Thursday, April 28, 2005

New York Post Online Edition: JUSTICE Magazine

IT'S TURNSTILE JUSTICE

By KEITH J. KELLY
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April 27, 2005 -- Media Ink

JUSTICE Magazine, the new true-crime title, that debuts on the longest day of the year (June 21) will be sold in Wal-Mart stores nationwide.

It's something of a coup for a start-up title to be carried on the racks at the nation's largest retailer. "We're locked and loaded," said Randall Lane, the president and editor-in-chief, who's promising advertisers he'll sell 250,000 copies of the bi-monthly.

The launch has a star-studded lineup of columnists: Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson case, will write a consumer advice column called The Advocate; and Mark Geragos, defense attorney for Scott Peterson and until he got the boot, for Michael Jackson, will co-write the Opening Arguments column with Nancy Grace, the ex-Atlanta prosecutor who has her own CNN Headline News show and frequently subs for Larry King on his show. Also included will be former FBI man Joe Pistone, who was immortalized by Johnny Depp in the 1997 movie "Donnie Brasco" about his years undercover in the mob.



*



Bravo and Hearst Entertainment are partnering for a new documentary series based on the New York Daily News.

Bravo, which brought us "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," said it has inked a deal to produce six one-hour episodes, based on the inner workings of the Daily News. The show should be able to answer once and for all: Does the new Editor-in-Chief Michael Cooke doze off during the morning editorial meeting — giving new meaning to the term "Daily Snooze."

Said one source: "He zones out. It's hard to tell whether he's actually asleep or not. He has a Zen-like expression on his face." A Cooke defender inside the paper insisted that Cooke "only fell asleep once."

A spokesperson at Bravo offered "no comment" on that vital question. Of course, Bravo already missed the biggest drama of the year when the News' Scratch n' Stiff scandal erupted after it printed the wrong winning numbers for the bingo-card contest.

The show is scheduled to debut some time next year. There should be plenty of drama ahead as Cooke, the British-born editor, tries to remake New York's struggling "hometown paper." Of course, Cooke might want to take better care as to where he holds his business meetings. Our spy recognized him enjoying a drink — or three — at Aquavit on Sunday evening. There the "Cookie Monster" told a trusted aide the Snooze's pagination department is "a disaster."

The reporters at the Police Shack might also want to watch out: The Cookie Monster said that the Snooze is getting beat on crime stories. And he also offered that the columnists may have to get used to the idea of getting by on less.



*

Silvano Machetto, who is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Village media hot spot Da Silvano's on Sunday night, will have more than one reason to celebrate. His wife Marisa Acocella, whose cartoons have appeared in The New Yorker, just sold her graphic memoir, "Cancer Vixen" to Knopf.

Many of the restaurant's regulars, including Nan Graham of Simon & Schuster and Bill Shinker of Gotham Books, tracked down the cartoonist author through the restaurant after reading about her in Glamour and the New York Times.

Publishers Weekly said Acocella snagged a cool $250,000 for the book, which is a cartoon version of her successful battle against breast cancer, set against a backdrop of the media elite who frequent the restaurant. It attracted a wide audience of bidders, including Bloomsbury and Rodale, but it was ultimately won by Sonny Mehta at Knopf.

kkelly@nypost.com

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

'Grey is the New Black'

25 April 2005

'Grey is the New Black'

This was the title given to a session at the recent UK Booksellers' Association conference in Glasgow which focused attention on the growing importance of grey readers. Steve Bohme of Book Marketing Limited showed the increasing importance of this market, as the baby boom generation hits retirement. He said they represent ‘a huge opportunity, particularly for independent booksellers’. Henley Centre research already shows that in the past five years the value of UK book sales to 55 to 74 year olds has risen by 31%.

The increasing size of the grey market is a worldwide trend, shared by the US and by northern European countries where the population is ageing fast and living longer. US figures show that no less than 75 million live births were recorded between the years 1946 and 1965. The oldest cohort in this baby boom generation is just hitting retirement.

Henley figures show that spending by the over-fifties in Western Europe has increased three times faster than for any other group. In the past the baby boomers have crashed through each age group, imposing their own view of what that age represents. Now they are approaching retirement age with an unprecedented amount of money and the determination that they will enjoy their retirement.

In the UK the Saga organisation has made a huge success out of selling a wide range of services to the growing market of over-fifties. Emma Soames, the influential editor of Saga magazine, identified two core parts of this older market. There’s the ‘war old and the new old. The war old are probably the last generation who would prefer to borrow rather than buy. The new old have been consumers all their lives, baby boomers who have been buying since the days of the Beatles and Biba. They are much more like their children than their parents and many of them will go on saying they are middle-aged long into their seventies.’ But 95% of marketing spend in the UK is aimed at under fifties, according to the Henley Centre, and business seems terrified of openly approaching this huge market which is rapidly presenting itself.

As regards the book business, Richard Samson of Chrysalis cautioned against clinging to long-held assumptions of what this older market might like to read: ‘The 55 to 74s are buying less romance, cookery, health, business and DIY, and more crime, travel, sport, fitness and diet, humour and entertainment books.’ In short, the new greys are carrying their interests and reading tastes with them as they get older and have more time to devote to reading. Unlike the generations before them, many of them will have the money and lengthy retirement to indulge their interests. They are already starting to redefine retirement and it looks like this powerful group will present a completely different set of older readers, many of whom are keen book buyers.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

What's the Hardest Thing About Writing?

Lately, I've been struggling to get back on track with my writing after being sick for a week. I found myself questioning my abilities and passion for writing. After beating myself up for about a week, I decided to stop qualifying myself and get down to the basics and start writing again, which I did.

Writing is such a psychological endeavor, sending a writer on so many high and lows they may blame "el nino" for the rapid shift in their demeanor. That is why it is so important to have a sense of community. Writing is such a lonely job, we often wonder if we are not crazy to be pursuing such lofty goals as trying to get published. What is it that drives us to such obsessive degrees? My theory is that writers thrive on the thrill. The thrill of writing. The thrill of waiting to hear if something will be published. After bottoming out from rejection, the thrill of taking the ride back up again to the top and doing it all over again. We are thrill seekers, sitting on our chairs, staring at the computer screen, poised to create something wonderful, something memorable, and possibly, something publishable.

Are we gluttons for punishment? Absolutely. We need that feeling of euphoria after being pummeled by rejections. Writing is our drug, our way to make it through and day or week without losing our minds. Often I find I become cranky when I haven't written anything in a while. Now, I believe that it is anything I should be writing when I feel I cannot produce anything worthy of praise. After all, it is the "high" of writing "anything" that gets us through the day. Because it is only when we go back to edit something that we realize its true merits or deficits. After all, God created the wastebasket and virtual trash bin for garbage. There is a place for mediocrity.

We should be grateful for our ability to reach a high on a moment's notice, to reach distant places and alternate universes at the click of a key. Who else can perform such a feat of daring?

In this lonely world of writing, a writer needs companionship and comfort from other writers. We need a place to visit or call, where we can reach out to someone who understands the trial and tribulations of trying to crank out the written word.

That is why I ask: What is the hardest thing about writing? I would like to hear back from you and engage you in a dialogue. We need each other to fall back on in times of grief and shout out to in times of jubilation. Our endeavor is to write alone (mostly). Our enjoyment is to discuss what we do with others. Our salvation is to open our hearts to the ones that know our difficulties best.

HALLELEUA!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Casey's Test

This is only a test. Were it a real post, I'd actually have something to say. And if this works, I'll pass out.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

From Chapter 25 of "Atlanta Nights"

"Richard didn't have as sweet a personality as Andrew but then few men did but he was very well-built. He had the shoulders of a water buffalo and the waist of a ferret. He was reddened by his many sporting activities which he managed to keep up within addition to his busy job as a stock broker, and that reminded Irene of safari hunters and virile construction workers which contracted quite sexily to his suit-and-tie demeanor.

Irene was considering coming onto him but he was older than Henry was when he died even though he hadn't died of natural causes but he was dead and Richard would die too someday. . ."

— from Chapter 25 of Atlanta Nights

Acceptance Letter from PublishAmerica for "Atlanta Nights"

----- Original Message -----
From: mailto:meg@publishamerica.com PublishAmerica Aquisitions [meg@publishamerica.com]
To: mailto:xxx@xxx.com
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 12:53 PM
Subject: Atlanta Nights
Dear Mr.XXX:

As this is an important piece of email regarding your book, please read it completely from start to finish.

I am happy to inform you that PublishAmerica has decided to give "Atlanta Nights" the chance it deserves. An email will follow this one with the sample contract attached for your review. If you do not receive the email with the attached sample contract in twenty-four hours, please contact me, so I can resend the document via another method.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have concerning the contract and to guide you through the contract negotiations phase. Please note that once you have requested that we send the official contract, we cannot further amend the contract.
Upon receiving your e-mail in acceptance with the terms, we will forward the final contract documents to you via regular mail for your signature. Along with your e-mail acceptance please include your legal name, current address, telephone number and title of work as you would like it to appear on the final contract.

The main terms of the contract are that we will pay you climbing royalties starting at 8%, you retain the copyright, and we will begin production on the book within 365 days of the date we receive the signed contract. A symbolic $1 advance underlines that all financial risk is carried by the Publisher, as we firmly
believe it should be.

Once the signed contract has been processed in our offices, you will be contacted by our Production department regarding "the next step" for your book in the publishing process.

After both parties have signed the contract, you will be contacted by our production department with a list
of questions and suggestions. Please feel free to e-mail any concerns or questions dealing with the terms of the contract to meg@publishamerica.com. Also, please visit our web site at
http://www.publishamerica.com/.

Welcome to PublishAmerica, and congratulations on what promises to be an exciting time ahead.

Sincerely,
Meg Phillips
Acquisitions Editor
PublishAmerica

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Science Fiction Romance Online

Check out this site. It has lots of useful information.
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The SpecRom Online Article Archive

Speculative Romance Online wants to help you transform the speculative romance in your imagination to the speculative romance that sells. Check out the What's New list (left), or browse by category:

Write Well 16 ARTICLES
SpecRom's beyond-the-basics authorship collection.

Write-A-World 12 ARTICLES
Advice on creating memorable speculative settings.

The Casting Couch 10 ARTICLES
Techniques to create your corps du coeur.

Featured Creatures 8 ARTICLES
A guide to creating vampires and more.

Screws & Bolts 4 ARTICLES
Suggestions on writing the sensual and erotic.

Jumping the Hyphen 4 ARTICLES
Directions for navigating the cross-genre worlds.

Romancing the Racket 5 ARTICLES
News and views on all facets of the writing biz. AKA tennis for perverts

Can I Still Be An Accountant? 9 ARTICLES
Living the writing life.

Mixed Media 29 ARTICLES
Speculative Romance in Movies, TV and more!

Miscellany 12 ARTICLES
A host of good information that defies categorization.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

GALLEY'S FINAL CALL IN PUBLISHING (MUST READ)

For all the newbees out there here is something to learn...This is NOT the case in every book, but it is something to know can happen.
>
>Galleys are the final call for catching errors. SMALL ERRORS, not big ones. You wonder why there are so many errors seen today? Reason? Money. Someone has to foot the bill for major changes.
>
>When you sell your book, you have an editor, who does that...edits and changes things to tighter or catch errors. But there is also the copy editor. The CE on occasion makes changes to your writing, too. I am hearing horror stories of CE's changing chapters around, merging chapters, removing scene breaks, inserting scene breaks...inserting their own writing (!), removing historical or locale touches, changing humour. If the writer misses these and they go onto the galley part of the process and then writer at that stage catches big changes and want things put back then - guess what....if you demand changes it will COST you, maybe up to $1000!!!
>
>If a writer screams about a CE's changed and the editor backs her, then the changes come out of the publisher's pocket. However, if the writer demands changes after it's into galleys, and the editor doesn't go to bat for them saying the CE made drastic changes were not authorised then the changes comes out of the writers royalties! Bottom in - someone will foot the tab.
>

SECOND POST
This is not the case. May people will offer praise for CE, but some may be CE from hell.

I was reading pubs screaming how they had been done, that CE rewrote whole passages. One described her chapter being rearranged, she had several very short chapters and then letters between them, which pushed the plot. That is how she wanted her story to work, and her editor agreed. The CE wrote whole passages, removed many "Regency words", removed the letters between each chapter, and merged bunches of chapters together. She insert several pages of her own writing.

The Nightmare of this, the editor went away on vacation and the pre-galley edits never went back to the writer, instead went on to the gallery process. When the writer got the galley, here was her book totally ruined. She, understandably, screamed to high heaven and demanded they change things back. She got a notice from her editor that it would cost $900 to put things back as she intended and it would come out of her pocket!

Well, I about fell over. I told my agent, I thought they were threatened the writer to make her shut up and accept it. My agent said NO, that either the publisher pays or the writer pays when major changes are called for after it hits the galley.

In this case the agent pushed it to the wall, so they changed the book back without charging the writer, but that they WOULD charge the writer if they demanded big changes after it goes to galley. Small changes such as typos can usually be corrected for "free", but major ones could see the writer holding the bill.

I would think in the instances where CE make really bad editing changes they could risk their job. If a publisher had to pay too many times, they'd get really ticked! Some of the CE's are college students "interning" and many have little or no historical or regional background to make these judgments.

In my case, this really caused me concern. My voice tends to show it's Scottishness, and it's what I wanted. I Americanized my book, but since my story is set in Scotland I wanted people to know what I was writing about. My agent said it would be part of the contract she'd see for me, that my "voice" and "Scottishness" were left untouched.

I just thought it something unpubs should be aware of so they would watch their contract and what the whole process very closely least they have a book they don't know or left with their advance eaten up because of someone else's bad choices.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

CNN.com - Police:�Woman sold daughter for car - Apr 13, 2005

You can't make this stuff up . . .

Police: Woman sold daughter for car

Second daughter allegedly forced into prostitution

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 Posted: 8:07 AM EDT (1207 GMT)


OKEECHOBEE, Florida (AP) -- A woman was arrested for allegedly forcing her 12-year-old daughter into prostitution and trading a 14-year-old daughter for a car.

The 39-year-old woman was charged with aggravated child abuse and sexual performance by a child. Both girls have been turned over to the Department of Children & Families.

The youngest girl and her mother were living out of their car, and would sell sex for food and an occasional shower at the men's homes, according to a report by Okeechobee County Sheriff's Detective K.J. Ammons.

The youngest daughter is three months pregnant, the report said; she was 11 when her mother first forced her to have sex with a man. The older daughter refused to be a prostitute and was allegedly sold for a car.

"She was sold to a man for a Mercury Cougar," Ammons said. "But he never gave the mother the vehicle." He was arrested in the case.

The youngest girl told detectives her mother took them out of school. "She said she was a good student and made A's and B's, and all she wants to do is go back to school," he said

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Flogging The Quill

This is such a great site on editing. Many writers' samples are posted before they are edited and then afterwards. You really get a great understanding of what to keep and toss out.
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Thoughts on how to know if your story is happening

I'm enjoying immensely The Modern Library Writer's Workshop, by Stephen Koch, a noted teacher and author. One of the reasons I enjoy it is that he talks about storytelling in ways that resonate with the way I approach it.

One point that sparked for me is that we (the authors) haven't actually told our stories until someone reads them. Koch writes,

"To be sure, the reader follows the writer's lead; but only the reader's imagination, collaborating with the writer's, can make anything happen on any page. It's the reader who visualizes the characters, the reader who feels and finds the forward movement of the story, the reader who catches and is caught in the swirls of suspense, rides the flow of meaning, and unfolds the whole kaleidoscope of perception."

Our readers can do that, must do that, to experience our stories. Or, rather, their version of our stories. Each reader will add shades to the meanings of words and expressions and actions. They'll never read the story we've imagined.

Study: Little-Known Publishers Profitable

Study: Little-Known Publishers Profitable
Wed Apr 6, 2:04 PM ET
By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer

NEW YORK - Unless you live in Boys Town, Neb., or work in education or family services, you likely haven't heard of Boys Town Press, the publishing arm of the youth care organization founded by Father Flanagan and made famous by the Spencer Tracy movie.

Boys Town Press, an 11-year-old company that publishes parenting and educational materials, generated sales of $1.7 million last year, a fraction of what Random House, Inc., Scholastic, Inc., and other billion-dollar companies bring in.

Boys Town may appear an industry exception, but a new study says it's more the rule. In a report issued Wednesday, the Book Industry Study Group says there are thousands of such publishers, earning between $1 million and $50 million on their own, but adding up to an estimated $11 billion market.

"For several years, we knew there was a segment of book industry activity that was not being covered by traditional research," said Jeff Abraham, executive director of the study group, a nonprofit research and policy organization funded by publishers, booksellers and others in the industry.

Abraham said that traditional studies released by the study group, the Association of American Publishers and others assume that the solid majority of book sales comes from the larger organizations, with the top 50 making at least $20 billion out of a $28 billion market. Wednesday's report, titled "Under the Radar," asserts that the industry is both larger and less concentrated than previously believed.

"We've been seeing signs for a long time, especially with the rise of the internet," said Kent Sturgis, president of the Publishers Marketing Association, which represents thousands of independent publishers. "It used to be New York publishers were gatekeepers of what got into print. Technology has democratized book publishing."

Abraham acknowledged that one problem for his organization was finding out just how many publishers are out there. The study group worked with R.R. Bowker, which compiles industry statistics, and sent inquiries to more than 85,000 companies. Around 3,200 responded, Abraham said, allowing the study group to make projections with a high level of confidence.
The report was prepared by InfoTrends/CAP Ventures, a market research and strategic consulting firm.

Like Boys Town, "under the radar" publishers sell to specialized audiences and rely at least partly on outlets besides bookstore. Boys Town, for example, sells mostly through its Web site and direct mail marketing.

In White River Junction, Vt., Margo Baldwin runs Chelsea Green Publishers, a 20-year old company that focuses on environmental and political titles. Baldwin's books sell in stores and through local political organizations. Chelsea Green generated $3.7 million last year, and even published a best seller, George Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant."
Baldwin credits the rise of Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com with helping publishing houses such as hers.

"The online retailers have significantly altered the industry because they allow small publishers to have their books alongside the books by the big publishers, at least in a virtual retail slot," she said. "Before that, if you couldn't get into a traditional store, you had no distribution channel."
Another publisher, Burt Levy, is a race car driver who in 1994 self-published a novel about the sport, "The Last Open Road," taking out a second mortgage to cover costs. Levy was eventually signed by St. Martin's Press, but said the book never reached the race car fans he was convinced would buy it. Instead, "Open Road" was stocked with general fiction, "between Doris Lessing and Sinclair Lewis."

So Levy bought back the rights to "Open Road" and for his next novel, "Montezuma's Ferrari." He returned to self-publishing, selling his book at racing events and car museum gift shops. He now has written a trilogy of racing novels, with total sales just above $1 million.
"We never did do as well in bookstores, as we did in the niche markets," said Levy, who is based in Oak Park, Ill.

"I'm not surprised to learn that there are so many publishers like me. I think the key is that some books fit into areas that the big publishers just don't get to. In the end, you just need to do what you're good at."
___

Monday, April 11, 2005

QUERY THAT GOT AGENT DIEDRE KNIGHT TO TAKE NOTICE

Dear Friends:

The attached link will take you to the Knight Literary Agency's blog. Sroll down to Opening of MIRAGE synopsis by Monica Burns.

According to Ms. Knight, this mini synopsis in Monica Burns' query, made her sit up and take note.


Shawn

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pros offer tips on landing a literary agent

This is a follow up to Shawn's post. A must read article on landing a literary agent. We all know it's possible because Shawn landed one. Only after a book is polished is the time to submit. We should look at Shawn as an example. When she submitted "All My Tomorrows" before it was really in tip top shape, it took her six months or longer to find an agent, who turned out to be too green. We all know Shawn's been revising that book, and in the mean time, submitted "My Highland Love," which took her far less time in order to snare an agent and an excellent one at that. This is how we learn. Take the experience and run with it.
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By Cathie Beck, Special To The News February 6, 2004

So here it is, already February, and even though you finally wrapped up that labor of love and hate - your book - you're stuck fast in the thinking stages of sending it to literary agents.
Though you swore you'd do it just as soon as that ball dropped on Times Square New Year's Eve, the truth is: You're just one of god-knows-how-many thousands of writers yet to crack the book-publishing code. And besides, without an "in," no powerful agent would ever talk to you, let alone read your book - right?

Wrong, says "Seven-Figure Molly."

That's Molly Friedrich of the New York Aaron Priest Literary Agency, an agent who represents Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) and Jane Smiley (Moo), among other prominent authors.
"It's such a myth that access to agents is difficult," she says. "It's just not true. I'm easy to get to. If anyone writes a thoughtful, intelligent query letter, I'd probably phone her. Any agent would. Here's another thing: Anybody good will get published."

So how does an unknown get the attention of the desired agent? How can you land that exacting, successful representative who falls madly in love with your work, exhaustively pitches it and strikes the dream deal for your novel, your how-to book, your memoir?
It's not as tough as you might think.

We polled more than two-dozen agents, and they agree with Friedrich: With some diligent homework and the perfect query letter, you're bound to catch someone's eye eventually.
Today, for procrastinators everywhere, a few insider tips from the pros:

• Know your agent before writing a query letter.

"Authors should be doing their homework," says Sandra Dijkstra, who has been hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "the most powerful literary agent on the West Coast."

"Before they write the letter to us, they should check the acknowledgment pages of similar works to theirs. Look in the books you love and compare them to your book - who is the agent being acknowledged?"

Choose an agent who has represented similar works in the past.
Richard Pine, of Arthur Pine Associates Inc. in New York, takes Dijkstra's recommendations up a notch.

Pine represents some of the highest-profile authors today, including spiritual guru Wayne W. Dyer and The South Beach Diet author Arthur Agatston. He suggests that authors get to know personal, as well as professional, details about any agent they're considering.

"There are a lot of agents out there," he says. "So it's the author's job to figure out who these people are. Do research. . . .

"Agents have special interests based upon where they grew up," he adds, "where they went to school, what they do in their free time, who they know, where they travel, and the most obvious, what kinds of books they represent. Then, if you have a sci-fi novel, you won't work really hard on getting an agent who doesn't represent science-fiction," says Pine.

" . . . You have to approach agents in a way that's interesting to the agent."

• Be succinct

Big-time agents receive hundreds of queries a week. Don't waste their time.
It's all about delivering a one-page, three-paragraph, magical piece of paper. Agents note that the first paragraph should compellingly distill your book; the second, explain how your book is distinctive; and the third, wrap everything up in a way that convinces the agent that no one but you can write this book.

Ted Weinstein, former music critic for National Public Radio's All Things Considered and owner of Ted Weinstein Literary Management in San Francisco, notes: "There's a scene in a movie where the guy says, 'You had me at hello.' I've represented an author simply because her one-page query caught me just like that line from the movie."

Quit while you're ahead. Keep it short.

• Don't sound cocky.

Being confident is one thing. Believing you're of literary-classic caliber is quite another.
"I once got a letter that said, 'I think James Joyce writes a lot like me,' " recalls Suzanne Gluck, co-head of the William Morris Literary Agency's worldwide literary department.
Gluck chuckles even now at the recollection.

"Believe me," she says, "that sort of claim creates an office giggle for the rest of the day. . . .

"It's difficult to take seriously the writer who makes inappropriate comparisons of their work to contemporary and classic literature - who over-reach."

• Prove you're not a novice.

"I can tell in the first 100 words whether a writer can write," says Pine. "So your query cannot sound impersonal, amateurish or ill-prepared. I can't tell you the number of times people have written to me and said something like, 'I've written a fictional novel.' I know that person is not for me. Write a smart personal letter."

• Show respect - for an agent's time and intelligence.

"I don't like people to show up my office and just want to meet me. You have to wait your turn," says literary agent Elyse Cheney, who works with Sanford J. Greenburger Associates in New York. "I also don't like queries that have gimmicks going on."

Cheney recalls one writer who sent an umbrella with the query, because the book's opening scene took place in the rain. "That doesn't work," Cheney says.

In addition, "A lot of people start a query with questions that are supposed to be provocative. It's coy and uninteresting and trumped-up when a writer starts a query with questions like, 'Have you ever . . . ?' or 'What do you think it would feel like . . . ?' What the writer is doing is pumping up (their query) with the hopes that it will make what they're saying more interesting, but they don't need to do that. Just tell me what (the book) is (about)."

• Don't make technical mistakes.

Agents possess myriad idiosyncratic preferences - and expect you to follow them.
Research agents' Web sites and learn the details of contacting them - whether to use surface or e-mail, etc. Such particulars are often outlined under "submissions" on their sites.

Admonishes Cheney: "I really don't like e-mail queries at all. I want to receive them by (snail) mail, but everyone sends e-mails anyway. Check the agency's Web site," she says.

• Read.

"What really annoys me," says Cheney, "is that everyone wants to write a book, but they don't read.

"I remember a story someone once told me: 'A doctor sits down next to a man. When the doctor learns the man is a writer, the doc says, "Hey, I always wanted to write a book. I think I will." The writer says back, "Yeah, I always wanted to perform brain surgery. I think I'll try it." '

"That sort of illustrates the point: It's impossible to write books if you're not a devoted reader of good books."

• Nurture any possible connections.

"It's helpful to have been recommended to us," admits Dijkstra, though she stresses that a good query letter can be just as powerful.

Adds Weinstein, "I tell authors to attend a lot of writers conferences. It's like speed dating with agents - you get to pitch the agents and see if they want to see your proposal."

• Don't lose hope.

There's plenty of room for the writer who takes the query letter seriously, says Dijkstra. So there's no time like the present to start taking your New Year's resolution seriously.

"We read everything that comes in," says the agent - a comment that should encourage even the most reticent of writers. "And we read it with great care.

Cathie Beck is a Denver short story writer and journalist. She is currently shopping her own manuscript, "Cheap Cabernet," to agents.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Character Building Workshop - Writers' Village University

Character Building Workshop
Your story people will never be the same.

THE CALL

It may interest PCQuill members to know that having an agent still has its advantages.

The following is taken from RWA's RWR for April 2005

How do authors get their books in the right editor's hand?



Method of Sale
Conference 14%
Query 13%
Contest 20%
Slush Pile 5%
Other 2%
Agent 46%

These numbers reflect the romance genre, which, btw, is wide. Still, I would guess this is a good indicator all the way around.

Shawn