Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pen Name

I have a question for anyone who may know the answer. When submitting a manuscript to a publisher, do you submit under a pen name if you intend on using one, or under your real name? Does the same go for a query letter?



Sunday, September 27, 2009

5 Quick Tips for Writer/Agent Negotiations

Here's another interesting one -- good things to know if -- when! -- we all get agents.



Publishing 101: What You Need To Know

Here is a web site from Writer's Digest that goes over some important things to know about publishing -- I thought this went along well with our recent conversations. And of course, I'm a fan of everything Writer's Digest :o)


Posted by Jo

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Dear Fellow Writers:

I was reluctant to reproduce Writer’s Digest’s entire article, “24 Agents Looking for New Writers,” due to plagiarism concerns. I wanted you to be aware of the 24 agents who are looking for new writers, and have posted a sample of the article. This article appeared in “Writer’s Digest” issue for September 2009. Here is a sampling of what you will find.


Emmanuelle Alspaugh, Agent
Fiction Interests:
romance, women’s fiction, historical fiction
Nonfiction Interests: narrative nonfiction, memoir, business and how-to
Actively Seeking: paranormal, futuristic and historical romance, and urban fantasy
Does Not Want: detective stories, spy thrillers, cozy mysteries or any novel with a dead body in the first chapter

Bernadette Baker-Baughman, Agent
Specializes in: nonfiction and graphic novels
Nonfiction interests: image-rich books, pop culture, light sociology and narrative nonfiction.
Does Not Want: sci-fi, Western or children’s books

Michelle Brower, Agent
Nonfiction Interests: memoir, pop culture, humor, animal/pet books, popular science and narrative nonfiction
Fiction Interests: literary and commercial fiction, including thrillers, graphic novels, select YA titles, books that capture elements of the strange and wonderful, and those that offer a unique perspective of the world.
Does Not Want: cozies, romance, picture books, genre sci-fi or horror

NOTES: Second Meeting, 9-21-09

by Jason

Re: Required Word Count for Books
— It varies somewhat, depending on the genre
— Most books today are about 100,000 words
— 60,000 words equals approximately 300 pages
— Nonfiction books are typically around 400 pages

Fred’s Notes From the Patricia Harman Lecture:
— Harman received 85 rejection letters. (I heard in President Obama’s recent speech that J.K. Rowling only received something like 12 rejection letters for “Harry Potter.”) When we start getting hand-written rejection letters, then we know that we’re getting close and that we’ve arrived as writers.

— Nonfiction writers will get rejected on the basis of query letters and proposals. That’s why those must be perfect.

— In the publishing world, these are the steps for fiction writers:
1. write the book
2. query an agent
3. send synopsis and three chapters
4. agent sells book
5. the publisher buys

—These are the steps for nonfiction writers:
1. query an agent
2. write a book proposal
3. the publisher pays you for the book up front, and you finish writing it with a set deadline

— Writing a good query letter is essential. Must be perfect. Last month’s Writer’s Digest has sample query letters “that worked.”

— Fred says if we’re serious about writing, he recommends that we attend writers’ conferences.

— As strange as it sounds, we might consider hiring a writing coach to assist us with our proposals. Their services cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $130-$150.

— When our books sell to a publishing company, we should expect a significant amount of editing from multiple editors: writing editor, marketing department, copy editors, etc.

Feature Presentation:
Rich and His Adventures in Self-Publishing “Talking ‘bout the relatives”

Note: Rich gave a wonderful presentation at our last meeting. I tried to take good notes, but I’m not much of a reporter (ask Fred). Rich shared some personal financial details about his publishing ventures that I won’t publish here on the Internet. Despite all the above, I’ll try to do it justice. If I get anything wrong, Rich, please feel free to correct me or contribute necessary addenda.

Rich has been a storyteller for years. He has lots of original stories. He’s sent them to magazines, giving their editors permission to cut and edit however they saw fit, and they’d accept his writing. Rich said magazines are nice, but they don’t pay much, if at all.

He went to storyteller conferences and attended a workshop on getting published. Soon he met up with an editor, who assisted him on his journey.

Rich said even if you get your book on the shelves of a major bookstore chain, you face very tough odds that anybody will even pick your book up, amid a sea of competition and better-known authors. He said distribution is the key and a big challenge.

Rich learned that his collection of stories needed to have a unifying theme. This is how he started sorting his material into tall tales, ghost stories, etc.

He learned to rewrite and revise very well, because working with an editor who’s paid by the hour is quite expensive and therefore motivating.

Rich noted that being a writer is a professional endeavor — a business whose expenses could be written off against your taxes. Rich emphasized the importance of paying your taxes and keeping receipts and good records of all your publishing and book-related expenditures.

He said book stores insist on having the bar code on the book’s cover (and the price???) He said in self-publishing, you need to give away as few free copies as possible, because you lose money on each unsold book. Inevitably, Rich said, there are at least 10 copies that must be given away, such as two copies to Amazon.com; two to the Library of Congress; a couple of autographed copies for your editor, illustrator; and then a few promotional copies for the sales reps, etc.

Rich used the West Virginia Book Company . He said it has a good Web site. This company will edit, copyright, help with building a Web site, etc.

Rich got his book into several sales venues, but Tamarack has been one of his best places for sales. He said he made his money back that he spent on his publishing venture in 8 or 9 months.

Rich said in order to get your book on a big chain’s shelves, such as Books-A-Million, there’s lots of paperwork that must be filled out every time you submit a shipment of books (which are very few). He decided it just wasn’t worth his time to fill out the submission forms each time for two or three book sales.

Another important comment that Rich made was that he initially began this publishing investment already having the extra money to spend. He said he had money set aside for a big, model train set, but he decided to pay for self-publishing, instead. What it seemed like he was suggesting, or at least, the point I took from this, was that Rich wasn’t betting the farm, so to speak, on the success of his book sales. Smart.

Fred said now that Rich has proven himself as a salable author, he might have a lot of success with pursuing the traditional agent/publishing-company route. Rich has already built a platform.


Items We Reviewed From Our Previous Meeting:
— In the writing industry, always remember that money flows to the author, not from the author.
— Two big objectives of our writers’ “support group” are to inspire one another and be motivated to write more.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lunch with Books 9-29-09

From Bill

Next Tuesday's Lunch with Books looks very interesting to aspiring writers. Here's a copy of the e-mail describing the program:


Up Next: The Art of Nature with artist and naturalist Julie Zickefoose
Tuesday, September 29th: The Art of Nature
On Tuesday, September 29 at noon, naturalist, writer, & artist Julie Zickefoose will be at the Ohio County Public Library’s Lunch With Books program to discuss her book, Letters from Eden, which offers scenes from her beloved southern Ohio home. The scenes illuminate well-crafted essays based on her daily walks and observations. The book explores the interactions between people and animals. Julie Zickefoose began her career as a field biologist and became a magazine and book illustrator. Her monthly commentaries bring a glimpse of Appalachia to NPR's All Things Considered. Her appearance is sponsored by West Liberty’s Hughes Lecture Series. Lunch With Books programs are free and open to the public. Patrons are invited to bring a bag lunch and free beverages are provided. Please call the library at 304-232-0244 for more information.

To learn more about this author, you can visit her WEB site at http://www.juliezickefoose.com/index.php

I just looked at Julie's WEB site and was very impressed with it. You can read some of her nature writings, order her prints, and learn more of her background. The WEB site design would work for any writer who wants to show and sell his stuff on the internet. As a WEB site designer myself, I consider it well laid out and very user friendly.

Source for Self Publishing

From Bill

I came across this site while researching on-line printing for my photography efforts: http://www.qoop.com/ Scroll down and look at the links on the right side of the page to find the areas devoted to publishing. For someone like me who's interested in both writing and photography, this is perfect since they will print both on the same page.

If anyone is working on children's books, you can check out the local talent found at Artworks Around Town in the Centre Market Area of Wheeling. Anne Foreman does all the illustrations for Joe Roxby's books on early frontier life in Wheeling. If it's photography you need, I'm available. You can see samples of my work at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41694147@N03/

It has a pretty good PDF document explaining the way to write your novel, what's needed, costs, etc. It explains how you can even design your own cover and the various options on binding, etc. That address is: https://my.qoop.com/_files/qoopSelfPubGde.pdf

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jomana's story

I liked how you set up the characters. Interested to see where they go from here.


Gino's "C.D."

First I have to say thanks Gino for the kind words on my pages. Second, I like the premise of your story. I liked the first two paragraphs, but I got bit lost in the third.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I read Jomana's 10 pages

Informatively descriptive. Intelligent. Piqued my curiosity. Gino

I read Joanie's 9 pages

Youthful, adventurous, cute. Your target audience will like it. Gino

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lead for submissions to internet for audio books

From Bill

This site was mentioned in a daily newsletter that I receive. URL is http://www.sniplits.com/ . Briefly you can submit your books via e-mail in various genres. Once on the site, go to the Author's Room and you can see what they will pay in advance for your story and how and when to submit it. They will do the voice recording so people can download it in MP3 format.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Can I Write My Query Letter before Finishing My Book?

This was an interesting read. It magically appeared this morning in my e-mail. It also has a link to look at older query letters from earlier editions of "Writer's Digest."
Click here.