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Book Writin’

Musings on the Perfect Query Letter

Advice from the fabulously helpful Dystel & Goderich Literary Management blog:

The perfect query letter does not exist. (Well, perhaps it lives in the fantasy realm of unicorns and dragons, but certainly not in our day-to-day publishing world.) And, yet, everyone seems to be chasing the formula for that elusive, perfect query letter (EPQL) and its pursuit is giving a lot of people agita and heartburn. It’s a recurring theme during the Q&A portion of agent presentations at writers conferences. Many internet sites and print publications aimed at writers spend a lot of time on the subject and, in talking with individual authors, it seems that confusion about this subject is universal.
So, I will try to elucidate what makes a query effective — not perfect, mind you, just effective — for us here at DGLM:

Read on!

Happy Hooking!

Christmas came early this year for readers of Miss Snark–my favorite anonymous agent sorted through hundreds book hooks that her readers sent in and gave her thoughts. It’s too late for you to send yours in but it’s a great look into what an agent looks for in a story pitch. Here is her latest one–but there are 300 more where that came from.

Holla @ Your Girl

Many thanks to Jen A. Miller at Poets&Writers magazine for the mention in her article “Literary Journalists: How to Get on Their Radar”. And hey, it’s just the kind of article that could help you out as well:

Those authors savvy about acting as their own publicists also probably know, as any good (and not-so-good) publicist does, that freelance writers are invaluable contacts. Of the 320,000 editors and writers working in the United States, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that one-third are independently employed. That’s more than 100,000 of us freelancers out there, searching for the next great story.
Many of us freelance full-time. We have established contacts at numerous media outlets. We specialize in ideas-and in understanding publication cycles, news pegs, and other aspects of timing. We know about a range of publications; we can see angles that literary writers may not have considered. And we often write about an author more than once. For example, a freelancer could write an author profile for a large newspaper, a trend piece about the book for a regional magazine, and a Q&A with the writer for a lifestyle Web site—all during the week of the book’s publication. I, for one, tend to include books of authors I’ve profiled before in holiday gift guides or other roundups, such as Summer Reading or Fall Favorites.
The author-freelancer connection can be fruitful for both parties. So how can literary writers align themselves with freelancers? Not all freelancers are the same, of course, but knowing who we are, what we do, what we’re looking for, and when, can help you on your way to forging that connection.

Read her tips (including her mention of moi) here.

You’re Not The Boss of Me Now

When the bad times roll in publishing:

Bad bosses. They’re everywhere. Even in publishing. Especially in
publishing! Publishing serfs might be safe from the likes of Judith
Regan for the time being (Jewish lawyers, not so much), but there are
plenty of other crazies and scaries out there. Trust me, I’m a hoary old publishing troll, and I’ve worked for all of them

Here you go, via Gawker.

How To Keep Your New Book From Sinking Without a Ripple

drowninghand.jpgLiterary License, the newsletter from the Society of Midland Authors (of which I am a member) has a little wrapup from a panel of book writers and publicists. Some tips: don’t pick up the phone, and promote your local angle. More here.

Fast Enough?

speedracerthumb.jpgAn interesting rumination from blogger Alison Kent on the speed of which authors write (or should write) their books:

I want to talk about the concept of writing speed, and how it affects an author’s career, but more importantly, how it affects her books. How many times have you seen writers discuss the speed at which they write, and seen comments along the lines of no amount of additional time spent on a book would’ve made it any better, that the book is what it is and would be what it is whether 6 weeks or 6 months were spent writing it?

More here.

Everything I Needed To Know About Office Parties, I Learned In High School

nerd_sick.gifEver wonder what happens when a bunch of book editors get honked together around the holiday season? No? Too bad, I’m going to share the information with you anyway. (from Unsolicited, of course, at Gawker.)

Asked of Allison

Q: When looking for blurbs, do you send the manuscript along with the letter asking for a blurb, or do you wait until they commit to checking it out and possibly blurbing you first?

Allison answers.

Book Keeping: ‘Proposal Picked Up In The First Week’

more66.jpgRachel Kramer Bussel chats with Christopher Noxon about how his book Rejuvenile came to be:

In your book proposal, how much of your research plans were mapped out?
I did a lot of advance research for the proposal, referencing basic demographic, marketing sociological data that supported my thesis, and including interviews I conducted while reporting The New York Times piece. These research plans changed significantly once I started work — I altered four chapter topics, added three others and rearranged material.

Check out more of this informative discussion. And while you’re at it, check out the How to Pitch guide on More.

Advice from Agents and Editors on the Web

The folks at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management have tips on what authors can do when it comes to pitching in on the publicity of their own books.
How to write a hook at Miss Snark.
Really into the ins and outs of book contracts? Read more about them at The Rejecter.
The Sobel Awards are bullcrap, according to Pub Rants and Miss Snark and a bunch of other people.
Why your (or somebody else’s) book got turned down by Agent X.