Tag s | Pitching

The Twelve Statements Before Christmas

I pondered whether I should write this post in verse to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but since there would be a lot of copy/paste activity involved, I didn’t feel like readers would get their money’s worth.

Instead, I’ll do this in simple list form, focusing on twelve statements from 2017, which left me speechless. And if you knew me personally, you would know there are very few things which leave me speechless…utterly, without a thought to express in response.

So here they are, the twelve that silenced me:

  1. “How can you say an average family has 1.7 children? We are average and have three!” (Has nothing to do with publishing, but it still stumped me.)
  2. “I don’t care if I ever make a dime on this book, I just want it published.”
  3. “Do you think 500,000 words is too long for a memoir?”
  4. “You know, it’s funny, I realized when I started writing my book that I don’t even like to read books!”
  5. “There’s no need for me to get any training about writing, I’ll just start writing and God will give me the words.”
  6. “I self-published my book on Amazon and haven’t sold any copies in two years, so I thought I would try the traditional publishing route. Could I get a $50,000 advance? I have a lot of bills.”
  7. “I know they tell us to have something prepared for meetings at this conference, but I would rather take my 15 minutes and just tell you about my idea. I was born in 1963…”
  8. “Please consider this proposal as soon as possible, I need the book published in the next few weeks.”
  9. “If you don’t like this idea, then please tell me what I should write about to be a successful author.”
  10. “I have had five previous agents and they all failed to get me published, so I thought I would try you.”
  11. “Do I need to pay taxes on any money I earn from writing?”
  12. “Do they have the new Nacho-flavor Cheez-its in any stores near Chicago?” (Asked by Steve Laube…who doesn’t like anything Nacho-flavored.)

Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad



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The Curse of the Writer

Speaking from an agent’s perspective…
I have more conversations with clients about their feelings of anxiety, apprehension or insecurity than almost any other topic. Almost every writer I have ever worked with as an editor or an agent severely doubts themselves at some point in the process.

Doubts occur in the midst of creation.
Doubts occur when the disappointing royalty statement arrives.
Doubts occur … just because…

It is the curse of the writer. Writing is an introspective process done in a cave…alone. It is natural to have the demons of insecurity whisper their lies. And, in a cave, the whispers echo and build into a cacophony of irrepressible noise.

Once I had an author with dozens of titles in print and over three million books sold turn to me and say with a somber voice, “Do I have anything left to say? Does anyone care?” I didn’t quite know how to reply so tentatively said, “Well, I like it!” The author responded with a grump, “But you are paid to like it.” After we laughed, we agreed that this lack of confidence would pass and ultimately was very normal.

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Yes, It’s Personal

We’d all like to think everyone will love all our books. But it just won’t happen. It’s personal, and that’s okay. Based on past posts, regular followers of this blog might conclude that I don’t like any book I start. That’s not true, but I’ll admit I’ve ditched a couple …

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WHAT Were They Thinking??

You know, one of the things I’ve learned since becoming an agent is that people have an odd sense of what’s appropriate. Happily, quite a lot of what I receive is well prepared and enjoyable to read. But I’d have to say that anywhere from a fourth to even, on …

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Work First, Book Second

For successful authors of non-fiction, no one career or life-path is common. Family situations, upbringing, education and experiences are unique to each person. Listening to an author explain how they became successful is always a combination of things someone else could never duplicate perfectly. It’s like someone giving a business …

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Are You Pitch Perfect?

A critical key to landing a book deal is the presentation of your idea in such a way that the editor or agent is completely sold out on the concept. In musical terms, perfect pitch is the rare talent to name or pick out a note without having any reference …

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Know Your Genre When Making a Pitch

Awhile ago I received a call that illustrates a common error a writer can make when making their pitch…The problem of not knowing the genre in which they are writing. The call went something like this: Writer: I’m calling to see if your agency handles Westerns. Agent: That is a tough …

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