What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 30 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 608
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
Rants & Ramblings - On Life as a Literary Agent
Statistics for Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 32
1. Winners!

guide to literary agents 2016Chuck Sambuchino and the Writers Digest team have chosen the three winners of the Worst Storyline Ever Contest 2.0.

Here are the winners, and their winning Worst Storylines. Drum roll please…


Linda Hofke

After his wife leaves him, an old, bald, former 80s rock star goes on a quest to reunite with his first love— his hair–but is he brave enough to endure a hair transplant or must he settle for a cheap wig in order to sport those big, long locks once again?

Jennifer Ruth Jackson

Karl wants nothing more than to watch the kitchen linoleum curl all summer long but, when his wife insists on doing a time-lapse project of the event, Karl’s “me time” becomes a forced “we time” he soon resents.

Lyndsay Johnson

When a family intervention forces hemophobic vampire Bartholomew into a job at a blood bank to face his fears, he is soon enlisted by coworker, Estella, to drain the vault and make a run for it—awakening Bart to a whole new world of adventure and black market blood lust, with a girl he discovers is just his type.

Congrats to the winners!



The post Winners! appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Winners! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
2. The Worst Storyline Ever Contest 2.0


Guest Blogger: Chuck Sambuchino, editor and writer for Writer’s Digest, and host of the Guide To Literary Agents blog.

Here’s Chuck:

September 2015 sees the release of three of my new books, the 2016 Guide to Literary Agents, the 2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, and the anti-clown humor book When Clowns Attack: A Survival Guide.
To celebrate their release, we are bringing back a popular recurring contest: The “Worst Storyline Ever”—a competition that encourages terrible loglines. Winners get prizes.

The “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest 2.0

A logline is one sentence that explains what your story is about and shows the “hook” – the unique idea that makes people want to see more. You see loglines all the time on the back of DVD boxes. Here are some examples:

  • “Three middle-aged men defeat their midlife crises by starting a college fraternity.” (Old School)
  • “When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an evil emperor, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.” (Gladiator)
  • “In a future where criminals are arrested before the crime occurs, a cop struggles on the lam to prove his innocence for a murder he has not yet committed.” (Minority Report)

But that’s all the examples I’m going to give you, because I’m not looking for good examples of a logline; I’m looking for bad examples. Terrible, stupid, “oh-my-gosh-that-idea-REEKS” examples.
Examples of Bad Loglines (Previous Winners/Finalists):

  1. “After an unidentified cow swallows an armed nuclear device in a botched Homeland Security raid, Agent Tom Anderson is thrust into an unlikely partnership with buxom organic farmer Daisy Jones to sift through three hundred cows and 10 barns full of manure as the clock runs down in a desperate quest to save Kansas City from a moo-clear disaster.”
  2. “A young woman discovers she is half unicorn after farting a rainbow at her bat mitzvah, and must go on a hijinx-filled voyage of self discovery to find her real father and fit as ‘one of the herd.’”
  3. “Leonard the narcoleptic snail sets out on his lifelong dream of running the Boston Marathon while humming ‘Macarena,’ and invites you to join the excitement in real time.”

Stick to the format, but have fun with the idea. Your logline must be one sentence, 60 words or fewer, and explain what the movie/book is about. It’s what you put in that one sentence that will win you this competition. The trick is to make your logline a terribly creative idea that’s pitched in a minimal, professional manner.
The contest will go until the end of the day, 11:59 p.m., PDT, Tuesday, October 20th, two weeks from today. Submissions received after that will not be considered.
Chuck will judge the contest, with some possible input from other WD and WD Books staffers.
To participate, simply leave a comment at the end of this post with your submission and your full name. Make sure we are able to reach you through your website or email. Comment by clicking: HERE.

You can submit up to two (2) bad loglines. You can include both in the same comment if you wish.
The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA’s publisher, F+W: A Content and eCommerce Company (formerly F+W Media).
If you have any questions about the contest, e-mail Chuck directly at literaryagent@fwmedia.com. Do not leave them in the comments and do not e-mail Rachelle.
You do not have to share news of this contest to enter, but if you want to share this fun contest with others, here is an easy tweet:

Create the worst storyline you can – and win writing prizes. http://bit.ly/1KClppO via @chucksambuchino and @rachellegardner.   Click to Tweet


There will be 3 winners.

Each winner receives:

  • A critique by Chuck Sambuchino of either your one-page query letter or one-page synopsis .
  • Your pick of a free book from any of his 3 recent releases:


guide to literary agents 2016


2016 Guide to Literary Agents







childrens writers market 2016


2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market







when clowns attack


When Clowns Attack: A Survival Guide.









Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and instructor for Writer’s Digest Books. Find him on Twitter.


The post The Worst Storyline Ever Contest 2.0 appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on The Worst Storyline Ever Contest 2.0 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. 5 Things To Do Before Hiring a Freelance Editor

Self Editing For Fiction WritersMore writers are hiring editors these days, whether they’re going indie or just making sure the manuscript is polished before submitting to agents and publishers. If you’re a newer writer, unpublished, here are some things I think you should do before spending your hard-earned money on a freelance editor.

(1) Get objective feedback.

It’s best to have a critique group or partner, if possible. Try to get the most honest feedback you can—not on grammar and punctuation, but on the overall content of your book. Are readers finding the book engaging? Are they reading to the end? Are they confused?

(2) Edit & revise your book using reputable sources.

Find fiction resources HERE. My favorites for the revision phase are Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King, and Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell.

Non-fiction resources HERE. Writing a memoir or personal story? Click HERE.

(3) Understand and follow 3-act structure.

This is for fiction and memoir. PLEASE don’t underestimate the importance of story structure. (Tweet this.) If your editor has to spend the bulk of their time fixing your structure and educating you about it, you won’t get the best value for your editing money. You can learn structure on your own—and seriously, your book won’t work without it. A couple of helpful resources are Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland, and Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.

(4) Read your book out loud to catch awkwardness and poor phrasing.

This is especially helpful to make sure fiction dialogue is snappy and believable. But it helps with any kind of writing. Often when you read it aloud, you’ll catch problems you’d never spot by reading silently. (Tweet this.)

(5) Make sure your editor has edited published books.

It’s difficult to verify the legitimacy and credentials of each editor. So do your best to verify that they’ve edited books that have been published by traditional publishers. It’s your best bet for getting a good edit.

Here are some freelance editors. There are a lot more out there in internet-land! Do your research.

Have you used a freelance editor? Tell us about your experience. Comment below, or by clicking: (Click to Tweet.)

The post 5 Things To Do Before Hiring a Freelance Editor appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on 5 Things To Do Before Hiring a Freelance Editor as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

4. How to Write an Author Bio They’ll Remember

Sometimes it’s hard to believe how difficult it can be to write about yourself in a bio—after all, you’re a writer! But I understand it’s not as simple as that, so here are a few tips to make it easier.

Write your bio in first person for query letters, third person for most other purposes including proposals, book jackets, article bylines.

Make it professional but you also need to convey personality and writing style. Don’t try too hard to be funny, but include something that makes you seem like a real person.

What gives you credibility? What makes you interesting? What helps people connect with you? (When you’re on Twitter, Facebook or your blog, what kinds of posts seem to get the most comments?) These are things you can briefly include.

If your book centers on something specific—the Civil War, for example—are you a member of a Civil War society? Have you published any articles in historical journals? Include that.

Try not to include too much “resumé” type information–education, job history, etc. because it tends to be boring. Only include what’s relevant to the book you’re pitching.

As you write a bio, consider carefully the purpose of the bio – who is the audience? Is it agents and editors? Is it your blog readers? Tailor it to this audience.

How to write a bio if you have no publishing credits:

  • If you’re a member of a writers’ organization such as SCBWI, ACFW or ASJA, you can mention it.About Me
  • You can mention if you’re a member of critique group or if you have a degree in literature or writing.
  • Don’t say something like “I’ve been writing stories since I was two years old.”
  • Keep it short and sweet, i.e. “Jane Smith is a fifth grade teacher in Bellingham, Washington, and is a member of RWA.”

A bio for a query letter:

  • For FICTION, if you’re unpublished, it should be one to two sentences—about 50 words or fewer.
  • For NON-FICTION, it should be longer, enough sentences to establish your credits, credentials, and/or platform in the subject matter of your book.

Some tips for the process of writing a bio:

  • Read author bios in a dozen different books. Note what you like and don’t like.
  • Make a list of things you MIGHT want to say about yourself. Try to list 20 to 30 things—don’t self-edit, because you don’t want to leave anything out. Later you can choose the best elements to include.
  • Write two or three bios of different lengths and keep them on file so that you have them ready when you need them.
  • Trade author bios with a writer friend and help each other make them interesting.

What has worked for you? Comment to this post and share!

The post How to Write an Author Bio They’ll Remember appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on How to Write an Author Bio They’ll Remember as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
5. What the Heck is Content Marketing?

Paper and pencilI’m always talking with authors about marketing their books and growing their platforms. It’s a challenge for most writers, who are constantly trying to figure out the formula for gathering more fans (i.e. potential book-buyers).
While writers typically don’t love the idea of marketing their books, ironically they’re more suited to it than many other kinds of business people these days. (Click to Tweet this.) Why? Because today the #1 strategy for marketing in every kind of business is CONTENT MARKETING.
And what is this newfangled, businessy sounding term?
According to Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. 
In other words: WRITE STUFF.
And who better to write stuff than YOU? (Click to Tweet this.)
It’s funny, the rest of the advertising-marketing-business world is calling it “creating content” like it’s this brand-new thing they’ve invented. Um, it’s called “writing” and YOU do it every day.
Another way of putting it, also from CMI, is:
…content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.
The key words: communicating without selling.
So to become an expert at content marketing, here is what I want you to do:
Write and post stuff your readers will love.
By “stuff” I mean “content,” of course: blog posts, Facebook and Twitter posts, newsletter articles, images on Pinterest or Instagram, or videos on YouTube or Periscope. Anyone who is trying to build a following on social media needs to be posting content regularly—at least a couple of times a day. The tricky part is knowing what that content should be.
The key to identifying the kinds of content you should post is in knowing who you are as a writer, and who your audience (generally) is. This is easier for non-fiction writers, who can create an online persona that swirls around the themes of their books.
But even fiction writers can develop a brand and a style so that people have a strong idea of what to expect. You don’t want to be “that girl who is always posting about her books,” but rather, “the one who always has great articles that inspire me (or make me laugh… or educate me…)”
The idea is that when people are accustomed to receiving material from you that they deem valuable in some way—whether it’s informational, inspiring, thought-provoking, or entertaining—they will eventually reward you with their business (i.e. they’ll buy your books).
Fewer than 1 in 10 of your posts should include “selling” language. (Click to Tweet this.) The rest of your content flows from who your audience is, and the brand or online persona you’ve created.
Focus on your readers’ needs, not your own. (Click to Tweet this.)
Interestingly, you don’t even have to be the creator of all the content you share. To keep your social media presence dynamic, you’ll want to use “curated content,” a fancy word for “other people’s stuff.” Make sure you’re following people or organizations whose content tends to complement yours, so that when you see an appropriate post, you can easily share it with your followers.
Content marketing should be easier for YOU than for most businesses. After all, you’re already a writer. In fact, companies using content marketing typically report that their #1 challenge is “producing engaging content.” But you’re a writer, so this is right up your alley!
The key in content marketing is that you are engaging your audience. (Click to Tweet this.) You are in conversation with them through your interesting posts, and they’re coming to expect good things from you. So when you happen to share some news about your new book releasing, or your older book that’s on a promotional sale on Amazon, they’re willing to pay attention because you’re not continually bombarding them with marketing.
Of course, I’ve given you the highly simplified description of content marketing. It’s more than just writing great stuff—it’s writing great stuff as part of an overall marketing strategy based on your brand. But for now, let’s just start with the basics: write stuff your readers will love.
So: content marketing. A business-world term for what you already do everyday.
How are you already using content marketing? How do you think you might increase or improve that strategy in the future?
Image copyright: golfloiloi / 123RF Stock Photo


The post What the Heck is Content Marketing? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on What the Heck is Content Marketing? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. The Brave New World of Publishing

Technology(This is a re-post from one year ago.)

Here’s the deal: I don’t like the fact that you have to “build a platform” these days, any more than you do. But I get weary of writers complaining about it. I get frustrated by hearing that publishers are “abandoning writers” and “bringing nothing to the table.” I know it’s hard to market your books — I feel your pain — and yet I dislike it that people saying that publishers are shirking their duties by “leaving it all up to the author.”


Publishers did not create this brave new techno-world we live in.

It is not the publishing industry that has created this society of ubiquitous electronics, Internet noise, YouTube, X-Box, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, and the decline of reading. It is not the publishing industry who put a computer in more than half of all American households, allowing millions of folks just like yourself to write books they want to sell.

It is not the publishers who brought our society to a place where it’s no longer possible to “market” books the old-fashioned way. It’s not the publishers’ fault that average human beings everywhere are being bombarded with literally thousands of pieces of information every day, making it more challenging than ever to draw a person’s attention to one little book.

The fact is, publishers are doing everything they can dream up, and everything they can afford, when it comes to marketing books. They have the same limitations you do: Time and Money. But they’re coming up with new ideas and innovations all the time.

Publishing is an “old world” industry, figuring out, day by day, how to thrive in this “new world.” We all face these challenges together. We all have to figure out how to get people to want to read our words… to want to PAY to read our words. We all have to figure out how to get our books to rise above the “clutter” and get the attention of readers who are willing to pay for them.

Those of you who find yourself bemoaning that “writers are expected to do everything” and concluding “we might as well self-publish” — perhaps the self-publishing route will work out better for you. For certain kinds of books and certain authors, it’s working out great. Give it a try!

But I want to point out that publishers are still in business because of the value they bring to the table — not just in marketing but in every aspect of the editing, production, and selling of books. It is harder these days to sell books than ever before, yes, but publishers are more than just a business selling widgets, they’re entities who take seriously the responsibility of preserving and disseminating the written word. And so publishing persists, despite the challenges, despite our changing world.

Part of the value publishers bring is a sense of history, a sense of tradition and permanence. Many authors still want to be a part of that. It’s about great stories and important thoughts. It’s about legacy. It’s about a dream. People in publishing still see this dream as worth it. They’re willing to swim against the tide because publishing isn’t just a business, it’s a life, it’s a calling, it’s a passion.

To all writers who believe in the dream, who have the passion, who feel called to the legacy — I’m right there with you, and so is everyone else who has staked their livelihood on this crazy, unpredictable, totally unrealistic business called publishing. Thanks for being here, and hanging on for the ride. To those who are frustrated by the ways it seems publishing can’t meet your expectations, I commiserate with you and I apologize that things aren’t the way we wish they could be.

To each and every author, I sincerely wish the very best for you as you seek your own way of getting your book to its intended audience. I am doing my best to be a positive and helpful part of this process.

Are you in it for the legacy? Or something else?

Comment below or by clicking: HERE.



Publishing is an old world industry, figuring out how to thrive in this new world. Click to Tweet.

Publishing isn’t just a business, it’s a life, it’s a calling, it’s a passion. Click to Tweet.

To all writers who believe in the dream, the passion, the legacy – I’m with you.  Click to Tweet.




The post The Brave New World of Publishing appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on The Brave New World of Publishing as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Find Me Online

Books & SuchI blog every Wednesday at our agency site, Books & Such. To read my posts and participate in the comments, click HERE.

I have an agent page on Facebook. You can follow me on Twitter. Check out my Pinterest boards. Or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Scroll down for the latest posts here at my blog.



The post Find Me Online appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Find Me Online as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. How to Respond to Alarming Changes

bookshelvesThis week I read a couple of online articles about the plight of the contemporary writer. In “Farewell to the Golden Age,” legendary author Philip Yancey summarizes the changes in publishing, both from his personal perspective and that of the industry as a whole. He notes, “Every year my royalties go down,” and notes that the reason he can still pay the bills as a full-time writer is because of his extensive backlist.

Yancey laments, “I do worry, though, about new authors who don’t have a backlist to depend on.  As readers are trained to pay less (or nothing) for books, how can authors survive?”

He has a good point, as underscored in The Guardian (UK). The article, “Authors’ incomes collapse to abject levels” is a review of a survey in the UK that indicated 11.5% of “professional writers” — those who dedicate the majority of their time to writing — earn their income solely from writing. It discusses the decrease in advances, the drop in royalties for established authors, and the fact that a few writers make a lot of money while the majority don’t. It put the median annual income of professional authors in the UK at less than $19,000. Not enough to support a family.

These two articles are simply highlighting a new reality — publishing is in flux and no one is quite sure what the future looks like. Everyday we’re faced with difficult truths:

• Publishers are merging, resulting in fewer places to submit manuscripts.

• Many authors who have published numerous books are finding their advances going down, not up.

• With self-published books now plentiful, there are more books than ever for readers to choose from.

• It is difficult figuring out how to effectively market books.

• A book’s potential sales are highly unpredictable.

• Many authors’ books don’t live up to the publisher’s sales expectations, meaning the publisher might not want to renew their contract.

• Poor sales figures can make it difficult or impossible to get another traditional book deal.

• The publishing journey often doesn’t live up to an author’s expectations.

In the midst of these truths, writers may experience moments of disappointment and dejection. They might be anxious that a series of speed-bumps could signal the end of their writing career, sometimes before it has even started. Often they are questioning whether it’s time to give up. Some are sad, thinking their lifelong dream is dying. A few are wondering how they are going to pay the bills.

While I understand that everyone has to deal in their own way with disappointment, I also want to encourage everyone to avoid getting bogged down in despair. Because here are some other truths:

• Being a published author is still an amazing experience even if it’s not your primary source of income.

• Publishing setbacks are not “failures” but necessary and expected rites of passage in this business.

• Just because things didn’t go the way you envisioned doesn’t mean things can’t still go well — possibly after re-envisioning your goals.

• People are still reading, meaning we still need writers.

• There are more options than ever before for getting your work in front of readers. You might have to adjust your expectations regarding how much you’ll get paid for it.

• You can embrace your identity as a writer, and refuse to let external circumstances change that.

• The best way to deal with this new reality is to stand up and fight. Don’t let yourself settle in to the despair. You’re not a quitter — pull out that fighting spirit and decide to be a writer regardless of the obstacles.

• Write your books. Share them with people.

Don’t ignore reality. But also, don’t let yourself get trapped in despair. You can’t afford the time. Better get back to work!

Have you experienced moments of despair over the state of publishing? How did you handle it? How do you recommend we all move forward?


 This post originally appeared at Books & Such.

The post How to Respond to Alarming Changes appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on How to Respond to Alarming Changes as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. 11 Questions for Crafting a Pitch

baseball pitcherI’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:

As a writer, you’re always going to find it necessary to “sell your stuff.” To do that, you need to create those all important sales materials for your book: The one-sentence summary. The query. The pitch paragraph. The elevator pitch. The proposal.

I want to focus on fiction here today (since our blog survey revealed 78% of you are writing fiction!) So, how do you create those sales materials for a novel? The main elements of a fiction pitch are:

The main character
Their choice, conflict, or goal
What’s at stake (may be implied)

But it’s still hard figuring out exactly the right way to pitch. You have to simplify your story and pitch a single plot thread and as few characters as possible. You have to be precise, and use specific (not vague) language. And you have to make it interesting, which means you need to find the most unique and special aspect of your story and make sure it’s covered in the pitch.

So I’ve come up with a set of 11 questions that I recommend novelists work through before even starting to craft a pitch or summary. If you think about the answers to these questions, and write them down, you’ll be more equipped to find the right elements of your story to include in the pitch.

Click HERE to read the post at Books & Such.



The post 11 Questions for Crafting a Pitch appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on 11 Questions for Crafting a Pitch as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. When Editing Goes Wrong

red pen 2I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:

A couple of weeks ago I told you what the editorial process typically looks like inside a publishing house. Sometimes the editing is smooth and wonderful, but not always. Today I wanted to talk about what to do when it gets rocky.

As a writer, you care deeply about your words and you’ve tried to get them just right. Hence your first encounter with an editor might be a little daunting. When they send you pages and pages of notes for revisions, you might be overwhelmed, depressed, and demoralized. Take heart… this is normal!

I recommend you enter the editorial process with a humble and teachable spirit. The editing process is a terrific opportunity to learn how to improve your writing.

But what if your editor requests changes with which you disagree? How you handle it may depend on who you are—a bestselling author versus a first-timer. (Guess who has more leverage?)

My advice, in a situation where you don’t understand the editorial request or you disagree with it:

  • Ask a lot of questions of your editor. Try to get their perspective.

Click here to read the entire post at Books & Such.



The post When Editing Goes Wrong appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on When Editing Goes Wrong as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. Take Our Reader Poll

starbucksOver at Books & Such, we’re running the 2014 Books & Such Reader Survey. If you’d like to chime in, please click through to share your thoughts.

Click here to take the survey.

The survey is anonymous, but if you leave a comment on today’s post on the Books & Such blog, you’ll be entered in a random drawing for a $25 Starbucks gift card. Just our way of saying thank you for participating. When you comment, please feel free to share additional thoughts or suggestions about our blog.

The survey will be open for 7 days so please respond by Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Thank you for letting us hear your voice!

~Click the Starbucks logo to take the survey.~

Click HERE to get to today’s post at Books & Such to leave a comment.


The post Take Our Reader Poll appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Take Our Reader Poll as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. OMG! What if B&N Closes?

Man freaking out“The report of my death was an exaggeration.” So said Mark Twain in 1897, and I’m wondering if Barnes & Noble might be saying the same thing right about now.
Over the last week, an article by Michael Levin has been making the rounds, causing fear and trembling among certain groups of authors and publishing folks.  Syndicated on news websites all over the U.S., Levin’s article predicts that Barnes & Noble may close all the rest of their stores by the end of the year. It proposes five reasons for B&N’s demise, and goes on to lament the awful tragedy this would be. (You can read a version of the article HERE.)
I just want to add my two cents to the pot:

Everybody, get a grip.

1. We’ve known for a long time that B&N’s position was—and is—precarious. This is not news. (Forecasting “B&N closing by the end of the year” is, however, a great way to get lots of clicks and shares.)
2. While it could happen, we haven’t seen any evidence that B&N will be dead before 2015. This business is always rampant with rumors, and what good does it do? I prefer to ignore attention-seeking prognostications and wait for the real news.
Now, let’s say Mr. Levin’s prediction is correct. What then?
I daresay the world won’t end. Things will change for publishers and readers and everyone in between—but things have already been changing and we ought to be used to it by now. It’s not as if publishers are unaware that this could happen. And it’s not as if readers are clinging to B&N as their last and only hope for access to books.
Let’s take a few of the statements in this article and expose them to the light.
“Literary agent David Vigliano says that the disappearance of bookstores, and the move to buying books on Amazon, represents the death of browsing.”
No offense to either Mr. Levin or Mr. Vigliano, but this is categorically untrue. Millions of readers are browsing just fine, thank you very much, online and in (gasp) libraries. Why do you think B&N is having so much trouble? Not just because of showrooming (people browsing in the store, then buying online.) But because many, many readers have already made the switch to online browsing and are having no trouble finding the reading material they want.
“Serendipity – the sweet surprise of happening upon an unexpected book – is an experience that can happen only in a bookstore.”
This feels to me like the ranting of Luddites who can’t get used to this thing called the Internet. They can’t believe that it actually WORKS. Again, this statement is so untrue as to be almost ridiculous. Millions of readers are experiencing “serendipitous” sweet surprises much more often nowadays via the Internet than they ever could from walking into a bookstore.
“Yes, Amazon’s algorithms can point you to books you may like, but there’s no substitute for wandering the aisles of a bookstore, looking into a section you might never have visited before, and finding a new author or subject you had never considered.”
Oh, brother. I regularly find new authors and subjects I’d never considered—by tuning in to NPR and the Wall Street Journal, by following smart bloggers, by checking Facebook every now and then, by belonging to a book group, by browsing on Goodreads, and by having actual conversations with actual people. I have probably been in B&N five times in the last five years—and I read as many books as almost anyone I know.
“Barnes & Noble killed privately owned bookstores, and Amazon and technology are killing B&N. It’s downright Darwinian.”
It took a lot more than B&N to drive many privately-owned bookstores out of business—it was the advent of digital books, and it was all the big stores (Borders, Walmart, Costco, etc), and it was Amazon. But think about it. If B&N folds, it might be exactly what we need to bring back the privately-owned local bookstore that knows how to serve its own community.
Could B&N close this year? Sure. Would it be a tragedy of epic proportions? No, except for the fact that many would lose their jobs because of it. My heart goes out to those people.
Publishers (and writers, and agents, and everyone else in the book food chain) will figure out how to rally. We’ve been adjusting to massive changes for half a decade already, and there’s more to come. I understand it’s difficult to deal with uncertainty (you have no idea how well I understand this). But I’m so over the drama, and the fear, and the hand-wringing.
Let’s keep looking ahead at the possible changes in our industry, and asking ourselves: What’s good about this change? How does it bring us into the future? What do I need to do to adjust to this change? Does it offer any opportunity for me? 
I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Comment below, or by clicking: HERE.



Barnes & Noble closing? Agent @RachelleGardner says: Everybody get a grip. Click to Tweet.
Could B&N close this year? Sure. A tragedy of epic proportions? No, says agent @RachelleGardner. Click to Tweet.
“The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Mark Twain–and Barnes & Noble? Click to Tweet.
Image credit: twindesign / 123RF Stock Photo



The post OMG! What if B&N Closes? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on OMG! What if B&N Closes? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Is It Important Who You Know?

helping handI’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:

Earlier this month at PubSmart, I co-taught a workshop on “setting yourself up for success” at the conference. I offered the idea that the participants’ most important connections would be with their fellow writers, not the agents, editors, or other professionals.

Other writers are your fellow pilgrims on the writing-and-publishing journey—the ones who can still be there for you five or ten years into your writing career. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of building genuine relationships with writers who are in a similar place as you on the writing path.

We in the publishing world spend a lot of time talking about things like:

• The best thing you can do for your platform is write a great book.

• Publishing isn’t about who you know, but what you write.

For the most part, these are true statements. Nevertheless, networking with other authors can be tremendously valuable.

CLICK HERE to read the complete post at Books & Such.


The post Is It Important Who You Know? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Is It Important Who You Know? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Write the Whole Book Before Pitching?

4679004_sI’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview.

Classic wisdom for unpublished authors seeking traditional publication has been that if you’re writing a novel (fiction), you need a complete manuscript. If you’re writing non-fiction, you need a book proposal plus two or three sample chapters. If you’re writing a memoir, who knows — everybody has a different opinion.

Here’s what is true and will always be true: unpublished fiction authors MUST have a complete novel before trying to get an agent or publisher. No question, no exceptions.

But things are changing in publishing, especially when it comes to non-fiction. In some ways, the standards are higher. It’s more of a risk for a publisher to say “yes” to an unproven author. And in light of this reality, I’m going to make a bold and probably controversial suggestion.

No matter what you’re writing, even if you’re already published, even if it’s non-fiction or memoir:

Consider writing the whole book before you search for a publisher.

Why would I say such a thing? A few reasons:

1. It lowers the risk for the publisher.

Click here to read the whole post at Books & Such.

The post Write the Whole Book Before Pitching? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Write the Whole Book Before Pitching? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. What’s Changed in Publishing?

TransformationI’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:
I began blogging as an agent in January of 2008, and it’s remarkable to look back over my past posts and notice how much has changed in six years. When I started, I didn’t even have a Kindle. Now my family owns five Kindles plus iPads and various other electronic devices, and I wouldn’t want to do this job without them.
I wrote posts back then about how there was a stigma to self-publishing and I warned writers against it— if they wanted to be taken seriously. Now self-publishing is a normal and accepted option for writers.
I wrote about how e-books were a minuscule percentage of any author’s total books sold.
I was not even on Twitter until a year after I started the blog (January, 2009). Facebook and Twitter were still optional and sort of curiosities.

What else has changed in the book business?


  • The closing of Borders was an epic blow to the industry, many independent bookstores have closed, and pundits frequently discuss the future of Barnes & Noble.

Click HERE to read the post at Books & Such.



The post What’s Changed in Publishing? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on What’s Changed in Publishing? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. What’s Your Book About?

PubSmartI have a post up at PubSmart today. In case you haven’t heard, PubSmart is a new writers’ conference debuting this April in Charleston, SC, with the goal of bringing together self publishing, traditional, small press and hybrid. PubSmart is about introducing new models that lead to smart decisions about how to seize opportunities in today’s transformed book marketplace. I’m thrilled to be on the faculty of this terrific new conference! Keynote speakers are Hugh Howey and Jane Friedman, and the faculty includes heavy hitters from all walks of today’s expanded publishing world.Learn more on the PubSmartCon website.
Here’s a preview of my post:

What’s Your Book About?

Everyone attends conference for their own reasons—to learn, to network, to get a break from home. One of the primary advantages of a conference is the opportunity to talk to people, including fellow writers and others in the industry. Naturally, one thing you’ll want to talk about is your work, whether you’re in a formal pitch session or just hanging out having drinks. But talking about our work is sometimes challenging! So here are seven tips for discussing your book(s) effectively.
1. Be prepared. You never know when you’re going to come across someone who will ask, “So what’s your book about?” Mealtimes, hallway chatting, elevator rides, and designated pitch sessions. Prepare ahead of time so you’ll never be caught stammering, “Well, it’s um… it’s kind of an… uh…”
2. While preparing, remember that you’re going to be talking to someone. There are differences between verbal and written pitches. Your speaking voice is different from your writing voice. Make sure you don’t prepare something that sounds too “canned” i.e. written.
Click HERE to read the complete post.
→And don’t forget our special Facebook event today! Books for writers specially priced at 99 cents, plus all-day chats happening with the authors of these books. Click here for more info.



The post What’s Your Book About? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on What’s Your Book About? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. A Facebook + Amazon Event for Writers

Tomorrow (Friday 2/28) I’m participating in a fun online event in which authors of 16 e-books specifically for writers are discounting their books to 99 cents, and will be hanging out on a special Facebook page to chat and answer questions from writers. The graphic below shows all the books available, and each one is individually clickable.

This is a great opportunity to expand your library of writer resources (dirt cheap!) and get some questions answered. The authors involved will be on Facebook at different times. I’ll be there 3 to 6pm EST.

Click HERE to join the Facebook event, and then on Friday you can show up, hang out, chat, ask questions and enjoy talking books with your colleagues in the business!

Each of these books is going to be 99 cents for Friday only, and then return to their regular prices.

Join us!



The post A Facebook + Amazon Event for Writers appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on A Facebook + Amazon Event for Writers as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. A Typical Day for an Agent

circus-jugglerI’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:
I enjoyed Wendy’s post yesterday about how agents spend their time. She did a great job of describing how agents work on their clients’ behalf, and I wanted to add my own two cents to further explain how we organize our days.
People frequently ask me about a typical day for an agent. I think most agents will tell you — there are no typical days!  With a large number of clients, working on a variety of projects, all in various stages of writing or publication, the days provide endlessly changing excitement.
While agents always have a long to-do list, our most important job is to be responsive to our clients’ needs, as Wendy explained. The email box is always full, and fires erupt and need dousing with alarming regularity. So we begin each day with a “plan” and an awareness that we could end the day having not accomplished anything we’d planned. 
I try to be aware of what’s important, what’s urgent, what’s both and what’s neither. (Remember those categories when you email your agent. Your situation will be prioritized along with everything else on her desk!) Whenever possible, I organize my days according to my priority list:
1. Contracts and Payments.
Fielding offers, negotiating deals, scrutinizing contracts, discussing clauses and terms with publishers, walking clients through their contracts, making sure the contract gets executed properly. Following up on advance and royalty payments, making sure publishers pay clients in a timely manner, examining royalty statements for accuracy.
Click HERE to read the full post at Books & Such.



The post A Typical Day for an Agent appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on A Typical Day for an Agent as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. Will the Book Biz Follow the Way of Music?

I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:
One of the recurring themes of this blog is how publishing is evolving, and you probably know that for the last few years, people have been comparing our current situation to the music industry’s revolutionary changes over the last fifteen years. If we’re smart, the wisdom goes, we’ll carefully study how things have gone in that medium and see what we can learn from it. I’ve read many articles that astutely point to things that have worked and things that didn’t for the big record labels; analysis of mistakes that were made; and how that industry has adapted to changing technology which has in turn changed consumers’ buying patterns.
There is much that can be learned and applied to the book business, but I’ve been concerned lately that some people seem to be taking the analogy too far. There are too many ways that books are not like music, and if we slavishly try to incorporate the lessons the music biz has learned, we’re going to end up in big trouble. Many of the strategies that are now working in music won’t work in books—we need to creatively think up our own solutions!
Here are a few of my thoughts:
The music business has always been driven by live events.
For thousands of years before recording even existed, music was performed and enjoyed live. It makes sense that many of the answers for the music industry lie in the better exploitation of live music; not so in books. The book business has never been driven by live events, and I doubt it ever could be.
CLICK HERE to read the rest of the post at Books & Such.


The post Will the Book Biz Follow the Way of Music? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Will the Book Biz Follow the Way of Music? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. 7 Ways the Writer’s Life is Like American Idol

American IdolI’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:
I’m often struck by the similarities between the competition reality shows on TV these days, and life in the publishing environment. The programs bring together hopefuls in an endeavor—baking, fashion, business, movie makeup, singing—and pit them against each other. Along the way, the competitors make friends, make enemies, learn more about their chosen endeavor, and learn about themselves.
The shows are not only fun, they’re full of insights. Here are a few things I’ve been thinking lately as I watch the new season of American Idol.

1. Some people are more talented than they know. Others are less talented than they think they are.

Some contestants come in with beautiful voices that are unpolished; some have hopeless voices but they’re trying really hard. Some have so much enthusiasm you can’t help but like them, and some are so dull that they could have the most accomplished voice in the world but no one would want to hear it. Some have a sense of entitlement (How could you NOT pick ME?) and others are beautifully humble, surprised that the judges would give them a smile and a kind word. In singing, as in writing, it’s difficult to know how good you are without outside, objective input. And the first time you receive it can be a shock—in either a positive or negative way.

2. The judges know more than you realize.

It’s surprising how much the judges can tell from such a small amount of information. You think—how could they possibly make a decision so quickly? They stop the singer after 16 bars; they take one small taste of the cake; barely a glance at the elaborate costume design—and pronounce their verdict. It’s just like when an experienced agent or editor forms an opinion about a written piece from the first page. You wonder how they can possibly have enough information to reach a conclusion, and it can feel a little harsh. But those who have spent years working in a field—learning, studying, honing their instincts—can quickly form an opinion that wouldn’t change even with much more information.

Click HERE to read the full article at Books & Such.



The post 7 Ways the Writer’s Life is Like American Idol appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on 7 Ways the Writer’s Life is Like American Idol as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. Puppy Training Techniques for Writers

puppy Reagan

The adorable and very well-trained Reagan

I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:
One of the difficult things about being a writer is having those days when you’re lacking inspiration, the words aren’t flowing, and you feel stuck. Pile enough days like that on top of one another and pretty soon you have the dreaded writer’s block. Ugh.
But that never has to happen to you…because you can train your muse to perform on command. The secret is to think of it like a puppy. You know — cute, rambunctious, frustrating and surprisingly teachable. Like a puppy, your muse only seems unmanageable. Here are some tips on how to get your creativity to show up when you need it.

5 Puppy-Training Basics for a Muse That Behaves

1. Develop desirable habits.
The secret to puppy training is getting your adorable fluffy friend to develop routine behaviors he can perform without even thinking. To help him develop good habits, repetition is key—doing the same thing over and over again. That’s the number one way to train your muse, too. Keep to a schedule; have a routine that works for you. Have certain “cues” that signal to your muse that it’s time to work: sit in a certain place, turn on certain music, get your favorite drink, whatever you need to do. Schedule + repetition = habit.
Click HERE to read the whole post at Books & Such.


The post Puppy Training Techniques for Writers appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Puppy Training Techniques for Writers as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. Nobody Writes Good First Drafts

Crumpled paperI spend a lot of time working with my clients to edit and revise their proposals and manuscripts. I give notes and suggestions for improvements. Sometimes I take them through draft after draft, until everything seems just right.
I know it’s tiring for them, and sometimes frustrating to be pushed to go over it again and again, especially when they know they’ll go through more edits with their publisher. I admire every writer who does whatever is necessary, who keeps pushing through, who remains dedicated to making the work the best it can be.
This is what it takes to be good. When an editor pushes you to be your best, or when you push yourself, you’re doing exactly what’s necessary to rise above the hordes of regular writers to become a good writer. Along those lines, I read this powerful piece in the book Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University.*

No one, not even the greatest writers, creates good first drafts. “I have to write crap before I can write anything that is not crap,” says Walt Harrington, who has been writing well for thirty years. “Writing is thinking. It is an extension of the reporting process.” A first draft might have promising sentences or paragraphs, a brilliant conceptualization, a few surprising turns of phrase, or a sturdy framework. All that, however, will probably be barely visible, entangled in the general messiness of half-formed ideas. Those promising elements will reveal themselves as the writer begins to tease apart the mess with the next draft and the one after that.
Still, as you read through a flawed first draft, remember that the hardest work is behind you. You have moved closer to defining the topic and developed strategies for explaining it…. You have stared down the blank page and begun building something on it.
Good writing is far too complex to get right in one draft or two or five. Good writers are most often plain ol’ writers who go the extra mile and then a few more.

If you are struggling through draft after draft, trying to get it right, take heart. You’re going the extra mile, and then a few more. Keep putting in the work, and you will become a good writer.

Are you pushing yourself hard enough? Are you going through enough drafts to push yourself to be a good writer?

Tweet this: “Good writers go the extra mile.” Some encouragement from @RachelleGardner.
*Quote from Telling True Stories, p. 97, by Mark Kramer & Wendy Call.
Image credit: stocksnapper / 123RF Stock Photo

The post Nobody Writes Good First Drafts appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Nobody Writes Good First Drafts as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. What if Someone Steals Your Idea?

top secretI’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:

Last week I wrote about two ways your work can be used without your permission: plagiarism and piracy. But questions have come up about another kind of problem that worries writers:

What if someone steals your idea, and writes a book on the same topic as you?

Angela Mills wrote:

I’m finishing up my first novel and I feel it’s a pretty timely, unique idea. I have scoured Christian fiction bookstores and catalogs and haven’t found any book with this kind of plot/setting. Should I keep the idea to myself until I find an agent and get it sold? I’m one of those people that doesn’t like to talk about what I’m writing anyway, but I’m trying to figure out how to answer when other writers ask what my book is about. 

The best way to deal with this particular situation is simply to be vague when discussing your book. Don’t give details about your plot or subject matter. “It’s a romance set against the backdrop of a modern day reality show,” or “It’s a story about life in Auschwitz during World War II.”

The bigger question on many writers’ minds seems to be, what if other authors are writing books on the same idea as mine?

My philosophy has always been that you can give 100 writers the same book idea, and you’d end up with 100 different books. While there are some really great ideas out there, and some ideas are better than others, the execution is what matters and determines whether readers enjoy the book. The “same idea” isn’t going to result in the “same book.” Additionally, many readers don’t mind reading multiple books with similar ideas, and may even seek them out. So it’s usually not a problem.

→ Click HERE to get to Books & Such to read the post, in which we touch on the collective consciousness and questionable disclaimers on publisher websites.



The post What if Someone Steals Your Idea? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on What if Someone Steals Your Idea? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
24. Books Covers and My Experience with 99 Designs

How Do I DecideWhether you’re self-publishing or working with a publisher, creating an effective book cover is extremely important. I’ve worked with publishers on hundreds of covers, and now I have the experience of working with designers on the cover of my own first e-book. From my perspective, the single most important thing to understand about book covers is:
Getting a powerful, appealing, and appropriate cover design is vital, and it’s more difficult than you might think.
Why is it so hard? First, it’s so subjective. One person’s great design is another’s “fail.” Second, it’s more than just creating an image you like—you should take into account the psychology behind what makes a cover appealing to the intended audience. Third, you (the author) may have been living with a particular image in your mind for months or years, but your publisher may disagree and/or your designer may be unable to capture it. Fourth, the book cover can be a highly emotional element of the publishing process, and it’s supremely disappointing if you don’t love the finished product.
You’re going to deal with this whether you’re working with the publisher’s designer, or you’ve hired a designer on your own. The harrowing cover-design process is all-too-common. And my latest experience with my own self-pub book only reinforced this.

What I Learned by Using 99 Designs 

Authors frequently ask me where they can find a good designer for their self-pub books. I’d been hearing of 99 Designs for the last few years, and didn’t want to keep recommending them until I’d tried them myself. So I signed up to see if I could improve upon the original cover of my e-book, How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing.
How Do I Decide?How it works:
With 99 Designs you pay a flat fee ranging from about $300 to $1200. Numerous designers submit designs, and you go through a process of feedback and eliminations until you (theoretically) end up with the design you want.
My original cover is here to the right, and the final winning design from 99 Designs is above. Here’s my experience and what I learned:
→ I opted for the least expensive package, which costs $299 and predicts you’ll receive 30 designs.
→ Thirty designs sounds like a lot and seems like it should be plenty from which to find a good one. Reality check: it’s not. A majority of the designs submitted weren’t even close to being right.
→ 99 Designs offers a money-back guarantee, so that if the process doesn’t yield a design you can use, you can get a refund. However, one way you can get more designs submitted is to turn down the possibility of a refund and guarantee you’ll pick a winner. Since this means a designer will definitely win and get paid, more designers will submit, and work hard to adjust their designs according to your specifications so they can win the contest. I chose this option and it definitely seemed to increase the action on my page.
→ A 99 Designs contest runs seven days, and it’s crucial for you to set aside ample time during that week to devote to the contest. If you want to end up with a design you love, you’ll need to interact constantly with the designers who are submitting.
→ When you set up your contest, it’s important to give the designers detailed instructions, making your requirements as clear as possible. Explain what your book is about, and the tone you want to convey with the cover. What is the feeling you want to evoke? Do you have specific images in mind? Mention anything you wish to avoid.
→ Once you begin receiving designs, take the time to give detailed feedback to each designer. This can vastly improve your chances of getting a final product you like.
→ Once you have several designs you like, 99 Designs makes it easy for you to run a poll among your Facebook or Twitter friends, or on your blog. Your friends can vote on the ones they like, and leave feedback on each design. This can be confusing (as people’s opinions can be so varied) yet also illuminating and helpful.
→ 99 Designs also makes it possible for you to work one-on-one with individual designers. If you run a contest and find a designer you like, then in the future you can choose to work specifically with that person. Or, you can browse the work of the designers on the site and choose to work with one designer without ever having run a contest.
By the time my contest was over, I’d received 104 entries, but I honestly couldn’t say I loved any of them. I may not have given enough instructions and feedback, and I probably didn’t explain my book well enough, so I take responsibility for it. I have seen some terrific book covers come from 99 Designs, especially for fiction.
I’d definitely use 99 Designs again, following my own advice (above) to increase my odds of success. And I definitely recommend the service to authors and others looking for any kind of design.
Anything to add from your own experience with 99 Designs or hiring a freelance designer? Any comments or questions about this process?

Comment below, or by clicking: HERE.

TWEET THIS: Agent @RachelleGardner discusses book covers and using “99 Designs.” 

The post Books Covers and My Experience with 99 Designs appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Books Covers and My Experience with 99 Designs as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. Somebody Stole My Words!

ThiefI’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview:
If you write and publish books or blog posts (or submit to agents, editors and publishers), you may worry someone might steal your work. I have two things to say about this:
1. Yes, at some point there is a good chance somebody will steal your work.
2. Try not to spend too much time or energy worrying about it.
Why do I say this? Let’s look at a couple of ways the written word is stolen.

Book Pirating

Every so often, I receive an alarmed email from one of my authors who has just stumbled upon their book offered – free! – on one of the “free e-book” websites. The author wants to know… “What do I do?! How do I stop them?!”
Click HERE to read the post at Books & Such.


The post Somebody Stole My Words! appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Somebody Stole My Words! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts