Books & Such Literary Management http://www.booksandsuch.com Mon, 05 Dec 2016 02:37:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 3 Ways Agents Negotiate a Deal http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/3-ways-agents-negotiate-deal/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/3-ways-agents-negotiate-deal/#comments Mon, 05 Dec 2016 02:37:29 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=28191 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Agents tread where authors fear to go. That’s the observation I’ve made over the past two decades. Authors are more concerned about their relationships with publishers than agents are.

Not that we agents don’t care–we do. …

]]>
Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Agents tread where authors fear to go. That’s the observation I’ve made over the past two decades. Authors are more concerned about their relationships with publishers than agents are.

Not that we agents don’t care–we do. After all, if a publisher doesn’t want to work with a certain agent, deals can go south quickly. Or never even appear on the horizon.

But the truth is, publishers will work with an agent if that agent has a project the publisher really wants. Even if the publisher doesn’t like to work with the agent.

I certainly strive not to be “one of those agents” with any publisher. But I’m also aware that I spread my relational risk with a publisher over many projects and many clients. But an author has just his or her projects to offer the publisher; so the project-risk ratio is quite different for an author. For an author, it can feel like a long way to fall, if the relationship doesn’t work out.precipice

Today I’m going to talk about three ways that an agent pushes a publisher on behalf of an author. These examples will help you to see when an agent pushes and when an agent backs off–and why. This information will help you to see a more subtle side of what an agent does, as well as why an author would be reluctant to tread where agents rush in.

Agents Negotiate Deals over Single Paragraphs

Recently, I was negotiating a contract for a best-selling, highly-successful author. So you can see from the get-go I had some room to press the publisher.

As happens fairly regularly, the publisher had asked its attorney to revamp the standard contract. Agents don’t generally operate using the standard template. Instead, each agency has its own template with that publisher, which reflects the changes the agency has successfully made on details it is especially aware can be troublesome to authors. That’s why a seasoned agent or agency can be more beneficial to an author than a brand-new agent starting out on his/her own.

In this particular instance, two of the contract’s changes were especially troublesome. One more so than the other.

The Negotiations Begin

When I asked for adjustments, I was told no in both instances. In the spirit of negotiating, I accepted one but not the most worrisome one. Instead, I suggested ways to put limits on the paragraph, ameliorating some of the potentially damage to my client.

The publisher said no.

At that point, my client, despite understanding the type of damage the paragraph could do, asked me to accept the contract as is. I suggested one more round of negotiations. I did so knowing that the publisher valued my client and wouldn’t want to hurt the relationship. Also, I knew that if I reworked the paragraph’s language and really pressed the publisher to make some adjustments, I was likely to get a yes. The sense of how hard to press had come from years of negotiating experience.

The Negotiated Deal.

The publisher agreed to the new language, my client was more sheltered from the paragraph’s potential effects, and the paragraph became a part of our agency’s template with that publisher. And, most importantly, my client’s relationship with the publisher remains good.

Agents Negotiate Deals over Creative Differences

A good agent will make sure the contract contains a provision giving the author the opportunity to give feedback on the cover design. But the author sometimes fears expressing her opinions.

One of my clients always responded to the proposed cover designs without ever asking me to be involved. I never was a part of the conversations.

After a couple of designs showed up on her printed books and were not the type of covers that would compel potential readers to be drawn to the books, I asked my client to please always make sure I saw the design and had a chance to give input. (Some publishers fail to send the proposed cover to the agent as well as to the author. If I don’t know a design is being discussed, I can’t participate.)

Avoiding Being “One of Those Authors”

The author then told me that she never liked the covers but didn’t want to be seen as “that trouble-making author,” the one the publisher wants nothing to do with. So she always simply thanked the publisher for the cover but never gave feedback. I promised to take the role of the negotiator the next time we saw covers.

A short time later, we received a cover design that both the author and I agreed lacked the little twist of humor contained within the book that lightened up the complex content.

When we gave our feedback, however, we experienced consider push-back. Not only the designer but also the editor explained why they liked the current cover direction.

The Agent Negotiates for More

At that point, the author asked me to acquiesce. But I wanted to see what I could negotiate. I sensed we could make some minor adjustments that could improve the cover.

After several more rounds of emails, the publisher agreed to some changes that helped to convey what the author had in mind. But the truth of the matter is that the publisher saw the book one way; the author and I saw it another. My goal had become to make as many adjustments to the cover as I could, and then the author and I were going to have to live with the cover.

I console myself that it’s a brighter, more engaging cover than before the negotiations began.

Agents Negotiate the Money

This is the most obvious part of the deal and the first most writers think about. But, like the other examples in this post, the agent  knows when to push and when to relent.

In one instance, my unpublished client became so excited about having a contract offer, that she sent an email to her large subscription list, announcing the publisher and the release date.

That seems like just the right thing to do, doesn’t it? Only problem is, we might have received an offer from the publisher, but I hadn’t accepted it yet.

I grasped a detail the author didn’t get–the publisher most likely was willing to increase the offer. I wanted to press a bit for a stronger offer.

The author, fearful of losing the contract, resisted. But I asked the author to trust me, which she eventually decided to do.

The Agent Negotiates for More

I hoped none of the publisher’s employees was on my client’s mailing list because the author had, in essence, expressed that she was fine with the offer. I asked the publisher for a significant increase in both the advance and the royalties.

We didn’t get everything I asked for, but the offer definitely was improved. And apparently no one had seen my client’s announcement. Whew!

As you can see, agents bring a refined skill set to the negotiating table, whether the negotiations involve a contract, an offer, or the publishing creative process.

Which of these instances would be hard for you to trust the agent in? Can you think of other ways authors need to trust their agents?

TWEETABLES

A behind-the-scenes view of a lit agent negotiations. Click to tweet.

How lit agents know when to negotiate and when to quit. Click to tweet.

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/3-ways-agents-negotiate-deal/feed/ 3
Reader Reviews http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/reader-reviews/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/reader-reviews/#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:59:12 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=28200 Blogger: Rachel Kent

Do you read reviews before purchasing a book? I do. Even if I’m going to buy a book at a bookstore I will go online on my phone and read reviews first.

Those reader reviews on Goodreads, …

]]>
Blogger: Rachel Kent

Do you read reviews before purchasing a book? I do. Even if I’m going to buy a book at a bookstore I will go online on my phone and read reviews first.

Those reader reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble can really help or hurt an author’s chance of selling a book. As a consumer, I find that I am (sometimes subconsciously) making judgments about if a reviewer can be trusted or not. There are definitely some throw-away reviews out there and we all have seen them. The people that rant about the content of the book. Or the reviews that seem formulaic and make you wonder if that reviewer even read the book.

Do you read reviews before purchasing a book? What makes you believe a reviewer? What makes you discard or distrust a review?

Do you review books online? I confess I haven’t started reviewing books online yet (except for occasionally on this blog). I tell my friends if I like a book or not, so I’m passing along word-of-mouth reviews, but I haven’t taken my reviews to the main websites yet. One of these days I’d like to start so I can help tell people about the books I love. I don’t think I would put up negative reviews for the books I don’t like. I would have a hard time doing that, but I could help the authors who have written beautiful books!

Happy reading and reviewing! And happy weekend!

 

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/reader-reviews/feed/ 15
Engaging Our Culture http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/engaging-our-culture/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/engaging-our-culture/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2016 06:52:49 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=28194 Blogger: Mary Keeley

Unless you’re an ostrich or a hermit it’s been impossible to ignore the plethora of cultural differences being expressed this year. Opposing worldviews are at the root of the divergence. Michael Boyle, Associate Professor of Pastoral Studies …

]]>
Blogger: Mary Keeley

Unless you’re an ostrich or a hermit it’s been impossible to ignore the plethora of cultural differences being expressed this year. Opposing worldviews are at the root of the divergence. Michael Boyle, Associate Professor of Pastoral Studies at Moody Theological Seminary (Moody Bible Institute), gave our Sunday school class eight charges on how Christians should engage with today’s culture. He was gracious to grant me permission to share them with you because the applications for Christian writers are important.

We shouldn’t be shocked that Christians are now a minority group in our once Judeo-Christian country. The Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:3–4 are more current today than ever before: “For the time is coming when peopleengaging-our-culture will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Paul prefaced his warning in verses 1–2: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

The implication for Christian writers today is to engage with the culture in ways that draw readers toward Christ rather than giving them a reason to accuse us of being hypocrites, intolerant, and judgmental. It’s the highest goal for writers, and all of us who work in Christian publishing.

But the methods of a generation ago don’t work for today’s culture. I’m going to divide Professor Boyle’s direction into two blog posts so as not to overwhelm our processing and discussion of each one. Here now are the first four.

  1. Our battle isn’t against people but the spiritual forces of wickedness (from Ephesians 6:12). Are you like me in that often when faced with rival perspectives my human inclination is to respond defensively? As if God needs defending. For writers this might mean simply presenting truth as truth, whether in a self-help or Christian living book or through a characters’ reflection of character and behavior in your novel. No need for supporting explanations, which can come across as preachy to readers.
  2. When we suffer for our beliefs, we stand firm with gentleness and respect (from the Book of Daniel). Daniel gives us a vivid example during his captivity and service to Nebuchadnezzar. Always looking out for the king’s best interest, he quietly refrained from the lures of the Babylonian culture surrounding him, which brought glory to God. Daniel provides a measuring stick for Christian writers. Assess your work. If possible, ask a non-Christian friend if your book sounds preachy or if at least one of your novel’s characters reflects the qualities Daniel exhibited.
  3. Make the most of every opportunity by speaking with grace and that which is appropriate for that person (from Colossians 4). How well do you know your audience? Effective reflection of truth will be different for Millennials and Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. Study your reader demographic to understand their priorities and concerns.
  4. We are to do good to ALL (from Galatians 6:10). How many times have you unwittingly said something that could be perceived as offensive or hurtful? I need to think back only a couple of weeks myself. We’re all works in progress in this area. This isn’t a reference to the ridiculous extreme of political correctness we deal with today, but rather to kindness and sensitivity. Next time you read through your draft, look for places one of your characters has an opportunity to reflect this better without messing with your plot.

What are your thoughts when considering these first four points? As I listened to Professor Boyle encourage us in each of these areas, my sense of purpose was renewed and I just knew I have to share them with you. What is your reaction? Do these first four items renew your special purpose as a writer?

TWEETABLE:

Engaging with readers is different for Christian writers than it was a generation ago. Click to Tweet.

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/engaging-our-culture/feed/ 35
How Agents and Publishers Decide http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/agents-publishers-decide/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/agents-publishers-decide/#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2016 06:00:18 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27836 When you submit your proposal to an agent or publishing house, you may wonder how they make their decisions as to which books to reject and which to accept. Obviously there are numerous considerations that vary from person to person, …

]]>
When you submit your proposal to an agent or publishing house, you may wonder how they make their decisions as to which books to reject and which to accept. Obviously there are numerous considerations that vary from person to person, from publisher to publisher. But there is a simple three-tiered approach we all use to evaluate the viability of a project:

1. The Idea
2. The Execution
3. The Author Platform

Generally, you’ve got to be strong in all three areas in order to sell your proposal. There are always exceptions: You might be extremely strong in two of the areas and get away with being a little weaker in the third. In fiction, the idea and execution are primary; the author platform is still important but not nearly as important as the writing. In nonfiction, the author platform and the idea are of equal importance, and the execution (the writing itself) becomes the third consideration.

light-bulb-ideaThe Idea

Pretty self-explanatory, right? The concept itself must turn heads. For example, you could say your concept is “A book about communication in marriage.” Yawn. Low marks in the idea category. But consider what Gary Chapman said: “What if we could learn our partner’s love language and unlock the secret to love that lasts?” Now that’s a fresh idea. It sparks interest, it compels people to want to hear more.

Take a look at your idea, and how you’re phrasing it. Does it sound fresh and exciting—or like a hundred other books already out there?

The Execution

This is all about the writing. Plenty of people can string a few words together. But when you put your words on a page, do they sing? The craft of writing is exactly that—a craft. Like any craft, it requires learning, practice, apprenticeship, dedication. Have you done what it takes to make your writing worthy of public exposure prior to submitting it for publication?

In the fiction queries I receive, the execution is the biggest reason for rejection. Some people have terrific ideas for stories that sound like they’re going to knock my socks off. But when I start to read, I realize this is probably the first draft of the first book they’ve ever tried to write, and they haven’t actually taken the time to develop their craft prior to submission. (Truthfully, it bums me out, because often the ideas are really good.)

Folks, ideas really are a dime a dozen, so it’s not all about the idea. You’ve got to be a writer. And the fact that you’ve always wanted to write a novel doesn’t mean you’re qualified for the job, any more than always wanting to play pro football qualifies you for the Broncos startling lineup on Sunday. You’ve got to get yourself to training camp first. The execution—the quality of the writing—is crucial, especially for fiction.

The Author Platform

Your platform refers to the means by which YOU will help sell your book by your presence in the media and/or the public sphere, or at least within the audience you hope to reach with your book. Elements of a strong platform can include:

a Previous books published with high sales numbers
a Numerous articles published, whether national, local or specialized
a Appearance on television or radio with significant proven audience
a Frequent or regular speaking engagements
a Regular contact with your target audience, e.g. a newsletter
a A blog or website with proven track record
a Notoriety or authority within your area of expertise

The key to platform is your target market and what you are doing to reach them. It’s smart to begin building your platform well before you hope to be published—years, even. If you’re just setting out to build a platform, you can start a blog, write articles for publication, and begin working on establishing yourself as a speaker. Teach Bible studies, lead a retreat, speak at a women’s luncheon—whatever you have to do. Establish yourself as an authority on your topic.

Evaluate Yourself

Look critically at your proposal and manuscript—better yet, have someone else do it for you—and make an honest evaluation as to how you’re faring on the three tiers: Idea, Execution, and Platform. Whatever is lacking, set out to improve it. And don’t worry about how much time it will take. Contrary to what some people are saying, the publishing industry isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

How are you doing on the three aspects of publishing readiness?

 

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/agents-publishers-decide/feed/ 31
Respect the Professional http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/respect-the-professional/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/respect-the-professional/#comments Tue, 29 Nov 2016 07:00:58 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=28183 Blogger: Wendy Lawton

The visiting author stood behind a table covered in stacks of her many books. She talked to readers and potential readers for much of the afternoon. She was a real professional. As we watched, we never saw …

]]>
Blogger: Wendy Lawton

The visiting author stood behind a table covered in stacks of her many books. She talked to readers and potential readers for much of the afternoon. She was a real professional. As we watched, we never saw her tire of talking to people. Until, that is, one woman came up to her, picked up a book, flipped it over to scan the back cover and said, “I don’t really buy books because everyone tells me I should write my own.” The author’s smile was just short of a grimace. The woman put the book down. “I’m really busy these days but if I could free up a couple of weekends I know I could write a book.”

You’ve all heard some variation on this theme. “Oh, you’ve written a memoir? Everyone tells me I should write my life story.” Or “I excelled in spelling and grammar in junior high school. I know I could be an editor.” Strange. You don’t hear someone coming up to a cardiovascular surgeon to say, “If I just had some of those tiny needles and fine suture, I could do that.”dreamstime_xs_18283552

Whatever happened to respecting a professional? In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he wrote, “10,000 hours is the magic number of greatness.” He gave example after example of people who only attained proficiency after about 10,000 invested hours.

This came home to me a few weeks ago in our staff meeting. We were talking about the importance of audio books and how some authors would like to record their own audio books. Hmmm. I listen to many an audio book and have become adept at judging the voice talent on each book. It takes the finely honed skill of an actor to read and record an audio book. The narrator may have to do several voices; male, female and child in one book. She or he may also need to do believable accents or dialects. Trust me, it is so easy to sound hokey. I’ve sent back an audio book and opted for the print version because the narrator was flat-out annoying.

One of the agents ended our staff discussion by saying, “Authors want readers to respect them as professionals. Doesn’t it seem odd that an author would believe he could pick up a microphone and instantly narrate a book?”

That agent was right. Narrating an audio book is much like writing a book in the first place. It takes a well-honed set of skills. Just imagine if we added up the hours spent on learning the art of writing in this blog community alone and added it together?  How about the sheer number of words written before ever being published? Staggering numbers of hours or numbers of words. It’s the same for voice talent. The same for childrens’ book illustrators. The same for professional editors. It’s art– a hard won proficiency.

Don’t you wish people would respect the professional? Respect the hours invested in learning the craft? What comments have you heard that made you cringe?

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/respect-the-professional/feed/ 62
Deciding on Your Manuscript’s Structure http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/deciding-manuscripts-structure/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/deciding-manuscripts-structure/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2016 17:05:13 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=28169 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

A strong structure invites the reader into your book. Your table of contents is a big selling point–not only for readers, but even before you reach that stage, for agents and editors too.

How do you …

]]>
Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

A strong structure invites the reader into your book. Your table of contents is a big selling point–not only for readers, but even before you reach that stage, for agents and editors too.

How do you go about deciding on your manuscript’s structure?

Your manuscript’s structure should be unique.

One of the wonderful aspects about bone structure is that while we each have a basic face “shape,” we each also have a unique look. So don’t be afraid to break out of the standard with your book’s structure. Do something a little different. But not so clever that it calls too much attention to itself. That would be like having so much plastic surgery that you looked, well, plastic.

Your manuscript’s structure should be simple.

A simple structure often works best. building-674828_640For example, He’s Just Not That Into You starts most of its chapters reusing the title: “He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Not Asking You Out,” “He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Not Calling,” etc. It reiterates the book’s theme yet shows how that theme is explored in each chapter.

For those women involved with a man who isn’t that into them, the chapter titles will woo potential readers as each woman realizes, “Uh, I think too many of these chapter titles apply to my relationship.”

The memoir, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, has a simple but very different structure. Each chapter title is one word, but it has a subtitle. So you find chapter titles such as: “Beginnings: God on a Dirt Road Walking Toward Me,” “Problems: What I Learned on Television,” “Magic: The Problem with Romeo.”

While I don’t know exactly what each chapter will hold, these titles, as befits a memoir, are more opaque than a standard nonfiction book. But they reflect a thoughtful approach to the book’s structure and create curiosity. The structure fits our expectations of a memoir yet it also entices us into this memoir.

Your manuscript’s structure shouldn’t overdo a good thing.

A current trend in novel writing is to create a fractured structure, which could well prove to be a two-edged sword for the writer. The manuscript’s structure might cut back and forth between a contemporary story and a historical story. (Sarah’s Key is a popular example, as it moves back and form from WWII to a contemporary story.) Or a novelist may choose to cut back and forth in a character’s life from present to the past.

It may be literary, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Emma Donoghue (author of Room) does just that with her historical novel, Frog Music.

Critics waxed rhapsodic when the book released, pasted stars in front of their reviews. Here’s one example:

“[An] ebullient mystery….. Donoghue cross-cuts between Blanche’s desperate present-time search and scenes from her Technicolor past with showstopping aplomb…. It’s all great fun, and so richly atmospheric…. Astonishing details are scattered like party nuts…. Donoghue also provides riotous musical accompaniment for her narrative…. Call it a mind-bendingly original crime novel, or a dazzling historical mystery, but in the end, this is really a book about love–a mother’s love for a strange child, for an exotic friend and finally, for herself.”―Caroline Leavitt, San Francisco Chronicle

Critics see books differently sometimes.

Other reviewers proclaimed themselves in love with the main characters and assured us readers that we would want to return to the book time and again–and that it wouldn’t soon leave us.

I found that latter thought so true, for the book was jarringly amoral and explicit about prostitution, sexual partners, and the indifference of a dirty, raucous, smallpox-laden San Francisco in 1876.

Structural oh-oh.

Even worse, the structure was utterly incomprehensible to me, as the reader was asked to move from the present to the past with nary a clue to solve the mystery of which paragraphs were contemporaneous and which were the character’s past. The seemingly impulsive moves could happen multiple times in a chapter. And, considering that the story took place over a three-day span, the reader was left dizzy by the amount of time and space the novel actually covered.

Figuring out how the plot was moving forward was a challenge, to say the least. I found myself agreeing with an Amazon commenter who wrote: “The use of many, many flashbacks to build suspense in this story seemed contrived, as if Donoghue wrote a linear story and then cut it apart and rearranged the pieces.” Indeed, I can’t imagine how else she could have constructed such a labyrinth without writing it just as the commenter suggests.

Readers aren’t supposed to sweat over figuring out the structure.

I say all this so you’ll see what I mean about overusing a structural device. The book was not a pleasure to read; it made the reader work hard not only to understand whodunit, but also why the author chose a stream of consciousness approach rather than lay out any landmarks for the reader.

Structure can be elegant and make sense to the reader. Or it can overwhelm all other aspects of the manuscript, which results, in my opinion, in artifice.

What are you reading now? Did the table of contents or structure invite you in, or did you enter into the book’s world for another reason?

TWEETABLES

How to choose your manuscript’s structure. Click to tweet.

Does your manuscript’s structure invite readers in? Click to tweet.

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/deciding-manuscripts-structure/feed/ 13
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/happy-thanksgiving-weekend/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/happy-thanksgiving-weekend/#comments Fri, 25 Nov 2016 08:01:44 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=28166 Blogger: Rachel Kent

Mary’s post yesterday was just what I needed to read! I am so thankful for God’s blessings and provisions. And this year, I’m blessed to be thankful for our new little guy. He’s 5 months old today! …

]]>
Blogger: Rachel Kent

Mary’s post yesterday was just what I needed to read! I am so thankful for God’s blessings and provisions. And this year, I’m blessed to be thankful for our new little guy. He’s 5 months old today! I’m so glad God created us with the ability to appreciate his good gifts.

Now, I know many people are shopping for gifts for loved ones today. Please do consider buying a book or two to wrap up for Christmas day! It’s a great way to support book store owners and authors!

And if you aren’t shopping today, it might be the perfect time to curl up with a good book!

Have a wonderful weekend!

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/happy-thanksgiving-weekend/feed/ 2
Happy Thanksgiving http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/happy-thanksgiving-4/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/happy-thanksgiving-4/#comments Thu, 24 Nov 2016 08:01:27 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=28160 Blogger: Mary Keeley

No deep writing tips or industry updates today. It’s time to take a break and offer humble thanks to God, give of ourselves to others in Christian love, and be 100% present for our families, loved ones, …

]]>
Blogger: Mary Keeley

No deep writing tips or industry updates today. It’s time to take a break and offer humble thanks to God, give of ourselves to others in Christian love, and be 100% present for our families, loved ones, friends, and church family.

List your blessings.

We have so much to be thankful for in our country. I stopped to list them on a journal page and filled it and more in short order, convicting me of many blessings I take for granted. Try this for yourself. Chances are you’ll see how closely God is caring for you. It’s a great way to enter your day with a grateful heart.happy-thanksgiving

Be a blessing.

It’s been a difficult year politically, but God is in control, thankfully, and our childlike trust in his good plan honors him. Those gathered around the table with you might have polar opposite opinions. Let your grateful heart be a balm of Christ-like grace, reflecting him.

Our Greatest Blessing

Nothing humbles me more than the greatest gift any of us can ever receive: that this sinner has been saved by the shed blood of Christ on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, which is my assurance of eternity with him in heaven. I pray this is true joy for you too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/happy-thanksgiving-4/feed/ 5
What’s Your Holiday Writing Plan? http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/holiday-writing-plan/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/holiday-writing-plan/#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2016 06:00:20 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=28137 Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

No getting around it, the holiday season has arrived. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, families are gathering, and the Black Friday sales are being shouted from the rooftops. The joys, the stresses… here they come.

What does this mean …

]]>
Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

No getting around it, the holiday season has arrived. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, families are gathering, and the Black Friday sales are being shouted from the rooftops. The joys, the stresses… here they come.

What does this mean for writers? This season can easily lead to frustration for people trying to juggle a busy life on top of their writing. The time available for your writing dwindles and you start to feel behind and get stressed that you’re not meeting your goals or deadlines.

It’s time to make a Holiday Writing Plan.

Let’s face this time of year head-on with a strategy that will take us through to January 2nd with the least amount of stress possible.

Thanksgiving dinnerWhat should your Holiday Writing Plan include?

First, take a look at the next month on the calendar and assess about how much time you’ll have for your personal writing pursuits. Then, divide that in half, and assume that’s how much time you’ll realistically have.

Next, set reasonable goals for this time period. Is it a word count? Is it simply to have a certain amount of time each week to enjoy writing, without having an expectation of results? Keep in mind that a good goal for some people is, “I will put away my WIP until January 2nd, at which time I will come at it with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of energy.”

The key is to set goals that are attainable given your life circumstance, so that you don’t end up with frustration or a sense of failure amidst the holidays.

After you’ve set your goals…

Make a plan of action for how you’ll meet them. Schedule the writing time on your calendar, or put Post-It notes on your desk or bathroom mirror reminding yourself of your writing hiatus.

If you’re contracted for a book or article and you have deadlines during the holidays or immediately after, then your Holiday Plan is even more important. Be intentional about which activities you can reasonably let go, and which you’ll keep. (To borrow from Marie Kondo… which activities truly give you joy?)

You may want to delegate more of your usual holiday tasks—cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping. Most importantly, don’t go into this season simply assuming that “somehow” you’ll get it all done. Make a plan!

You want to go into the holiday season with realistic expectations about what you can accomplish. The holidays are stressful enough without adding to it with impractical goals!

I recommend Kathi Lipp’s handy little book, Get Yourself Organized for Christmas. I normally avoid obvious promotions here on our blog, but last year I read this on a plane on the way back from a business trip just before Thanksgiving, and it really helped me keep control of my holidays.

Tell us about your Holiday Plan.

How will you handle the balance between your work and your life? What are your goals? Put your plans in writing and share them here!

Image copyright: subbotina / 123RF Stock Photo

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/holiday-writing-plan/feed/ 19
What Makes a Bestseller a Bestseller? http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/write-a-bestseller/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/write-a-bestseller/#comments Tue, 22 Nov 2016 07:00:33 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=28153 Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Who hasn’t picked up a New York Times bestselling book and thought, “Why is this book—or this author—a bestseller?” If you are a writer your next thought might come out sounding a little cranky, “My book is …

]]>
Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Who hasn’t picked up a New York Times bestselling book and thought, “Why is this book—or this author—a bestseller?” If you are a writer your next thought might come out sounding a little cranky, “My book is so much better than that one.” Maybe, but your book only netted 7,000 lifetime sales to the 240,000 copies sold the first week by the bestselling author.

So why does one book take off and another languish?

I could make this the shortest post in the history of our blog by answering with a two-word answer: Nobody knows.

Those of us in the publishing industry are constantly giving writers advice:dreamstime_xs_27350555

  • Write a high concept book.
  • Work hard on promoting your book.
  • Get great endorsements.
  • Choose a compelling subject.
  • Craft an excellent book.
  • Spend time networking through social media.
  • Enlist your friends and readers to talk about the book.
  • Be available to book clubs.
  • Visit bookstores.
  • Sponsor contests.

And it’s not just the author leveraging all his influence to make the book a success, the publishers are busy working like crazy to do the things that make a book sell:

  • Edit and copy-edit the book until it is a thing of beauty.
  • Create a breathtaking cover.
  • Write the kind of cover copy that will make readers take the book to the counter or click it into the shopping cart.
  • Get the book into reviewers’ hands.
  • Arrange for media.
  • Do as much with advertising as the budget will allow.
  • Get catalogs featuring the book into the hands of every buyer or decision maker.
  • Contact groups or ministries that may want to buy multiple copies of the book.
  • Work with libraries and special markets.
  • Get the sales team on the road, having them stop in small towns and big cities, hand selling your book to buyers.
  • Take the book to all the trade shows.

We could go on and on. That’s just a small fraction of what is done in support of a book. And guess what? Some good books do well, some good books do moderately well, some good books flounder and some good books utterly fail to find an audience. And once in a while a good book (and sometimes a not-so-good book) will shatter all expectations and become a bestseller.

Think of the last bestselling book you read. How did you hear about it? Why did you buy it? What do you think it was it that made the book a success?

]]>
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/write-a-bestseller/feed/ 27