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<<November 2014>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts from the Agent category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 14,831
26. Oh the Choices

Two objects sit before you: a golden hammer and a cup of what seems to be water. A note on the wall says: “Go ahead, make your choice. The outcome will decide whether you’re ready or not.” Ready for what? What is this place? Why these objects? Which will you choose?

writing-promptsWant more creative writing prompts?

Pick up a copy of A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for every day of the year and you can start on any day.

Order now from our shop.






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27. How Many is Too Many?

When I was a newbie, my boss told me that I should never answer the question "How many clients do you have." See, it's a question with no right answer, in which the asker can interpret the answer any way they want.

If I say a high number, does that make me sound Healthily Busy or Totally Overwhelmed? If I say a low number, am I Selective, or Lazy? And what would BE a "low" or "high" number, anyway?

Since I'm no longer a new agent, and I believe in transparency, and I love love LOVE talking about my authors - I have a list of my clients posted on my blog. You can count them if you are so inclined. (Spoiler: it's about 50). I still shy away from saying an exact number out loud, and I don't have a number that would be a "ceiling" in mind, but, you know, basically I am pretty full. I am busy enough. I don't need more clients. But I shall certainly leap to grab one if the perfect fit comes along!

I don't remember where I got this analogy but I think it's a good one: it's kinda like being an obstetrician. While I might have dozens of clients, most of them are busy gestating or taking care of books under contract that already exist - they aren't in my waiting room with their water breaking all at the same time. This metaphor has gotten a little gross now, but you see what I mean - there are only a few pressing matters "in play" on any given day/week.

So how many authors IS too many? I think of my list kinda like Mary Poppins's bag crossed with the TARDIS. Magical, flexible, sentient, bigger on the inside, and obviously able to navigate wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff. There's no answer, is what I'm saying -- how much work I can do adjusts according to how much work there is to do.

If there is ever a time I am feeling burnt out or overwhelmed - I take a break and/or ask for help. If I was feeling like that all the time, I'd cut back my list -- but so far, luckily, that has not had to happen. Other agents' answers may vary -- for some, 20 clients would be their limit. Some, I'm sure, juggle 100. But I think everyone would agree that there is no magic number, and no right answer to this question.

Make sense?

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28. The Tax Man Cometh

As the year comes to a close agents and publishers are preparing to send out 1099 forms. As per IRS guidelines those need to be mailed by January 30. If you've moved or changed your name anytime in the past year I would strongly recommend you get that information to your agent now so come February 1 you aren't freaking out that your 1099 is missing.


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29. Query Question: Now that I have an agent, what mistakes can I avoid?

What the most common mistake debut authors make when they sign with an agent? (Yes, I'm asking for myself *throws confetti*) I've read every QueryShark blog post on catching the eye of an agent, but now that I'm signed, I couldn't find much info (other than not being rude to support staff) on How Not To Screw It Up. 

 Yay for you *plucks confetti from gills*!  Congrats and huzzahs.  There's not just one thing to remember there are nine:

1. Surrender the idea that things get done on a schedule or to deadline. I think this is the number one thing that bugs my clients. It bugs me too, but it's just a fact of life.  If I tell a client I plan to read a manuscript over the weekend, I do plan to do it. Many times, I don't get it done. One thing or another happens to keep me from it.  Sometimes it's just I'm really tired and cranky and that's NOT when you want to be reading your stuff. (Trust me on this.)

A lot of times manuscript reading is delayed for weeks. Sometimes longer. That's no one's preference but the world operating system does not run on Janet Reid Preferences. Would that it did.


2. Do Not Assume/Fear casual comments made on Twitter or Facebook about the job are about you. They never are. Never. They're always about That Other Client.

3. Support the other clients.  Retweet their book news, good reviews, awards and accolades.  Follow them on Twitter; like them on Facebook.  Several of my clients have build lasting friendships after meeting across my bar.  Of course, you don't have to be a slave about this. Follow your gut on this. Not all my clients appeal to each other.  Some agents have lists where not all clients appeal to each other.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need.  If I can do it, I will. If I can't, at least I'll know and we'll avoid misunderstandings.

5. Don't suffer in silence. If somethings wrong, tell me. I am a mind reader but only if you're within a certain number of feet of my desk.

6. Ask when you don't understand something. You're not stupid. Royalty statements and contracts aren't pleasure reading, and my job is to make sure you understand them.

7. Never, ever, ever be dismissive of the support staff.  I've fired clients for that. I have no trouble doing it again if the need arises.  Support staff here are called godsends and there's a reason for that.   IF you have a problem with the people who work for or with me, you will tell ME. 

8. Don't worry about calling or emailing me.  I'd rather hear from you than not if you've got something on your mind.  

9. Never EVER send an email to your editor, or anyone at your publisher that is less than polite. EVER. My job is to run interference for you.  If you've got a problem with your editor or publisher, we'll figure out how to deal with it together.  Or I'll tell you you're all wet. Or you'll fire me.  

Most of this is second nature to the civilized among us. If you're thinking about this, you're going to be ok. It's the people who make assumptions that will go astray.


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30. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 18

It’s a Tuesday, which means we’ve got two prompts today:

  1. Write a sweet poem.
  2. Write a sour poem.


Running out of Time for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.


Here’s my attempt at a Sweet and/or Sour poem:


I love to eat Thai food,
because it tastes so good.

I love the sweet and sour
chicken with the sauce poured

over veggies and rice.
Mmmm. Thai for lunch sounds nice.


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He really does love eating sweet and sour chicken at Thai restaurants. He also favors writing rhyming poems when he’s not sure what to write. The rhymes get his brain turning, especially on cold November mornings.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


Find more poetic goodies here:

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31. Halfway There: Finishing NaNoWriMo Strong

You’re almost there; you’re halfway through National Novel Writing Month, at least based on the calendar. Whether or not you’re halfway through your goal to 50,000 words (or whatever your goal this month is) may be another story.

These next two weeks now become as or more critical than the first two and a half weeks that you’ve spent writing. If you’ve made it this far (and presumably even if you aren’t exactly half way to your goal, you still have a decent chunk of words), then there’s no way you can throw in the towel.

So how are you going to motivate yourself to finish what you’ve started? Have you been through a deadline like this previously? How did you survive? Be sure to share any tips or thoughts on getting through the rest of NaNoWriMo in the comments below.

Have you missed any of the other posts in our NaNoWriMo blogging series? Be sure to check the others out:

Question: Now that we’re at the halfway point, what’s your number one tip or suggestion to help other writers get through the rest of NaNoWriMo?

Natania Barron: Make it an incremental change. Don’t go crazy and type 10,000 words a day. I did that once. Sure, I got my word count in. But most of it was terrible. Not to mention my whole body hurt afterward. As a writer that struggles with repetitive stress injuries every day, it’s no laughing matter.

But incremental word countskeeping it under 2,000 a dayI find are more attainable in the long run. I find that the writing is better, too. And I find that the sanity factor is sincerely less an issue when you’re not scrambling to catch up and panicked. If you’re in this to get into the habit of writing, don’t get into the habit of binge writing. Get into the habit of writing well, writing focused, and writing sustainably.

Also bring wine. This isn’t easy.

Rachael Herron: My number one tip? Sugar. After that, some coffee. And then some more sugar. In normal life, I don’t let myself eat sugar very often, but in November? This is my favorite month of the year (because of the writing) and I let myself go there. Other people let themselves get a little out of control in December, but for me, November is the month to binge on Twinkies and Reese’s. And when I’m flagging, when I just can’t get that extra thousand words I need to reach my goal, a Twizzler appetizer followed by a hot chocolate chaser will get me the words I need (especially if I have the reward of a sugary aperitif to look forward to after I’ve done my words). 

Nikki Hyson: Just DO NOT quit. Even if you feel you won’t hit 50k; that you’ll never get to the end of it. Keep writing. Every day. As much as you can until midnight of November 30th. You’ll mine magic if you do. An odd twist of words. The coolest of names will spring out of nowhere. A side character might take charge and inspire you. You made a promise to yourself to write for 30 days and I promise you, if you stick it out, you won’t regret it. 

Regina Kammer: Plot got you down? Concentrate on the parts of your story you are sure about and ignore the parts that are giving you headaches. That is, get down on paper (or up on the screen) all the parts of the story you know need to be written, even if there are huge plot holes. That will keep up your word count, with the added benefit that sometimes plot holes get filled in while you’re writing other parts of the story.

Another bit of advice is to read some posted excerpts on the NaNoWriMo site. What you’ll find might inspire you, motivate you, and make you realize you’re right on track.


November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

 The November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest
has all of the resources, tips and tricks you need to finish
off your goal of writing a novel in a month.

Kathy Kitts: Keep on keepin’ on. I’ve had an absolutely exhausting weekend and I had fallen about two days behind in word count. All I wanted to do was go to bed, but I told myself, just 250 words. Just write 250 and then go to bed. I didn’t want to break the chain. It’s hokey, but I have a calendar, and I put a star on each day that I write. I didn’t want to miss my star for today. So, I wrote my 250 and then got inspired and wrote 1750 more. Words beget words.

Kristen Rudd: Just keep writing. It’s all downhill from here. If you’ve made it this far, then you can finish this. I find I have one of two problems around this time in the month. It’s either “Oh, crap, I have too many things to write, and I’m not going to finish” or it’s “Oh, crap, I don’t have enough material to see me through until the 30th.” Really, neither of these is a problem. The first one just means I’ll have plenty of stuff to work on, and the second means I need to start killing people off.

There is a third problem, which is, “Oh, crap, I’m totally in over my head/I hate my story/I don’t know what I’m doing.” This one may or may not be my problem this year. But I just keep writing. Writing solves all of these problems.

EJ Runyon: All I did to get me to the mid-point in this month of writing is to do it daily. I didn’t miss a day of writing. Sometimes I made my word count goal, other days I exceeded it a bit. So the tip is: Work at it consistently.

You can enjoy all the fun in NaNo’s playground of forums, and FB feeds, sure camaraderie is wonderful. But writing is what this is all about. Three of my NaNo titles were accepted for publication, and this year’s been picked up too, because I did the work. During the NaNo Months and out of them.

Just sit and do the work.

Jessica Schley: Years ago, there was no detailed stats bar that told you how many words you were behind or how many you wrote that day, or how many words per day you needed to finish on time. The only motivator you had was the blue bar, going further and further until you hit 50 and it turned purple. Personally, I found it more usefulit wasn’t easy to quantify if you were falling behind short of getting out a calculator and doing the math. You’d just push yourself to keep going every day.

So if you find yourself behind, a) you’re in good company (I’m not even going to talk about how many days I’m behind right now!) but b) don’t focus on the count relative to where you “should” be. Focus on pushing that blue bar forward as far as you can push it each day.

And two, it is almost a NaNoWriMo impossibility to not finish once your book hits 35,000 words. As you turn into the fourth week, words tend to start tumbling out. So if you feel like quitting, just stick with it no matter what is going on right now, and get to 35k. When you get to 35k, then you have my permission to quit. Because you won’t be able to.

Brian Schwarz: When I was in high school, I subjected myself to a “sport” known as cross country, which was really just another form of torture. I remember every race began the same way, with me and my fellow torturee’s saying “I will never run another race again after this.” We always told ourselves that we were finished, that we would cease to volunteer, but all of us were always there a month later for the next race. We found comradarie in the whole ordeal. On one particular race, I found myself struggling through the last leg of the race and repeating in my head over and over again, “No one has ever died from running.” I found the thought comforting, and this was a common thing I would say to myself to press onward, to keep running despite how much I wanted to stop. Unfortunately for me on this particular race, it was hot enough out that one student had literally passed out while running. I saw the ambulance while I repeated my phrase over and over in my head, and the thought crossed my mind—did someone actually just die from running?

I guess my point, and my advice, are to lie to yourself. Lie early and lie often and lie over and over again, because I’m pretty sure that someone somewhere has died from running, just like I’m pretty sure some person has died from a lack of sleep caused by an excess of writing. But NaNoWriMo has a lot in common with cross country, because at the end of the day it isn’t about a battle of you and another person. It’s you versus you. Of all the paralyzing frustrations and disappointments that happen during Nanowrimo, none is worse than this—getting discouraged. Because the only person that can stop you from finishing NaNoWriMo with 50,000 wonderful new words is—frankly—you. I mean, you’ll end up blaming it on your cat getting sick, or your favorite television show starting up, or that thing you had to do for work or school that you weren’t expecting—but at the end of the day its all on you.

So whether you have 25,000 words written today or 25 words written (mind you I’m at 18,000 and still very much plan to finish at 50k), don’t limit yourself by telling yourself all of those bad lies, and tell yourself some good ones. Tell yourself that writing 5,000 words a day for 15 days is WAY easier than writing 1,667 words a day for 30 days. Tell yourself that you’ve got all the time in the world even when you don’t, just to calm your nerves. Tell yourself that everyone is as far behind or as far ahead as you. Be convincing. Believe it. No one has ever died from writing 50,000 words in 30 days, and neither will you. Forget sleep. Sleep is for the weak. Write something that takes your mind off sleep. Just don’t let yourself be the reason you didn’t finish NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words, or with 25,000 words, or with 750 words. Readjust. Change your goal if you must but I would recommend just convincing yourself that you’re not in bad shape. That’s what I’ll be doing. 

*     *     *     *     *

Write Your Novel in a MonthEveryone thinks about doing it, yet most people who do start a novel end up stalling out after a few chapters. Where do these would-be novelists go wrong? Are the characters dull and clichéd? Did the story arc collapse? Did they succumb to a dreaded bout of “writer’s block”? Or maybe it was all just taking too long?

These problems used to stop writers in their tracks, but nothing will get in your way after reading Write Your Novel in a Month. Author and instructor Jeff Gerke has created the perfect tool to show you how to prepare yourself to write your first draft in as little as 30 days. With Jeff’s help, you will learn how to organize your ideas, create dynamic stories, develop believable characters, and flesh out the ideal narrative for your novel—and not just for that rapid-fire first draft. Jeff walks you through the entire process, from initial idea to the important revision stage, and even explains what to do with your novel once you’re finished.

Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest Books.

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32. From Proposal to Contract in Under a Week

For several years I labored in the agent fields, trying to harvest one for my book on helping doctoral candidates finish their dissertations. My approach, I was sure, was new, based on my longtime practice of coaching doctoral students and editing their dissertation drafts.

I also knew from much research, and the students themselves, that the traditional dissertation-writing handbooks largely ignored the major subjects of my book—the emotional and interpersonal troubles students come up against in achieving this difficult goal. These aspects can trip them up as much as not knowing the right chapter headings or correct scholarly jargon.

In my quest for an agent, I mined the writing annuals, sites, reviews, and interviews for anyone with a hint of graduate education and interest in self-help. Amassing a thick file, I wrote to every one of them. All I gleaned were a few compliments and plenty of good lucks.

Noelle Sterne, Author, Head Shotnoelle-sterne-trust-your-lifeThis guest post is by author, editor, writing coach, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne, who has published more than 300 pieces in print and online venues, including  Author Magazine, Funds for Writers, Children’s Book Insider,  Inspire Me Today, Transformation Magazine, Unity Magazine, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and Women on Writing. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Noelle has for over 28 years assisted doctoral candidates in completing their dissertations (finally). Based on her practice, her handbook addresses dissertation writers’ overlooked but very important nonacademic difficulties. Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles will be published by Rowman & Littlefield Education in 2015. In her book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), Noelle draws examples from her academic consulting and other aspects of life to help readers release regrets, relabel their past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. Her webinar about the book is on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95EeqllONIQ&feature=youtu.be  Noelle invites you to visit her website: trustyourlifenow.com

Dogged Doing

I kept at it, following all leads. I also continued to rethink the book and refocus the premises. I reflected on how many of my clients not only shared their emotional turmoils and relationship problems with me (dissertations often, unfortunately, precipitate divorces) but also admitted that they needed a more spiritual approach in their torturous graduate school journey. After repeated academic sucker punches, they would gingerly assert their faith in a power higher than their dissertation chair.

Spirituality and scholarship don’t often mix. Some of the nursing journals publish a few articles on spiritual qualities and practices (nurses are, after all, helpers and healers). But such a topic for dissertation help in academic circles is generally frowned on or completely shunned.

Today, though, the spiritual is popping up everywhere else, with spiritual-oriented books making bestseller lists, spiritual-themed movies making box office history, and even meditation techniques making the Internet homepages and supermarket magazine covers.

Clients shared with me much personal evidence on the effectiveness of spiritual techniques. I reflected too on my own use of spiritual practices to help students solve the problems their doctoral committees threw at them. So, heartened (and praying), I summoned the courage to incorporate another component in my book in addition to the emotional and interpersonal—the spiritual.

I revised the outline, reworked the chapter synopses, refined the introduction, and restructured the entire proposal. And wrote to more agents.


Practitioner, Practice Thyself

Never mind, I thought. As I advised clients, I told myself to keep affirming success. And as I also advised clients, I kept visualizing myself working on the book daily. I also revisited the buoying words of one graciously rejecting agent: “You’ll publish this book in no time.”

During a meditation session, an idea surfaced: switch gears from submitting my proposal to agents and go directly to academic presses. This may not seem like an astounding revelation. But please understand: as a primarily nonacademic writer I’ve always craved an agent—the undisputable symbol, I’ve believed, of finally gaining credibility as a writer.

Following my inner guidance and doing more research, I drew up a list of academic publishers, all reputable, all stalwart. Each had its own proposal guidelines, and I dutifully filled in the blanks and sent the first out.

Speed Emailing

From here, things happened unbelievably fast. You probably won’t believe the chronology, so I chronicle the specifics.

  • Tuesday night, 7:17 pm: sighing, back aching, I emailed the proposal to the first publisher.
  • Wednesday morning, 8:52 am (seeing address and suppressing incipient elation): I opened the email from the vice-president/publisher asking me how this book would be different from the other three they most recently published, and another due out in two months.
  • Wednesday afternoon, 12:29 pm (more research, no lunch): Drafted my reply and checked for typos. Sent!
  • Wednesday afternoon, 1:28p: (between gulping sandwich bites and guzzling water): Opened his email: “Very convincing.” I then read, holding onto my desk chair arms so I wouldn’t faint, that they wanted to offer me a contract. “Delighted to have you as one of our authors.” I let go of the chair arms and floated to the ceiling.
  • Wednesday afternoon, 1:30 pm: Two minutes later, surprised, I opened this email. The sandwich stuck in my throat. The projected length, he said, would make the book too big and expensive for the very audience I was aiming at, graduate students. And the original title was too long and amorphous and lacked good searchable words. He asked me to suggest alternate titles that “reflect the book’s purpose.” I slid under my desk chair.
  • Wednesday evening, 7:41 pm: All day avoiding the latest request, and incidentally attending to a couple of clients’ dissertations, I finally squeezed out three alternate titles. Sighing mightily, I agreed to cut the book length and sent off the email.
  • Thursday morning, 8:17 am: He thanked me for agreeing to cut the text and suggested another alternative to my three alternative titles.
  • Thursday afternoon, 3:20 pm: After ruminating and chewing on the edges of several research books, I suggested yet other alternatives to his alternative alternative titles (was this a verbal pissing contest?). And waited.
  • Friday, 10:00 am: He chose one of the alternative alternatives with a modification.
  • Friday, 2:32 pm: I agreed with his choice and suggested a slight remodification (couldn’t appear a complete marshmallow).
  • Friday, 2:46 pm: He thanked me and considered it settled. He added,
  • “Ready to go, then!” I stood on my desk chair and shouted.
  • Friday, 4:06 pm: From his associate, in my inbox appeared a passel of forms, information, tips, and THE CONTRACT. I ran into my husband’s office screaming and jumping to the ceiling.

* * * * * *

How Long?

All this took place in less than a work week—faster than I could ever have imagined. Well, let me correct that: less than a week—and several years. My proposal had to “sit” before I was ready to see it anew and change my focus. I also had to be ready to take the daring leap to include what I consider a major facet of my work, the spiritual.

I knew too that the many proposal revisions had increasingly brought out my expertise in the subject, and my passion for the project became evident. I believe the publisher liked these qualities, as well as my quick replies. I commend him too, an academic publisher, for not being put off by my audacious inclusion of the spiritual. His responses bolstered my conviction that during the many steps to book production we would have a simpatico relationship.

As I now absorb the miracle of this lightning proposal-to-contract, from under my desk I drag out the carton of materials, and from my computer open the windows of swelling collection of files, notes, and articles. And the work begins.

P.S. A bonus: One of the agents who had complimented the work earlier invited me to keep her informed. On Contract Friday, once I simmered down, I wrote her with the news. She then agreed to represent me! So, my toiling in the agent fields bore serendipitous—and wonderful—fruit!


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33. Inside an Agent's Head

It's amazing how much a new submission can mess with an agent's head.

We take on a new project from a new client or we finally get that fresh manuscript from a client whose books we're always excited to read. And as we're reading we're getting more and more excited about how amazing this book is and how we can't wait to sell it. And then the panic sets in. Just as the excitement rises, so does the doubt. But what if it doesn't sell, what if I'm jinxing it with my excitement? Oh crap, I just told my colleagues how amazing it is, I'm sure to have jinxed it now.

So the next time you worry that you're bugging your agent or too neurotic to talk to her don't.


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34. Query Question: more on who to feature in the query

Dear Sharkly One:

I have a quick follow-up question to your most excellent post of 30 October, about starting a book with the MC or not. I'm wondering - does your stand on this change, when the book is a mystery? It seems fairly common for mysteries, thrillers, and other books of that ilk to begin with the crime, not necessarily the main character and his/her problem(s).

So if I query you about Miss Detective and her New Cozy Quilt-'n'-Criminology Shop, which the local Knitting Society is trying to shut down, and my sample pages open with Chris Corpse, and how he came to be lying in a forest covered in shark bites, would you stop reading? Or would you keep going, assuming that Miss Detective will show up shortly to begin unraveling the mystery?

(Of course, my query would be about Miss D and her problems - quilting, sleuthing, or otherwise. I'm just wondering about your comment on opening the book with what appears to be a secondary - or even tertiary - character rather than the main protagonist.)

Thank you for your most excellent insight. I await your response with shark-baited* breath!

* Yes, I know it's supposed to be "bated," not "baited," lest I offend your grammatical sensibilities. But I couldn't resist the pun!

Why would you tell me how Chris Corpse came to be in the copse when Miss Detective will be trying to figure that out in the book?  In other words, don't tell me more than your main character knows UNLESS that's what you're also doing in the book.  

In the soon to be published DEATH AND THE RED-HEADED WOMAN, Fabulous Loretta Ross told me about Wren Morgan finding a dead body in the house she's preparing for an upcoming auction.  She did NOT tell me how Mr. Corpse came to be there because that's one of the things Wren needs to solve very early in the book.


There is one rule, and one rule ONLY for effective queries: entice me to read on. Generally I try to give you advice that will steer you in that direction.  Things like avoiding rhetorical questions, or don't give away all the plot points, or don't start with weather, driving or waking up.  Those generalizations apply to 98% of all queries.  If you're the 2% it doesn't apply to, well have at it.

The problem is, it's hard to know if you're in the 2% catetogory, and you're the worst judge of it.  That's why you don't query everyone in the known universe on round one. Leave some wiggle room to change up your query if you're not getting the response you hoped for.

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35. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

For today’s prompt, write an afflicted poem. Someone or something that is afflicted is someone or something that is in a troubled, injured, or humbled state. Or distressed to the point of constant suffering and anguish. In other words, the perfect poem for a Monday, right?


Running out of Time for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.


Here’s my attempt at an Afflicted poem:


I have a bad habit of singing random songs
and making up new lyrics–partly because

it’s fun to do and partly because I have a bad
memory–like the Ultraman theme song might

turn into the Ultraham theme song and “Singing
in the Rain” might turn into “Singing in the Pain,”

and it’s really cool at times, but not so cool at others,
especially when I’m trying to focus or be serious

or care about the feelings of others, but then,
I’m afflicted by the smooth voice of Barry White

singing “I Can’t Get Enough of Your Blood, Baby,”
because he’s a vampire, right? And well, it’s sort

of a pain to have to explain the joke when it’s not
even the day for the explanatory poem prompt.


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He doesn’t always know what to put in this paragraph, but he still likes trying to change it up from post to post, because, well, why not? He has a sense of humor that only some get, and he’s fine with that.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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36. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 16

For today’s prompt, write an explanatory poem. Back when I took dozens of creative writing courses in college, the mantra was, “Show, don’t tell.” Well, today’s prompt is sort of different–in a way–in that it’s a tell poem, or explaining poem, though how and what you explain may vary a great deal.


Submit a Poem for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.


Here’s my attempt at an Explanatory poem:

“I’m not sure how I got here”

I mean, it started with an arcade game over
before picking up Tetris on my Game Boy,

which I played under cover of my blanket fort
wondering about Thor (new and old versions)

and numbers. Now or later, I will dream about
being blinded by the moon and bomb cyclones.

Ultraman doesn’t have these kind of troubles,
or maybe he does–I don’t know. The point is

that I think I’ve been here before in this car–
the back seat–fighting with my siblings, even

though we had the “no fighting” option at our
disposal, and we’d fight over everything,

especially who would be the leader, though
we were always followers–in the back seat–

with our “holey” pants, and speaking of who
set the house on fire, you sure look nice today.


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He often has no idea what he’s going to write for these prompts before he writes it. And it often shows. And that’s all right. And it’s fun.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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37. uh oh, Mom's ROFL again

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38. Dispatches from the query queue

Don't joke around at the start of your query

By this I mean don't start with something that is "obviously" funny or not to be taken seriously, then say "oops, let's try again" and start over.

Here's why: I never assume you're joking. When you start out with "my memoir as Felix Buttonweezer's gun moll is 300,000 words in the second person" my first thought is NOT "oh this is clearly a joke."

I stop reading and send the "not for me" form rejection.

The only reason I noticed what might be a joke in the query that prompted this post was I paused before replying to swill some shark brew and got to the "oh I'm kidding" part of the morning's entertainment.

What's obviously outlandish to you is stuff I've seen in my queries for real.
You simply can NOT make up something that is "worse" than what I've already seen. And please, do not take that as a challenge. 

Leave your hilarity to the comments column of the blog and the flash fiction writing contests.

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39. An EPIC POST about the Submission Process, from an Agent's POV.

A lot of authors are curious about what happens when a project goes "on submission", so I thought I'd lay it out here. I want to stress that this is from MY POV ONLY. There is no one way to do this -- other agents might have different styles, and that doesn't make them (or me!) wrong -- just different. And I'm only speaking for myself, I make no claims about what any other agent may or may not do, even in my own agency. Also, of course, a lot of stuff may be variable depending on the author, project, time of year, phase of moon, etc, so all of this is not even applicable to all projects! And now that the epic disclaimers are out of the way, on to the epic post:


STEP ONE: Once we've been through revisions and have a clean ms to send out, I will re-read the project. As I read, I think about the style of book it is. With a book that is really submission-ready, I'll be able to visualize what I think it will look like on the shelf. Does this FEEL like a light and fun paperback? Does it FEEL like a beautiful epic fantasy with maps and fancy gilt edges? Who will buy this book most - Librarians and teachers? Teens? Hipster parents? Doting grandparents? Based on these calculations, I narrow down the list of publishers to those who would be open to publishing this type of book. I'm also thinking about who amongst my editor acquaintance might also like the story.

STEP TWO: I create a submission list and share it with the author to see if they have any input. For example, if they worked with a certain editor before, or something of that nature. My submission strategy is to target wisely rather than widely. I don't, for example, go to multiple people at the same house. I like the editors to whom I send projects to feel they've been selected especially, as indeed they have been. You can read much more about choosing imprints and the fun game of crafting the editor submission list and all that goes into that in this post from the archives.

If I an torn between who at a given publisher might like a project, I might email or call either the boss or the editor I know the best and ask their opinion. Yes, this works. Everybody WANTS to connect successfully and find projects they love! 

STEP THREE: I either call or email the editors (unless I happen to have a meeting or lunch scheduled with them in person during this time-frame in which case I pitch in person) -- and ask if they'd like to see. 99%* of the time they DO ask to see -- I like to think I know their taste well enough and they know mine well enough that they know I'll at least show them something worth looking at, even if they end up passing. Even editors I don't know well will generally agree to look at the project because, you know, they are polite and they work with our agency a lot. :-)  Annnnd then I send it out and we wait for responses!

(* The 1% of the time they don't ask to see, that is usually because they have something too similar already in the pipeline -- like, I had a chapter book about a certain historical event go out and one person passed on looking because they have a book about the same event already coming out in 2015. So, obviously, I targeted them correctly, just somebody else was faster! That's OK, it happens.)

How do you decide between giving an exclusive and making it a multiple submission?
For me, it is nearly always a multiple submission. If I were to give an exclusive, I would explicitly state it to the editor and give a time-frame, and it would be because:

1) The author has worked with an editor before and this is the next logical book -- let's say, you have a YA fantasy out, and this is a new YA fantasy in the same world - even if we don't HAVE to show the current editor contractually, we WOULD, because it just makes sense. I like to keep good relationships going!  ... or

2) We have an option that we need to fulfill (ie, in the contract it is stated that the publisher gets first crack at anything new) -- in which case they'd only have it exclusively for whatever term the contract specified, say, 30 days ... or

3) You've discussed the project at length with an editor and you think they will LOVE it, or it was inspired by something they said, or written specifically with them in mind, or something of that nature -- in which case I'd let them know that they have a limited window head start. Not that they HAVE to get back in that amount of time -- but we'll be going out more widely after that time.

If none of these apply, then it is a multiple submission.

So what should I, the author, be doing while you, the agent, are waiting for responses?  You should be working on the next book. WORKING ON THE NEXT BOOK. Oh heavens, please be working on the next book. Outline a sequel if you like - but I wouldn't get too married to it until you have proof that somebody wants the first book. I'd rather you be working on a completely new, shiny and different project. Something you are excited about and thrilled to write! So that you will not be obsessing over the thing that is on submission.

And will you share all the responses you get with me as you get them?  When I first started as an agent, I always shared all declines immediately with my authors. But then I realized that the authors were getting majorly bummed out and oftentimes this knowledge would derail them from their work on their happy-shiny new projects! So I changed my stance on this and started doing it a little differently. 

If I get an OFFER, or a request for revision, of course I share it immediately. The same goes for a really kind/complimentary or otherwise uplifting decline. If it makes me happy to read, it will probably make my author happy to read, too, and I share. If, however, I get an ambivalent decline, a nonsensical (or even mean) decline, or just generally non-helpful decline, I just mark it in my little book as a "pass". At a certain point, when the round is winding down, around the 8-12 week mark, I'll compile all these and just give an update and 'state of the ms' report. If an author wants more frequent updates, they can ask me at any time -- some people want to know what's up more often, and that's fine. And some authors REALLY REALLY want to know every gory detail as it happens - that's fine too, they can just let me know. I happen to think it is a bit unhealthy for the majority of authors, but of course I will send as my author prefers.

How long does it take to hear back from editors, and do you nudge or give a deadline?  I don't give a deadline unless we have an offer on the table. I usually hear back on picture books and short chapter books within a few weeks -- sometimes, for novels, a few months. After 8 weeks, I'll nudge people as needed. There are often a couple of outliers who don't reply unless shaken vigorously, but the bulk of responses will come in by 8-12 weeks.

What happens if we get an offer??!  If we get an offer, I nudge everyone who is still looking immediately, letting them all know that we have an offer and that I need their responses ASAP. If that's the case, usually everyone replies immediately to either pass or express interest, and we go from there. If we do get two offers, I'll compare and contrast, and ask for improvements as needed, and the author will decide. However, if I know other offers are coming. . . .

OMG!! What if there are MULTIPLE offers?!? IS THAT AN AUCTION?? If I know we are getting multiple offers, we call an auction. (You theoretically CAN call an auction any time you want -- but I would hate to throw an auction and have nobody come! I personally only declare an auction when I know there is significant interest from more than two parties.)

The agency has "auction rules" that define what we want offers to look like and include, so that when it comes time for the author to decide between offers, they are comparing apples to apples. I'll set what's called a Closing Date (usually a week, week and a half, depending on the time of year and such) -- by which time everyone needs to come to me with offers if they are going to. Different kinds of auctions are structured in different ways, but usually auctions are either "best bids" (one round, everyone just gives their best possible offer and the author decides) or "rounds" (in which the agent can go back and forth and ask for improvements and the author decides). There are benefits and drawbacks to each, and your agent will make sure you understand what is going on when it happens!

So auction means BIG MOOLAH, yes? $$$$ WOOOOHOOO!!! $$$$$  Sorry to disappoint. Despite sounding V V Fancy, Auction doesn't mean the book will automatically sell for a million bucks. Auction just means there are multiple offers, but it does not define what those offers might be. Everyone COULD offer pocket change and belly lint! But usually auctions inspire editors to at least TRY to put their best foot forward.

What if we send it out and get ... no offers :(  ?   This happens, too, even to manuscripts I love and think will sell -- and they often DO sell, just perhaps not in the first round. Nothing to worry about. What I'll usually do is compile the feedback we've received and see if there is anything useful to be gleaned from it. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't. We'll discuss whether you want to revise or not, and I'll send the work out to more people and begin a new round of submissions.

What if we never ever get an offer? At what point do you consider a ms completely shopped?  Well... depends on the book, and depends on the feedback we've been getting. If we're just getting nothing useful, or no responses at all, and I don't feel I have anywhere else to go with it where the results will be different, that is quite dispiriting, and it might be time to back-burner the ms for a while and try something else, maybe revise with fresh eyes at a later date. If we're getting THISCLOSE but just not quite putting it over the top, like every editor is saying they "love it but..." -- well, then I'd be inclined to keep going even longer. I have sold books in less than a day... but I've also sold books that took a year, two years, or longer, over multiple rounds with revisions and tweaks in between. Sometimes it just takes a long time to get to that yes! So, there's no magic number of editors -- it's a case-by-case situation. The good news is, you have a lot more stories to tell, right?

Is there any question about the submission process that I forgot to answer? Ask in the comments!

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40. Reader Question: On Self-Publishing

Hello! I have a long, rather wordy question for you about self-publishing.

Say I've written a book, polished it up and gotten it as close to publishable as I think possible. Following preliminary letters to agents who would accept my genre, I send the requested portion of the manuscript out to all the agents with all the requested additions (synopsis, cover letter, etc). Perhaps some of them even request the full manuscript afterwards. But say I've done all of that and in the end I'm rejected by all of them, despite comments such as "well-written", "readable", "clearly talented" (things I dearly, dearly hope are honest and not just being said to ease the blow of rejection). I can't resubmit, of course, because that's not how things are done.
Would I be foolish, then, to NOT self-publish that work?

I've got many, many ideas for many different fantasy books, each quite different from the last, and once I've finished and polished up one book, I submit it to several appropriate agencies and move right on to my next idea, writing a brand new piece. I'm certainly not lingering on one book and afraid to move onto the next, so I'm hoping that something will peak the interest of an agent enough in the end to take a chance on me, so I'm wondering, if a book has been rejected and is not likely to be reconsidered, would self-publishing it do future book submissions good?

I've read several of your posts about self-publishing, and what I'd really like is as definitive an answer as I can get about whether it's smart to do it or not, though I am fully aware that every case is different, with varying results. In general, would it help or hinder my efforts?
Thanks for your time, and have a great day!

Kim x

I never think you'd be foolish to self-publish a book. As long as you have a plan and the decision to self-publish fits into your career goals (which, by the way, will be constantly changing). 

There are a ton of different ways to go about building a career in publishing and one of the many ways is by self-publishing. If your true desire is to be traditionally published, but you have that one book that just hasn't made it, I see nothing wrong in testing the market by self-publishing. However, the one thing to keep in mind, is that self-publishing that book may very well make it more difficult to find a traditional publisher for that particular book (not necessarily for anything else though).

So, here are my thoughts to your very specific questions....

Would self-publishing do future submissions good? Not necessarily. If you have absolutely amazing numbers it might push an agent's or editor's hand to read more or even offer if she is on the fence. And of course hopefully your readers will cross-over. But we are talking the need for amazing numbers. Thousands and thousands of sales at a competitive price point before a traditional publisher will really be impressed.

Would it hurt you? I don't think so. Not in today's market. Sure, I suppose there is still the editor that might be turned off, but they are few and far between these days.

So, if you're asking my opinion based upon this question alone, go ahead and self-publish that book. It sounds like you've given it a huge effort and have a very strong belief that it's time to move forward, but you don't want to put this under the bed. So go for it. Self-publish that one book and move on to continue writing and querying your other books.

There is no linear career path when it comes to publishing, well when it comes to any business really. You have to follow your heart and trust your own instincts. You're going to take some hits, you're going to have failure and you're also going to have success. The key is to keep going and trust in yourself.


**If you have a question for the BookEnds blog you can email us at blog@bookends-inc.com and we'll answer as soon as we can.

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41. Query Question: incorporating parts of the novel in the query

I've just started the query process (only seven sent so far), and of the two query letters I've composed, one incorporates dialogue from the novel to highlight plot point's. Is this okay to do, or frowned upon?

It's not so much whether it's ok or frowned upon, as whether it's effective.

And generally it's not.

Your query should focus on the precipitating incident of the plot: what changes for the main character? What's at stake with that change?

Lines of dialogue that are explanation of plot points sounds like bad dialogue.  There's a now classic blog post on Turkey City Lexicon that names this kind of dialogue "As you know Bob."  It's bad in a book, it's death in a query.

For help on figuring out how to get plot on the page, consult the QueryShark blog.

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42. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 14

I know many have been able to post with no problems, but if you are having issues–because I’ve received a few reports–please send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com, and we’ll work to get it resolved.

For today’s prompt, write a follow poem. In middle school, I remember running for student council and my campaign manager said something to the effect of, “Vote for Robby, because he’s a follower, not a leader.” First thing, yes, they called me Robby in middle school. Second thing, yes, I did not get elected. Third thing, yes, this story is completely personal and pointless. Don’t follow my example.


Submit a Poem for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.


Here’s my attempt at a Follow poem:

“Follow the Leader”

He talked the loudest and knew how
to snap his fingers, so of course
he was their leader, and they would

follow him everywhere, which was
usually nowhere, but it
didn’t matter: He said, “C’mere,”

and they’d come. He’d say, “Jump,” and they’d
ask, “How high?” Which was their downfall,
because when he stomped to the top

of the highest building in town
and tried to see if he could fly
all the others tumbled after.


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He believes in following your dreams, following your gut, and following one good line with another. And, then there’s Twitter. Speaking of which…

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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43. What Do Authors Want? Take This Survey To Help Us Out

What do authors want? How are authors faring in this changing publishing landscape? These are questions that need to be answered if we are to help shape the conversation between publishers and authors. That’s why we need your help.

Writer’s Digest and Digital Book World invite all traditionally published, self-published, and aspiring authors to share their experiences by participating in the third annual Author Survey. The survey takes about fifteen minutes or less to complete. The survey results will help us understand the core issues authors face, including their priorities and preferences, their experiences in publishing, and their earnings. Participants in the survey will get a sneak preview of results. Results will be presented at the Digital Book World Conference and Expo in January 2015 and published on the Digital Book World blog as free content. In-depth analysis will also be available for purchase in a comprehensive technical report as well as in a series of briefs designed for authors.

Click here to help us with the survey (and feel free to pass along to all other writers that you know).

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

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44. What Writing Expenses Are Tax Deductible?

tax-deductions-for-writersI’ve been writing for a couple of years now, both working on a novel and doing some freelance work. What might be considered business expenses that I can deduct on my taxes? —Kaley A.

The writing business is like any other business, and that means you get the benefit of business-related tax breaks. If you’re a writer and are earning money from your writing (or are at least trying to earn money from it), you can deduct most materials related to your writing venture. This includes pens, paper, printing costs, postage and other writing supplies (though not snacks such as nacho-cheese-flavored Doritos, even if you get your cheesy fingerprints on the supplies—trust me, I’ve tried!).

Other deductible expenses that you should keep receipts for include writing-related travel costs, conference admissions, writing group or association fees, and business lunches—such as when you’re interviewing someone over lunch or dining with a potential client. Research materials (all those books, magazines and newspapers, huzzah!) are deductible, too. You may also deduct items such as a new computer or printer, though you may have to amortize the equipment deduction over a couple of years, so it’s best to consult with a professional tax preparer on those types of purchases.

Also, it’s important to note that if you claim your writing as a business, the IRS expects you to start making money after a couple of years. So if you’re making minimal money, for tax purposes you may only be able to claim your work as a hobby, which would allow you to deduct expenses only up to the amount of income you’ve made from writing.

The key to tallying tax deductions for writing-related business expenses is to keep receipts and records for everything. That way, if you’re ever audited, you’ll have the documentation to back it up.

But, if you’re ever in doubt, consult a professional tax preparer.

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45. Query Question: previous agent shopped earlier version of my novel

When I query an agent regarding my novel, am I obligated to disclose that my then-agent pitched it to a number of publishers unsuccessfully ten years ago, even though it has been substantially rewritten since then?

If a manuscript has been previously shopped, it may affect whether the agent wants to read it. I've taken on previously shopped manuscripts, so it's not an instant deal breaker, but if I were to find out AFTER I'd read something that it was a revise/resubmit, I'd be more than a little unhappy.

And this is not something you want to finesse either. Many of the editors I work with regularly have been at their current job for ten+ years, and they remember stuff like you would not believe.

My next question is why aren't you working on something else?  It's MUCH better to query new work, and have your R&R novel as back up for the second book of a two book deal.

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46. Senseless Queries

Recently I had a rash of queries that I couldn't make any sense of. It was so bad that I started to wonder if maybe I hadn't had enough caffeine and it was me and not the authors.

When writing anything--your book, your query, this blog--we sometimes know exactly what we're thinking and what we're going to say and forget that we need to step outside of our own heads to make sure that what we're saying is going to make sense to the reader. In this case, the queries were difficult to follow and I didn't get a good sense of the story.

Let me see if I can give you an example:

Frani Franks and her best friend Frankie have no idea that opening the ice cream shoppe, Ice n' Delicious will lead to a murder that's most definitely not vanilla and that seems related to the cocoa beans they love in their chocolate.

The victim loves to eat pistachio ice cream every day and once came in a stole an entire gallon from the shoppe. But vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and the shoppe's brand new table and chairs are all linked to the mayor of the town and Frani had no idea that her new shoppe could be her last hurrah.

The killer's enthusiasm to eat ice cream leads Frani to the mayor's house where they find that it's more than ice cream that they're after, that the entire town might be in danger because of a giant land development project....

And yes, I do get queries that are this confusing.

If you're struggling to write the query read some back cover copy to see how books do it and then review some of the queries I have on this blog and some of the critiques Janet Reid has done on her blog. Because, honestly, any agent who receives a query like this is going to reject the book simply because we assume the book is just as confusing.


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47. Your Story 63: Submit Now!

Lost key setPrompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, based on the photo on the left.

Remember: You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Use the submission form below OR email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com.

IMPORTANT: If you experience trouble with the submission form, please email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com within the body of your email (no attachments please).

Unfortunately, we cannot respond to every entry we receive, due to volume. No confirmation emails will be sent out to confirm receipt of submission. But be assured all submissions received before entry deadline are considered carefully. Official Rules

Entry Deadline: January 14, 2015

Your Story Entry Form


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48. Query Question: Enthusiastic Silence

Is it wrong to expect an answer back from an agent who requests a full manuscript?

An agent enthusiastically requested my full almost eight months ago and emailed me when she received it, saying "I'm reviewing it now and will get back to you soon."

Twelve weeks later, after no word back, I sent a polite nudge. She immediately responded, apologizing for the delay and telling me she planned to get back to me "in the next couple of weeks."

I did not hear back. After another twelve weeks, I sent a short, polite nudge. This time she did not reply at all.

In the meantime, we tweeted back and forth twice about general topics (not my ms!). She's always been friendly.

In a last-ditch (probably ill-advised?) effort a month later, I sent one last nudge. I apologized if somehow my email had been lost in cyberspace, mentioned my new WIP and that I was excited to hear the head of her agency speak at an upcoming conference, and asked where my MS stood. This was 28 weeks after sending my full.

No response. I have to admit I'm embarrassed, mystified, angry, and disappointed at the same time. I would prefer a short "I'm no longer interested" over this complete radio silence. I'm starting to doubt myself, wondering if my three short, well-spaced (I thought) nudges over eight months have offended her in some way.

I know agents are swamped. But am I wrong to think it would be common courtesy to let me know where I stand? Or is "no response a no" when it comes to full manuscripts?

Note: I haven't stopped everything to wait for this agent. I've continued querying, have had a couple other requests (one still out) and am working on another novel in the meantime.

I read through your blog and didn't see anything addressing how long a writer should hold out hope in a situation like this. I apologize if I missed an entry that would help me!

My first thought on getting questions like this is to wonder if they're about me.  I have manuscripts in my requested full queue that have been there for quite some time. 


One thing I've learned from doing this blog and from listening to writers at conferences is that agent's silence makes writers crazy.  It took me a while to realize that responding to nudges even with the very lame "sorry, I just haven't read it yet" is mortifying but better than silence.

Now when I request a full I specifically say it's ok to check in as needed, and it's ok to do so on the WRITER'S schedule. For anxiety prone folks that's once a month. For the calmer ones, it's less often.

And surprisingly, for MANY of the writers in my queue it's not at all. With permission to check in, they don't feel the need to.  Interesting isn't it?

And agents know this pain first hand. There are editors who don't reply. Don't reply to pitches, don't reply to submissions. We talk about those editors All The Time amongst ourselves. And share names.  And often, remove them from lists of editors we submit to.

So, yes, you deserve a reply.
Yes, it's rude of this agent to not reply.

But, what to do? Exactly what you have been: keep querying. Nudge every 90 days.  I've signed and sold manuscripts that languished for a year. (But the author did hear from me in that time, I must say.)

You might check in on AbsoluteWrite to see if other authors are experiencing this delay with this agent.

And bottom line: you know something now about how this agent conducts business.  How you treat the people you don't "have to" be polite to says a lot about character.

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49. Reader Question: When to Say When

This actually came up as a comment on a blog post I wrote about Cutting the Apron Strings.

In the comments the reader asked, "Is there a point where you should give up on querying a book?" 

I think the logical answer to this question is yes, but then I think back to the story I shared about client Shelley Coriell and some of our own submission stories about books we wouldn't give up on. Do you know that I once had a proposal sit on an editor's desk for two years before I got an offer?

There are two answers to this question for me. The first is that you stop querying when you know it's time. People often say, "you'll know" about a lot of different things in life. Usually unpleasant things. Although it's cliche, I do think it's true. We usually know when enough is enough with something. The real struggle is admitting it.

The second answer is when you start querying your next book. The minute you start querying you've put that book away and have started work on the next book. If you haven't, you better. This means you're busy doing two things at once. Sending out queries, and maybe reworking that query letter a few times, and writing the next book. You are NOT rewriting the book you are querying. Once you start querying it's too late for that. If you haven't received an offer by the time the second book is ready to go out it's time to put the first book to rest.

Presumably you've learned a lot from the query process and your own writing so it would be a shame to continue to query the weaker of what are now your two books.


**If you have a question for the BookEnds Blog feel free to email us at blog@bookends-inc.com and we'll answer as soon as we can.

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50. Books Without Boundaries

If Bill Gates said it, I tend to believe it. The software tycoon-turned-philanthropisthas been proven right on just about everything. (If you forget the Zune and that CTRL-ALT-DEL thing.)

At the dawn of the internet, Gates published an essay that started off with this line: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet.”

The name of the essay? “Content is King”.

His 1996 prediction – made during the prehistoric online period of dial up modems, AOL and floppy discs – came true. From cat videos to eyewitness reports of government crackdowns– and billions of terabytes of everything in between — ours truly is the age of information on demand. As predicted the revenue followed, from eCommerce purchasing to monetizing traffic through advertising. Over the years Gates’ truism about the value of information has been stated and restated with almost religious fervor.

Yet the explosion of information is only half the story, and that’s where Blue Ash Publishing comes into play. Anyone on the planet has the potential to create the most eloquent, breathtaking, astonishing, even life-changing content. But without an audience – or more precisely the means to reach it — this rich content will never be fully appreciated.

Enter the new king – distribution. Some have likened the concept of distribution as the ‘queen’ to Gates’ king content. To rephrase the slightly sexist expression, in this family it’s the queen who “wears the pants!” Call it what you want — transmitter, network or bullhorn – it’s the vital infrastructure to broadcasting your message. Without distribution there is no discovery — no matter how brilliant the content.

Authors depend on Blue Ash Publishing for self publishing ebooks and many things but especially distribution. We’re the pipeline to help them find their readers. Just last week that pipeline just got a whole lot bigger with millions of potential new readers on the end of the line. Our retail store network leaped from 12 to over 60 retail stores around the globe.

We’ve been covering the majors for years including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and all the majors. Now our authors’ books are featured in stores such as Spanish eBook giant 24Symbols, Waterstone from the UK and eChristian.com.

One of the reasons authors choose Blue Ash and its distribution engine BookBaby is what I term our “books without boundaries” approach to retail store distribution. We’ve been at the forefront of eBook globalization and for good reason. After all, it’s called the World Wide Web, not the Internet of the United States! The physical logistics of print books didn’t allow for such widespread international audiences for most authors. Digital truly changes everything.

I predict it won’t be long until the international English-language eBook market easily surpasses the US market. Some numbers shared by the Ebook Bargains UK (EBUK) newsletter illustrate why I’m so bullish on the global market.

blueashThinking about self-publishing? Blue Ash Publishing (a division of Writer’s Digest)
can provide all the tools and know-how you need to properly write, publish and
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Let’s span the globe According to EBUK, there’s upwards of 75 million English speakers in the Philippines as we’ve mentioned already. Over 40 million English speakers in Germany. 30 million in Bangladesh. 30 million in Egypt. 25 million in France. 20 million in Italy. 17 million in Thailand. 15 million in the Netherlands. 15 million in South Africa. 12 million in Poland.12 million in Turkey. 11 million in Iraq. 10 million in Spain.

In just India, Pakistan and Nigeria, the number of English-speakers exceeds the entire population of the United States! Then there’s Brazil, Sweden, Kenya, Cameroon, Malaysia, Russia, Belgium, Israel, Zimbabwe, Romania, Austria and Greece, all with between 5 and 10 million English speakers each. That all adds up a lot of potential readers in every corner of the planet. Blue Ash Publishing is your ticket to get your book out there.

Whether you’re ready to take that journey now or need some inspiration, we’ve put together a helpful new guide to get your through the process. It’s called Self Publishing 101: The Quick Start Guide for Writers. It’s FREE from your friends at Blue Ash and you’ll gain knowledge about such critical issues as:

  • Proven eBook pricing strategies and tactics
  • Why authors can’t skimp on editing or cover design
  • How metadata is vital to your online sales success

Whether you’re a rookie or an experienced pro in the eBook world Blue Ash Publishing’s newest guide has something for everyone who needs ideas how to create, price, sell and how to promote your eBook.

Click here for your free download.


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