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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

How To Land A Literary Agent: Don’t Bury Your Sales Hook

LiteraryAgentSo the hardest part’s over. You’ve written a book. Congrats! Now, on to a new challenge — selling it. You’ve heard all the self-published success stories, but eBooks and print-on-demand tomes aren’t your thing. You want your writing to be traditionally published. If that’s the case, the first thing you’ll need is a literary agent.

In the latest Mediabistro feature, literary agents give tips for aspiring authors who want to go the traditional publishing route. One thing to remember? Agents and publishers are in the book-selling business, so don’t bury your sales hook:

“As I’m reading [a submission], I’m paying attention to my gut response: Are readers going to enjoy this and want to keep turning the page?” says Rachelle Gardner, an agent with Books & Such Literary Agency. “Then the other side of it is, regardless of my gut response, can I sell this? And could a publisher sell this to readers? And if so, how?” Gardner recommends writers clearly communicate the sales hook in their initial submission. As in, don’t expect the agent to automatically assume that your cozy mystery featuring a stay-at-home mom turned amateur sleuth will be targeted to unfulfilled women in middle America.

To hear more tips on how to get yourself an agent (and a book deal), read: 6 Tips To Land A Literary Agent.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

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Writing Advice From Terry McMillan

Terry McMillan is the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including the now-classic Waiting To Exhale. Now, 25 years since her debut, she’s back with Who Asked You?, a multi-generational family saga that is already being applauded by critics. In the latest installment of So What Do You Do?, she tells Mediabistro about creating memorable characters, the challenges of writing from the perspective of an eight-year-old and the pressure of living up to all the hype:

You’re known for writing such authentic characters. How do you keep them all straight?
Well, first of all, it’s not as hard as you would think. If you take [people] that you know really well, and you had to capture them on paper — their gesticulations, how they talk, how they think — from what you know about them, you could do it. But before anything, I do a lot to profile my characters so that I know them. I know almost everything about them, in terms of their educational background, how tall they are, what color they are, what they like and don’t like, what their favorite class was in school, what they’re afraid of, what their biggest secret is, if they lie, if they pay their bills on time, what they wish they coulda, woulda, shoulda done, etc., etc.

To learn more about Terry McMillan’s writing process, read So What Do You Do, Terry McMillan, New York Times Best Selling Author?

Aneya Fernando

How to Write a Better Villain

How do you create a villain? We’ve rounded up some handy tips from around the literary world.

1. During her talk at CraftFest, suspense author Gayle Lynds said that “without a great villain, your hero has no one to play against.” She felt that all characters should be fully-developed human beings; heroes have to have flaws and “villains aren’t necessarily total monsters.”

2. Writer Kari Allen tweeted with this bit of advice on writing villains: “I heard Katherine Patterson speak recently and she said if you can’t find yourself in your villains, rewrite.”

Read more

Should You Keep an Error Log?

Do you keep track of errors in your manuscript? In light of recent allegations that Greg Mortenson fabricated parts of his memoir, it might be helpful to keep track of your own mistakes.

Author Roger C. Parker (pictured, via) encourages writers to use of error logs during the writing and editing process.

Here’s more from the blog post: “A well-designed error log contains space to enter: The page the error appears on. The type of error, spelling, factual, grammatical, etc. Discovery date, i.e. the date you learned about the error. Resolution date, i.e., the date you corrected the error. Your error log should be immediately updated when you discover an error or when you verify an error pointed out by someone else.”