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Results 1 - 25 of 15,284
1. Beginnings

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2. Cover Reveal: DIG TOO DEEP by Amy Allgeyer

It’s a cornucopia of cover reveals at Upstart Crow this week!

Today, we are thrilled to share the cover for Amy Allgeyer’s riveting debut novel, DIG TOO DEEP (Albert Whitman, April 2016). The good folks at YA Books Central did the official reveal yesterday, and you can hop over there to enter to win a free advance reading copy. b2ap3_thumbnail_Dig-Too-Deep_CvrReveal

It’s not just that Liberty Briscoe feels like an outsider in Ebbotsville, Kentucky. She expected it wouldn’t be easy to move from the city to her granny’s place for her last year of high school. Still, Liberty can’t shake the feeling that something’s not quite right. Everyone says the water’s safe, yet nobody drinks it. When Granny becomes sick, like so many others in town, Liberty starts to wonder about the water, the people who


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3. Read an excerpt of Leah Konen’s THE LAST TIME WE WERE US

We are so very excited about Leah Konen’s steamy contemporary romance, THE LAST TIME WE WERE US (Katherine Tegen, May 2016). Last Time We Were Us_FINAL

Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life.

She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties and, with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.

Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvy. A million years ago, he was Liz’s best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.

Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing


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4. Choose best site for pet products

Generally pets are like children in all houses. Now a day’s all are having the pets in their home and it is treated like one of the family member. If you are having pets in your home you need to take extra care in the health and all other things. You should be responsible when you are adapting eth pets. Generally all the human beings have good parenting relationships with the pets. We have to do all the things perfectly in the correct time.  You need to remember that it is also like a child so you should understand all the activities. If you went out for few days your pet will for your arrival.

You should maintain your pet healthy. In the young age the entire pest needs some warm climate you should understand the feelings of your pets. If you adapt the pet in your home first know that the favorite items for your pets. You should learn all the good things. If it is doing any bad activities then give some punishment like your child. Spend more time with your pets then it will understand what you are talking. If you are not interacting with your pets daily it feels bad. All the pets also like the human beings the only diff is it does not know to show the feelings outside. If you want to buy the things for your pets you can get it from petify. In this article we will see about the petify website.

Buy best products for your pet:

You can have many websites in the online for buying the best products for your pets. Many websites are not providing the products with good quality. Even those products are available in the local shops but you need to go separate shops to buy all products. In this busy schedule no one are not having the time to spend for purchasing. All are using the online shopping method to save time and energy. In eth petify website you can buy all the things whatever you want for your pets. Even if you want to buy dress you can select and order it in this online. You can get the good quality products and it is affordable price. You can get all those things in your door step. You can select the payment option at the delivery for your safety.

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5. 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.

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6. Congratulations to the 2015 National Book Award Winners


Karen E. Bender, Refund
Angela Flournoy, The Turner House
Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies
Adam Johnson, Fortune Smiles
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Sally Mann, Hold Still
Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus
Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran
Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light

Ross Gay, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
Terrance Hayes, How to Be Drawn
Robin Coste Lewis, Voyage of the Sable Venus
Ada Limón, Bright Dead Things
Patrick Phillips, Elegy for a Broken Machine

Ali Benjamin, The Thing About Jellyfish
Laura Ruby, Bone Gap
Steve Sheinkin, Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Neal Shusterman, Challenger Deep
Noelle Stevenson, Nimona… [more]

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7. Goodreads Ratings and How to Read Them

goodreads Unlike a lot of people in the publishing industry, I regularly review the books I read on Goodreads, and it has sometimes gotten me into trouble. I’ve been a Goodreads member since shortly after it was founded, and I have a lot of friends there whose opinions I follow. And who follow me. Some people in publishing feel no one in our industry should be on Goodreads at all; one editor noted that he won’t buy books from people who have given a negative review to one of his books. Others see it as a betrayal of our small community, that we should all be cheerleaders all the time, and to ever be otherwise is to be an Enemy of Books.

Well, I think that’s a lot of malarky, as Joe Biden might say. Goodreads … [more]

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8. The Introvert’s Guide to Conferences

woman hiding behind bookOkay, so you notice there’s no shortage of advice out there about how to make the most of a conference. But what about those of us who are introverts? It can be even more difficult for us to navigate these social situations. Oh, how we envy our extrovert friends! Are there any special tips for people like us?

Well, yes, there are. Here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Change your mindset from “me” to “them.” You’re at the conference to learn and to network, but paradoxically, the best way to do that is to focus on the needs of others. Set your own discomfort aside, and look for others who may also be uncomfortable, and see how you can make things easier for them. Even if you’re talking with an agent or editor, focus on them instead of yourself. Ask questions about their experience. See if there’s anything they need. This is one of the best ways for an introvert to get out of their shell.

2. Research before the conference. If there are authors, editors, or agents you’re interested in talking with, Google them ahead of time to get some ideas for possible topics of conversation. They won’t seem like total strangers, and you won’t feel like an idiot in trying to have a conversation.

3. Reach out before the conference. There may be some people to whom you can send a quick email or Facebook message, inviting them to coffee, asking if they’d like to sit with you at a meal, or otherwise planning ahead for some of your social interactions. This is especially important if you’ve had online communication with people but don’t know them offline. You’ll feel more comfortable if you have some planned meetings with others.

4. Have some questions or opening lines ready. Think through the range of people you will likely meet, and write down a number of conversation openers that will help you overcome any awkwardness when meeting someone. Try to avoid yes/no questions, and make sure you listen carefully to the answers, which will give you clues for continuing the conversation. Some possible conversation-starters:

  • What’s your favorite part of the conference so far? (Or, what are you most looking forward to at the conference?)
  • What brings you to this conference?
  • What do you find most valuable about these conferences?
  • What did you think of today’s keynote speaker?
  • Can you tell me a little about your work?

5. Also, have some answers of your own ready. Plan some concise and fascinating answers to questions like, “So, what do you write?” and “Tell me about yourself.” You don’t want to be tongue-tied at those moments!

6. Prepare your book pitch. Make sure you’ve organized your thoughts about the book(s) you’re pitching, so you can easily give a 1 or 2 minute spiel when asked.

7. Approach it with a friend. Make sure you and your friend encourage each other to talk to new people. Be each other’s wingman and moral support—DON’T use each other as a crutch and don’t just talk to each other. You each may know different people, so plan to introduce your friend to people you know, and she can do the same for you. You can also highlight each other’s accomplishments in a conversation.

8. Be a part of the conference. Volunteer to help! A great way to overcome introvert tendencies is to put yourself in a place where people are coming to you for help or answers to questions. When you’re volunteering, be as friendly and outgoing as you can, allowing for serendipitous connections.

9. Rejuvenate yourself as needed. If, as an introvert, you need solitude to get re-energized, plan time for this. Whether it’s quiet time in your hotel room, a half-hour in the hotel gym or a walk outside, make self-care a priority in your schedule.

Readers, anything to add? Any questions about conferences?



Are you an introvert? Going to a conference? This post is for you! Click to Tweet.

Advance preparation is the key to successfully navigating a conference. Click to Tweet.

[Image copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo]

The post The Introvert’s Guide to Conferences appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

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9. 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.

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10. 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.

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11. And to Whom Should I Reply?

I can never understand why so many writers have websites and/or blogs, but do not have their email address or a “contact me” link easily visible.

It’s a frequent source of frustration for me. Why would you bother putting yourself out there without giving people a way to contact you?

There are two circumstances in which I come up against this:

(1) I’m following links to various websites/blogs, find something I like and become interested in talking to the writer about whether they’d ever like to be published, whether they have an agent, etc… and there’s no email address.

(2) I want to respond privately to a comment someone has left on my blog, rather than put it out there for all the world to see. I’m interested in engaging in conversation. Yet when I follow the link to their blog or website, again, no way to contact them.

Listen, there’s a lot of dialogue going on out here on the web, and real connections are being made. If you don’t include a way for people to contact you directly, it says you’re not interested in making connections, that maybe you’re just interested in being heard but not interested in hearing from others.

You’re here to network, to learn, to communicate, and to create relationships. It’s not just about putting your blog or website up and commenting on others’ blogs. Let people know how to reach you, too. Just in case.

And by the way, the excuse that you want to avoid spambots getting your email address is so five years ago. You can encrypt or obscure your email address so that people can see it but spambots can’t. If you want, you can also create a separate Gmail or Yahoo address for public use. It’s free and takes 30 seconds.

So, if you have a website or blog, and if you’re leaving comments on others’ blogs, make sure you have your email address or “contact me” plainly visible.

If you’re one of those without contact info on your site—why not? Are you going to add it today?

Have a blog or website? Make sure people can find your email address or contact page!

Click to Tweet this.

The post And to Whom Should I Reply? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

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12. Create a Compelling Book Title

I’ve been coaching several of my clients through the process of coming up with a good title for their book, so I thought I’d share my tips with you.

Let’s start by acknowledging a few things. The publisher is usually responsible for the final decision on title, and in the query stage, it’s not that important. In fact, some agents have said they don’t pay any attention at all to titles. But at some point, you’re going to want to think seriously about this. Your title is part of the overall impression you’re creating about your book. It can set a tone and create an expectation. Whether you’re pitching to an agent, or your agent is pitching to publishers, I think you want to have the strongest title possible.

Think of it this way: the better your title is, the better your chance that the publisher will decide to use it, rather than changing it.

So here’s what I recommend when you need a title, for either fiction or non-fiction.

First, make sure you know the genre of your book, and identify what kind of feeling or tone you want to convey with the title. Write it down. This is important, as I’ve seen humorous books with dead-serious titles, contemporary books whose titles say “historical romance,” novels that sound like self-help books… you get the picture. Be clear on what your title needs to instantly communicate.

Time to start brainstorming:

→ Find twenty books on Amazon that are in the same genre as yours and whose titles you like. Write down their titles. Try to get a feel for what works with your genre. What do you like about the titles? What don’t you like? Then put the list away for awhile.

→ Sit with a pencil and paper (and maybe your critique group and a white-board) and free-associate, making lists of words related to your book. Put them in columns: nouns, verbs, adjectives. If it’s a novel, list words that describe or suggest the setting. Then think about each of your major characters and write down words that relate to them. Think about the action in the story and write down verbs that capture it. If your book is non-fiction, list words that capture what you want your reader to think, feel or do after reading it. And words that describe what your book is about.

→ Nothing is off limits—write down anything you can think of that conveys anything about your book. Use visual words that suggest a scene. Other words that evoke an emotion. A sensation. A location. A question. You should have at least 100 words.

→ See if any of the words would work as a single-word title. Then start experimenting with different word combinations. Adjective-noun, verb-noun. Keep a thesaurus handy and look up other words. Write down as many word combinations as you can. Try not to self-censor at this stage.

→ From these lists, come up with at least 20 possible titles. Then put them away for 24 hours. Two things will happen: your subconscious may still be working on it; and when you come back to your list, you’ll have fresh eyes.

→ Go back to your title list. Add any new ideas you’ve had. Then narrow it down to three to five possibilities. Run them by a few people. (This may or may not help, depending on if there’s a consensus or the opinions are all over the map.) Take a little more time before narrowing it down to one. If you can, wait another day or two.

→ Remember your list of titles from Amazon? Go back to it. Ask yourself if the title you’ve chosen would fit the list—without being too similar or generic.

A few more questions to ask about your title: Does the tone of the title match the tone of the book? Does it convey the right genre (including time period if applicable)? Would it attract attention? If the book were spine-out on the shelf (so the cover and sub-title were not visible) would it still attract attention? Would a reader have any idea what the book is about just from the title? (Sometimes important for non-fiction.)

Once you’ve made a decision—celebrate!

Q4U: How have you decided on titles for your books? Do you find yourself emotionally attached to the one you’ve been living with since you first thought of the book?

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

The post Create a Compelling Book Title appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

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13. 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.

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14. BookEnds Has Moved

I'm thrilled to announce that BookEnds has set up a new home and a new look. From this moment forward you can find BookEnds at www.bookendsliterary.com

Head on over to today's blog post to read more about the exciting new BookEnds.

We've had a great time here at Blogger, but it was time for some changes, something to really highlight who BookEnds is and who we plan to be and we can't be happier. Come on over and join us for the same great BookEnds we've always been.


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15. 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


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16. Your Elevator Pitch

86538827You are standing in an elevator and have two minutes to tell someone about your book. Today we’re going to talk about crafting that one-sentence summary, also known as a logline, a hook, or a one-sentence (elevator) pitch. This is not your book’s tagline!

What: About 25 words that capture your novel, memoir, or non-fiction book.

Why: To get someone interested in reading your book.

When to use it: The start of a query, or anytime someone asks you, “What’s your book about?”

What it does: A one-sentence summary takes your complex book with multiple characters and plotlines and boils it down into a simple statement that can be quickly conveyed and understood, and generates interest in the book.

What it should include:
→ A character or two
→ Their choice, conflict, or goal
→ What’s at stake (may be implied)
→ Action that will get them to the goal
→ Setting (if important)

→ Keep it simple. One plotline, 1 or 2 characters.
→ Use the strongest nouns, verbs and adjectives.
→ Make the conflict clear but you don’t have to hint at the solution.

In your one-sentence summary, try not to pitch a theme. Pitch what happens. Examples of themes:

This book explores forgiveness.
This book looks at the thin line between right and wrong.
This book explores the meaning of independence, and asks if it’s really possible.

Here is Nathan Bransford’s simplified formula for a one-sentence pitch: “When [opening conflict] happens to [character(s)], they must [overcome conflict] to [complete their quest].”

Examples of one-sentence summaries:

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
• A boy wizard begins training and must battle for his life with the Dark Lord who murdered his parents. (Thanks Randy Ingermanson for this one.)

→ Character=boy wizard
→ Conflict=battling the Dark Lord
→ Stakes=his life
→ Setting=none
→ Action=http://www.rachellegardner.com/feed/wizard training; avoiding the same fate as his parents

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
• In the south in the 1960s, three women cross racial boundaries to begin a movement that will forever change their town and the way women view one another.

When Faith Awakes by Mike Duran
• Chaos is unleashed on a quiet coastal town when an unassuming crippled woman raises a young boy from the dead, unlocking a centuries-old curse.

Medical Error by Richard Mabry
• Identity theft becomes fatal for a patient and puts a young doctor’s reputation and medical practice in jeopardy.

Chasing Superwoman by Susan DiMickele
• A successful attorney and mother of three battles discrimination, exhaustion, and a clueless boss while balancing a career, a family, and a life of faith.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. Leave your one-sentence summary in the comments.

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17. Thick Skin: The Key to a Writer’s Survival

How many times have you heard the new-writer’s advice: Develop a thick skin.

You’d think this would be even more of a requirement for an agent. It’s good advice for anyone who’s visible on the Internet, frequently giving their opinion on things. So all in all, you probably think I’d be a person with a thick skin.

However, I have a confession: tortoiseI don’t have a thick skin.

Not at all. I have a fragile heart, I take things personally, and I don’t just bounce back right away when I receive criticism.

Paradoxically, I truly appreciate helpful critiques of my work,or advice on how to improve any area of my life. I crave it. I value the input of others. Yet at the same time, if it’s not always positive, I have a hard time getting over the hurt feelings (or the knee-jerk angry reaction) and moving on to actually learning from the criticism.

The reason I’m telling you this is because I know people are telling you “develop a thick skin” and I know some of you are thinking, “I don’t know how to do that.” And I’m here to tell you: Some of you will never develop a thick skin.

But the important thing is: You’ll survive.

If I’ve survived all these years in the competitive environment of publishing, and previously, five years in the extremely dog-eat-dog world of network television, you will survive, too. You survive by first, allowing yourself to experience the pain. You find ways to express it in a healthy way, perhaps by taking a day to cry, or talking it over with your best friend, or calling your mom because she’s the one person who always supports you no matter what.

Then, you turn it around. You ask yourself if the criticism came from someone to whom you should listen. If the answer is yes, then you begin looking for ways to learn from what they said. You ask yourself whether you disagree or agree with what they said. (You give yourself permission to disagree with at least part of it.) Then you take what you can learn from, and discard the rest. Move on to the next thing.

Easier said than done, of course. And I admit, it sometimes takes me awhile to work through this process!

So what about you? Are you thick skinned? If not, how do you handle criticism? Are you able to learn from it anyway?

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18. Sarah Aronson talks desserts, playing, and rebooting one’s writing career

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19. Query Critique: Cozy Mystery

I agree that the material in this email can be posted and critiqued on the Bookends Literary Agency blog. I give permission for it to be archived for the life of the blog.

Dear Query Queen,

Wildlife carer Madison Starr is in trouble. She’s back in Australia after her father’s death with one goal: to sell the family home and leave forever. But thanks to her big mouth her plan is in tatters. When Jaylee Olsen, the local realtor, offers to buy the perfectly situated property herself.  Madison lets an old grudge speak for her and refuses to sell to her childhood nemesis. Their confrontation is watched by most of the small town. Hours later Madison is horrified to find Jaylee dead on her doorstep.

I did not like the word "carer" this is super picky and a little ridiculous (no query is judged on one word), but I had to read it twice since I thought you misspelled career. Caretaker?
My only suggestion is maybe to tighten this a bit.  

Branded the number one suspect Madison is forced to surrender her passport, killing any chance of heading back to her carefully constructed life in America. She has no option but to hunt down the killer and clear her name. Her best friend from high school, along with her old teen crush, now a forensic expert, reluctantly help her delve into Jaylee’s life.

Collecting a kleptomaniac dog, assorted puppies and an orphaned ring-tailed possum along the way, Madison and her friends discover she’s not the only one who considered Jaylee their nemesis.

DEAD IS FUR-EVER is a 72,000 word, third-person cozy set in Australia. I hope to feature Madison Starr in a continuing series (The Pet Shop Mysteries - featuring a mix of Aussie wildlife and rescued domestic animals, each with their own quirky personality) and am currently working on a sequel.

I’m an environmental scientist and have lectured in wildlife caring as well as being a carer myself. I am a member and active participant of Romance Writers of Australia and Sisters in Crime Australia. This series has interest and a request from an editor of Penguin Australia but is not yet submitted.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Honestly. I think this is a really solid query. My only concern is that your hook, which is vital to cozy mysteries, is buried at the end and doesn't appear in the blurb at all. 

In cozy mysteries, the hook is what initially sells the book. What makes your book stand out from every other book on the market? What will the publisher put on the cover? A gorgeous home with books out front? A lighthouse? A knitting shop? etc. 

For the cozy market I think this would be stronger if the reason she needed to return to Australia had to do more with the hook. Perhaps she's selling her father's shop of some sort. 

I love that it's set in Australia, but it might make it a more difficult sell, especially if your hook is more or less anywhere. What about a hook that's more unique to Australia? 

Lastly, on a beyond-the-query note, I think you should consider a hook that stands out a little more. A pet shop has been done. Is there something that hasn't been done yet? 

This is great overall.


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20. Why Query Rules are Important

If you follow me on Twitter you'll see that lately I've been doing a lot of complaining about people not following query guidelines. I'm not sure if there are some new rules out there that I'm not aware of, or if people are just spending the summer querying without doing proper research.

I've written endlessly about what makes a good query. What I don't think I've ever done is written about why there are query rules.

An agent's query inbox can be daunting. Moe just confessed to me that in two months at BookEnds she has received 1500 queries. That's, well, insane. When facing any challenge like that I think we can all agree that we set up perimeters to thin things out. It's like organizing your home. The first thing you're going to do is throw away anything that's broken. Then you might throw away anything you haven't used in years, etc, etc. A query inbox is the same.

The first thing an agent will likely do is look at the genre. If it's far outside of what the agent does she'll reject it. For me that would include short stories, children's picture books, techno-thrillers and screenplays. I don't do those, it's unlikely you'll sway me on that.

The next thing an agent will do is read the blurb. This is why you need a blurb. I need to know in a few short paragraphs if the book is what I do. Sure its a thriller, and I do those, but is it on a subject I'm interested in? Does it grab my attention? That will help me weed those out. 

Then I'm willing to read more. Once I've weeded things out I can really get to work. That's the point where I'll start looking at chapters and a synopsis. Not before. At that point I have my short list and a good idea whether or not these projects are right for me. Now I can devote time away from clients and other BookEnds duties to build my client list.

Not following the guidelines makes it more difficult for me to quickly evaluate and make decisions on things, other than what you might be like as an author. 

If you feel like sending me a paragraph about yourself and how you have dreams of writing the book and instead of a blurb have simply pasted the synopsis below I'm going to think you're someone who thinks you're above the rules. That's going to make it hard to work together and, likely, not someone I want to work with.

No matter how you spin it, we make decisions based on your query, not following the rules (or even attempting to follow the rules) gives us an immediate impression of what life would be like with you.


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21. How A Publisher's Decision Impacts the Author/Agent Relationship

Recently you've spoken about the changes at Berkley and how that has impacted authors. I was wondering how that impacts the author/agent relationship? If an author has their series dropped does an agent drop them as well? Or do you work together to find a new direction for the author to take their writing? 

Thank you for your great question. As I've mentioned many times before, I love questions.

As you should all know by now each situation is different so while I will speak generally on this, I'm sure every author's experience is different, whether it pertains to Berkley or simply a career experience in general.

At BookEnds we like to say that we're in it for life. When we sign an author we believe strongly enough to really want to stay through the long haul; the good, the bad and the ugly. Selling a client's book is the easy part, maintaining and continuing to grow and build a career is where it can get tricky. 

Just because one publisher makes a decision doesn't mean every publisher will feel the same. A publisher choosing not to renew a contract, in my mind, isn't a good reason to simply drop the author. As long as the author is determined and continuing to write great (or better) books, I will stick by through whatever the publishing world throws at us. 

In a situation where a publisher doesn't renew, the author and I will have conversations about what's next, but as many of my authors can attest, we often have those conversations well before any decision is made by the publisher. I'm a strong believer that every author should always have something in her back pocket.

A good agent should see the writing on the wall. We see sales numbers and talk to the publisher enough to know what might be coming so, in truth, we're prepared and ready to go with that next thing well before an official decision by the publisher is made.

In short, one decision from a publisher will not impact how I work with an author.


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22. Query Critique: Nonfiction

I agree that the material in this email can be posted and critiqued on the BookEnds Literary Agency blog. I give permission for it to be archived for the life of the blog.

Greetings Query Queen:
Everyday parenting is demanding enough, but expecting parental perfection is the curse of our age. As a grandmother, I have seen way too many households ruled by small despots, with parents scurrying to clear the path for the mini-monarchs. Really? I wonder. Could this be doing anyone any good? 
            Grandma Has Seen It All, and She Suggests That You Avert Your Eyes gives moms and dads the support and tools they need to enjoy a more balanced, productive, and fun parenthood. The tone is calm, authoritative, and light. I haunt mommy blogs and toy-strewn playrooms, and load up my pocketbook with nuggets of wisdom from the best current research. The book will be 250 -300 pages.
            Some background: my book, [redacted], was quoted on the front page of the New York Times, and Time magazine, and sparked a family meals movement. Since becoming a grandmother (I now have four grandchildren.) For years, I have written a family meals blog for the [redacted] Company. I have written a blog about grandparenting for [redacted]. And I have my own grandmother blog. Now I want to help the beleaguered parents I have seen in my recent time on the playground. Many of them could do with the hugs and forgiveness and dignity that they lavish on their children.
            Today’s parents wistfully recall the freedom they enjoyed as youngsters, but insist that the world is now too dangerous to let their kids out of their sight, despite all evidence to the contrary. Child abduction? Recent research from the University of New Hampshire shows that children taken by strangers or slight acquaintances represent only one-hundredth of one percent of all missing children. We turn our worry that our kids won’t get into college or get good jobs into straight jackets for them and for us.  And our culture of competitive, fear-centric parenting doesn’t help. Today’s families are smaller, with older parents who are unlikely to have experience taking care of kids other than their own. We are facing a famine of common sense. Somebody has to call “Time!”
            I trace the beginnings of our current “priceless child” mentality to the end of the 19th century, and help parents to move themselves, and their families, out of the path of this anxiety juggernaut. The bonus is that our kids are more likely to grow up to be responsible, optimistic, capable, fun-loving adults.
            Important books about the meaning of parenting draw wide audiences and spark intense conversations across the culture. Many of the recent popular books have been written not by parenting experts, but by journalists like myself. This book, which questions current assumptions and gives parents more satisfying options, has the potential to be such a book. 
            More background: an earlier book, [redacted], won the National Jewish Book Award, was on the Boston Globe bestseller list, and was translated into German, French, and Dutch.
 Many thanks,

Miriam Weinstein

I have to say. This is a really strong query.

I love that you started out with "Greetings" instead of the typical "Dear". While it's not that big of a deal I think it opens the book in a friendly, cheerful way and I think it really represents your voice and tone.

Your first paragraph grabbed me and hooked me in. I'm not a fan of rhetorical questions, but it works here.

I don't love your title. It just doesn't grab me, but that can easily be fixed. By the way, I only thing titles can be easily fixed if the rest of the query is working for me.

It's smart to open with your credits which are quite impressive. What would add to this would be numbers. When writing nonfiction, we want to know who your audience is and how big they are. We don't need numbers on everything, but generally that you're reaching 10,000 people a week would be hugely helpful. This is almost required. Mommy bloggers were huge a few years ago, but the ones who sold books had not just a great voice and idea, but a huge following.

My only concern with the next paragraph is that it feels very specific and a little judgmental. Not the tone any parent wants, especially from a grandparent. I wonder if you can't blend the next two paragraphs, discuss some of the specific issues you will be addressing, but also talk about tracing the "priceless child" trend.

I think you have a good idea here and I won't be surprised if you get lots of requests on this.


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23. What to Expect with a BookEnds Internship

Time is coming for our summer intern, James, to head back to school and for a new Fall intern to start. I know Beth is looking at internship prospects right now.

As I'm preparing for James's departure I'm thinking of the work that goes into having an intern, and the advantages too.

Having another person in the office is always an asset. It's great having another hand to get things done. More than that though, an intern really challenges us and helps us to see things differently. He asks questions that make us think about the way we do things and consider whether another way might be better. He tests our knowledge of the industry and, through his questions, encourages discussion that allows us to learn from each other. Discussions like how publishing houses work, what an editorial meeting is like or what we look for in a certain submission.

One of an intern's primary tasks is helping us read submissions. We will often pass a handful of requested materials on to the intern and ask the intern to write a reader's report. It doesn't end there though. When reading the report we will each give feedback, to let the intern know what worked with the report, what didn't work and explain what we're looking for. Most publishing job interviews will require a reader's report so our hope is that we're building that intern's resume and teaching him to strengthen his skills. Sometimes this requires me to read the report and the material before giving feedback. It's not necessarily a time saver.

As James's internship winds down I'm working to make sure I get him the feedback he deserves on all of his reports as well as fill out an exit evaluation. James will receive one of these from each of us. Ultimately, it's like his internship report card. We will give him feedback on his strengths and weaknesses in different areas of importance to us and hopeful advice on what he needs to work on as well as the areas that will help him succeed in a publishing career, or any career.

I enjoy having interns, but I especially enjoy the interns who make themselves a part of our team. In the short few months James was here he's become a valuable asset to BookEnds and he will definitely be missed.


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24. Query Critique: Fantasy

I agree that the material in this email can be posted and critiqued on the BookEnds Literary Agency blog. I give permission for it to be archived for the life of the blog.

Dear Query Queen:

Sworn off family in-fighting and rivalries, Apollo has spent the last decade in Portland, Maine, incarnated as research scientist Dr. Paul Archer.  Family’s not the only thing Apollo’s sworn off  he’s also done with women (of the mortal ilk), and most of all, Pantheon, a chess-like game the gods play with human lives.  So when Venus drops by unannounced, demanding that Apollo repay a debt dating back to the Trojan War by helping her pull off a move in the game, Apollo’s intention is to execute the move, wipe the slate clean, and get right back to work in the lab.   

What Apollo doesn’t expect is how much the pawn, college senior Theresa DiPaulo reminds him of his late mother Leto.  Or how Theresa’s implication in the game revives his long-buried feelings of guilt and failure stemming from Leto’s deicide at the hands of his stepmother  in the very round of Pantheon in which he came into Venus’s debt.  Nor does he expect how compelled he feels to intervene to save Theresa from the same fate.  As the game unfolds, and the parallels to that long-ago round of Pantheon mount up, Apollo gets sucked deeper and deeper in, until he can no longer run from the intrafamilial conflict he left behind when he abdicated Olympus and took refuge DownEast.  Apollo’s got a plan  if only Theresa would open up and let him in, if only she’d stop trying to protect him, if only she loved him back, pulling it off would be so much easier.

I am seeking representation of Playing God, a contemporary fantasy with a romance component, complete at 125,000 words.Playing God picks up where mythology leaves off, bringing the petty and not-so-petty grievances of the gods, their slights and affairs and ambitions, to play out in the modern world.  Zeus, Hera, Ares, Artemis and Mercury all engage, playing for the fate of not just Theresa, but the world.  While Playing God stands alone, I envision it as the first in a series about the Pantheon games, and I have a draft of the next episode.  

I am an attorney (Harvard Law School), real estate broker, and proud alum of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME, the prototype for the college Theresa attends, and where much of my novel is based.

As directed by your website, I am including the first few pages of my manuscript below.  I’d be happy to send you the manuscript upon request.  I appreciate your consideration, and look forward to hearing from you soon.



You should know that this is typically not my type of story. I like fantasy, but tend not to gravitate toward stories this closely set in mythology. For that reason I would pass on this. I'm only telling you this to give you an idea of how truly subjective this business can be.

That being said, I think this is a strong query. I really only made edits to tighten this.



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Is this something you believe to be true about agents?

I'm not sure literary agents are the right way to go, as their interests are bizarrely narrow, and seem to be looking continually for exact replicas of successful works from the past, rather than compelling untold stories.

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