What Caught My Eye

by Steve Laube


Last week we talked about the hook, the sound bite, or the ability to “say it in a sentence.” One reader asked for examples so I thought I’d give you a few.

Below are the short pitches of proposals that have caught my eye over the years from debut authors. Please realize that the sound bite is only one of many factors that goes into a great proposal. Ultimately it is the execution of the concept that makes for a great book. For example, The Help by Kathryn Stockett would not have succeeded as a word-of-mouth bestseller if the writing did not support the story. (No, we did not represent that title, I’m only trying to make a point. :-))

Your challenge will be to see if you can identify which books these sound bites are pitching. Each one has been published. One is obviously non-fiction, the other two are novels. The answers to each of these will be provided later this week in the comments section. Along with a link to the title so you can see it in its final form.

__________________

This Bible study concept is uniquely designed to connect to women ages 20 to 40, drawing them closer to God and closer to each other. Our generation simply does not have time for hours of bible study a week for several months. We don’t want to fill in the blanks. We want to go deep quickly and actually deal with sin, not just learn about it. And we want to do it on our terms, engaging in raw relational discussions about struggles and hopes, while deeply considering truth and how it applies to our lives.

__________________

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but Words? They can always heal me.
A child whose silence holds the truth captive…
An artist whose work speaks the agony of her past…
Will they let the truth set them free?

__________________

Move Over, Walter Mitty. Here Comes Becky Miller.
A young mother with grandiose daydreams and a longing to do “Big Things for God” searches for direction amid the chaos of daily life and the disappointment of failed opportunities.

__________________

Three ideas in short form. Can you name the titles and authors?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

Study the Market


What is the best way to find out what is successful in the current market?

This is a good question because while as an author, you don’t want to chase the market, you also don’t want to write books that are so far off from the current market that they have no chance of selling. First and foremost, marketing advice from any source assumes that authors submit their best, most polished, highest quality work. Just because vampire novels enjoy popularity now, doesn’t mean publishers will acquire just any novel with a vampire. The novel must sparkle to sell to a publisher and then to readers. I don’t recommend chasing nonfiction trends either, because one or two popular authors can quickly saturate the market on any given topic. Or as Steve Laube says, “If you are asking what’s hot…you are too late.” Although some topics are evergreen, as a rule the market can only absorb so many books on a topic. Writing about a tangent of a popular topic won’t help because then the book is in danger of being too narrow to sell to a large audience. It’s then a niche of a niche.

Read More

News You Can Use – Oct. 18, 2011

Ten Ways to Irritate an Editor or Agent – I have to admit, this made me laugh and then cry because some of these have happened to me too!

What is it Like to be James Patterson’s Co-Author? – Perspective by Ned Rust.

Ebooks Don’t Spell the End of Literature – Jonathan Jones on Art.

Shiny: The Firefly Guide to Creative Content – If you know what “Firefly” is, you are in unique company. If you don’t? Don’t worry about it. You probably didn’t like “Tron” either.

Is it B.C./A.D or C.E? – The debate rages over dating continues. Make sure you know your publisher’s “house style” ahead of time. Do you agree with this writer or disagree? I personally do not like using C.E. or “Common Era.”

10 Google Chrome Apps (Extensions) that Can Make You a Better Writer – Good reviews by Easily Mused.

Digital Reading: At the Intersection of Reading and Retail – Great insight from Anne Kostick.

Read More

Say it in a Sentence

Can you present your book idea in one sentence?

Can you present that idea in such a way that the reader is compelled to buy your book?

What motivates someone to spend money on a book? It is the promise that there is something of benefit to me, the reader.

Books are generally purchased for one of three reasons:

Entertainment Information Inspiration

If your book idea can make me want to read it, whether it is for entertainment, information, or inspiration, then you are well on your way to making a sale.

Read More

Writing Contests: Panacea or Waste?

At a recent conference, a lovely writer who had finaled in a contest but wasn’t chosen as the winner asked if she could still submit a proposal to me. I told her “Yes! Of course!”

Her question brought to mind the role contests play in a writer’s career. I’m asked questions about contests at least once a month. I’ll try to answer two key questions here.

Should I Enter?

When considering whether to enter a contest, think about your career goals. Does the contest make sense for the type of book you write? A quick look at past winners may give you a clue as to the value of the particular contest for you.

Read More

News You Can Use – Oct. 11, 2011

Inside Scoop on Publishing – Three editors bring a fresh take on the subject of today’s market

Your Book Still Has to be Amazing – Literary Agent Scott Eagan makes a strong case. He is right on the money.  I quote“…this is probably the biggest change we are seeing right now in publishing. It isn’t the fact that we see the e-reader technology taking over, but a change in the way the readers are finding the books.”

Free Audio Lectures on Lit! – This is an amazing resource. Hear Tony Reinke discuss the material behind four chapters from his new book Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books.

How Publishing is Like a 7th Grad Dance – Brilliant post by Mary DeMuth.

Issues Facing a Digital Transition – Excellent, but all to brief, interview with Tom Bozeman about some of the complex things publishers must deal with.

Author Philosophy 101 – Katie Ganshert asks some great questions.

15 Frequently Confused Pairs of Verbs – Are you guilty? I see this more than you care ever imagine.

Marketing for Insecure Writers – Don’t be afraid to admit you read this one.

Read More

Fun Fridays – Oct. 7, 2011

What is Your Favorite Candy?

Need a break from a tough week? Play the Candy Smackdown game. Then tell us both your final four and your ultimate winner in the comments below.

In case you are wondering, last year’s overall winner “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup” has been retired from the competition (placed in the Candy Hall of Fame) to insure there are no repeat winners.

Either click the picture below or go to this link for the larger PDF file: 2011 candy-smackdown-bracket

Read More

Conference Proposal Requests

The recent ACFW conference (attended by nearly 700 writers and industry professionals) has writers, agents, and editors in overdrive as we all attempt to follow up on conference proposal requests. Writers are working feverishly to get proposals to editors. Some are thinking, “Surely the editor who seemed so excited about my proposal is checking email at least once or twice a day looking for it. I must, must, must get the proposal out today!”

Not so fast

Our word is our bond, and we feel responsible when we promise to submit a proposal as soon as we can. Accountability is to be commended. Editors and agents appreciate conscientious writers. However, most of us are looking for a writer’s proposal under certain conditions, and those conditions are usually quite urgent in the careers of writers already established with us. From my perspective, conference requests are different. Here are a few examples:

Read More