News You Can Use – May 22, 2012

Where is Publishing Headed? – This it a great article! Read is carefully and you will want to read more. I recommended John Thompson’s book Merchants of Culture last year (my review is here). Now it is in paperback for $17 (retail price) and for either the Kindle or the Nook for around $10. If you are serious about understanding the book business you owe it to yourself to buy this and read it this Summer. The paperback is the second edition and takes into account much of the digital revolution that occurred after her wrote the first edition. (Amazon Link — Barnes & Noble Link) I plan to read this a second time this Summer.

Amazon Ranking Deciphered? – Lindsay Buroker interviews Edward Robertson about the Amazon algorithms.

Make Money from Your Blog! – Joel Friedlander explores the topic of monetizing your blog.

Rethinking the Author Tour – Timely discussion from Madeline Meehan.

The Power of Stumble Upon – One of our Fun Friday posts called “Word Trivia” was picked up by Stumble Upon last week. We have averaged 9,000 visits each day to that page during the last week. That is a lot of readers! Below is an infographic that makes sense from our personal experience! Have you tried www.stumbleupon.com? [[Make sure you spell it “stumble” not “stumbled” with a “d.”]]

 

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A One Year Anniversary Announcement

by Steve Laube

A year ago we welcomed Tamela Hancock Murray and Karen Ball to our agency. I couldn’t be more pleased.

These two ladies are amazing people. They both work very hard to serve their clients with passion and excellence. I am blessed to have them as part of our team.

Next week will be the eighth anniversary of the founding of The Steve Laube Agency. We have had some wonderful success and represented some amazing authors and books in those years. I pray that we continue to help change the world word by word.

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Fun Fridays – May 8, 2012 -The Chaos of English Pronunciation

Fun Friday – May 18, 2012

Quoted in its entirety from The Better Spelling Society (read their article the history of this piece). My favorite is the last stanza that reads “which rhymes with enough? Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??”

The Chaos – by Gerard Nolst Trenité

This version is essentially the author’s own final text, as also published by New River Project in 1993. A few minor corrections have however been made, and occasional words from earlier editions have been preferred. Following earlier practice, words with clashing spellings or pronunciations are here printed in italics.

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse

Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;

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The Keys to a Great Book Proposal

“I think book proposals are one of the most difficult things to write, second only to obituaries.”

When I received this email from one of my authors, Sherry Gore, (and yes, I have permission to quote her), I could relate. I’ve never written obituaries, even though writing one’s own is a popular goal-setting exercise. But I have written and read many book proposals so I know they aren’t easy to write. Sometimes they aren’t easy to read. So how can you make your book proposals easy to read? When my assistant and I are scanning proposals, here are the key points we first notice:

1) Format: Is the overall look of the proposal easy on the eye? A poorly-formatted proposal won’t be rejected if we are wowed by the content, but proposals with a pleasing appearance make a great impression.

2) Title: Tell us immediately what we are viewing: Fiction/nonfiction? Series/standalone? Genre? Historical/contemporary?

3) Hook: What is the spirit of your book?  Fried Green Tomatoes meets Star Trek? Or A Systematic Approach to Spiritual Spring Cleaning?

4) Back Cover Blurb: In two or three short paragraphs, make me want to buy your book. Take the time to make this sparkle, because great back cover copy will help sell me on your book, then the editor, then the pub board, then marketing, then your readers.

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In the Beginning…First Lines of a Book

I don’t know about you, but I love great first lines. First lines that intrigue or challenge, that captivate and spark strong emotion or curiosity. Some writers spend hours, even days crafting that perfect first line to draw readers into the book. For others, the line is just…there.

A group of author friends loves to play the first-line game, where we share the first line from our WIPs. I like to ask people to share first lines from books that captured them. Both exercises are great fun. More than that, though, it’s fascinating to see what captures or intrigues people. It’s a great way to gain insight into your readers.

So what do you say? Wanna play?

First, let’s share first lines we loved from books we have read. Here are some of my favorites:

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News You Can Use – May 15, 2012

J.A. Konrath Responds – [Warning: There is some coarse language in the post.] Konrath’s response to my blog post from yesterday.

Vetting a Freelance Editor – Victoria Strauss writes an incredible article on how to pick the best independent editor for your project.

Icons that Make No Sense to the New Generation of Readers – A tremendous article about words that could “date” your writing if you aren’t careful.

25 Ways to use Twitter the Wrong Way – Very educational for those who are casual users

Bible App Exceeds 50 Million Downloads – YouVersion Bible App from LifeChurch.TV. Link includes a video interview with the co-founder.

Songwriter Wins Lawsuit – If you plan on still being in the publishing game 30 years from now or if your heirs will need advice on your literary estate, read this article and see what a loophole in the copyright law can mean for you.

Enjoy this pretty cool video called “The Bible in 50 Words”
[tentblogger-vimeo 36765988]

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Goodbye to Traditional Publishing?

by Steve Laube

Recently Ann Voss Peterson wrote of her decision to never sign another contract with Harlequin. One major statistic from the article is that she sold 170,000 copies of a book but earned only $20,000.

Multiple clients sent me Peterson’s “Harlequin Fail” article and wanted my opinion. My first thought is that this was typical “the publisher is ripping me off” fodder. But that would be a simplistic and knee-jerk reaction and unfair to both Peterson and Harlequin.

Yes, Harlequin pays a modest royalty that is less than some publishers. Since when is that news? That has always been their business model because it is the only way to create and maintain an aggressive Direct-to-Consumer and Trade publishing program. Their publishing machine is huge and they are a “for profit” company. For Profit. If they are unprofitable, they go away.

If an author is uncomfortable with the terms, then don’t sign the contract (which is Peterson’s decision going forward). I urge each of you to be careful not to sign a contract and then complain about it later. Unless you were completely hoodwinked you agreed to those terms and should abide by them.

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Word Trivia

Word Trivia

“Stewardesses” and “reverberated” are the two longest (and commonly used) words (12 letters each) that can be typed with only the left hand.

“lollipop” is the longest word typed with your right hand.

The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”.

The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every letter of the alphabet.

The words ‘racecar,’ ‘kayak’ and ‘level’ are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).

There are only four words in the English language which end in “dous”: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: “abstemious” and “facetious.” (a e i o u)

Typewriter is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

The only city whose name can be spelled completely with vowels is Aiea, Hawaii.

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Writing to Market: Bad Advice?

Throughout my career I’ve seen various responses to the advice that declares “Write to market!” In other words “write what sells” because that is what is most important for a writer. Is this good advice or bad advice?

It is both.

Here is when it’s bad advice: When you’re made to feel you have to write a certain type of book just to break into the market, any market.

If you think, for instance, that any lame brain can write a romance novel, but hey, romance authors are millionaires, then the romance novel market is not where you need to be. You won’t respect your readers or give them your best.

So if writing to market means you’re slogging away writing a book you loathe in hopes of entertaining riches, then you’ve taken bad advice.

Then when is writing to market a good idea?

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The Value of SHOWmanship in Fiction

 

Recently, I’ve heard a few editors comment that they don’t worry about showing things in fiction, that they think editors and writers get too caught up showing when it’s really not all that important. Telling is okay. It’s just as strong and effective as showing.

I beg to differ.

Consider this from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, a stellar book by Renni Browne and Dave King:

“Narrative summary no longer engages readers the way it once did. Since engagement is exactly what a fiction writer wants to accomplish, you’re well advised to rely heavily on immediate scenes to put your story across. You want to draw your readers into the world you’ve created, make them feel a part of it, make them forget where they are. And you can’t do this effectively if you tell your readers about your world secondhand. You have to take them there.”

Well put. When you tell a story—relate the information in narrative summary—you don’t engage readers. But when you show…readers are captured, captivated, and drawn in. They have the vicarious, sensory experience your characters have–and they care about what’s happening. And in the caring, readers discover, learn, and are changed.

Therein lies the power of fiction.

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