Agent Do’s & Dont’s

Literary agents play an important role in your writing journey. They’re a vital asset in helping you achieve your goals.

However, a lot of first time writers have a misconception on exactly what a literary agent does and doesn’t do. They obviously know it’s good to have one and there are certain steps to acquire an agent, but that’s about the extent of their knowledge without research.

Again, I will sing the Writer’s Digest Conference praises. That conference was a priceless experience to me. Who knew that I was the one responsible for my PR unless I hired a Publicist, and that my agent was NOT responsible for any part of that? Not me, I didn’t know. I thought an agent was all-in-one. Sort of. I mean, adding an editor and publisher of course, too. Then I had the whole package! Uh…maybe not.

In tomorrow’s blog, I’ll dive a little deeper in the differences between a literary agent and a publicist. But for now, here’s an article I found in Writer’s Digest, explaining some of the things an agent does and does not do:

You’ve landed an agent. Now what? You’re probably wondering what a literary agent does and does not do and how they can help you. Discover the truth about what literary agents actually do for authors from today’s writing tip. This excerpt from Your First Novel discusses the author-agent relationship.

What Does a Literary Agent Do?

The author-agent relationship has often been likened to a marriage–but so have business partnerships. There’s the glowy honeymoon period where you both believe that only good things lie ahead. Then reality sets in, when you come to know the other person’s strengthens and weaknesses, the things s/he can be relied upon to do and the things you’re going to have to get on his/her back about. As long as you both accept that you’re each going to have to row to stay afloat and to get somewhere, you’ll probably be okay.

Communication is a key to this partnership as it is to any other. It’s important to remember that while you have only this book, this contract, this editor, this publication, an agent has many of the same. I don’t want to imply that your agent will or should be too busy to talk to you. But given the many demands on his/her attention, it’s no good sitting around waiting to hear from him/her and hoping s/he’ll read your mind. You’ve got to ask, and you’ve got to learn how to ask in a way that makes him/her, and eventually your editor and publicist, want to return your calls.

Unlike a marriage, where the roles of the two partners grow and change, merge, and divide over time, the agent in this partnership has a certain number of clear-cut duties. Yet there are also things you shouldn’t expect. Here are some things a literary agent does and doesn’t do:

What an agent does

  • attempts to sell your book to a reputable publishing house
  • keeps up-to-date with editors’ interests as well as their contact information
  • negotiates the terms of your contracts with publishers
  • works on commission

What an agent does not do

  • guarantee fame and riches
  • sell every manuscript s/he agrees to represent
  • write the publishers’ contracts for them

What an agent can do

  • offer guidance or suggestions for improving your book
  • get it into the hands of editors
  • secure an advance or sell your book at an auction

What an agent cannot do

  • rewrite it or make it perfect for you
  • guarantee those editors will read every word
  • guarantee anyone will come to an auction even when they’ve told the interested editors they’re holding one

What an agent should do

  • return your calls and e-mails within a reasonable period of time once you’ve signed on together
  • give you realistic expectations
  • be as interested as you are in getting a good advance–the better you do, the better s/he will do

What an agent should not do

  • refuse to tell you anything s/he has done (Even if s/he has taken no actions at all, s/he should tell you that.)
  • promise you a fortune
  • accept or turn down advances without consulting with you

And if you need another great article to read check out this one from bookbaby: http://blog.bookbaby.com/2012/08/10-things-literary-agents-dont-do-for-authors/

Hope this helps! Thanks again for reading! See ya’ll tomorrow!! Happy Writing Ya’ll!!

The TRUTH about Copyrights

"Copyright" definition button

Do I need to copyright my novel, nonfiction book, short story, essay, or poems by registering them with the Copyright Office (Library of Congress) before submitting to literary agents or literary journals and magazines for publication?

Whew! That was a mouthful—a question that’s as unruly as its answer. Copyright law can be about as simple as doing a jigsaw puzzle with your toes.

Whether you’re writing books or novels, poems or short stories, you’re bound to tango with copyright conundrums at some point in your career.

While I’m not a lawyer, I can tell you about the general practices within the publishing industry (specifically, for creative writers who are submitting books and novels to literary agents, or those submitting poems, short stories, and essays to editors at literary journals and magazines).

If you need more details, seek a lawyer who knows intellectual property law, or check out one of the many books out there about copyright.

Should I put the copyright symbol on my novel or other book manuscript?copyright registration for writers

In general, the answer is no. Here’s why: United States law holds that a work belongs to the book author the moment it’s set down in a fixed medium (i.e. paper, or your word-processing program). Makes sense, right? You wrote it; it’s yours.

Agents and editors know that this is the law. And as long as you’re querying and submitting to reputable industry professionals, you don’t have to worry that they’ll steal your work and try to pass it off as their own.

In a certain sense, adding the copyright symbol could make a writer seem mistrustful and also ill-informed about the law. The symbol itself is just an expression of what industry professionals already know—that your book or story or poem belongs to you. So while adding it isn’t a deal breaker, it can give the wrong impression.

One more point before I move on: Here’s what you should know about copyright and mailing your writing to yourself. I found this article on http://writersrelief.com/. Great info on this website!

Do I need to register my book with the US Copyright Office before submitting to literary agents?

Again, I’m offering a generalization. And again, it’s “no.” If you do get an agent for your memoir or novel (or any book!), the work is probably going to change a lot before it actually hits the shelves. That’s why it’s usually the publisher’s responsibility to copyright a work once it’s in its final form.

If you’re self-publishing or publishing with a small press, be sure that both you and your publisher are clear about who is responsible for the copyright registration.

A final note: One of the particular benefits to having registered with the Library of Congress is that if you are ever sued because of your book and you win, you will be entitled to recoup court fees. Also, copyright registration offers a formally copyrighted date, kinda of like those “packaged on” stamps at the grocery store. Both can be equally important if you’re the kind of person who despises both plagiarism and food poisoning.

What about copyright and literary journals? Will a literary journal copyright my poem, story, or essay on my behalf?

In general, literary journals that do register for copyright protection protect the journal or magazine as a whole, not your specific piece in it. This way, the collection is protected (if someone were to, say, copy the whole thing and sell it under a new title out of the back of a car at stoplights).

If you’ve been offered a contract for publication and you’re concerned about copyright, ask the editor who acquired the piece about the magazine’s individual policies.

Will copyrighting my book or story protect my ideas?

Whether you’re writing a novel or a poem, the law says that you can’t copyright ideas (or titles, for that matter). Check out this Writer’s Relief copyright article about protecting your characters, stories, and themes.

More questions about copyright? Here is a book that explores copyright law.

Also, I’m attaching a website, http://agentqueryconnect.com, which is an online social networking community that shares information about the publishing industry. I found a particular thread on copyrights – http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/5217-should-i-get-a-copyright-on-my-story-before-i-send-in-my-query/

If you need a list of agents or editors check out http://agentquery.com, http://querytracker.com, or followed by this website, http://pred-ed.com/, to assist you in searching for that reputable agent, editor, or publisher. Would you rather a book? Go by and pick up this book at your local bookstore, 2015 Writer’s Market. You can even order it here: http://www.writersdigestshop.com/browse-by-product/market-books/current-market-books

There are many different opinions on the advantages vs. disadvantages of copywriting. It all boils down to what you’re more comfortable with. There’s enough information both ways that can help you with your decision. In the end, it’s your manuscript and you need to decide what’s best for you.

Happy Writing Ya’ll!

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, an author’s submission service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994. Their work is highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!

 

Fun Friday!!! Where would YOU live??

So, I’m not doing a fun fact today. Instead, I thought we would get those creative juices flowing! I came across a fun little snip it and I wanted everyone to comment on what exactly they would choose and why? Can’t wait to hear them!! Here’s mine below!

funny

That’s actually super hard for me to choose! Each one would be fabulous in their own way! I mean, if the museum was like the movie, Night of the Museum, that would be cool. And with a library, think of all the fantastic books you could read! Bbbuuttt…I’m going to have to go with the zoo. Yes, that’s my final answer.

Why exactly? Well, for one thing animals are mesmerizing, each and every one of them. They all hold their own secret wonder. I actually volunteered and worked at a zoo starting at the age of 13.

I’ve raised all kinds of animals including my most favorite, two female lion cubs. Evangeline and Adiri were born June 7, 1997. It was the most amazing time in my life while raising them from a bottle until they reached over a 100 pounds at 6 months of age. Unfortunately, they were sent to a Canadian Zoo, and I never saw them again. I tried to keep up with them as best I could. I do know that from both of them, I now have grandlions and great-grandlions!

Even now when I go to any zoo, the noises and even the smells bring me back to that time, a time where I felt truly at home. The howl of the gibbons, the squawk of the macaws, and the roar of the lions – that made everyone stop and run to see them. Now, don’t get me wrong, all of them are still wild animals, unpredictable and untamed. But that’s the beauty of them. Here’s a little fun fact too. I actually got married at the zoo. Yep, with peacocks and all! LOL!

So, in conclusion, the zoo would be the place for me by just being able to see everyday those beautiful creatures. Yes, I could definitely spend the rest of my life there.

Can’t wait to hear where and why everyone else would choose! Happy Friday Ya’ll!

P.S. And a shout out to all zookeepers!!! No one understands how truly difficult your job is until they’ve filled your shoes. Between cleaning the not so nice things left in the occupant’s cage, to having to work in all types of weather, to having to say goodbye to cherished animals over the years – I thank you so much for your hard work so that myself and the rest of the public get to enjoy these amazing creatures!!

The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

I always want to have a diversity of information for my blog readers. It’s important to know that everyone is not in the same stage of their writing adventure. It’s always good to keep reading and continue learning how the writing/publishing industry evolves. Some things stay the same for 25 years and other things change over night. Study to be an expert. Study so that you can help other fellow writers. Study so that your writing is always improving. The day you believe your writing is perfect and can never be better is the day you’ve sold your soul to the devil. Don’t do it. Be humble and keep an open mind.

So here’s another article I found while I was doing my own strain my brain research. Chuck Sambuchino writes about the worst ways to start your novel. The advice comes from several literary agents. Who better to give instruction on this, than the very people who see hundreds upon thousands of queries and submissions monthly? So, I hope you enjoy!

And just FYI, Chuck Sambuchino is a super nice guy! Met him at the WD Conference and he is a wealth of knowledge! Shout out Chuck!

The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

No one reads more prospective novel beginnings than literary agents.

They’re the ones on the front lines, sifting through inboxes and slush piles. And they can tell us which Chapter One approaches are overused and cliché, as well as which writing techniques just plain don’t work when you’re writing a book.

Below, find a smattering of feedback from experienced literary agents on what they hate to see in the first pages of a writer’s submission. Consider it a guide on how to start a novel. Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!

False beginnings

“I don’t like it when the main character dies at the end of Chapter One. Why did I just spend all this time with this character? I feel cheated.”
Cricket Freeman, The August Agency

“I dislike opening scenes that you think are real, then the protagonist wakes up. It makes me feel cheated.”
Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

In science fiction

“A sci-fi novel that spends the first two pages describing the strange landscape.”
Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

Prologues

“I’m not a fan of prologues, preferring to find myself in the midst of a moving plot on page one rather than being kept outside of it, or eased into it.”
Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Most agents hate prologues. Just make the first chapter relevant and well written.”
Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

“Prologues are usually a lazy way to give back-story chunks to the reader and can be handled with more finesse throughout the story. Damn the prologue, full speed ahead!”
Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

Exposition and description

“Perhaps my biggest pet peeve with an opening chapter is when an author features too much exposition – when they go beyond what is necessary for simply ‘setting the scene.’ I want to feel as if I’m in the hands of a master storyteller, and starting a story with long, flowery, overly-descriptive sentences (kind of like this one) makes the writer seem amateurish and the story contrived. Of course, an equally jarring beginning can be nearly as off-putting, and I hesitate to read on if I’m feeling disoriented by the fifth page. I enjoy when writers can find a good balance between exposition and mystery. Too much accounting always ruins the mystery of a novel, and the unknown is what propels us to read further.”
Peter Miller, PMA Literary and Film Management

“The [adjective] [adjective] sun rose in the [adjective] [adjective] sky, shedding its [adjective] light across the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] land.”
Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

“I dislike endless ‘laundry list’ character descriptions. For example: ‘She had eyes the color of a summer sky and long blonde hair that fell in ringlets past her shoulders. Her petite nose was the perfect size for her heart-shaped face. Her azure dress — with the empire waist and long, tight sleeves — sported tiny pearl buttons down the bodice. Ivory lace peeked out of the hem in front, blah, blah.’ Who cares! Work it into the story.”
Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

Starting too slowly

“Characters that are moving around doing little things, but essentially nothing. Washing dishes & thinking, staring out the window & thinking, tying shoes, thinking.”
Dan Lazar, Writers House

“I don’t really like ‘first day of school’ beginnings, ‘from the beginning of time,’ or ‘once upon a time.’ Specifically, I dislike a Chapter One in which nothing happens.”
Jessica Regel, Foundry Literary + Media

In crime fiction

“Someone squinting into the sunlight with a hangover in a crime novel. Good grief — been done a million times.”
Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

In fantasy

“Cliché openings in fantasy can include an opening scene set in a battle (and my peeve is that I don’t know any of the characters yet so why should I care about this battle) or with a pastoral scene where the protagonist is gathering herbs (I didn’t realize how common this is).”
Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary

Voice

“I know this may sound obvious, but too much ‘telling’ vs. ‘showing’ in the first chapter is a definite warning sign for me. The first chapter should present a compelling scene, not a road map for the rest of the book. The goal is to make the reader curious about your characters, fill their heads with questions that must be answered, not fill them in on exactly where, when, who and how.”
Emily Sylvan Kim, Prospect Agency

“I hate reading purple prose – describing something so beautifully that has nothing to do with the actual story.”
Cherry Weiner, Cherry Weiner Literary

“A cheesy hook drives me nuts. They say ‘Open with a hook!’ to grab the reader. That’s true, but there’s a fine line between an intriguing hook and one that’s just silly. An example of a silly hook would be opening with a line of overtly sexual dialogue.”
Daniel Lazar, Writers House

“I don’t like an opening line that’s ‘My name is…,’ introducing the narrator to the reader so blatantly. There are far better ways in Chapter One to establish an instant connection between narrator and reader.”
Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Sometimes a reasonably good writer will create an interesting character and describe him in a compelling way, but then he’ll turn out to be some unimportant bit player.”
Ellen Pepus, Signature Literary Agency

In romance

“In romance, I can’t stand this scenario: A woman is awakened to find a strange man in her bedroom — and then automatically finds him attractive. I’m sorry, but if I awoke to a strange man in my bedroom, I’d be reaching for a weapon — not admiring the view.”
Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency

In a Christian novel

“A rape scene in a Christian novel in the first chapter.”
Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

Characters and backstory

“I don’t like descriptions of the characters where writers make them too perfect. Heroines (and heroes) who are described physically as being virtually unflawed come across as unrelatable and boring. No ‘flowing, wind-swept golden locks’; no ‘eyes as blue as the sky’; no ‘willowy, perfect figures.’ ”
Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

“Many writers express the character’s backstory before they get to the plot. Good writers will go back and cut that stuff out and get right to the plot. The character’s backstory stays with them — it’s in their DNA.”
Adam Chromy, Movable Type Management

“I’m turned off when a writer feels the need to fill in all the backstory before starting the story; a story that opens on the protagonist’s mental reflection of their situation is a red flag.”
Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management

“One of the biggest problems is the ‘information dump’ in the first few pages, where the author is trying to tell us everything we supposedly need to know to understand the story. Getting to know characters in a story is like getting to know people in real life. You find out their personality and details of their life over time.”
Rachelle Gardner, Books & Such Literary

 

Pretty good advice and opinions if you ask me. Hope this helps everyone no matter where you’re at in your journey! I would love to hear any comments and advice that might be something you do or don’t do before writing your novel. Thanks for reading and thanks for the comments ahead of time!!

As I always say – Happy Writing Ya’ll!!!

 

 

 

The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2015! Part 2

website 2

Sadly, I had to take this blog post down. I received an email from the editor of The Write Life asking for me to remove this list from my blog. If you are still interested in this list, please check out their website: http://thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-for-writers-2015/#.crfkog:PJ3M

Happy Website Hunting Ya’ll!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Best Websites for Writers in 2015! Part 1

website 1

Sadly, I had to take this blog post down. I received an email from the editor of The Write Life asking for me to remove this list from my blog. If you are still interested in this list, please check out their website: http://thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-for-writers-2015/#.crfkog:PJ3M

Happy Website Hunting Ya’ll!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Tools to help you along the way…

As I’ve said before, I’m still learning my way around the writing/publishing industry. One thing I’ve learned though, is that if you seek knowledge about the industry you will, no doubt, find it.

From finding writing techniques that Stephen King used, to quotes from C.S. Lewis, to how to write your book in 30 days, there is a wealth of knowledge right at your fingertips. So much, that one person could probably spend 30 years searching for information and still not finish it.

Veteran authors’ experiences alone can be a huge tool for any aspiring writer. Websites like Writer’s Digest and the Writer’s Market are also fantastic places for a new writer to start. The beauty of it, although, not every technique or idea will work for you, is that there is such a vast spectrum of information, that your writing will grow nonetheless. You will learn what to do and what not to do. What works for you and what doesn’t.

Today, I will show you writing tools that may help you along the way. Tomorrow, stay tuned, as I unveil the 100 Best Websites for writer’s in 2015.

Writing Tools

  • Google Docs: Google Docs is a free Web-based word processor and spreadsheet. Read more about Google Docs.
  • Writeboard: Writeboard is a Web-based application that allows you to write solo or collaborate with others instantly. It is now officially called Basecamp.
  • Zoho: A Web-based office suite; includes spreadsheets, presentation tools, planners, and more.
  • Copyscape: Searches for your content on the Web; this is a great way to find out if someone is lifting your work without crediting you.
  • AjaxWrite: A Microsoft Word clone that works from within your browser; free download.
  • AbiWord: A free word processing program similar to MS Word; free download.
  • Writer: Instant in-your-browser typewriter. Saves and files your documents automatically.
  • TextEdit: for Mac users; a highly versatile free word processing application.
  • RoughDraft: A freeware word processing program specifically designed for the creative writing process.

Happy Writing Ya’ll!!