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To help the author develop and create the best book possible. Material that has both commercial appeal and long-term value.

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To help the author determine the next best step in their writing career. Giving counsel regarding the subtleties of the marketplace as well as the realities of the publishing community.

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Recent Posts

En-TITLE-ment: Finding the Perfect Title (Part Three)

Remember that old adage for retailers, “The customer is always right?” Well, for novelists seeking the perfect title, that should be “The audience is always right.”

Tip #4: Remember Your Audience! Novelists do a great job, on the whole, of keeping their audience in mind as they write. But sometimes when trying to come up with a catchy title or cover image, they go a bit far afield of that audience. The result is that readers who would love the story won’t even pick it up. And those who do pick it up may not find what they expected inside. So as you work on your title, remember who your reader is. For example:

  •  Age range. If your book would appeal mostly to Christian women in their 40s and up, then don’t use a trendy title that will appeal to the twenty-somethings. And watch out for technology phrases. Unless your certain your core audience is familiar with both the meaning and use of something technologial, steer clear. For example, using RAM, bits, bytes, and bauds as words in your title may work for a younger audience, or one that’s technologically savvy, but for older readers? Odds are good you’d lose ’em. (Or have them writing you letters scolding you for misspelling bites.)
  • Region. If your book is set in a particular region, are there phrases or even familiar sayings you can adapt to a title? Or, as we discussed in the character tip, are there landmarks that will position your story in a readers’ mind? In the Northwest, using words such as Cascade, Siskiyou, Sun Valley, and Snohomish create an immediate image in our minds. For example, the publishing house I work for, B&H Publishing Group, is based in Nashville. Can you guess the phrase that I hear ALL the time…and now say on a regular basis? Yup: Bless yer heart!
  • Education levels. This has nothing to do with your readers’ intelligence, but more with the fact that what appeals to those who’ve gone through advanced levels of education often is different than what appeals to those who finished their formal education in high school. And studies have shown that reading tastes of those with different educational backgrounds often differ as well.
  • Married and family status. Are your readers married? Single? Do they have kids or not? Are you readers of an age where their children are toddlers, teens, college-bound, etc? All of these factors come into play with what appeals. For example, I’ve been married almost 30 years, but my hubby and I never had children. So while I’m drawn to titles focusing on love or relationships, I’m not inclined to pick up a book that, by its title, is aimed at either someone single or someone with children. Unless, of course, the children are in jeopardy! Then that moves it from relationship into suspense, and I love that!
  • Gender. Yes, it does make a difference! Not that women aren’t drawn to guy titles, or vice versa, but you do need to remember your core consumer and how the title will both sound and feel to them.
  •  Tastes in music. Song titles can be great book titles, or great springboards to a title. And every generation has universally known titles. Think about it: Leader of the Pack, Close to You, Great Balls of Fire, Hotel California, Billion Dollar Babies, If God Was One of Us, and so on. Also, consider hymns. There’s a wealth of beautiful imagery in hymn titles. (note: you can’t copyright a title, so no worries about copyright infringement. But to be aware of Trademarks. Trademarks cannot be used.)

Also, keep in mind what may be uppermost on your readers’ minds. What are they feeling, struggling with, fearing, anticipating? For example:

  •  Economics (is your audience made up of those who are most likely hit by the current economic issues such as job and retirement loss?)
  • Issues with children
  • marital struggles
  • struggles with organized church
  • faith crises
  • Emotions (for example, with all the job and retirement loss in the last year, fear is a huge factor for many people. Titles that offer hope and peace, or a respite from the struggles, would draw readers’ attention)

Remember, good titles–combined with good cover art–create an image or mood and garner a visceral response from the reader. It’s my hope these tools will provide you with some assistance in coming up with two or three good options to send to you publisher when the time comes to do so.

So have at it–and happy titling!

 

 

 

 

 

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News You Can Use – August 30, 2011

Are Books Dead? Can Authors Survive? – Ewan Morrison presents a bleak picture of the industry. Agree or Disagree? (I disagree.)

The Golden Era of Books Isn’t Over – As the writer says, “The Golden Era is NOW.”

I Can’t Think of Anything to Blog About! – This is a fantastic article on ways to break your blogging writer’s block.

Economics Rewrites the Book Business – The Wall Street Journal show how recent events effect every publisher and thus every author.

What NOT to do if you get a Literary Agent – I wish I had written this article!

The Five Most Common Blogging Mistakes – Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Hmm. I guess I still have a lot to learn!

 

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To Pay or Not to Pay: For Your Own Media Travel Costs

I have had the privilege of knowing Ellie Kay since I first found her book proposal in the slush pile while an editor at Bethany House. That proposal became the first of her fourteen published books. I later became her literary agent and together we have seen her wrestle with a number of issues related to a growing platform. From those humble beginnings in the late 90s Ellie has been on nearly every major radio and television program including Nightline (twice) and was a regular on ABC’s “Good Money” for quite some time. I invited her to be our guest blogger on the question of whether or not an author should pay their own way to a media opportunity. I know you will find her thoughts insightful. Make sure to visit her web site at www.elliekay.com and get her newest book The 60 Minute Money Workout.

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One question authors often ask is, “Where should I put my marketing dollars?” When you have an opportunity to go on a national show but you have to fund the trip yourself, how can you make sure it’s worth what I call the “Media Investment.”

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Fun Fridays – Aug. 26, 2011

Don’t tell me you haven’t done this with your own books.

I’ll admit that after leaving a bookstore my clients tend to have their books face-out.

[I do not recommend moving books around! Publisher pay good money for product placement and the poor booksellers have enough to worry about.]

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A Matter of Perspective

During a recent visit to my local bank, I produced a document bearing the Virginia State seal. The banker commented on how terrible the seal is for men.

What an odd thing to say!

Mrs. Judith Gue taught third grade at the small private school I attended in a bucolic part of Virginia. Mrs. Gue was a plump woman who favored silk dresses, kept a paddle on her desk as an unspoken and ever-present threat, smoked cigarettes like a fiend and had also taught my mother. She relished the first story in the Virginia history book, about how Sir Walter Raleigh covered a mud puddle with his cloak so his queen’s feet would not be sullied. Pride filled her voice when she shows us the seal, speaking of “Victory over Tyrants” for our great state. The woman depicted is the Roman Goddess Virtus, the goddess of virtue, and the defeated man is a tyrant. I have my doubts that the men responsible for the seal, designed in 1776, were raging feminists.

I said to the banker, “You’re not a native, are you?”

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