A word can have a completely different meaning when placed in a different context. Take the word “patience” in the two examples below:
This is the last installment of my proposal series. You may think it strange to write about the cover letter last, but usually, it’s the last part of the proposal an author writes. Our own Steve Laube has already written about the cover letter here.
His tips are so wonderful that I asked him if I should even attempt this post, but he encouraged me to write from my perspective. So here are key points I like to see in a cover letter:
1.) Title and genre of book: I can immediately discount horror and erotica. Saves everyone time.
2.) Target market and word count: While part of an agent’s job is to identify markets for your work, you still should do enough research to understand where your book might fit. A 250,000 word novel aimed at Love Inspired Historical shows you have no idea about today’s CBA marketplace.
3.) Story summary highlighting primary conflict. For example: “Set in Chicago in 1905, Party Time is the story of a political party boss who must fight his attraction to a suffragette.”
This is enough to tell me that I’d have to hesitate since the title is questionable for CBA and for the Christian market, a Chicago party boss is not a sympathetic hero.
4.) Past Sales: But, if you mention that your last CBA romance novel sold over 100,000 copies, I’d ask to see Party Time anyway. Those sales tell me you may possess enough talent to make the party boss the most dashing romantic hero ever.
On the other hand, if you are a new author, it’s fine not to belabor the point. I will figure this out since you didn’t mention sales history. (And this early in your career, I recommend writing about the type of heroine and hero everyone agrees deserve true romance).
I loved reading your responses about your catalyst for writing. So may wonderful motivations and stories in the making. Now what I want you to do, is take a look at what you listed as your catalyst and go deeper. And then deeper. Peel back the layers until you find the heartbeat of what is driving you to write. Sometimes its what drives you to write one particular book. Sometimes you’ll find that the core catalyst within will resonate through all the books you write.
So how do you do that? Have a conversation with a trusted friend. Someone who knows you well and isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions. Who isn’t afraid to push you. But it needs to be someone without an agenda of their own. Someone who will take part in this to serve you. Don’t try to do this alone, because it’s too easy to stop before you should. But be prepared. Finding your catalyst is often hard work and it demands you be gut-level honest.
Following is an example of a catalyst conversation based on several that I’ve had different writer friends. This gives you an example without revealing one person’s details, because, friends, digging for your catalyst can be emotional. (Boldfaced lines are the author’s.)
The Beloit College Mindset List for 2016 – Read it and weep. You are getting old. Admit it. For example, for the incoming college freshman (born in 1994), – “History has always had its own channel” and “Simba has always had trouble waiting to be King.”
How to Create a Perfect Title – Calvin Miller and Rick Warren discussed this issue as it related to their sermons in this article from 1998’s Leadership Journal. It is still excellent advice for your books, articles, and blog posts.
What Successful People Do During the First Hour of their Day – It is fun to read such idealism….When e-mail is critical to your business this advice isn’t that helpful…
Top 10 Tips for Editing a Book – simple advice, yet so accurate. Do you have any you could add to the list?
Paperbacks Changed the Way We Read Books – And now e-books are creating a similar disruption. But note that paperbacks did not “ruin the industry.”
Eight Facts About Writing That Surprise Prospective Novelists – Some frank talk from another author. He exaggerates #4 and I disagree with #6. But #3 had me nodding in emphatic agreement.
Forbes magazine lists the top earning authors in 2011. How soon will you join this group?
James Patterson ($94 million)
Stephen King ($39 million)
Janet Evanovich ($33 million)
John Grisham ($26 million)
Jeff Kinney ($25 million)
Bill O’Reilly ($24 million)
Nora Roberts ($23 million)
Danielle Steel ($23 million)
Suzanne Collins ($20 million)
Dean Koontz ($19 million)
J. K. Rowling ($17 million)
George R. R. Martin ($15 million)
Stephenie Meyer ($14 million)
Ken Follett ($14 million)
Rick Riordan ($13 million)
by Steve Laube
A clean slate. An empty canvas. A fresh start. A new beginning.
Or a potential nightmare of guilt, failure, and shame.
Thus begins the process of each writing project. This blog post began with a blank page. I wondered why I ever agreed to write a blog. I procrastinated with enough excuses to be described as legion. I told myself that no one cares what I think on any subject.
Once my episode of complaining was done I began to write. Each of my posts begins in a Moleskine notebook written by hand. The pages are littered with half-started ideas and incomplete thoughts. And this was no exception. Today’s post is the fourth one that received some scratches.
The blank page is the universal place where every writer begins. And in that moment and in that place all things are equal.
A place where the artist begins creating verba ex nihilo.*
A place of immeasurable potential and endless possibilities.
A place upon which a treasure map is drawn leading a reader to riches unimagined.
A place where worlds are spun into existence.
A place of creation, inspiration, and wonder.
Remember this as you fill today’s blank page:
The world will be a little different tomorrow because of what you write today.