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1. Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 289

Quick note: If you’re searching for a gift for a writer friend or family member, consider giving the gift of a subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine. Click here for details.

For today’s prompt, write a high poem. Now, I know the word “high” is a loaded one–so take it where you may. There are high temperatures, high heights, and other meanings related to high. You can even transform high into the greeting “hi,” which then leads down a whole new rabbit hole.

*****

ignite_your_creativityIgnite Your Creativity!

Jump start your creativity with four books, two tutorials, and a digital download–all discounted by 82%!

The whole collection runs $134.93 separately and is currently offered at only $24.49. Great gift–for yourself and/or others!

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a High Poem:

“high wire”

balancing is the same at 3 inches
as it is at 3 feet or 3 stories. the trick

is thinking 3 stories is 3 inches.
when i let myself, i’m still scared

of the dark. a corner conceals
a burglar or poltergeist. nothing’s

different, but i let my mind wander.
falling from 3 stories is much

different than falling from 3 inches,
but balancing is the same.

*****

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 is not a fan of heights or the dark, though both are fine for other folks. That said, he does like to write late at night and on airplanes–maybe to channel the anxiety?

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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2. Kim's #GiveABook Holiday picks

I bought A LOT of books for Christmas gifts this year.  I went crazy with my daughter’s Scholastic club flyers and realized the other day that my kids are getting a combined total of 18 books from us this year, and that’s not even counting the ones I bought for other family members.  Here’s just a few:


For my 6-year-old daughter: 

THE SNOW QUEEN: A POP-UP ADAPTATION OF A CLASSIC FAIRY TALE by Hans Christian Andersen (Author), Yevgeniya Yeretskaya (Illustrator) — Like most girls her age, my daughter is “Frozen”-obsessed.  While the original tale is darker than the Disney version, I think she’ll enjoy seeing where the whole idea came from.  She also LOVES my crusty old mildewy pop-up version of SLEEPING BEAUTY from when I was a kid.  The illustrations in THE SNOW QUEEN are much more beautiful and elaborate and I think she’ll be in awe of it.

For my 9-year-old son:

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC LITTLE KIDS FIRST BIG BOOK OF WHY by Amy Shields — My son is in 3rd grade, but he’s on the Autism Spectrum and doesn’t quite read at grade level.  He is obsessed with the National Geographic joke books (Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “Why did the chicken cross the dusty road twice?”  “Because he was a dirty double-crosser!”)  He also loves Science.  It’s his favorite subject.  I think he’ll really enjoy the bright beautiful photos in these books as well as the layout which will be easier for him to read the cool information.  And his aunt has him covered on more joke books!

For my mother: 

THE INDIA FAN by Victoria Holt — I’ve mentioned several times in the past that my mother and grandmother instilled my love of books through their collection of gothic romances by Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.  Recently, I asked my mom for what remaining books she had so that I could reread them.  In her search she realized that she’d given away her Victoria Holts while she was downsizing and she sounded somewhat regretful. When I was searching for more of my favorite Phyllis Whitneys to read on my Nook, I was disappointed to see that most of them are not available in ebook and are all out of print.  But when I searched for Victoria Holt, I was thrilled to learn that Sourcebooks Casablanca had reprinted a bunch of them into beautifully packaged trade paperbacks.  I’m buying this one for my mother so that she can reread a favorite too.

--Kim


0 Comments on Kim's #GiveABook Holiday picks as of 12/17/2014 9:46:00 AM
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3. Query question: art on the blog


I'm an (aspiring) professional writer but an amateur illustrator. I draw characters and scenes from my book strictly for my own amusement and to help me develop my ideas. They are not intended to be part of the published book. Obviously, I don't mention my art in queries or anything like that, but I'm wondering what is and isn't wise to do with this art. For instance, can I post it on my blog and social media, where it isn't directed at agents, but they're likely to see it if they research me? Or should I keep it under wraps to avoid looking amateurish? (For the sake of argument, let's assume that I'm a fairly good artist.)



You haven't mentioned what kind of books you're writing. If you plan to write novels for adults, art work won't help much at all, since most of those book don't contain any illustrations.

If you're planning on writing for kids, illustrations are used in varying amounts depending on the kind of book: picture, early reader, middle grade etc.

Art is a very tricky topic. Some really awkward looking things can end up as phenomenal successes:





And some images are so wonderful they just grab your heart the second you see them and never let go:




And some aren't cute or funny, but they really make you want to read the book:







But in the end, this is your art, and your blog, and if you want to share your work, you should. You can't predict what anyone's response will be. I can't imagine an agent looking at your blog and saying no to a project that was otherwise a yes simply because s/he didn't like your art. (although, I do have very strong feelings about certain fonts....but that's another blog post)






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4. Hanukkah Reads 2014

Looking for charming Hanukkah stories to share with your family? Well some of my authors can help you with that...

BEAUTIFUL YETTA'S HANUKKAH KITTEN by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Jill Pinkwater, is a cuddly and funny holiday story for all ages to appreciate. This is the follow-up to BEAUTIFUL YETTA, THE YIDDISH CHICKEN, in which the title bird escapes from certain doom to the enchanted world of Brooklyn, NY.
Now Beautiful Yetta the (Yiddish-speaking) Chicken has made her cozy home among the (Spanish-speaking) Parrots of Brooklyn. She is like their mother. This little family is doing pretty well, even on cold winter nights. But during a snowstorm, Yetta happens upon something very strange -- a tiny ginger kitten! OY! Cats are no good for birds! But this little kitty definitely needs some warmth and love. Maybe the neighborhood Grandmother can help... at least with feeding everyone yummy latkes. Yay! Autographed copies of BEAUTIFUL YETTA'S HANUKKAH KITTEN available now at Oblong Books.

SIMON AND THE BEAR: A HANUKKAH TALE by Eric A Kimmel, illustrated by Matthew Trueman: Before Simon sails to America, he promises his family that he will get a job and send for them. Simon's mother knows he will need a miracle, so she reminds him to celebrate Hanukkah wherever he may be. Little does either of them know that this task will be more complicated than she could have imagined... This fanciful Hanukkah tale-like none you've ever read before-celebrates eight miracles: family, friendship, hope, selflessness, sharing, faith, courage, and love. A retelling of the ancient Hanukkah story is included on the last page.

Now in Paperback: HANUKKAH BEAR by Eric A Kimmel, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka: This is the tale of Bubba Branya, a little old lady who can barely see but makes the very best latkes in town. Her rabbi comes to visit, and he brings his gigantic appetite. . . and mumbly voice. . . and growly tummy . . . and furry face. . . uh-oh!  Comedy ensues as the dynamic duo of granny and the bear play dreidel, light the menorah, and of course, enjoy plenty of yummy latkes. Kimmel's classic story is the perfect match for Mike Wohnoutka's warmly glowing new illustrations; this one is sure to delight not only little ones, but the whole family.

And a classic: HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS by Eric A Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman: The Caldecott Honor winning classic is celebrating it's 25th anniversary with a new edition! This is the somewhat scary and totally unforgettable tale of the ingenious Hershel, who rids a village synagogue of goblins by cleverly outwitting them.


HAPPY HOLIDAYS and HAPPY READING, EVERYBODY!

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5. Jessica A’s 2014 #GiveaBook picks


As many of you know, Penguin Random House has started the #GiveaBook social media campaign to promote books this holiday season.  If you haven’t already heard about it, check out this page (http://randomnotes.randomhouse.com/tis-the-season-give-books-and-give-back/)  for all the details.  You won’t see me doing a video (I didn’t do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video either—thanks a lot for that nomination, Andrea Laurence!) but you can consider this post my contribution to the campaign.  

Books have always been among my favorite gifts, both to give and receive. I love being given something I might not have found on my own but that was picked out with my tastes in mind. And I love being able to do that for others.  So, for fun, I decided to pick out the books I would gift to everyone at BookEnds.  Here’s what I chose:


For Jessica F:  Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. Kim gave me Jerusalem last Christmas.  I love it and I have a feeling Jessica would enjoy Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook. She’s a pescetarian and she enjoys cooking, so this collection of creative vegetable recipes should hit the spot with her.  

For Kim: As everyone who follows her on Twitter knows, Kim loves nothing more than a tortured, wounded, scarred, maimed, beat-up hero.  Especially in historicals.  And, if I remember correctly, she’s never read Judith Ivory.  She would get Ivory’s Beauty and the Beast retelling, The Beast.  How can you go wrong with a scarred man who pretends to be an Arab pasha in order to seduce his beautiful fiancee under the cover of darkness on a boat?  But I might have to give Kim two books because I don’t think she’s read Mary Jo Putney’s Thunder & Roses either.  I don’t think I could count on my two hands alone the number of times I’ve read and re-read Mary Jo Putney’s Fallen Angels series.  They were among the first romances I ever read and they got me hooked on the genre.  Thunder & Roses is the first in the series and is about an earl who is part Gypsy.  He doesn’t have any physical injuries but he’s angry and bitter and feared by everyone around him.  But a schoolteacher with a spotless reputation is brave enough to ask his help, and is reckless enough to agree when his help comes with the condition that she stay with him for three months, even if it means her reputation is left in shreds.

For Beth:  Beth is a hard one for me.  Our reading interests are very different so I wouldn’t attempt to pick out fiction for her.  But I think every English major of drinking age needs a copy of Tim Federle’s Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist.  This witty collection of literary-inspired drink recipes is a must.  The S(ide)carlet Letter is one of my favorites.

For Me: I’m a big believer in giving gifts to myself so I had to include myself on this list. As much as I love my work, sometimes I need to take a step away from romance and women’s fiction and read something completely different.  For some reason I can’t explain, what I choose usually ends up being morbid and, well, gross nonfiction. Two books I’ve been dying to read and might be gifting myself for Christmas are Dr. Mutter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz and Working Stiff by Dr. Judy Melinek.  The first is an account of Dr. Thomas Mutter’s life as an innovative plastic surgeon and collector of medical oddities.  The second is a memoir of a New York City medical examiner who started working right before 9/11. 

-Jessica Alvarez

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6. A Nosy Elf on the Shelf

You are an Elf on the Shelf and you’ve been picked up by a famous celebrity to roam around his or her house at Christmas time. But what the celebrity doesn’t know is that you’ve been hired by The National Enquirer gossip magazine to find dirt on that celeb. You are a week in and you report back to the editor at the magazine about what you’ve learned.

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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7. Rant: personalization is a waste time



I've studied through the archives on both your sites, getting my query lean and mean, giving a preview of my story that's tasty and enticing—250-some words, spare and clean-looking on the page—and now, ready to send. But.....

In my preparation I've also read a lot of agents I must respect to whom it's nothing more than common sense that all queriers explain "why I queried." So, my first batch is six—including three solid references—and I came up with one very short rationale for querying each and stuck it at the end of my carefully honed, muscularly worded, winsomely teasing query.

Now my query looks terrible. It looks like a big fat book-report, where some kid threw in EVERYTHING he had in order to fill up the page. It blobs the whole landscape. To speak aesthetically, it's OVERWEIGHT.

I know you've discussed this before, but for the love of mercy, please discuss it again. Do we REALLY have to do this? If this or that well-desired agent says, "Of course you MUST give me some special reason you queried: you MUST do ten minutes of research, and you MUST prove to me you did so....."

Must we? On aesthetic grounds I object.




Thank you for giving me the chance for one last rant this year. Here it is: Personalization is a waste of time.


I started thinking about this a while back. It was prompted by a post at Quartz.com about ineffective, spammy PR pitches. Here's the post I was reading: Dear PR person who just sent me a robo pitch

Robo pitches are the kiss of death in PR. Since my career path was via book publicity I've known that since forever. When I read that post, I was strategizing how long it would take to get an in-house PR person up to speed if starting from scratch, since you absolutely cannot just email everyone you know with "hey, here's my book, how about a nice review in your next column/blogpost/twitter feed."

And the answer was a substantial number of months if not a year would be required to build a data base from scratch.

The only reason that didn't make me run screaming into the night, is that once that data base is built, it's usable for other clients and other projects. It gets MORE valuable the more you work it and use it, because you end up with lots of contacts and lots of information that you can use and reuse.

When I sold my PR business, what I was selling was the data base of contacts and the information about them.

That's the same kind of data base that many of you are creating for querying.

Except, once you have an agent you don't need it anymore. One thing that makes a PR date base worth building well is that it GAINS value over time and use.

One thing that makes an agent data base less worthwhile is that it ceases to have value once you have an agent.

Another value to a PR data base is one person is pitching different writers. A columnist/reviewer who doesn't respond to Thriller A may well respond to Thriller B from a different writer.

An agent data base that you're building is for one writer: you.  An agent who doesn't respond to your Thriller A can't be queried for Thriller B the next day. Your pitching inventory is one project at a time. When I worked in PR I was pitching five or six books in any given month.

Thus, asking queriers to have individual details about individual agents to put in a query letter means we're asking you for months if not a year of work that will benefit you once, then not again.

Think about that for a second.
Well, no, think about that for a minute.

If you had to pay someone to do build that data base, would you? If I had to pay someone to build a PR database that's usable for just one client would I? No. It doesn't make any business sense to do that.


That's when I realized that asking writers to build a data base of agents wasn't a good use of time or resources, unless you think you'll be querying ten books in two years.


The good news for writers is that an agent isn't going to reject your work if you haven't included some personalizing detail or reason for querying. Write well- that's all that matters.


And frankly that's why ANY time spent building a data base of agents likes/dislikes etc is a bad use of time: writing well takes an enormous amount of time. Taking time away from that is not in your best interest. And frankly it's not in mine either.

You'll serve both our interests in spending as much time doing what you're good at: writing. I'll serve both our interests by doing what I'm good at: keeping you chained to your desk and demanding pages.








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8. Chum Bucket tonight, 7pm (EST), 12/15/14



Chum Bucket tonight. 12/15/14. (If it's NOT 12/15/14 do not send a chum bucket query!)
7pm

Remember: do not link to this post from elsewhere (your blog or Facebook page), or post/tweet about it.

Chum Bucket works because everyone who participates has invested some time in learning how it works.  I LOVE doing Chum Bucket so I really want to keep it to those people who buy in to the premise.

The premise is that if you query me between 7pm and 8pm tonight, I will reply to you personally, not with a form letter.

The response can range from "this isn't for me" to "send full" but you'll know I'm sitting there typing it out when I get your query.

Of course, I often do reply with more than "not for me" because I think it's helpful to say why it's not for me. Sometimes it's because I'm not much on eyeball removal (eww!) and sometimes it's cause you
think a 240,000 memoir is publishable.

If I think I can help you, I'll try to do so.

Chum Bucket is NOT a critique.

And your part of the bargain is you will not email me back telling me I'm a cretin of the first order for failing to appreciate your masterpiece.  (While that may be true, we will observe the social niceties of not stating the obvious.)

The reason I ask you to NOT tweet or link is that people who aren't regular blog readers, or twitter followers, who only see the announcement, may not know about the social contract not to reply with venom.  I really want to keep doing Chum Bucket so the longer we can keep it to invested readers, the more likely it is to continue.

Questions?
The comment column awaits.


Here's the rundown on queries from the previous Chum Bucket:

01. Not for me/some comments on why: 7
05. Not my category: 6
02. Not for me/some comments on correct category or comps 1
03. Suggestions to improve red hot mess queries: 1
07. Request full: 1
08. Writing needs a lot of work 1
14. Not for me/some comments on improving query 1
15. Failed to send pages on a good query    1





That last one is really shortsighted. If pages aren't included in a regular query, even if I like it, I'm much more likely to just respond with a form letter passing on the project.

0 Comments on Chum Bucket tonight, 7pm (EST), 12/15/14 as of 12/15/2014 9:56:00 AM
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9. Slush Pile Showdown: How to Make Your Submission Stand Out — Dec. 18 Webinar (with Query Critique) by Agent Instructors

For this live webinar, “Slush Pile Showdown: How to Make Your Submission Stand Out,” literary agents Barbara Poelle and Holly Root are pulling back the curtain and showing you exactly what goes on when an agent reads your query. In their simulated slush pile, they will critique submitted queries live and give insights into which ones stand out and why, how queries could be improved, and common pitfalls to avoid. You’ll get a peek into what it’s like to be an agent sitting down, hoping to strike gold in the slush pile, and learn how to make your submission stand out. Your query is your first introduction to the world, so join us for a fun, kind-spirited but honest look at how to get noticed, get requested, and get signed!

It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. All registrants are guaranteed a query critique, whether you choose to have it evaluated live or after the event. Learn more about the webinar here. (Note that agent Barbara Poelle has signed several writers after meeting them through WD webinars.)
Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 12.18.04 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 12.17.59 PM T4769

ABOUT THE CRITIQUE

All registrants are invited to submit a one-page query letter, plus the first page of the manuscript (300 words or less) for critique. If you would like your materials to be critiqued LIVE during the webinar, they must be received before 5pm EST Tuesday, December 16th. All submitted materials are guaranteed a written critique by Root and Poelle, and we’ll cover as many query + page submissions as possible in live critique during the webinar.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

— How to craft a query that will get attention
— Why querying isn’t a useless evil exercise in torture
— Common missteps and how to avoid them
— What agents are looking for when they read
— Which “rules” really matter and which ones are matters of opinion
— What it’s like to be an agent reading through submissions
— If your query is ready for prime time
— What to do if your query isn’t ready. Sign up for the webinar here.

INSTRUCTORS

Holly Root is a literary agent at Waxman Leavell Literary Agency who represents adult fiction, select nonfiction, and novels for children and teens; she is not seeking picture book clients or screenwriting clients. She heads up a Los Angeles office for the New York City-based Waxman Leavell Agency. Visit her online at www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/hroot, www.waxmanleavell.com, and www.twitter.com/hroot.

Barbara Poelle is Vice President at Irene Goodman Literary Agency representing fiction for teens and adults. Her roster trends toward thriller and suspenseful women’s fiction as well as mystery, young adult and horror. Barbara also writes a monthly Q&A column for Writer’s Digest magazine and has previously signed three clients from attendees of her Writer’s Digest webinars. Visit www.irenegoodman.com to learn more.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

— Anyone interested in how the query process works
— Writers who want a professional opinion on their query’s strengths and weaknesses
— Writers whose queries aren’t getting the responses they want
— Writers wondering if their query is ready to go
— Writers who want a professional critique by a literary agent
— Anyone with questions about writing queries or the process of querying literary agents

HOW DOES THE CRITIQUE WORK?

All registrants are invited to submit a one-page query letter, plus the first page of the manuscript (300 words or less) for critique. If you would like your materials to be critiqued LIVE during the webinar, they must be received before 5pm EST Tuesday, December 16th. All submitted materials are guaranteed a written critique by Root and Poelle, and we’ll cover as many query + page submissions as possible in live critique during the webinar. Instructions on how to submit your work are sent after you have purchased the webinar and officially register in Go-to-Webinar. When you have registered in GTW, you will receive a confirmation email from gotowebinar@citrixonline.com, which contains the information you need to access the live webinar AND the Critique Submission Instructions.

Sign up for the Dec. 18 webinar here!

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10. Slush Pile Showdown: How to Make Your Submission Stand Out — Dec. 18 Webinar (with Query Critique) by Agent Instructors

For this live webinar, “Slush Pile Showdown: How to Make Your Submission Stand Out,” literary agents Barbara Poelle and Holly Root are pulling back the curtain and showing you exactly what goes on when an agent reads your query. In their simulated slush pile, they will critique submitted queries live and give insights into which ones stand out and why, how queries could be improved, and common pitfalls to avoid. You’ll get a peek into what it’s like to be an agent sitting down, hoping to strike gold in the slush pile, and learn how to make your submission stand out. Your query is your first introduction to the world, so join us for a fun, kind-spirited but honest look at how to get noticed, get requested, and get signed!

It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. All registrants are guaranteed a query critique, whether you choose to have it evaluated live or after the event. Learn more about the webinar here. (Note that agent Barbara Poelle has signed several writers after meeting them through WD webinars.)
Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 12.18.04 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 12.17.59 PM T4769

ABOUT THE CRITIQUE

All registrants are invited to submit a one-page query letter, plus the first page of the manuscript (300 words or less) for critique. If you would like your materials to be critiqued LIVE during the webinar, they must be received before 5pm EST Tuesday, December 16th. All submitted materials are guaranteed a written critique by Root and Poelle, and we’ll cover as many query + page submissions as possible in live critique during the webinar.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

— How to craft a query that will get attention
— Why querying isn’t a useless evil exercise in torture
— Common missteps and how to avoid them
— What agents are looking for when they read
— Which “rules” really matter and which ones are matters of opinion
— What it’s like to be an agent reading through submissions
— If your query is ready for prime time
— What to do if your query isn’t ready. Sign up for the webinar here.

INSTRUCTORS

Holly Root is a literary agent at Waxman Leavell Literary Agency who represents adult fiction, select nonfiction, and novels for children and teens; she is not seeking picture book clients or screenwriting clients. She heads up a Los Angeles office for the New York City-based Waxman Leavell Agency. Visit her online at www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/hroot, www.waxmanleavell.com, and www.twitter.com/hroot.

Barbara Poelle is Vice President at Irene Goodman Literary Agency representing fiction for teens and adults. Her roster trends toward thriller and suspenseful women’s fiction as well as mystery, young adult and horror. Barbara also writes a monthly Q&A column for Writer’s Digest magazine and has previously signed three clients from attendees of her Writer’s Digest webinars. Visit www.irenegoodman.com to learn more.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

— Anyone interested in how the query process works
— Writers who want a professional opinion on their query’s strengths and weaknesses
— Writers whose queries aren’t getting the responses they want
— Writers wondering if their query is ready to go
— Writers who want a professional critique by a literary agent
— Anyone with questions about writing queries or the process of querying literary agents

HOW DOES THE CRITIQUE WORK?

All registrants are invited to submit a one-page query letter, plus the first page of the manuscript (300 words or less) for critique. If you would like your materials to be critiqued LIVE during the webinar, they must be received before 5pm EST Tuesday, December 16th. All submitted materials are guaranteed a written critique by Root and Poelle, and we’ll cover as many query + page submissions as possible in live critique during the webinar. Instructions on how to submit your work are sent after you have purchased the webinar and officially register in Go-to-Webinar. When you have registered in GTW, you will receive a confirmation email from gotowebinar@citrixonline.com, which contains the information you need to access the live webinar AND the Critique Submission Instructions.

Sign up for the Dec. 18 webinar here!

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11. It's Sunday! Time for fun!



Why aren't we outside?
Why?
Why?
Why?








OUTSIDE!!!!





 MUCH better!!



**this is Miles, who helps his human write novels

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12. More on referrals


Thank you for your blog post today. You specifically mention referrals by other agents. I was wondering - what's the difference between a referral by an agent & a referral by an author? If one of an agent's (currently represented) authors refer someone, is it all that big a deal? Does it get you to the top of the pile & an extra close read? Or does it happen so frequently that it's like receiving just another query?

Recently a writer on a bulletin board discussion told me in no uncertain terms that "a referral from a client that doesn't shoot to the top of the to-be-read list means something is seriously wrong with the agent."

It took the Shark Delay Team to keep my reply ("so glad you know so much about working in an agency and getting referrals") in Drafts, which was good, since this fellow didn't seem prepared to listen to someone actually doing the job he was talking about.

Here's how I prioritize referrals. By prioritize, I mean how fast I am likely to read. It's MY list, not the industry standard by any matter of means. (1 is fastes, 10 is least likely to be read at all)


1:  An editor read your manuscript, wants it, but you need an agent, so editor gave you my name; or
an agent read your manuscript, loved it, couldn't take it on, gave you my name.  Editor/agent then emailed me independently to say "hey, I loved this, you will too;"  [just so you know: THESE ARE RARE.]


2: An editor read your manuscript (or currently edits you) and suggested getting in touch with me; an agent read your manuscript, loved it, couldn't take it on and gave you several names (including mine) to contact on your own;

3:  An agent or editor read some of your manuscript, and liked it, and suggested agents (including me) to contact;

4:  An agent at a conference suggested I might be better suited to the manuscript;


5: One of my fabulous clients read and loved the manuscript and suggested getting in touch with me, whom he/she has called to enthuse about said manuscript;


6:  One of my fabulous clients read the manuscript and thought it might be something I would want to read and contacts me to say so;

7: A querier asks  one of my fabulous clients who his/her agent is, then sends manuscript to me saying client referred him/her;

8: A presenter at a conference who is not an agent or editor says I am a good person to query;

9:  A form letter from an agent saying s/he is not taking on new clients but someone else at the agency might be interested;

10:  A paid editor/book doctor/someone said I was cat's pjs, and author should query.


The value of a referral depends on two things:

1. has the person read your entire manuscript; and

2. how close to the buy/sell transaction process is the person making the referral.

Agents/editors are primary actors in the sales transaction. They know what gets acquired. Thus, their opinion counts MUCH more than anyone else's including clients. Clients know what's good to their eye, and many of them are close, careful readers with exquisite taste, or seriously tuned in to what's commercially viable BUT they don't have a broad sense of what's being acquired now. Their opinion is important but it's not got the impact of an editor's.

Now remember, this is MY hierarchy. Other agents may vary.  Someone should email the Amazing Jessica Faust at BookEndsLLC and ask how she prioritizes referrals. (I think she only takes queries
by referral now too, so her opinion actually counts more than mine on this!)
 






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13. Find More Readers and Success With Your Poetry

Writing poetry for the sake of writing poetry is a worthwhile pursuit, but poets who wish to build an audience for their poetry will benefit from Find More Readers and Success With Your Poetry, an hour-long live webinar on finding more readers and success with their poetry. This session will share lessons learned first hand by author Robert Lee Brewer and incorporate advice passed on by other poets.

find_more_readers_webinarThis live webinar is taught by Robert Lee Brewer, an editor with the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, Brewer is editor of Poet’s Market, blogs at Poetic Asides, and writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine. Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

By the end of this webinar, poets will know how to start finding more readers and finding more success with their poetry.

The live webinar starts at 1:00 p.m. EST on Monday, December 15, 2014.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • How to get poems published
  • Why blogs can benefit poets
  • How to use social media with a purpose
  • 5 tips for reading poems in public
  • Why to build and how to use contact lists
  • The power of poetry organizations
  • And more

Click here to register.

INSTRUCTOR

Robert Lee Brewer is an editor with the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, Brewer is editor of Poet’s Market, blogs at Poetic Asides, and writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine. Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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14. That Holly Jolly Feeling

Here's what happens this time of year. I become extra thankful. Actually, this is something that happens regularly throughout the year, but right now I'm blogging about it.

I have been an agent for 15 years. It's a job I've always been proud of and a job that I have never really felt was a job. Sure I get to read for a living and sure I get to be the one who helps a great book find its way into the hands of thousands of others, but one of the unexpected side benefits of my  job is the people. I really, truly adore my clients.

Some of my clients have been with me for nearly 15 years, others for only 15 months and a few even less. No matter how long we've been together, each client has a way of bringing a smile to my face, not just because of the great books they write, but because I really enjoy spending time with them. I love tweeting silly comments or exchanging emails about grandbabies, kids, books you can't miss, travel, recipes, dogs, home repairs, antique hunting, the weather, and anything else you can think of.

My clients have a way of publicly thanking me through the acknowledgements in their books. Some have even dedicated a book to me. Those words mean the world to me and each time I read them I feel like it's my first book all over again. Guaranteed that an acknowledgment or dedication will make me tear up. I wish I had a way to dedicate or acknowledge each of them for how much joy they bring to my days. But truly, every day these people are what give me a holly jolly feeling.

--jhf

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15. Query Queston: other agents if first agent does not respond

An agent has my full and disappeared. I sent nudges timed appropriately and haven't received any response. They're not a no-response-means-no agent, either (supposedly.)

I haven't pinned hope on this one agent, and have other fulls out. However, there are others at this agent's agency who I think would be interested. The main reason I queried the first agent before the others is because I was given a referral. How long should I wait before querying others at their agency? Can I not query them if this agent just never responds to me? 


 Oh lord referrals. They are troublesome things they are. The good ones are when an agent has read your manuscript, knows it's not for her/him for X reason, and says "query so and so at AgencyAuctionLLC"

In fact, I'm now cackling with glee reading the reviews of a book where that exact thing happened. I read the manuscript, loved it, knew it needed what I didn't have, sent the author to one of my favorite competitors; they had a fistfight in the office over who got it pounced on it with glee. The rest is happy publishing all around.

The other kind of referrals are the ones that start "Such and Such said this was your kind of novel" and I've not spoken to Such for five years. Such hasn't read your novel and is just trying to get you off her query pile and onto mine.


It's hard for you the querier to know which one you have, of course, but my guess is you've got the second one based on the agent's behavior.  She's "disappeared" which means she's probably trying to figure out what to say other than  form rejection. (It feels awkward to form reject a referral which is why you guys are so hot for them of course.)

Here's what to do:

Step one: withdraw the manuscript from Agent Absent. Politely of course.  I'm sure you know how to do this.  If you don't I know I've posted wording previously.

Step two: submit the manuscript to Agent BetterChoice.  At this point, there's no need to mention Agent Absent. Absent has dropped the ball here and you should NOT let that have an impact on you.

This is your career. Even if Agent Beta calls you up at midnight to spew and splutter that you are RUDE RUDE RUDE to submit this manuscript, it won't kill you, and two, you have my permission to say "horsefeathers BetaBreath."

This querying process is starting to resemble elaborate rules of court in some crazed Balkan country. This must be done, that must be done. Double space this, and make sure your font doesn't frolic on the page...yikes!

A query is a business letter. If the person to whom you are proposing a business arrangement fails to respond to your overture, and three polite follow ups, then time to move on to the next person on the list.  As long as you're polite and observe the guidelines posted on the website, you're fine.  And even if you don't and you're not: There Are No Query Police!

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16. Have a Bookish Holiday #GiveaBook


I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves to gift books and loves the gift of a book. Typically everyone on my list is doing to get a book of some kind or another. Sometimes it's a book I've read, loved and want to share and other times it's just something that seems to fit. I'm always looking for new ideas for books for the people on my list and want to share a few that I hope you'll love as well.


Years ago I gave a copy of I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron to my mother-in-law. I'm not going to lie, it was a brave move on my part and she didn't look thrilled when she opened it. No, let me correct that, she looked completely confused. However, I won her over. She agreed that the book was charming and hilarious. Phew.

The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak is not just adorably fun, but its actually a great family activity. It seems odd I know, but I recommend it for anyone with small children. Kids and adults will find this one hard to resist.

If you haven't seen it, because it's everywhere, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) has a new cookbook out. This one is Make It Ahead. I haven't read, or even looked through this one yet, but hands down The Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorite cookbook authors. Nearly every recipe I've made of hers is simply and amazing. If you have a cook on your list, whether she's experienced or a novice, I would recommend any of the many Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks. They are all amazing (I own most of them).

And since many of you know that I'm a Gluten Free cook I think I would be remiss in not sharing one of my favorite Gluten Free cookbooks. I have a number on my cookbook shelf and I tend to use a little from this and a little from that. But if there's one cookbook that looks the most tattered it would probably be Kelli Bronski's Artisanal Gluten Free Cupcakes.  I've been told time and time again that my cupcakes and cakes do not taste gluten free (whatever that means) and I credit this cookbook. It's divine.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is back in the news with the publication of Christopher McCandless's (the protagonist of the story) sister's memoir. I haven't yet read this and I first read Into the Wild a million years ago. But it's a book that sticks with you, haunts you and is an amazing story. It's a great gift for anyone who likes adventure. Honestly, it's a great gift.  

This book came up in a post just a few weeks ago, but since it seems so few people have read or heard of the series I have to mention it again. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace is a wonderful book for any young reader. I first gifted it to a 7-year-old friend of mine who loved books and she fell in love. Fans of Anne of Green Gables will love it. I know I did.

There are so many other great books. So many that I'm missing. So help me out. I still have some shopping to do and could use some nonfiction, something for the Broadway musical lover, something for a teen girl and, well, maybe something for me.

--jhf

#GiveaBook
Help donate a book to a U.S. child in need this holiday season. Simply post or tweet #GiveaBook on Facebook or Twitter before 12/25 and Penguin Random House will donate up to 25,000 new books to Save the Children – helping build a better future for us all.
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->



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17. Bonus Content: pictures of The Reef

I love my office! We moved to this space in August 2012 and in two weeks, we're moving next door (no change on our contact details) to a bigger space that gets The Minion away from the window and a cold draft. I, of course, need the cold draft since I am a ferocious cold-blooded sea monster when I'm at work.

So, here are the pictures of our office before we leave!







And I'm sure you'll all be glad to know: yes we are PAINTING the new office before we move in!



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18. Novel Writing: 10 Questions You Need to Ask Your Characters

By Brenda Janowitz

The most important part of your novel is the part that will never been seen by the reader.  It’s the part that’s just for you.  It’s the part that only you know.  Well, you and your character, that is.

It’s the character study.  You simply cannot write a good novel without knowing your characters inside and out.


Brenda-Janowitz-bookBrenda-JanowitzThis guest post is by Brenda Janowitz, author of Scot on the Rocks, Jack with a Twist and THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB. Her work has also appeared in the New York Post, Publisher’s Weekly, Long Island Woman Magazine, Mom.me, Hello Giggles, and xoJane. You can find her at brendajanowitz.com and on Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.


There’s so many ways to do a character study.  It can be a letter your character writes to a friend, it can be a confession your character makes to her shrink, or it can even be a list of things you want to know about her.

Sometimes, when I’m away from my computer, I imagine my character walking around with me.  Long line at the drug store?  Hmm, how would my character react to that?  Friend late for lunch—would my character wait, or just walk out in a huff?  Car cut you off in traffic?  Would my character yell out loud, or take in it stride?

[Get your creative juices flowing by trying this 12-Day plan of simple writing exercises.]

Some writers like to tackle character studies before writing even a word of the book.  But for me, I like to dive into a book and just start free writing, figuring things out as I go.  Then, when the dreaded writer’s block inevitably sets in, that’s when I’m able to take a step back and think about what I’m writing.  There’s no need to step away from your computer—in fact, I find that when I’m blocked, walking away from the keyboard is the worst thing I can do.  It reinforces the idea that I’m blocked.  And writing begets writing, so don’t stop.

Novelist Gillian Flynn wrote the most quoted part of her blockbuster, GONE GIRL, as a character study.  (http://www.vulture.com/2014/10/gone-girls-gillian-flynn-on-cool-girls.html)  The “cool girl” speech was something she wrote when she was blocked, and it made its way into the finished product.

But your character studies don’t have to make their way into your WIP.  In fact, some people think they shouldn’t.  In my current WIP, my character studies became part of the first draft.  I felt it was important to give the reader the back stories on my enormous cast of characters, to fully flesh out all of the players.  My wonderful editor, Brenda Copeland, recently sent this great Stephen King quote to me:

“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.” —Stephen King

I love that quote!  So, we cut the backstories.  Each and every one of them.  And it hurt.  Man, did it hurt!  But, you know what?  Their backstories didn’t change.  They just made their way into the narrative in a more organic way.  Because of those character studies, I know my characters inside and out, and I think that when an author really knows her characters, truly knows them at their core, that comes out in the writing.

[Writing a Hero's Adventure story? Here's a simple template you can apply to your own work-in-progress.]

With that in mind, here are the top 10 questions you need to be able to answer about each of your characters:

1. How old is she?  (And how old is she mentally?  Is she a 40 year old in the body of a sixteen year old, or vice versa?)
2. Did she have a happy childhood?  Why/why not?
3. Past/ present relationships?  How did they affect her?
4. What does she care about?
5. What is she obsessed with?
6. Biggest fear?
7. What is the best thing that ever happened to her?  The worst?
8. Most embarrasing thing that ever happened to her?
9. Biggest secret?
10. What is the one word you would use to define her?

What are some of your own questions that you ask yourself when it comes to character?  What do you think every author needs to know about her characters?

90 Days to Your Novel90 Days to Your Novel is an inspiring writing
 manual that will be your push, your deadline, and your 
spark to finally, in three short months, complete that first draft of your novel. Order it now in our shop for a discount.

Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.

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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog (The Writer’s Dig), the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

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

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19. Branding Yourself for Publishing Pros

We talk so much to authors about the importance of branding yourselves. Of picking a genre and sticking with it or at least identifying what you're really strong at and making sure that comes through in your brand. We encourage authors to have a brand and a hook and tell them that they should be able to pitch themselves easily and succinctly when asked. But what about agents and editors? Shouldn't we be required to do the same?

Yes, absolutely. And it drives me crazy that so few can or do.

When anyone asks an agent or editor what they are looking for we should be able to give a few really strong concrete answers.

It drives me crazy when I'm meeting a new editor and looking to find a way to make her stand out and feel special enough to submit to and what she gives me when I ask what she's looking for is the company line. Yes, I know your company publishes contemporary romance and suspense, but what I want to know is what floats your boat personally. If I already have a relationship with Jane, Betsy, and Amy at your publisher than I need to know what you're doing that makes me want to send to you. Do you have a passion for werewolves or sexy lawyers or erotica? Are you confused by historicals or exhausted by suspense? Those are the details that build you as a brand in my mind and make me think of you when I have a sexy lawyer novel and submit to you over Jane, Betsy or Amy.

Agents need to do the same. When we're meeting authors at conferences or mingling at the airport bar we need to be able to tell the author specifically what we're looking for. Sure I represent romance, but my true love is dark, gritty suspense or right now I'm just tired of anything involving a CEO bachelor.

Our brand is going to evolve and change a bit as the market changes. An author's brand might do the same. Sure we're all still looking for romance, but now we miss those CEO bachelors and might want more of them. So updating the brand on your website and through social media is important, but so is making yourself stand out by saying, once in a while, this is exactly what I want on my desk right now.


--jhf

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20. Query question: querying over the holidays




 
I found the pointed advice that querying anywhere between Thanksgiving and mid-January is pointless, and everyone should stop. 
 Certainly, you’ve mentioned it’s not worthwhile making perishable offerings to agents during the holidays, but the advice seems to me counter to progress; even if I have to wait longer for a response (goes my way of thinking), surely it’s not actually *wrong* to query on right now, particularly if it’s possible and there’s motivation!
 
I’m an A-number-one slacker given the option, but it seems to me no aspirant should flat-out quit trying for six or eight weeks out of the year.
 
Is this agent just tired of the post-NaNo naïve query glut – if there is such a thing – or do some honestly just give winter a full on pass, so to speak, and queries during this period really will fall on deaf eyes? Subsidiary, selfish question: why wouldn’t they just go closed for queries, if this is the case?

 


Well, it's a real pain to close for queries let me tell you. I've done it a couple times, and getting the info to all the sites, and then getting it taken down again..well, it's a pain.

That blog post you mentioned is by Jessica Faust and I must tell you she's a terrific agent, and I watch what she does like a hawk.  If I could spy on her in her office wearing some sort of invisible suit like Patrick Lee has in The Breach, I'd be there right now. 

So, far be it from me to tell you not to pay attention to what she says.

However.

There really is no industry standard for this. It's not WRONG to query any time you want (unless the agent is closed of course.)  The question is whether it's effective.  And I don't think there's a way to measure that other than to try. And by trying, you're querying, so that's that.

For every agent who doesn't want queries during the holiday, there are at least a couple who will be reading their email on Christmas Day and wondering if they should reply, or wait till 12/26.



Here's the one thing you know after reading Jessica's blog post: Don't query her right now. Query me.













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21. Publishing Facts and Figures

A few months ago I was asked to be a guest on Writers2Writers  a local cable show for writers. Just as I thought it was a really fun and different experience. I'm not sure I've ever been on TV as an actual guest. The group I met were all so wonderful that I wished I had been able to hang around longer.

So with only some nervousness I'm passing along my first TV interview:






And if you liked it you should definitely check out their other interviews. There's a lot to learn there.

--jhf

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22. Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 288

For today’s prompt, write a false poem. Emily Dickinson once wrote, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” That’s good advice, but these poems should descend with falsifying the intent. False documents, false names, false teeth, the balance of true or false, and so on. A revision to Dickinson, “Tell all the truth but not this week.”

*****

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Jump start your creativity with four books, two tutorials, and a digital download–all discounted by 82%!

The whole collection runs $134.93 separately and is currently offered at only $24.49. Great gift–for yourself and/or others!

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*****

Here’s my attempt at a False poem:

“false face”

-with a nod to PLD

we wear the face that grins and tries
to hide our thoughts & empty lies
because someday we hope we’ll see
the end to our humility
as one more unarmed person dies

& served up fast before our eyes
as all around we hear the cries
of i can’t breathe on city streets
we wear the face

wanting to figure our replies
but all we seem to find are sighs
when we dream all humans are free
god knows that’s what we want to see
hiding behind our alibis
we wear the face

*****

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 hails from Dayton, birthplace of Paul Laurence Dunbar who wrote “We Wear the Mask,” which inspired today’s poem (among other things). He believes that if there was ever time for poetry, now is it.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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23. How to Pay it Forward Within the Literary Community

There’s something about the holiday season that puts people in a generous mood. From random anonymous acts of kindness to time-honored remembrances, it truly is the giving season. Heck, even the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes during the holidays. So what can writers do to pay it forward within the literary community? Here are a few ideas:

  • Gift your readers. Above all these people are the people that should all be on your “nice” list! There are plenty of ways you can make your readers feel more connected to you and your books. Run contests, offer giveaways, reveal new cover art and excerpts. Show them you appreciate their loyalty during this time of year and you’ll enjoy the benefits during every season.
  • Give back to fledgling authors. Share freely of the secrets of your success. Host workshops so other writers can benefit from your expertise. Perhaps you’d like to make this gift more personal; focus all your efforts on one or two struggling writers and act as a mentor. Be realistic but encouraging. Your feedback and valued opinions will be appreciated. Volunteer to assist at a writer’s conference or at your local writing group.
  • Support your local libraries and bookstores. Think where we would be as a society without them! Offer to do writing workshops at your local library or contact the Friends of the Library and let them know you’re available for book and author events. Likewise for the bookstores in your locale. Show your support by frequenting events there, buying books, and mentioning signed copies of your titles are available there to readers along with a link on your website.
  • Help your author brethren. Every author can use a boost by commenting on their blogs, sharing their posts, retweeting their messages, and signal boosting their new releases. Spread the word about their work to your own readers. You can even consider doing a book review as a gift!
  • Use your books to support your favorite charities or the community. One of our publishing partners, Publerati (publerati.com), donates percentages of its proceeds to Worldreader Organization. One of our authors, Aaron Zerah, (www.atozspirit.com) has provided free books to Worldreader and also offers free children’s books on his website.
  • Last but not least: Give away your book in the local community. Here’s just a quick list where you can donate your book:  Women’s shelters, VA hospitals, homeless shelters, children’s hospitals, retirement homes, prisons, church libraries, rehab centers, doctor’s offices, community centers and senior centers.

In the spirit of giving, Blue Ash Publishing is offering a free guide for authors who need a boost in promoting their books. Spreading The Word, written by Sage Cohen, offers effective and sustainable promotion ideas including:

  • Establishing and nurturing a vibrant social network for communicating and collaborating with people in your field
  • Reaching out regularly to the audiences who will benefit from what you are offering
  • Creating a daily rhythm for moving toward big-picture goals

This free Blue Ash Publishing guide is available for download by clicking HERE.

  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
sell your book. Whether it’s digital publishing or print, Blue Ash has you
covered—and it’s completely customizable.
Click here for more details.

 

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24. Move Over, Rudolph

You are one of Santa’s reindeer (other than Rudolph) and you are jealous of all the attention that that red-nosed reindeer is getting. You’ve been offered another job and have decided to go in to Santa’s workshop office and negotiate a better deal. Does Santa match your demands or do you decide to take the new gig (and what is it)? Write this scene.

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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25. Best 3 Writing Gigs on Retainer

Editor’s Note: The following content is provided to Writer’s Digest by a writing community partner. This content is sponsored by American Writers & Artists Inc. www.awaionline.com.

top 3 charts list pop poll result and award winners chart rankinSteady paychecks month after month …

Easy writing assignments because you know the audience …

Happy clients who value you and your writing …

These are just a few of the benefits of writing on retainer. Last week, I shared seven reasons why you should consider these arrangements —and why, as a marketer who hires lots of writers, I’m a big fan. (If you missed it, you can access the post here.)

And today I’m going to share with you the best retainer deals for writers. They may not be the ones that first come to mind …

In fact, in my experience, these three deals are the ones most often overlooked by writers. (Which means great opportunity for you!)

1. Social Media

Social media is a top pick for two reasons …

For starters, most businesses have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to social media. They know they need to have a presence. But they don’t understand why.

But more importantly, it gives you an inside edge on other writing assignments that are necessary for an effective social media marketing strategy. Which means along with having a steady gig, you’ll be able to develop a list of other assignments you can pitch your clients — from landing pages and email campaigns, to online content and Pay-Per-Click ads, all of which come with additional writing fees.

Typically the writer’s role includes:

  • Managing the various social media communities.
  • Writing messages/updates.
  • Writing advertisements to build follower numbers and increase engagements.
  • Leading discussions.
  • Turning engagements into content (which is often priced in addition to the retainer deal).

Fees:

  • Upwards of $2,000 a month, depending on how much you do.
  • New content is often priced separately.

How to land:

  • Get involved in their social networks.
  • Identify how they’re using them (customer service, sales, etc.).
  • Research and join similar groups to see what their competition is doing.
  • Present the client with solutions for achieving their goals and taking advantage of missed opportunities.

(Learn more about doing social media on retainer here.)

2. E-newsletters

E-newsletters provide a valuable marketing channel for many businesses …

They provide an inexpensive way to develop a relationship with prospects, and they allow a company (or service provider) to position itself as an expert in the industry.

But here’s the catch …

Once a business starts sending out an e-newsletter, their prospects and customers expect it to show up on a regular basis.

Which is great for you. Because it means they’re going to need good e-newsletter content written on a consistent, ongoing schedule.

Typically the writer’s role includes:

  • Researching the industry.
  • Developing an Editorial Calendar.
  • Writing the e-newsletter content.
  • Developing a single voice for the company.
  • Managing the list and disseminating the e-newsletter.

Fees:

  • $900 to $2,000 per issue (length is typically 1,200 to 1,500 words).
  • Plus thousands to set-up an e-newsletter from scratch.

How to land:

  • Focus on a particular niche.
  • Review newsletters in the industry.
  • Put together a few sample issues.
  • Prepare two Project Proposal templates:
    • taking over an existing e-newsletter,
    • and starting a new e-newsletter.

(Learn more about writing e-newsletters on retainer here.)

3. Online Content

Companies spent more than $118.4 billion on content marketing in 2013 — yet many writers don’t think of online content as a retainer deal. They approach the projects piece-by-piece.

Which always surprises me … Because companies need content on an ongoing basis!

Google now insists that a website have quality content (and a constant stream of it) or its search engine rankings will suffer. And, if a business can’t be found on Google … well, they may as well close up shop.

Content marketing is essentially “selling without selling.” Instead, businesses educate their readers with stories, metaphors, and simple advice in the form of new articles, blog posts, emails, and so on.

Ultimately, these pieces of content are moving the reader toward the sale …

But in the meantime, content gives the company the opportunity to build a relationship with the reader, and demonstrate their expertise, so that when the opportunity to buy does appear, the reader is open to it and ready to take action.

Typically the writer’s role includes:

  • Researching the industry.
  • Writing blog posts in the voice of company executives or experts.
  • Conducting interviews for case studies, press releases, or articles.
  • Developing different pieces that will move the prospect through the sales funnel (emails, video scripts, slide shows, etc.).

Fees:

  • $100 to $500 per piece.
  • Fees depend on length and complexity of topic.

How to land:

  • Read content on websites of interest.
  • Determine who their audience is and what they’re trying to ultimately sell.
  • Put together a list of relevant topics.
  • When pitching, keep in mind the intention of the company.

(Learn more about writing online content on retainer here.)

Remember, retainer deals can be put in place whenever there is an ongoing need for a particular type of content or copy.

rebecca_matter-150And while this list really only scratches the surface, hopefully it helps you spot other opportunities to build a steady ongoing income stream as a professional writer.

Next week, I’ll show you how to structure and set up these deals …

So decide which ones you’d like to pursue, and then join me for some best practices you should follow to ensure you land and execute them with ease!

To your success,
Rebecca Matter

 

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