What I Learned from Searching for a Literary Agent

What I Learned from Searching for a Literary Agent

*Let me preface this by saying that I ultimately decided to self-publish, so I cannot offer advice on what worked to get me signed with a publishing company.

When I wrote my first book, I was completely starry eyed. I knew it was a great story. I knew it was going to be big. What I didn’t know was the how.

I was told that was the only way to get the book published was to hunt for an agent. It was 2004, and self-publishing was virtually unheard of. So I found a copy of Writer’s Market and started through the list. Continue reading

Productivity for Your Writing Biz

Productivity for Your Writing Biz

When we all begin writing books—with stars in our eyes, dreams in our hearts, and resting bitch face in case anyone interrupts our writing time—we usually focus on just the writing part of the business. If you already have a business and you want to write a book as part of the business, then you know that there is so much more to do than just write and loath your editor. But for those without the business to start, you have some building to do, and with building comes a seemingly endless onslaught of tasks that will make you wish you were five or six people instead of just one. There is a lot more to do after you publish that book!

What sort of tasks? Finding author events, checking your stock, purchasing new stock, purchasing anything you may need for author events (signage, table cloths, etc.), attending the author events, tallying book sales, tracking what author events were profitable, finding events in your field, doing the same stuff for all those events . . . and that doesn’t even count the marketing aspect, programs and speaking engagements you may want to do, and who knows what else.

Click here for more information about cloning yourself.

Just kidding. It’s all you, dude. And anyone you decide to hire for your team.

But let’s just say that, for now, it’s just you. How in the world can you handle all this? Continue reading

Don’t Let Lack of Goals Keep You from Writing Your Book

Don't Let Lack of Goals Keep You from Writing Your Book

Have you ever gotten a brilliant idea for a book and started writing right away before the idea disappears? Then you get about a dozen pages in and suddenly stop.

That sounds familiar.

You don’t know who’s going to read it. You don’t know why they want to read it. You don’t know what point you want to make. You don’t know if you want to educate them or help them change their lives or exactly what.

There is an awful lot that you don’t know!

What you DO know, though, is that pushing yourself to write anything more in this book is not going to be productive. So you stop. And you wait. And the book ends up in your file of “Brilliant Book Ideas that are Going Nowhere.” Ugh.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Many a false step is made by standing still”? I got that in a fortune cookie recently, and it really made me think. Inaction is just as bad as action in the wrong direction. Why? Because neither is leading us toward our purpose. Even worse, sometimes this inaction can take us so far away from the writing project that we lose interest altogether and simply deem it a failure. Continue reading

A Pattern for Non-fiction Chapter Structure

A Pattern for Non-fiction Chapter StructureHave you ever done a Rorschach test? It’s a psychological test that makes use of a person’s interpretation of inkblots so a psychologist can examine their personality and emotional functioning. Our brains are so desperate to make sense of everything that they will tell us that they see a picture in a spot of ink.

If you haven’t done a Rorschach test, then you’ve probably gazed at a cloud and seen a lion, a baked potato, or a car. And I know you’ve heard of someone somewhere who saw the image of the Virgin Mary or Jesus on a piece of burnt toast or a tater tot.

Our brains want to make sense of everything, even if it really is just a blob of ink, a cloud, or burn marks, and we also feel more comfortable with sense and patterns. Ask anyone with OCD if they are happier in a messy playroom or a neat, organized room, and I’m sure they will explain it to you!

This is why setting up a non-fiction book with a pattern for each chapter is a great method for planning and writing! When people know what to expect, then they fall into the pattern and feel very connected with your book. It feels familiar to them by the second chapter. Continue reading

Interview with Graphic Designer Karen Captline: Designing Book Covers

Interview with Graphic Designer Karen Captline Designing Book Covers

Writers typically know what to do for the inside of the book, but when we self-publish, what to do for the outside of the book can sometimes be a mystery . . . no matter the genre. So I asked Pittsburgh-area graphic designer Karen Captline some of the big questions authors may have about designing a book cover and working with a designer.

To convey to readers what the book is about, Karen said that any designer will follow the basic rules of graphic design. The field focuses on “conveying a message by using the correct fonts, words, and colors in a compelling way. Designers have a goal of creating a lot of curiosity about the book.” They want readers to want to buy this book and read it, so the visual appeal has to be there. Continue reading

How to Effectively Spend Your Non-Writing Time


How to Effectively Spend Your Non-Writing TimeEspecially if you are a new writer, wrapping your head around doing anything other than writing your book can be a little strange. There are things that you need to do to market and sell you book, though. Plus, if you want to keep writing your book (or subsequent books!), it’s always helpful to generate new ideas!

So here are some suggestions for both sides of the coin: marketing what you have and continuing writing. Remember that every minute you spend on something other than writing should be worth your time! Continue reading

Why Write Your Book for Your Business Yourself

Why Write Your Book for Your Business Yourself

This year, I’ve seen several articles talking about businesses popping up that will write your book for your business so you don’t have to do it. They range from collecting some notes from you to interviewing you about all your chapter ideas . . . and then penning the thing in entirety no matter how they get their info.

This is amazing, right? I mean, writing a book is really hard. You have to come up with all the ideas and then come up with all the words. And the typing. There is just no way around typing. With all those fingers—not to mention all those letters!—it can take ab-sol-utely for-e-ver!

Going a little tongue-in-cheek here, but you get the point. Continue reading

How to Hold a Book-Related Event

How to Hold a Book-Related Event

Sometimes when you write a book, you find yourself standing there—holding your beloved masterpiece in your hands—saying “Now what?”

If you want to reach an audience, to inspire or educate, then you can hold an event where you discuss your book. I just held a book-writing workshop this weekend (not related to my books), so here are some of the things I did to plan and get ready for the event. Continue reading

Tips for Writing Dialogue for Your Book

Tips for Writing Dialogue for Your Book

“Well, dialogue is easy!” you might think. “All I gotta do is write stuff exactly how the person says it. I mean, it’s so simple. Right?”

Not necessarily.

When you write dialogue, you have to be selective about what you’re writing, and you have to present it in a way that it is most engaging and easy to read. That can be tricky, but if you keep a few things in mind, you will be able to write clear dialogue with your purpose in mind. Continue reading

Author Interview: Kathleen Bowers, A Sacred Silence

Author Interview Kathleen Bowers, A Sacred Silence

My neighbor Kathleen Bowers is also an author, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with her and chat about her book. She actually said that she had no intention of writing a book until she knew she had to tell her unique story.

What lead her to discovering that she had a unique story was a unique series of events in itself. One day, she happened to email Oprah about her friend who inspires her because Oprah’s website asked for people to share that with them. The producer of the show contacted her and invited Kathleen and her friend to attend the show, which would be the twenty-fifth and final Favorite Things show.

Everyone who attended the show was gifted a Caribbean cruise! On the cruise, though, Kathleen noticed that several people had issues with their documentation. Even her husband ran into a problem when the image that popped up in the ship’s system for his ID wasn’t him. “When we got home, we started talking about what our next trip would be. I wanted to make sure our travel documents were in order, so we wouldn’t have any issues.”

Kathleen contacted the State’s Department of Vital Records for their original birth certificates. “This is when I found out that my birth record was sealed. I was 55 at the time, and I was surprised.” Phone calls to several other offices yielded the same answer. Even worse, no one was allowed to tell her why it was sealed. This led Kathleen on a journey to discover why the answer. “I had unearthed a buried family secret.” Continue reading