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Questions to Ask a Small Publisher

If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance you’re a writer and you’re going to be published someday if you’re not already. In today’s publishing environment, there are plenty of options (as you know) and if you don’t have an agent, you may find yourself talking to a smaller, independent publisher. It’s hard to…
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Mail

Should You Re-Query an Agency?

One of the most common questions I receive is, “When is it okay to send another query to an agent who previously passed?”Another is, “If an agent passed on my query, can I send the query to another person at the same agency?” There are various scenarios to consider, so here’s an overview. First, whenever…
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Botched Communication

  I want to tell you about an incident at a writers’ conference that was sort of heartbreaking for me. We agents have a lot invested in these conferences, just like the writers do, and sometimes we have disappointments too. I met with a writer who pitched me a couple of projects. She seemed like…
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Why You’re Getting Rejections

Awhile back, Nathan Bransford had a terrific post on “Why You Are Receiving Rejections.” He says if you keep getting rejections, it boils down to two reasons: either your query isn’t strong enough, or your query is fine but your project isn’t resonating with agents. So true! He’s nailed it! He’s absolutely right! But I have…
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One book

Why You Should Pitch a Single Book

If you’re like most writers, you’re probably not writing just one book. You’ve written multiple books, possibly in different genres. You may have a whole 3 or 6 or 9-book series planned. So the question naturally arises: Should I pitch my whole series to an agent? Should I tell them about my entire body of work?…
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Sharp pencils

Writing a One-Sentence Summary

Let’s discuss the one-sentence summary, also known as a logline, a hook, or a one-sentence pitch. 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, book proposal, or anytime someone asks you, “What’s your…
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8 Things To Do While You Wait

I heard a delightful interview with NY Times bestselling author Paula Brackston on the Grammar Girl podcast, in which she talked about the writing process and the life of a writer. “I was one of those overnight successes that takes about ten years. I’d been trying to get a novel published for a long time. I wrote short…
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What Not to Say in a Query

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a huge fan of candy corn.” Okay, I know you’d never put that in your query (unless your book is about candy corn). It tells me something about you, yes, but it’s not actually relevant to the project you’re pitching me. You know better than to do…
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God Told Me to Write This Post

People always ask me about the clichés we hear in queries, and last week someone asked me what makes my eyes glaze over in a pitch. Here it is, hands-down: “God told me to write this.” And let’s not forget its many variations. God laid it on my heart. God gave me this idea. God…
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Questions on Queries

Here are a few questions I often receive about queries and what I say in response: You said “don’t pitch a novel unless it’s complete.” Do you feel the same about query letters? Do we only query completed works, or are ideas fair game? If you are sending a query to an agent, only pitch…
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Don’t Send Me Everything You’ve Got

I’ve written previously about authors arguing with me when I send them a rejection. They write back trying to convince me that I’m wrong and I should take another look. There’s another kind of “not taking no for an answer” I get sometimes that seems like a better approach because it’s not an argument, but…
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How to Write a Terrific Author Bio

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…
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Knocking on door

Steps for Approaching an Agent

So, I happened across a Facebook group for writers and there was a discussion about finding an agent. One of the writers mentioned that an agent to whom she’d submitted had requested a book proposal for her non-fiction book. Her question was: What is a book proposal? Perfectly good question. But it shows this writer needs…
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Answering Questions about Queries

I get mail! My inbox is always filled with questions. Today I’m answering some I’ve received on the topic of Query Letters. You’ve said on your blog, “don’t pitch a novel unless it’s complete.” Do you feel the same about query letters? Do we only query completed works, or are ideas fair game? If you…
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