopefuls bemoan the fact that agents are only looking for published writers. Bzzzzzzz. Thanks for playing. Try again.

I’ve also read anti-agent bloggers who rant that agents are all trolling for A-list authors and we agents would all be happiest if we had a client list of only New York Times Bestsellers. Wrong again.

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Before I begin, let me clarify one other common misconception about agents I often hear at writer’s conferences, “Why is he here?  He’s not taking any new clients.” I don’t know a single agent who is not open to a new client if the right person or right project came along, no matter how full his practice. There is always attrition. I’ve had writers retire. Others have taken a sabbatical to raise a family. Some clients have left me and some I’ve let go. An agent’s list is always in flux for one reason or another. Don’t ever discount your dream agent because someone tells you her list is full.

Speaking of full lists, mine is pretty full. Any successful agent who’s not new on the scene is in the same boat, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to unpublished writers. Every editor, every agent dreams of being the one to discover the next Harper Lee, the next To Kill A Mockingbird. It takes no talent to sign a much published author but it takes a real eye to spot genius and we are all addicted to that quest.

So, what do I always look for in an unpublished writer:

  • A near-perfect manuscript— This goes without saying. The competition is steep so this is the prerequisite. That said, don’t forget, taste is subjective. What one agent may reject, I may enthusiastically embrace. Unfortunately, we are seeing too many manuscripts too early. One editor uses the term “workmanlike” to describe this. It’s all elbows. Every technique seems to jut out. The writing is self-conscious and overworked. The book that excites us is the product of a confident writer who has mastered the craft.
  • A distinctive voice— I’m looking for someone who will stand out in a crowded field. If you are writing nonfiction, I’m looking for the writer who can become the go-to person for his category. In fiction, I’m looking for the author who knows the difference between his own unique voice and each character voice.
  • A professional attitude— Very important to me. We’re looking to build a team and I want to work with writers who take their work seriously. Before becoming an agent, I spent more than two decades as a successful artist/designer in a tough industry. I never had patience for “artistic sensibilities” then. I’m not likely to change.
  • A winsome personality— The dictionary defines winsome as generally pleasing and engaging. Some agents love snarky writers with attitude. Not me. Life is too short to have to clean up all the messes left in the wake of a clumsy personality. Since I get to choose who I work with, I prefer the same kind of people I’d choose as friends. People who add richness to my life.
  • A hope and a future— I look beyond the one book to a long-term career. I want to know what book number two and three and ten might be. I want a client with career potential. Does that mean I wouldn’t consider a seventy-year-old writer? No. My favorite book of all time is And Ladies of the Club, published when the author, Helen Hooven Santmyer, was 88. Had that book come to me, I would have done anything to represent it. Some careers can be significant with one book. (Think Harper Lee.)
And what are some other things that may tip the scales:
  • A great platform (for nonfiction)— Publishers are risk-averse these days. They are reluctant to publish nonfiction from unknown writers. Not saying it doesn’t happen but it is an uphill battle.
  • An impressive “tribe”— A writer who can use social media with skill and finesse is very attractive these days. One of the writers to whom I extended an offer of representation last week was a frequent blog reader. I got to know her first through her interesting comments right here on our blog.
  • A writer who will add to our community— This one is specific to Books & Such. Unlike most agencies, we have built a collaborative community of clients. We gather for retreats and we host online forums to communicate and help one another. When we consider potential new clients we take the whole community into consideration.
If you are a yet-unpublished writer looking for representation and a traditional publishing contract, take heart. You are pure potential. If you have a wonderful book, some agent is going to love discovering you and building your career from a clean slate.
Looking at the things I listed, at which of these do you excell? What do you need to work on? What did I leave out?
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12 Worst Book Endings http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/worst-book-endings/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/worst-book-endings/#comments Mon, 15 Aug 2016 01:03:02 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27539 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

I saw a terrific list of the 12 worst book endings (below) and couldn’t resist sharing it with you. After you’ve read this article, let’s talk.

Literature’s Very Worst Endings

Endings are very, very hard. Pressure,

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Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

I saw a terrific list of the 12 worst book endings (below) and couldn’t resist sharing it with you. After you’ve read this article, let’s talk.

Literature’s Very Worst Endings

Endings are very, very hard. Pressure, didacticism, human frailty — the greater question is less why books disappoint than why any succeed. Each of these is a good book written by someone of great skill who, for whatever reason, choked, rushed, or otherwise ran a narrative off a cliff. Like all such things, the list is completely arbitrary and personal. Oh, and, spoiler alert, I guess.

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain. Some wish to believe that Mr. Twain knew exactly what he was doing – that after hundreds of pages of deliberate moral ambiguity, he made the subversive decision not to end with Huck’s awakening to escaped slave Jim’s humanity. Hemingway recommended readers just skip the final chapters.
  • A Farewell to Arms By Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was one to talk. The neat death of nurse Catherine Barkley in childbirth is a thoroughly crummy copout and a prime example of Female Character Sacrifice.
  • Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn. Gillian Flynn created a complex, genuinely interesting heroine. And then proceeded to turn her into an untrammeled — yet one-dimensional! — psychopath.
  • Little Women By Louisa May Alcott. As disappointing an ending as exists in literature. Alcott didn’t want her independent Jo to marry fan-favorite Laurie: Fine. Author’s prerogative. the endBut in marrying Jo off to the priggish (and famously unsexy) Professor Bhaer, she broke the hearts of generations of readers.
  • The Return of the Native By Thomas Hardy. Like several Hardy heroines, the rebellious Eustacia Vye is sacrificed for sexual transgressions; her suicide punishes a fallen woman a little too neatly. And the epilogue just adds insult to injury. (They often do.)
  • Our Mutual Friend By Charles Dickens. Dickens’s last completed novel is one of his most fun. Until, that is, he lays on a triple-whammy of cheat-y twists: the old “miser was testing his heirs all along” saw, and not one but two lost wills coming to light. It’s Dickens, so he gets away with it, but really it’s a bit much.
  • The Pursuit of Love By Nancy Mitford. Mitford’s best and funniest book contains, for my money, her worst ending—the novel changes tone at the end and degenerates into what feels like total, wistful wish-fulfillment. (Also, people are unnecessarily killed off.)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows By J.K. Rowling. If books are difficult to end well, series are near-impossible, and Rowling gets high sangfroid marks for wrapping up Harry Potter in a timely and competent – if uninspired — fashion. (Mockingjay presents the unhappy alternative.) But it can’t be denied that the last volume of the saga is the least inventive. Add to that a dreary epilogue that gives us dull, grown-up versions of the beloved characters and it’s no wonder fans are clamoring for prequels.
  • London Fields By Martin Amis. Does Amis have us right where we wants us, clothing his acid, linguistically ingenious postmodern noir in the lurid trappings of ironic genre narrative? Or does the deterministic conceit ultimately result in exactly the languor he’s been exploiting for 200 pages?
  • The Broom of the System By David Foster Wallace. I know, this is kind of cheap. DFW’s honors thesis turned debut is not conventional fiction. But that showy last line (“I’m a man of my”) feels unworthy.
  • The Song of the Lark By Willa Cather. A tip-off that this ending isn’t up to snuff may be found in the section title: “Kronborg: Ten Years Later.”
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland By Lewis Carroll. It was all a dream. Enough said.

I found the list in a fabulous article as a sidebar on whether story makes us read (not to mention a second fascinating sidebar on the history of plot). Check it all out here.

Let’s Talk

Which listings made you respond, My thoughts exactly?
Which listings did you disagree with?
What books would you add?
What does this list teach you about bad endings?

I’ll share two of my opinions here but will save the others for responding to your comments:

  • I disagree about Gone Girl making the list.
  • I want to add Peace Like a River.

Your turn!

Check out this list of the 12 worst book endings. Click to tweet.

The 12 worst book endings. Do you agree? Click to tweet.

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Leave Room In Your Conference Plans for the Unexpected http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/leave-room-conference-plans-unexpected/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/leave-room-conference-plans-unexpected/#comments Fri, 12 Aug 2016 20:08:44 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27552 Blogger: Rachel Kent

With ACFW around the corner, I know many of you are wildly preparing schedules, pitches, proposals and one-sheets. That is wonderful, but I’d also like to encourage you to leave room in your expectations for God

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Blogger: Rachel Kent

With ACFW around the corner, I know many of you are wildly preparing schedules, pitches, proposals and one-sheets. That is wonderful, but I’d also like to encourage you to leave room in your expectations for God to accomplish his plan for you during conference time.

You might have all of your plans set out, and then none of what you thought should happen during the conference ends up happening. God might have a different reason for you to be at a writers’ conference.

For one author I know, she found out that she was at a conference solely to encourage other writers.

Another author discovered that she was supposed to meet an industry professional–and she found a job in publishing. She wouldn’t have guessed that was what God had planned, but it turned out to be the reason he called her to the conference.

Another author I met at a conference had a lot of marketing ideas to offer, and he ended up being invited back to the same conference the next year as faculty. He never expected to be a speaker, but he discovered he had a gift and had knowledge to offer others. He runs a successful marketing business now!

Prepare as much as you can for ACFW, or any conference, but leave room in your plans for God to work. I hope you all have a wonderful time and I wish I could be there with you!

Have you ever clearly seen God working during a writers’ conference? Can you share your story?

How has God been working in your writing career/writing life?

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Productive Communication http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/productive-communication/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/productive-communication/#comments Thu, 11 Aug 2016 06:25:55 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27544 Blogger: Mary Keeley

You reach a milestone when your manuscript is finally “perfect,” and you are now ready to pitch it to agents. Then it dawns on you. “Whoa, I’m actually going to have to TALK to these people.” Yes …

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Blogger: Mary Keeley

You reach a milestone when your manuscript is finally “perfect,” and you are now ready to pitch it to agents. Then it dawns on you. “Whoa, I’m actually going to have to TALK to these people.” Yes you are, and if you haven’t already developed the art of productive communication, now is the time, before you send your next proposal or schedule appointments with agents at conferences.

Don’t invest all your hard work and long hours getting your manuscript publication-ready but then forget to address the impression you will create of yourself, the author. You are a vital part of your whole writing brand andCommunication the first impression an agent will have of your work.

Agents evaluate your communication skills in the process of deciding whether or not to offer you representation. If you feel you should merit it solely on the quality of your writing, let me explain two realities of the business. First, agents know that your ability to interact with other professionals will be a factor in getting you a contract. And second, the way you conduct yourself reflects directly on your agent and eventually on the publishing house that contracts you.

I receive loads of proposals and hear many pitches at conferences throughout the year. It’s easy to spot those writers who haven’t prepared themselves to interact professionally. Productive communication involves a plethora of skills such as direct eye contact, firm handshake, and so on, but I want to focus today’s conversation on a trio of intangible skills all writers need throughout their careers.

Emotions in check

Don’t let your emotions rule your words or your subtle—or not so subtle—attitude. Always pray for a right perspective when you’re unsure of yourself or sense negative emotions rising to the surface and then “sleep on it,” as my mother would say, before reacting to negative feedback. This way, you will be in the right frame of mind to communicate your thoughts professionally.

Confidence

Being prepared is the surest foundation for building confidence. Everybody knows that, right? It’s key to productive verbal communication in your pitch meetings. Confidence is expressed by using assertive action verbs in written proposals. Check yours, and change any passive verbs to active verbs.

Make a lifelong habit of celebrating all your little, as well as the big, achievements to continually replenish a humble confidence. Maybe it’s meeting a deadline or finding the perfect word you need in a scene or finding a way to add more tension where you manuscript sags.

You’ll need to be ready with a confident attitude whenever you communicate with the marketing and PR teams and the sales reps. It will translate to their increased enthusiasm for you and your book.

Grace

A friend once shared an unfortunate experience in which someone had communicated poorly to him that he wasn’t chosen for a job. It was apparent the friend was hurting from the experience. Yet I was impressed as the friend described the forthright but grace-filled manner in which he conducted himself in his follow-up meeting with the person. Christians, especially, should consider grace a non-negotiable as we conduct ourselves in our professional lives.

Describe a productive communication you’ve had with a publishing professional. What made it successful? What did you learn from a not-so-successful conversation in a professional setting?

TWEETABLES:

Three intangible skills that every writer needs. Learn about them here. Click to Tweet.

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