Are you an author looking for ways to amplify your voice and those of like-minded authors? Here are a few that involve minimal time on your part.
- Unreal and underdeveloped characters who feel like stick figures.
- Overly wordy prose laced with grammatical errors and typos.
- Dull, predictable, repetitive stories written in a confusing style.
- Keeping readers waiting for a climax that never comes.
- Lazy writing, flimsy and unbelievable storyline.
- Writers with no clue of human nature.
- Unrelatable characters who are difficult to care about.
- Crimes stories which are too violent and obscene for readers to stomach.
- Politically biased prose.
- Poorly researched stories.
Question: Which one of the above would a professional editor allow you to slip-slide into publishing? Read more “Top 10 Reader’s (and Reviewer’s) Complaints”
by Sarah Tun
An age old nursery rhyme goes, “To market, to market to buy a fat pig.”
Funny, I remember it as an engagement to get a bone.… In any case, it is a rhyme to celebrate the age old action of going into a village from your isolated country farm to sell your wares and buy or trade for what you need.
Enter the twenty-first century when we have the internet and independent-publishing professional- (as opposed to vanity) style publishing.
Even some big-wigs like Stephen King are indie-publishing now. But authors who are well established have the upper hand over those of us who are relative unknowns. They have their brand and they have their audience already established.
So, how do we decide between traditional and indie-publishing? If you indie-publish, you get all the income as opposed to receiving a percentage of the royalties with the rest going to agent and/or publisher. It sounds like a no-brainer then, to indie- publish.
On the other hand, if you trade publish, you give them a portion of your income and they handle the details, right? Including marketing, right?
Not so. Whether trade or indie-published the marketing, in significant if not total measure, lands with the author nowadays, regardless the route you travel to get the book published.
I’ve become a bit cynical about marketing, now that I understand a tiny bit about it. The marketing itself doesn’t cause me to be cynical. But the internet with its expert on this and expert on that has brought me to a place where I simply do not believe so many people (especially those who are under thirty) are truly an expert on anything… or very nearly so.
I’ve seen so many webinars about “how to be the expert” or “how to market” that since I’m quite certain I have limited expertise, it makes me think almost everyone else tooting their horn is an expert more in their own ambitious eyes than in fact.
So how do I learn about marketing in order to find my readership? Tom helps, a lot.
The thing about Authors Community which is quite unique (and yes this is a bit of preaching to the converted) is that our CEO is a mature gentleman of years of experience, and he just wants to download what he knows about marketing so that others can run with it; authors can share their GOD-given books to the world and get the messages out that GOD has for us to share.
As to marketing: Yes, if we have to do it, then we might as well bite that bullet and discover how to do it in a friendly environment, and in a way that does not roll so fast we fall down trying to keep up. For me, that’s what AC offers: practical help at a pace I can manage and with sound advice that works for very little cash. At AC we’re here to help, far more than to make a buck (though we do have to eat!), and we believe if someone has a story to tell, they should tell it well and get it in front of as many eyes as possible. Enter the AC bundle.
As to whether we go to market for a bone, a pig or a published product, we have to make the journey to the sales barn. So, let’s get on the cart (as opposed to the proverbial internet band wagon), take our time to do an excellent job doing it properly, while simultaneously learning the other essential of how to get our books in front of the eyes that need to see it.
That’s just my practical thinking. What do you make of taking your own book “to market”?
Sarah Tun is an author, developmental editor as well as a professional voice for voice overs and narrations.
You invest time, energy, sweat, and tears into your proposal. You are ready to hit the send button.
Stop and count to thirty… it was longer than you expected, right?
Thirty seconds can determine destination. An athlete will not qualify for the Olympics if he’s thirty seconds behind. He must practice day and night, eat healthy, and forego a personal life to increase his chances of obtaining a spot on the team.
Large corporations pay millions to purchase a thirty second commercial for the Super Bowl. Hours are spent writing, filming, editing, and more editing—just for a thirty second spot. When the commercial is aired, the advertisement must capture the viewer’s attention and inspire them to purchase the product or service, or that company is not hired again.
A book proposal is similar. It takes only a short time to determine the fate of your manuscript.
An agent or a publisher can review your proposal and decide quickly if they want to reject your baby, especially if one of the top three requirements doesn’t meet their expectations. It seems unfair, since you spent countless hours on research, edits, and rewrites, but publishers and agents get hundreds of proposals and don’t have time to read each in its entirety, so they look at what’s important to them.
As a submission reader for a literary agent, I interviewed agents and publishes and found the top three items they look for in a proposal. A notable biography, marketing plan, and an eye catching first three chapters are required in the decision-making process. Will your proposal pass the test?
Biography– The agent or publisher desire to learn about the writer. This section answers these vital questions. Are you the best person to write the book? Are you a person the publisher or agent wants to work with?
The biography should include writing experience, education, achievements, publishing history, and a current headshot. Write the bio in the third person. If you have a decent platform, mention it here. Mention an endorsement from a well-known writer. Publishers and agents don’t care if you love cats or chocolate, unless it is the topic of your book. I made that mistake.
Marketing Plan– Let’s face it, writing is a business. The agents and publishers want to see numbers, no matter how small. The two words that publishers do not want to see in this section are, “I will.” I will build a website, I will create a Facebook page, or I will get endorsements and speaking engagements. Complete the tasks then submit the proposal. You will not be able to resubmit the proposal for another six months in most cases, so do it now.
Brainstorm all the following. You may be surprised at how many people you know. I coached one client who didn’t realize that the college he attended would post a book release to their blog and newsletter. This added over 100,000 people to his list.
Include the following in your plan:
- Organization membership-list numbers
- Book signings
- Speaking Engagements
- Press Kit
- Book Tours
- Book Groups
- Blog tours
Three Sample Chapters- Do you write well? Can you hook the agent or publisher? One of the agents I interviewed stated, “If the writer can’t hook me with the story or the writing is bad, why look at the rest of the proposal.” These chapters must be professionally edited. I’ve seen many proposals where the author did not even run a basic grammar and spelling check. To an agent, this means the writer does not pay attention to detail and might be difficult to work with.
For fiction submissions, submit the first three chapters of the book.
For non-fiction submissions, pick the best three chapters that capture the essence of the book.
The most important part of submitting a proposal is following the agent or publisher guidelines. You will find them at their website. If you can’t find them at the site, email them.
I was told as a submissions reader and junior literary agent to delete any proposals that did not follow our guidelines. I’m sorry to say, I deleted many good candidates for not following guidelines. Invest the time now.
Thirty seconds of a proposal review may turn into thirty minutes and then a contract, if you follow submission guidelines and capture the attention of the agent or publisher.
Major corporations, Olympians, publishers, and agents know—thirty seconds can determine destination. Please take the time to create a winning proposal.
If you are stuck at the starting line and need help, just email us. We can get you to the finish line.
by Ian Wall
Some twenty years ago (I don’t remember exactly when) The Lord asked me to write a novel for him.
I said, “Yes Lord, but you are going to have to show me what to do”.
I had not written a novel before and I did not have a clue what to do.
Recently my pastor said that our God had played his part for us by giving us his only son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord, and to die on the cross for our sins. He said that we had to play our part for Him.
How can we play our part for our God?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11),
“…the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7),
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9), and
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21).
I can play my part by doing the will of my God.
I do not regard the time that I have here on earth as my time, but as his time.
I want to use it so that “His kingdom comes, his will is done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
I prayed about this novel and started to write about a Species of sentient frogs, The Makné, and a Species of sentient ants, The Nâzz Ipîtuí. I deleted a lot of what I wrote because I thought that it was me rather than The Lord. One of the earliest things that I wrote, that I have not changed, was about a Species of sentient kelp, The Qrem.
I showed an early draft of the novel, The Seventh Tree, to my wife, Letchimi, and to my pastor, Steve.
Letchimi insisted that writing this novel was not God’s will, Steve wasn’t sure.
I stopped writing it. I did not want to spend time working on a project that was not God’s will.
I continued to write poems. Some of the longer Christian poems took more than a year to write. I have written more than a hundred poems to date.
Yet the novel, The Seventh Tree, would not go away. I prayed about it continuously. A friend from church said that if something wouldn’t go away, then that was a good indication that it was God’s will. I believed that writing it was God‘s will for me. In 2015 I started a new version and by June 2017 I had a manuscript of 39,000 words.
The apostle Paul says, “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). How could I know that what I was writing was God’s will?
I spoke to Jonathan, a member of my home group in church. He suggested that I send the manuscript to him and that he would send it to the Christian writer, Jennifer Rees Larcombe, a family friend. I did this, but Jennifer was unable to help, suggesting that I send it to the Association of Christian Writers (ACW). I joined the ACW.
I spoke to Letchimi asking her if I could spend £117.50 on getting the manuscript edited. She agreed. In April 2018 I sent the manuscript of the novel, The Seventh Tree, to Fay Sampson, the Adult Fiction Adviser for the ACW. She sent me a report of her findings. I read it and my heart sank. She had made pages of criticisms. I admit that I was discouraged. I put her report away and thought, Letchimi is right. I have wasted all that time.
I continued to pray and went back to the report. Fay Sampson had made some constructive criticisms. She said that The Seventh Tree is an “ambitious project”, but said that “there is a huge amount to do to turn this preliminary sketch into a rich, enjoyable novel.” She suggested definite actions that I could take to carry this out.
I continued to pray continuously and, in May 2018, I started to write a new manuscript, taking into account Fay Sampson’s suggestions.
I connected on LinkedIn with Tom Blubaugh, a Literary Strategist, and we had a Zoom meeting. He invited me to join Authors Community, an online community to help authors publish their books.
Tom introduced me to the world of marketing, an area which I had not considered before. My education in this area is being aided by a series of videos which have been produced by Authors Community. He suggested that I write interviews with the main characters in the novel. I completed three of the interviews and sent them to Tom’s colleague in Authors Community, Gina Burgess, who made insightful, helpful and brilliant suggestions, to improve the them.
In the last year, with help from The Lord and others, I have completed the first nine chapters of The Seventh Tree in draft form, more than 43,000 words.
I have done a lot of sowing in the last twenty years and I am starting to see a harvest.
How can I tell the difference between what God has asked me to write and what might be coming from me? It matters to me, that He is in my writing, that His will is being done. The Holy Spirit “searches our hearts” (Romans 8:27). I read, re-read, and edit, what I have written. I am totally dependent on my God to guide me in this.
The fundamental disagreement with my wife continues. We have both been born-again, we are both in the kingdom of the Spirit, Jesus Christ lives in both of us, The Father has made His home within both of us, and we are each new creations. I have been praying for unity between us and our God and between us (John 17). There is greater unity, but this disagreement continues. How can this be?
I regard The Seventh Tree as a project that Jesus himself has given me to do.
How can I move forward?
For, although our God never wastes anything. I would nevertheless have spent a lot of time working on something that was not His will.
Publishing a novel is an expensive process. How can I commit to this expense in the face of my wife’s adamant opposition?
This is not an impossible situation as nothing is impossible with our God.
I have asked Him, if it is His will, to provide me with the funds that are necessary to publish this book (Matthew 7:7-8). I am a joint heir of the kingdom of God with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). It is written, “ask and you will receive.”
All that I can do is put the fantasy novel, The Seventh Tree, into the hands of my God and say, “Let your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Ian Wall is an Author Level member of Authors Community.