Thursday, December 29, 2011

Do We Really Need an Agent With E-books Doing so Well?

Since I've been asked this question numerous times by wonderful fellow writers, I thought Gee, maybe I should address this question in the blog. So here goes...if you are wanting to put an E-book out NO you do not need an agent...UNLESS, you want to go through an E-book publisher (such as ).

So, (you may be asking yourself) why bother with agents? Why not just E-book it all the way to the bank? Well, if you haven't figured out by now this blog isn't just about getting an's about:
* building a platform
* marketing

I'm not against E-books. In fact, I will be putting one out soon. But, that being said, the book I am putting out as an E-book still went through the proposal process. Why? Because of marketing. The proposal process isn't just about finding an agent. It's about studying our books, knowing the ins-and-outs of the material we've written or want to write so we can successfully market them. The proposal process ensures that we've thought about:

* title and book cover
* word count
* audience (who will buy your book)
* book benefits (for non-fiction)
* special features
* models for your book (genre and comparable/competing books)
* a marketing position (what sets your book apart as unique compared to others like your book)
* other books you plan to write
* your platform and promotion plan (extremely important these days!)

The E-book market is about to become severely flooded. Getting our E-books to stand out is going to take some hard work, great writing and good marketing. So agents aside...go through the proposal process anyway.

However, agents are not useless even in the E-book world. Agents (who know your genre inside and out) are extremely valuable in both editing and marketing. So if you want to send out a great book as opposed to a pretty good story, then an agent can help. An agent can also help with contract negotiations should Hollywood come knock-knock, knocking on your door. (Two writers in my writing group have been contacted for movie deals and both have agents to help them through the process.)

And finally, even if you have an E-book out and it's selling steadily why not tap into the hard copy market? It only makes sense to put at least one hard-copy title with your name on it into the bookstores in order to cover all your markets. Mind you, the market is changing so rapidly--who knows what better opportunities will be available tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Describing My Audience--here goes...

So, Christmas is over and we all got our new e-readers up and running, ready to download books by the ka-gillions...(FYI, I bought Heaven's Bow) but wait...there's no time to read because we must finish our proposals! (Of course, there's time to read...just joking!) Still, these nasty things called proposals must get done so all the agents out there can gasp! at our unique minds and superb talents.

Audience. Audience. Audience. Remember, according to our fab mentor M we can get rejected simply by having too large or too small an audience. M says, "If you write a book for everyone, no one will buy it." ...and, "If you want to appeal to the masses, make sure you appeal to the one." In other words,we must be descriptively clear on who--precisely--our foremost target audience is.

Audience for The MotherHeart of God: Biblical Evidence for the Femininity of the Holy Spirit

Primary audience: Christian women who want to learn about the Holy Spirit.
Secondary: feminists.
Third audience: women between the ages of 30-45 who are spiritual seekers.
Fourth: Christian men.

In the proposal (make it not boring!)
Audience: "Whether they get their cards read once a week or engage in a weekly Bible study, this book will satisfy women who seek a spiritual life, love God and Jesus and want to learn about the Spirit, or simply wonder how femininity fits in with Christian theology."

Audience for Saving Mary: The Possession and The Deliverance

Primary audience: Men and women between the ages of 25-45 interested in spirituality, they've seen ghosts or, at the very least, believe in spirits and the possibility of demons; they wonder...what do the spirits want..are they safe?
Secondary audience: Christians, men and women between the ages of 25-45 who enjoy learning about the supernatural and would appreciate a true story of exorcism from a first-person perspective.
Third audience: Young Adult (though I did not write the book for this market, it may prove to attract the YA crowd).

In the proposal (make it not boring!) 
Audience: "This book is for those men and women who wonder about ghosts, spirits and demons. Those of us who, although now educated and working nine to five, still remember the feeling of being ten-years-old and sensing a presence in the room with us. A light going out. A shadow lurking down the hall. A dream that's just a little too real."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Inkubate is it helpful to writers?

Inkubate is a new breed of writer-agent mediation. Seemingly born from the frustrations of writers and agents alike, Incubate seeks to bring fun back into writing again. The truth is writers will always have fun writing—we just get weary with the publishing business: its inefficiency, its lack of profitability.
But Inkubate may just prove that the hard-copy publishing industry is interested in changing to better serve writers (and agents alike). It's true, we writers do get frustrated from time to time. We get frustrated when agents ask for our partials and then never get back to us. We get frustrated that now our queries are no longer even replied to, even by automated responses of “no.” Agents get just as frustrated with us writers...sending in poor quality work or proposals that don't describe a project in detail…and just thinking about the mounds of queries that say "this is the next twilight!"  well, this makes we feel sorry for all the agents out there. So, that being said, I have hope that Inkubate can streamline and organize this mess of query letters that clogs in-boxes across America and that it can better serve writers so that when we do send out a query or proposal, someone actually responds to us. This is a business, after all of us.

So how does it work? Inkubate, unlike agentinbox (which merely allows writers to upload queries and proposals to a small number of agencies) allows writers to upload writing samples, bios, and relevant information—that, wait for it…agents PAY to read. That’s right, I said “agents pay to read.” So be forewarned, if you want an agent to pay to read your work, your excerpt better be good. 

Inkubate is a writer’s portfolio on-line. It’s an organized data-base of writing, author bios, and new voices. It’s E-Harmony for the writing world.

But it’s not up and running yet…so take some time to examine the site and begin to create your portfolio. It may be worth your time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reason No.5 Your Book was Rejected-Target Audience is too Big

Below is our list of content for our soon to be fabulous book proposals:
* word count
* audience (who will buy your book)
* book benefits (for non-fiction)
* special features
* models for your book (genre and comparable/competing books)
* a marketing position (what sets your book apart as unique compared to others like your book)
* other books you plan to write
* your platform and promotion plan (extremely important these days!)

Since we've already looked at word count, and how not to get rejected by having the wrong word count, we'll now move onto audience.According to our mentor M, we can get rejected simply by having too large an audience. That seems crazy, you say? Yes, it seems crazy to me, too. But M says, "If you write a book for everyone, no one will buy it." ...and, "If you want to appeal to the masses, make sure you appeal to the one." In other words, be descriptively clear on who--precisely--your foremost target audience is.

Your book is not for Americans, it is not for the old and young alike, and it's certainly not for anyone who loves a good read. Your book is special. Your book is for twelve-year-old Katie, who loves animals and dreams of owning a horse. Your book is for Mrs. Klugmeister who, with her husband, just recently retired and is looking to travel. Your book is for sixteen-year-old Raven who attends a school for gifted kids; she  loves poetry, and vampire love stories, and is also a vegan. (Okay, that one might be a hard sell).

Which brings us to Reason No.6 Your Book was Rejected: Your Target Audience is too Small. Describing an audience that is too small (and too focused) produces the same response as describing a target audience that is too big and overly general--REJECTION.

We must take the time to describe our audience, and we must be sure our book satisfies that audience. If we satisfy our main target audience they will refer the book to secondary audiences. So, make Mrs. Klugmeister happy she bought that travel book for the newly retired and she just might love it so much that she encourages others to read it.

Did you notice how I used women for all the above examples? Our mentor M says: "Here's the reality: Women dictate buying in America." ...and, "Women influence 80 percent of the buying decisions in the United States." Keep this statistic in mind when you describe your audience: Is you book only for men (it just might be) or is also for women? If it is also for women, focusing on this market could be the better pay off.

 If we make the mistake of forgetting America's large female buying audience, we may just get another rejection: Reason No. 59 Your Book was Rejected: Women Just Aren't That Into You. This doesn't mean that all main characters must be women (not at all). It simply means your book keeps this large market in mind and that you can describe the type of woman who would buy your book. For example, I was once asked to critique a western adventure manuscript in which all the female characters were scared, quiet and loved to cook--all of them. I gently told the author that his take on women needed to expand. He responded, "But my book is only for men."

After describing your main target audience, take the time to describe additional markets. For instance, your book may be a supernatural thriller that follows one woman's journey through spiritual enlightenment. The main market might just be working women in their 30s, but an additional, secondary, market may be Christian women. Mentor M presents the following characteristics when considering your different audiences:
-religious beliefs
-statistics on sales of other books that are similar to yours
-number of people who have the similar problem that your book deals with
(and more)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meet my Friend Joann and her Magical Agent

I'm a client of Chamein Canton's and here's what happened. I was friends with one of her clients who decided to do the first edit of my novel, I Am Wolf because he loved the storyline. I had written a blog about it and posted the first chapter on FB under the notes section. He showed the posts to Chamein who then sent me an email asking if I could have the book finished in 3 months.

I took it serious and wrote morning, noon and night to make the deadline. After she read the first draft, she signed me as a client. Chamein Canton is a small literary agency. She gives personal attention to all her writers and has been a good friend. She has guided me through the maze of the publishing industry and has encouraged me every step of the way.

Would I do it different, not at all. I do know that rejections are hard to deal with, yes I have had them. However, in this case, I would have to say that I was just in the right place at the right time. It is without a doubt the first time anything like that happened to me.

I have had a strange journey in the publishing industry. It has been full of magic and tiny golden tickets to the show.

The best advice I would give to any writer who is searching for an agent is to do the research on each person you are considering working with. Remember that agents and editors are people too and that in the end as long as you have a good polished product and the story is told in the best way you know how, then you can't go wrong. It's the person who is still standing at the end of the day who gets the job in this industry. Just make sure you're standing with something worth while in your hands.

Who is to say what will happen next?

You can find Joanne on Book Blogs.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Check out agent, Rachelle Gardner's blog post on "persistence."

Just a reminder that I will be giving away a book from one of our mentors or the big book of agents, drawing from followers on December 31.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Meet my Friend Kim Gore and her Wonderful Agent

I started my agent search back in 2003. Query letters were snail-mailed back then, so response time was longer than it is now with so many agents accepting email queries. I made a lot of errors back then. Allow me to stress that: a lot of errors. You can find a description of those errors in all their humiliating glory on my blog:
Six years, four books, and several close calls later, I received an offer of representation from two agents. I discovered one of them through an agent interview on and the other through
After talking on the telephone to Michelle Andelman (who at that time worked at Lynn C. Franklin Associates, Ltd. but has since moved on to Regal Literary), I knew she understood my vision and what I needed to do to bring my novel to the next level. Normally she would have seen a revision before accepting representation, being that my novel needed some work plot-wise, but knowing I had another agent interested she decided to sign me.
Not all agents work with the author to improve the story, but Michelle does, and that’s one of the reasons why I love working with her. She understands the market and isn’t afraid to let me know if one of my novels doesn’t work for her. She’ll talk me through my book over the phone, but ultimately the changes I make are of my own decision.
If I had to explain what it was that successfully landed me an agent, I would say it boils down to two things: submitting to agents who would be a good fit for my books, and persistence. I never gave up, despite how many books I had to write or how many agents I needed to contact. I suppose I should add that I had strong writing skills and an understanding of how plot and conflict worked. After all, it’s difficult to sell a product that’s poorly constructed. But I want to add that rejection does not mean you are a terrible writer who should give up this very second and sell shoes instead. (I wrote and sold shoes, by the way.) It may simply mean the project in question is not a good fit for that particular agent.
Here is why I decided to look for an agent instead of submitting directly to editors. First of all, editors at major publishing houses don’t accept unagented queries. There are exceptions, of course. For example, if you attend a writer’s conference, oftentimes editors will allow you to submit your manuscript to them within, say, the next six months. That brings me to my next reason why I decided to go the agent route. I wanted someone else to negotiate terms with a publishing house. I also preferred to have that person help me find the editor that best fit my work. My agent knows the editors on a personal level. She knows what to expect from them and what types of novels they are looking for.
Here are reasons why someone might choose not to use an agent. First off, the writer must land an agent. Then the novel has to attract an editor. This can take a lot of time. Years, in fact. However, if you sell directly to an editor at, say, a small press, you cut out the middleman. It may be a quicker route to publishing your work. Plus, you don’t have to give up 15-20% of your royalties to someone else. The same reason applies to self-publishing, which is the quickest route to publication. The company publishing your work takes a cut, but that’s it. The rest of the money is yours.
But, on the other side of the literary coin, a professional editor will make the difference between so-so writing and fantastic writing. Likewise, an agent will help you find that professional editor that loves and believes in your work as much as you do.
If you feel finding an agent is your best course toward publication, I have a few suggestions:
1)     Have your novel and your query critiqued by knowledgeable writers.
2)     Find the agents best suited to your work. Do your research. I know you have probably heard this before, but it bears repeating.
3)     Do not stop querying agents, even when an agent asks for you to submit your manuscript to him or her. (Even if this is your dream agent!)
4)     While waiting on responses, work on a new book. If the first one doesn’t garner positive responses, query the next book you’ve written.
5)     Continue to improve your writing. Take classes, join writing groups, read blogs written about the writing craft. Many authors have blogs that feature writing tips. Find and study them.
6)     If you love writing, then do not give up. If you work hard improving the writing craft, write with the publishing market in mind, and practice perfecting that good ol’ query letter, it will happen.
Biography: K.L. Gore writes YA contemporary novels and is currently represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary. One of her short stories will be published in Cicada! in the spring of 2012. She has the thick skin of an elephant, thanks to her pile of rejection slips.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Word From Deidre

I get a lot comments from readers out there and all of them have been wonderful, so thank you! Many are from writers who have given up on the agent route. My friend Andrew wrote: "I've been bad, Deidre. I hope you won't be too harsh with me, but I've published sans agent or publisher. The book that was turned down by every agent in the world that handles historical fiction has had 6,000 downloads on Amazon in the first two months. I know a great agent can do great things, but making that match is harder than signing up for!"

Six thousand downloads in two months! (I had to have a little lie down after hearing that).

Still there are us die-hards who (until every agent has turned us down too) won't stop searching. On a personal note, I'll just let you know that I completely agree with my friend Andrew: signing with the right agent is more difficult than finding your match with eharmony. Perhaps it's even more difficult. After all, I've had two agents in the past. My first agent fired me for asking too many questions. She said to me "Do you know who I am?" (Of course, I didn't know who she was, so that didn't help the situation). A year later, she sent me a letter (this was years ago during snail-mail mode) saying she forgave me and would now sign me on. I (being a desperate writer) signed on with her and never heard from her again (maybe she's still trying to sell my picture book? Wouldn't that be nice:)

I joined a therapy group for abused writers after this.Not ready to admit defeat, I then read many endearing articles about wonderful, friendly and helpful agents. Slowly, I began the query process again.

Maybe six years later, I received an email from an agent (who I never queried) asking if he could offer my memoir to St. Martin's press (this agent had heard of my "possession" book through a friend and wanted to see if he could help me). Now, I knew the manuscript wasn't ready (I had problems with the second half of the book), but I thought what the heck, I'll sign with this agent and see what happens. Of course, St. Martin's press read the manuscript and said there were issues with the second half of the book and so they passed. My agent--who wasn't in it for the long haul--passed on me too.  By the way, I have fixed those nasty issues with the second half of the book.

So my experience with agents hasn't been a dream but it hasn't been altogether horrific. I still believe there is an agent out there who wants to work with me and my words and in the process sell some books. (I could be wrong, though. I may have to stay single).

So FYI I'm going to spend a few days talking about the joys and pitfalls of working (or trying to work) with agents.
This means I'll throw in a few interviews from writers who work with agents and an interview from someone who doesn't (hopefully my friend Andrew will speak with us). If you want to send me a comment, try answering this question: What is your biggest pet peeve with the query process?

Keep writing,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

REASON No. 11 Your Book Was Rejected

So back to the proposal. We need to address:

* word count
 And, remember, we need to do this without being boring.

Of course, there is no way to raise excitement with word count--word count is as word count does. Or am I wrong? Perhaps there is a way to excite agents with word count (and I don't mean highlighting our word count in PINK, which I rather like). According to our mentor M, word count should be exciting. If it's not, a lackluster word count can get you...rejected! (Malicious laugh goes here).

REASON No. 11 Your Book Was Rejected: your word count is wrong.

What is it that gets publishers excited (you probably aren't wondering to yourself)? Well, profit of course. And a word count that is too long will cost more to publish just as a book with too few pages will have to sell for less. (This sort of evil discrimination doesn't happen to e-books!) Therefore--just the right amount of words--makes a publisher (and therefore an agent) excited!

Our mentor, Mike Nappa says, "If you really want to avoid rejection, and actually want to remove an obvious obstacle in the way your book is viewed by an agent or a publishing house, then do the simple thing here. Write a book that conforms to the word count agents and editors expect."

I know, I know...that word CONFORM makes us all cringe. But in this case, if you want an agent (and a publishing house) to get excited about your word count--then conform. Or, do an e-book. Or, be a rebel and write whatever you want and see how it goes.

What is the right amount of words? Well, that depends. The industry has its standards:
YA: 40,000-60,000
Historical fiction: 80,000-100,000
Adult non-fiction: 45,000-55,000
Adult novel: 80,000-100,000
Juvenile novel: 20,000-40,000
Picture book: 400-600

I hear those excited agents now, "Would you just look at this delicious word count! It's right on the money!"

How do my books hold up in the word count department (you probably aren't wondering to yourself)? Let me see, my memoir is 85,000 words -- the question now becomes is my book strictly adult non-fiction or is it adult novel (it is a story, after all). Hmmmm,, conundrum.

My other manuscript The MotherHeart of God: Biblical Evidence for the Femininity of the Holy Spirit
is a staggering 95,000 words. (I can't help it, I whine, there is A LOT of biblical information and since people aren't familiar with the topic I have to take time to explain things!) Way too long for adult non-fiction. Another conundrum.

What to do...what to do?

Monday, December 5, 2011

List of Agents Actively Seeking

I went through the big book looking for those relatively new agents who are actively seeking authors. Here's what I came up with:
-Jennifer Cayea, Avenue Literary
areas--non-fiction, fiction (YA, chic-lit)
-Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Agency
areas--non-fiction and fiction
-Kate Schafer Testerman, KT Literary,LLC
areas--non-fiction, fiction
-Jon Tienstra, KT Public Relations Literary Services
areas--non-fiction, fiction
-David Fugate, LaunchBooks Literary Agency
-Kristopher O'Higggins, Scribe Agency, LLC
areas--non-fiction, fiction
-Jackie Meyer, Whimsy Literary Agency, LLC
areas--non-fiction, fiction
-Michelle Wolfson, Wolfson Literary Agency

areas--non-fiction, fiction
-Renee Zuckerbrot, Renee Zuckerbrot Literary Agency
areas--non-fiction, fiction

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Well, I signed onto Webook and entered one of my titles on PageToFame-- this cost me $3.95. Now my title along with a two-three sentence synopsis (the hook) and the first page of my manuscript will be available to view. Other people will now read my short intro and vote on whether my work should continue on. You need to make it through 3 rounds: a 1st page round, a 5-page round and  a 50-page round. If your work makes it through, then it will be shown to a group of agents.

If you want to enter your work--make sure you have a fabulous hook and a great title and an intriguing 1st page. This is actually a great writing exercise.

But...the fun part is the reading. Reading is free by the way--so go sign up. I read 15 entries and then rated them. It was quick, fun and painless. Plus, it gives you an idea of what doesn't work. So I do highly suggest you become a reader. I would have kept reading but I needed to feed my kids. The reading and rating is addictive. Go to and sign yourself up and start reading and rating!

Tomorrow I'll sign up for AgentInBox and tell you all about it

Saturday, December 3, 2011

New Twist to Publishing: Webook

Check out this publishing house...if anything it's a creative idea. Has anyone out there used it?...I'll dive in and give it a try just to let you know what it's about. (I feel a bit like Mikey.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Twisting in the Nuts and Bolts

So I've got wonderful titles, I've got two good hooks, now come the nuts and bolts (the part that I think is boring). According to our mentor M we need to address:

* word count
* audience (who will buy your book)
* book benefits (for non-fiction)
* special features
* models for your book (genre and comparable/competing books)
* a marketing position (what sets your book apart as unique compared to others like your book)
* other books you plan to write
* your platform and promotion plan (extremely important these days!)

So this all seems easy enough, right? The difficult part is making sure it doesn't all come off as boring. We want agents to read this stuff and get excited, right? This is the whole point of following our agent's advice...give them exactly what they want, so they will be excited about our books. What they don't want is boring.

WARNING!  (What not to do.)

According to our other mentor M, many writers--in order to combat the fear of being boring--decorate their letters or proposals with color and Fancy Fonts and unsubstantiated (this-book-is-so-much-better-than-The-Lord-of-the-Rings!) hype. Mike Nappa wisely says, "You know what makes me want to represent a book? The book. Not your cover letter. Not your exaggerated promises. Not your American-Idol-wannabe pseudo confidence. Not your faked attempts at professional connection."

That sounds harsh, doesn't it? But it's the truth. Do you, as a writer, have something important to say? Do you have a marvelous writing voice? Then show that off. Agents like words. Give them words.