Monday, December 17, 2012

What to get the writer in your life this Christmas... Or what to put on your own list

Know a writer, and can't seem to figure out what to get them for Christmas? Family bugging you for your wish list that contains something more than books and it's nearly Christmas and you can't think of anything? Never fear! I am here to give you ideas! Click on any of the images to take you to where you can buy each of these items.

Because it made me laugh:

For the quirky-funny writer in your life:

For anyone who's ever almost had a heart attack after losing that chapter that was *so* difficult to get just right:

Why? This says it all.

Know someone who doesn't know any writers who live by them, and wants to find some? Wear one of these, and they'll come out of the woodwork. Promise.

For him:

For her:

For the writer man.

For the writer woman.

Something every writer should have, imo.

You can get this image printed on one of 22 different drink containers-- like a mug, a glass, a flask--whatever floats the writer in your life's boat.

Bahahaha! So true.

For all those people-watching sessions. On second thought, this may just tip the people off to what you're doing.....

My favorite. And really-- what goes better with this quote than a caffeinated beverage holder?

For the writer in your life who needs a little pick-me-up now and then:
(This reads "You're an awesome writer. Now get back to work." Backwards. So you can see it in the mirror. :))

And what every writer needs: the ability to stop time, so you can forget responsibilities and write whenever inspiration strikes.

For him:

For her:

What's the writerly gift you wish you had the most this Christmas?

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hardest Part So Far

Hi, guys! I'm over at The Lucky 13s today, talking about what's been the hardest part of this publication road so far. Come join me!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why having a bad agent is worse than having no agent

I honestly believe that there's a perfect publishing path for everyone, and that not everyone's perfect path includes getting an agent. This post may or may not be for you.

I know how it is. When don't have an agent and you hear "a bad agent is worse than no agent," you have a hard time believing it. Before you get an agent, your writing career is kind of at a standstill, so surely having a less than ideal agent is better than nothing, right?!

Wrong. You want one that's going to be good for you.

It's a match made in heaven. Hahaha! Get it?
Cloud photo attribution: Axel Rouvin

Let me start by saying that there are two kinds of "bad agents." Ones that are bad for EVERYONE, and ones that are bad for just YOU. Either way, the results are the same-- they can't sell your book. (Now, of course, an agent can be an incredible agent, and be perfect for you, and still not be able to sell your book for a million and one reasons, even if your book rocks beyond the telling of it. That's not what I'm talking about.) A bad agent doesn't sell your book for one of two reasons:

  1. Because they don't have the contacts. (Either because they're new in the business, or because they don't usually represent your genre, and therefore don't have many contacts in the field specific to you.)
  2. Because they don't have a love of your work, or believe strongly enough in it.

Let's say that you sign with an agent, and they aren't good for you (for whatever reason). Maybe you revise a lot with them. And maybe you go on sub and don't get any bites. And then maybe you go on sub again and again or maybe they aren't willing to go on sub to any more after the first time. Before you know it, a TON OF TIME HAS PASSED, and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. You signed with this agent because you wanted to get your career moving, right? And now, you've spent so much time spinning your wheels, and it's still not moving. Are you any better off than if you had continued to query until you did find the perfect agent?

Because even worse than the time wasted, now you have to decide if it's better to break up with your agent. I've had several friends in this position, and lemme tell you-- it's tough. It's tough to go from being able to say that you're an agented writer, to starting over with querying when you thought you were done with it.

It's definitely better to spend a longer time querying in the first place.

Think about it-- if one agent thinks your manuscript will sell (that's the reason they sign you-- or at the very least, that they think your writing is so brilliant that even if this manuscript can't sell, the next one will), won't more than one agent be interested in representing you? So don't feel like that's your one and only choice-- it's all a matter of sticking with it until you find that one agent who IS perfect for you.

So what if you've exhausted all of your possibilities, and just think if someone, ANYONE would be willing to take you on everything would be okay. Isn't it better to just try with any agent willing to offer?

Let's look at this logically. 

If no good agent is willing to take this on, is an editor? If you've exhausted every possibility, it might be time to make the equally painful decision of focusing a new/different project. That's something you have to use your gut on. And definitely use any feedback you got from agents to help you make that decision.

So.... how do you know who is a good agent?

Research well. Check Predators and Editors. Look at the agent's sales on Publisher's Marketplace. Google a lot. See what you can find online. And keep in mind that newer agents aren't necessarily going to have the sales, and that doesn't mean that they're a bad agent. Generally, if it's a newer agent at an established agency, they have enough people they can go to as mentors so they can be a great agent, even if they don't have a sales record to prove it yet. (In fact, newer agents are often very attentive.) You'll have to use your gut on whether or not a newer agent at a newer agency is a good thing or not.

It is possible for a good agent--- even an agent with an incredible sales record--- to be a bad agent for you. And how do you find out those? By your gut reaction to everything you see online (and, if it gets to that point, what they say over the phone). And sometimes you don't need to know, simply because their tastes in books might keep the two of you separated. And that's a good thing. That's why you should never be disheartened by rejections, because sometimes it's saving you from a bad future relationship.

And a bad (for you) agent is truly worse than having no agent at all.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What questions should you ask an agent who offers representation or exclusive revisions?

Because you know you're most likely
to get "the call" while on the beach. ;)
By Peter Drier (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
A couple of months ago, I was part of a discussion with a few other writers about what questions you should as an offering agent when you get The Call. I've been asked this question a few times, so I thought it was time for a blog post on it.

My first piece of advice is to download FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL by Elana Johnson. (Scroll down to the bottom of that page on that link-- there's a download button.) Not only is it free, but it saved me so many times! It even has information like what to name your file and how to format your email when an agent asks for pages of your manuscript. It contains a list of questions to ask an agent. When I got The Call, most of my questions came from there. I didn't ask all the questions--- just the ones that were important to me. You may have completely different questions that are important to you. Here's a few, though, that I think are big ones worth talking about:

Do you think my book is ready for submission, or will it need edits first?
How extensive will my revisions with you be?

I think it's also important to find out not just about how many edits they think your book needs, but how editorial they are in general. Not that a highly editorial agent is generally better or worse than one who makes minor suggestions (or none at all), but it's likely one or the other will be better or worse FOR YOU. So think about what you really want and need.

How many people do you represent?

This is another one where there's no right or wrong answer in general, but there's probably a right or wrong answer FOR YOU. An agent with a ton of clients will obviously be busier, and so you'll likely communicate less. But they sell a lot more, so generally have more contacts and a greater relationship with those contacts. As the amount of communication goes, it's likely to be vastly different between an agent with a ton of clients versus an agent with a few. So try to anticipate what you want from an agent. Do you want your agent to "check in" frequently, or are you okay going possibly months during the slow times without hearing from them? Are you looking for someone you can be buddy/buddy with, or someone with whom you communicate only when you have a need?

How long does it usually take you to respond to an email?

This is important no matter how frequent your communication is with your agent. I think that the number one complaint among writers who are thinking about breaking up with their agent is that the agent takes forever to respond to emails.

If you don't sell my book, what happens?

I had two agents offer. Both were powerhouse agents from powerhouse agencies. And that's about where their similarities ended. One was highly editorial, one was not. One tended to sub to a lot of editors at once, one to only a few (more on this in a second). Both had entirely different plans for my book, but they were both GOOD PLANS. I had a really hard time deciding for quite a while--- until I got their answers to this question.

I asked my agent that during our initial phone call, and she said, "Then we will go on another round. And another and another until either we've exhausted every possibility, or you tell me that you want to stop and work on submitting a different book."

The other agent's answer: "We would probably try a second round of editors to see if we could get an offer in that batch. If that didn’t happen, we’d talk about what other projects you have in the works. In these scenarios, I will often stay with the author for a second book and not issue a parting if the first doesn’t work."

Can you believe the difference between two agents?! That was a deal breaker for me. I think the answer to that is vitally important. It tells how much they are really taking on YOU versus YOUR BOOK better than anything else. I think it's important that an agent sees you as someone whose career they can build.
To how many editors do you generally submit a manuscript?

I've heard a lot of numbers on how many editors an agent normally subs to on the first round. It seems a lot submit to somewhere around twelve. There are agents that only sub to five, though, which takes your chances way down. I don't know if they just don't have as many contacts, or if there's a good reason to do it for that particular book, or if it's simply a preference, but it's definitely a huge factor and is something to ask about.

What if I wrote a book in a different genre?

If you've ever thought about writing in another genre, and think it's a possibility you will in the future, definitely ask! My agent reps kidlit, and rarely reps adult. When I asked this question, she said that one of her clients writes both kidlit and adult--- she reps the kidlit, and a different agent reps her adult stuff. If you're ever thinking you might genre jump / age range jump, it's helpful to know if they would rep both, or if they'd be open to you having a second agent.

 How agressively do you seek foreign rights?

Ask what is normal for him/her and his/her agency, and how they think your book might do in foreign markets. I know that right now foreign rights would just be icing, but trust me: when you get there, it'll be important to you.

A few others to consider:

How involved are you in brainstorming future ideas for books / how to promote / career planning?
What would your expectations for me be if we decided on a partnership?
Can I contact a couple of your clients to get a feel of what I should expect?
Is there anything else I should know that will help with my decision?

These aren't the only questions you should ask, of course. Make sure you download Elana's book! It is seriously helpful, and has a lot more questions for you to consider.

And one last thing that's not really a question, but so important.

How does the agent make you feel?

Back to the decision between my two. One made it clear that she was the boss. That I needed to jump if she said jump. The other made it clear that she was my partner. That we would work through things together. As I was getting paper to make a pros / cons list about which agent I should choose, my hubby gave me a look like he couldn't believe I was even going there--- and not because I don't go there often--- but because to him, the choice was clear. He said, "When you talk to / about the other agent [the boss one], you're stressed out, worried, and unsure of yourself. When you talk to / about Sara [the partner one], you're calm and peaceful and excited." Um... Duh. My choice really was made from the start. I don't know why I had to get all technical about it. PAY ATTENTION TO HOW THEY MAKE YOU FEEL. This is the person you'll need to go to when you need to be talked down from a ledge when things get crazy. You do not want to be afraid to email them.

A few other non-question things:

Keep in mind that a LOT of agents ask for exclusive revisions, or an Revise and Resubmit (R&R) before they sign with you. If they do, don't let that make you feel like your book just wasn't good enough! If the agent tends to be very editorial, that's the kind of thing they'll tend to do with every potential client. They want to see how you'll work together editorially first. But if they ask for an exclusive, the phone call might be focused on the edits, not on them as an agent. Don't get flustered, and don't let them skip past the part where you ask questions. You want to make sure if you do enter into an exclusive, that it's someone YOU want to continue with.

And figure out exactly what you want in an agent BEFORE you get The Call, or the email requesting The Call. If you have one agent offering, it's easy to get so excited that you don't really care what the answers to your questions are-- you just want them to sign you! But if they aren't the right agent for you, signing with them is a much worse road to travel than continuing to query is. And if you don't decide ahead of time what exactly you want/need in an agent, it'll be so much harder to make a logical choice (instead of just an emotional one).

When you get that call, remember most of all that they're a person! And chances are, that phone call makes them nervous, too.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mine, in pictures. How was yours?

This Thanksgiving week, I got to:

Go to two Thanksgiving dinners-- my family and my hubby's.

By TheKohser (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Spend all day long with my kiddos.

Saw this movie with my family:

And this movie with my oldest son:

Watched my sister get excited for her favorite "holiday"-- Black Friday, and wondered for the three billionth time how that could be someone's favorite holiday.

Got to hear funny conversations, like this one...

Son1: Did you bring home the cranberry cheese ball?
Son2: What? Cheese ball?
Mom: [Pulls out of fridge, shows Son2]
Son2: Oh! I thought that was ice cream! I was wondering why there were crackers by it...

Got an insane amount of revisions done on book 2.
This artwork is fully created by Aziz Natour. [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Put up my Christmas decorations.

And enjoyed being a mom.

How was your week?

Friday, November 16, 2012

I miss you, bloggers!

Alex Cavanaugh, Matthew MacNish, and Andrew Leon have teamed up on a blogfest that I think is brilliant! It gives us a chance to give a little shout-out to the bloggers who haven't been blogging as much lately, to let them know that we miss them.

And also a shout out to those we'd miss if they ever stopped.

There are so many bloggers that I miss! I am thrilled to highlight a few of them.


When I read about this blogfest, the first blog that came to mind that I miss is C'MERE! Whatcha doin?, the blog of K. Marie Criddle.

Marie is one of those people that is amazing at every single things she does. And she does a lot! She's not a bragger, so she doesn't inundate you with the awesome, but even still, you're blown away at first sight. SHE DRAWS ALL OF HER POSTS, people! And not only that, but she is layer upon layer of funny! And thoughtful. Every once in a while, another detail of her incredibleness eeks out, and you'll find your jaw was still dropped in awe from the last time. I think there's probably nothing she can't do. Hop on over and say hi! Marie's blog.

Another blog I miss is Empty White Pages, the blog of Sarah Pearson.

Sarah is thoughtful and kind and very supportive of the writing community. Plus, she's a music savant! She used to do a lot of posts where she took someone's book blurb, and found songs that she felt represented their book, in a Musical Impressions series. It was so much fun to see a WIP represented like that! I loved it! Go let her know you miss her! Sarah's Blog.

I also miss The Startled Spyglass, the blog of Brenda Sills.

Brenda is fun and amazing and insightful, and has a great blogging voice. Plus, I've met her in real life a few times, and I've got to tell you-- besides being a great writer, she is an incredible human being. Stop by! Brenda's blog.


One of my very favorite writing blogs out there is Pub(lishing) Crawl.

If I had to recommend a blog to writers, it would be this. The ladies at Pub Crawl rock. Their posts are thought-provoking, insightful, well written, and helpful. They are written by authors, a publishing sales rep, agents, editorial assistants, and a book wholesaler, so there is such a broad range of information and perspectives on the writing world. Even when they are talking about a subject I know quite well, I still learn tons from every post. If you haven't already been reading Pub Crawl, check it out! They are definitely worth it. Pub Crawl Blog.

Thanks, Alex, Matthew, and Andrew for the great blog hop!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Choosing a title, and my brand-new official one.

My hubby and I watched the movie SKYFALL on Friday. As I was walking out of the theater, wanna know what struck me the most in the movie? The ability to breathe new life into a 50 year old franchise? That it had the biggest 007 opening of all time? *Gasp* Who died?

Nope. It was THE TITLE. (Which may or may not have been a direct result of me recently focusing so much on title.)

SKYFALL is not just a great title-- it's INCREDIBLE. Memorable. Intriguing. Pulls you in.

What is interesting about the title, is WHAT was called Skyfall. It wasn't the name of the secret plan. It wasn't the name of the bad guy. It wasn't the name of the object they needed. It was the name of his childhood home. It could've been named a million things that would've fit the look of the home better, but Skyfall fit the mood of the movie better. It even fit the theme.

I imagine that as they were brainstorming names for this movie that didn't have a plan / object they could go to for a great name, they started looking at word combinations that fit the movie, and then found a place to put it. In this case, a location. And it worked. I can't say I totally bought that his childhood home was named Skyfall, but the name definitely made me want to see the movie. And that's what really matters, right?

I guess my point is, when you're brainstorming titles, don't limit yourself. Look into things outside of the obvious in your book. Heck, even look outside of what's in your book! If it truly fits the feel of your book, it will work in your book.

Now, a little update on my own title.

My book has been named THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH for as long as it's had a title. At one point, the cover team thought that something wasn't quite right. All the pieces weren't quite falling into place. So they asked for alternate titles. It was hard enough to title it the first time! How in the world was I supposed to come up with even more?! I sent.... maybe eight. After a couple of weeks, they decided to keep my title. I was so relieved!

I knew it might come up again. I was with a bunch of writers having a write night, and mentioned how hard titling my book was. They said they bet that we could brainstorm 100 titles. I think I actually snorted. We set to work, and stopped at... you guessed it! 100. The difference? We looked outside of the box.

Then my book got to marketing, and they decided something wasn't all the way right with the title. They worried that it wouldn't be seen in the right context, and people would think it was a darker book than it was.When they asked for us to look at titles, I narrowed that list of 100 down to 40 and sent it to my editor. She gave me a list of probably 20-30 more. I came up with about 20 more. Then we narrowed it down to a dozen.

I'm not gonna lie. I've told my title to hundreds of people in the past year and a half, and I've seen their reactions. I know it's a good title because of the look on people's faces when I tell them. So I was a little (okay, a lot) afraid to change to an untested title. And since we only had about 48 hours to come up with a new one, there wasn't much time. I emailed everyone I could think of who had MG aged kids and begged them to have their kids vote for their favorite of the twelve. I took ballots to my local elementary school's 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes. A sweet author / teacher in Ohio took it to 5 classes at her elementary school. In the end, I had votes from 460 kids, and titles that showed very clear winners.

I gave that info to my editor, who then shared it with marketing, and I FELT GOOD. It no longer mattered to me which of them was chosen. I now had tested titles.

Marketing, sales, my cover team, my editor-- everyone fell in love with the same title. Oh my gosh. I'm getting goose bumps writing this. The one they fell in love with, when used as SERIES TITLE, fixed everything. It was the missing piece. The book title WAS exactly right-- it was just missing the series title. Without further ado, I present to you my brand-spakin' new title.


It makes me giddy to see my title! Every time I look at it, everything feels exactly, completely, finally right.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Wanna NaNoReviMo with me?

Last year, a bunch of us who were all revising got together for something we liked to call NaNoReviMo. I've got to tell you-- it was AWESOME to have so much support and encouragement. Not to mention how much more fun it is to revise with others!

Since it was such a great success before, we've decided to do it again. The lovely Jessie Humphries is spearheading it this time. Head over to her blog, The B-Word and let her know if you want to join! (Or leave me a comment letting me know, and I'll pass the word along.)

If you join, what will you get? Well, along with a manuscript so shiny you'll barely be able to look at it, you'll get the choice of displaying one or more of these fabulous buttons.

Created by Mara Rutherford:

Created by Tara Tyler:

Created by Carrie Butler:

Sounds fabulous, no? Makes you want to join, doesn't it? I highly recommend it!

And now to make my goals for the month public, thereby making them more likely to happen. (That's the way it works, right?)
  1. I'm somewhere in the last 10,000 words of drafting book two. My goal is to finish before this week is over, NaNo style.
  2. Make it shine, before my December first deadline to my agent, and not go insane doing it. 
There. Nice and simple. ;)

Head on over to Jessie Humphries's blog and let her know if you want to join us! You can email her at jachumphries (at) gmail (dot) com if you'd rather.

What are your goals this month?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Sometimes it's a shock

"Success comes to a writer, as a rule, so gradually that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed."

~P. G. Wodehouse

Have you looked back lately to see how far you've come? Does it surprise you? I think it helps to look back! Sometimes it really just feels like you're trudging forward, never making any progress, but when you look back to where you started, you realize that that trudging is actually making a difference! And sometimes you see a really winding path with tons of backtracking.... but that's okay, too, because still-- that starting point is WAY back there. It's kind of cool when you look back to that green writer you used to be, and see the progress.

Makes you want a cookie, doesn't it?

By [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Have a fantastically spooky weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Way We Are: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts in just one week from today! With all the excitement building on so many blogs--- people outlining their books, planning their month--- it feels like Christmas!

And kind of makes me sad I won't be joining in on all the fun. Instead of creating a messy draft, I'll get to be polishing one. (And actually, I really like polishing.) But at least I get to live vicariously through all of you who are! So tell me. Are you planning to do NaNoWriMo this year? Or do you have something else fun (or otherwise) planned for this month?

And since we haven't had a good graphical response to a The Way We Are post on here in FOREVER, let's do one this time, shall we?

All day Wednesday and Thursday, I'll update this graphic with everyone's responses. And.... go!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I've Got a Theory: Character Pantsers

Generally speaking, we are each better at either plot, characters, or setting, right? (Click here to see a fun poll on whether plot, setting, or characters came first.) One of those three tends to come more easily to us. It's the thing that feels most real in the first draft. It's the thing that feels most clear to you as you're writing.

And although we're all somewhere in the middle, we each consider ourselves to be either a plotter or a pantser / discovery writer, right?

Here's where my theory comes into play. You ready?

Discovery writers (a.k.a. pantsers) tend to be strongest at writing characters.

I know that a lot of writers get a character (or characters) in mind, then plop them down somewhere in the middle of a situation and see what they'll do. Who wants to plot that? The fun is seeing how the character(s) react to the situation, and then see where it goes from there. It totally works!

On the other hand, you can't really plop a plot down amongst characters in a setting, and see what the plot does. You can't really plop a setting down amongst characters and a plot, and see what the setting does. Obviously both the plot and the setting is colored by everything and colors everything, but it's not the driving force.

So let's go about proving / disproving my theory, shall we? In the comments, tell me what you're strongest at (plot, setting, or character), and whether you're primarily a plotter or a pantser. (Or use whatever phrase you prefer to call it.) I'll start us out.

I'm a Setting / Plotter.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Be the bee, not the mosquito

I made a goal this week to write 8,000 words. And all this week, I've been working SO HARD! Seriously-- sunup to sundown, I've been working on writing-related stuff. Guess how many words I've written? 400. Not kidding. There's just been so many things that have come up! Then I came across this gem:

It is not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. Remember the bee is praised but the mosquito is swatted.

~Mary O'Connor

Of course there are a million things that can make you busy that aren't the most important things. For me this week, the biggest culprit was something SMALL, but very HARD. The defeated perfectionist in me made me procrastinate it so much. Find all those million little things that just had to be done. And I couldn't write, because that other little thing HAD to be done before I could. So call me a mosquito. Do you ever have this problem?

Here. Have a freshly baked cookie. It might distract you from the guilt of not getting the right things done. (Or maybe you're not a defeated perfectionist / mosquito at all. In that case, you can take this as a reward for good behavior.)

By Kevin Lawver (originally posted to Flickr as Cooling Cookies) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Have a fabulous mosquito-free weekend, everyone! I'm off to write 7,600 words.

P.S. Guess what? THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH is going to be an audio book!!! It'll be released simultaneously with the hardback. :) :) :) And Random House is keeping it in house, which makes me ridiculously happy. And before you even ask--- I have no idea who is going to be the voice. I am open to guesses, though.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Buzz Business: A guest post by David Farland

I am so excited to have Dave Farland here guest posting today! Dave is one smart man. He does a Daily Kick in the Pants advice email that I've learned a lot from, and today he's here to talk about creating buzz for your book. Take it away, Dave!

A few years ago, a marketing study was done on songs to see how they gained popularity. The researchers chose a few songs—I believe it was about fifteen—that were of equal merit, and small groups of people were asked to select their favorites. It was soon discovered that different groups came up with wildly varying favorites.

The study wasn’t really about songs, of course. It was about buzz. As certain leaders in a group voiced their opinions, others followed. Those who voiced their favorites eloquently, those who were most attractive and persuasive, swayed the crowd. The songs that were most liked and got the highest initial ratings soon soared in popularity.

What does that have to do with the book business? Quite a bit.

For a book to succeed, it needs to sell a lot of copies, and it needs to sell them quickly. The higher the volume of sales and the faster they sell, the more people in the industry talk about the book. In fact, a book that is selling well becomes “newsworthy.” Recently, one book hit sales of a million dollars per week online.

Of course, that generated more interest and more sales. It was talked about on national news channels. The author got a movie deal and went on television, and the book continued to gain momentum until sales became wildly disproportionate to its objective quality.

It happens once or twice every year. I liked the Goosebumps books, for example, but were they really so good that they should have taken up 45 percent of the middle-grade market?

So it’s important to create a good impression. Cover art, for example, is tremendously important. Two books with wildly different covers—one beautiful, one bland—will experience a huge difference in sales. How much is that difference? Some authors who have recently been experimenting found a boost in initial sales of over 150 to 1.

Why such a huge difference? Because the beautiful cover creates an overall impression of quality.

Given this, even though my novel Nightingale has been doing well, winning awards and getting great word of mouth, I recently decided to give it a new cover:

Was the old cover bad? No, it was fine. But this one tested out better with booksellers and audiences, and that was important.

There are a dozen other ways to help boost your buzz. For example, you as an author need to pay close attention to the back copy on your book. Does it excite the reader? Does it make them want to open the book?

What about the blurbs on your cover—quotes from other authors? If you get great quotes, you need to display them proudly (even if you’re the kind of shy person who shuns the limelight).

Elements outside of the book are important, too. I recently had an author preparing to release a book, and he asked, “Should I put up an author page online?” Of course you should! Your author page should also add to your image.

In past articles in my Daily Kicks, my advice column, I’ve talked about marketing to the masses, the use of resonance in marketing, how to compose a first chapter, and so on.

All of these tips are designed to create buzz for your book, to get people talking. Each element reinforces the impression that “This is the total package.” Everything that you do needs to reinforce an image of quality.

You as an author are part of a sales package. Even the way that you dress is important.

Have you ever noticed that if you look at the back of novels by New York Times Bestselling Authors, the authors appear as if they’ve stepped off the covers of a magazine? I’ve known authors who have had hundreds of photos taken just so that they can get the right stance to shave off a few pounds or make that chin look smaller. I’m sure that some of those authors get hair transplants and plastic surgery and wear colored contact lenses in order to get just the right picture. Others retouch their photos. Why am I sure? Because when you see them in person, they often don’t bear much resemblance to their pictures.

Just as important as looks is your demeanor in public. Do you come off as snooty, overbearing, foolish, a sex addict, a drunkard, or unkempt? I’ve known authors who could easily bear such labels.

You can write a wonderful novel, yet kill your career through bad behavior. A few years ago, one mainstream author, a literature professor, as I recall, had a novel that was shortlisted for a number of awards. His publishers sent him on a book tour and set up national publicity on television, but after twenty-four hours of touring, they sent him home. It turned out that he was a complete ass. His awards interest fell through, as did his next book contract.

In most cases, we don’t sabotage our careers through epic fails. Instead, we do it through a succession of minor errors. We dress down for a book signing. We allow an editor to saddle a book with a weak title. We don’t demand a great cover, and so on.
As you create your book package, consider carefully how well each element of the book—from the first page to the last—might help or hinder buzz. Don’t let any element of your package fail.

Then take a look at yourself and consider what things you might want to do to create a strong public image. After all, you don’t want to be a buzz-kill.

~David Farland

David Farland says, “I’m no GQ model, I’m afraid. I was quite handsome for about 15 minutes back
when I was 16, and it has been all downhill since then.”
Grand Prize Winner of the Hollywood Book Festival, placed first in all genres, all categories.

Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel of the Year!

Finalist in the Global Ebook Awards


Some people sing at night to drive back the darkness.  Others sing to summon it. . . .

Bron Jones was abandoned at birth. Thrown into foster care, he was rejected by one family after another, until he met Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognized him for what he really was--what her people call a "nightingale."

But Bron isn't ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know.  Bron's secret may be the most dangerous of all.

From Peggy: One of the coolest things about NIGHTINGALE is that the ebook is more than your average ebook! It has "Ground-breaking enhancements for eBooks in HD, including hundreds of original illustrations and animations, author interviews and an original soundtrack by James Guymon." Isn't that incredible?! Click here to go to the listing and sample of the enhanced iPad version of Nightingale.

To learn more about Dave Farland or his book NIGHTINGALE:
Twitter handle @DavidFarland

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Trailer Reveal: THE CADET OF TILDOR by Alex Lidell

I am so excited to be part of Alex Lidell's trailer reveal today! I got to read THE CADET OF TILDOR not long ago as an ARC, and it was INCREDIBLE! I loved it SO MUCH! I had been dying to read a book like it for a very long time.

Title: The Cadet of Tildor
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin)
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: High fantasy
Expected Release: January 10, 2013

And today, she's releasing her book trailer! She went all out for it. It was filmed in Italy by the Medieval Reenactment Group “Liberi Lusenta.” How awesome is that? I love watching book trailers that have had so much work put into them.

Are you guys dying to see it yet? I know I was!

Trailer reveal organized by: AToMR Tours

Want to meet the cast? Go to:

Want to add THE CADET OF TILDOR to Goodreads? Just click this handy link:

And to top it off, you can also enter this Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tamora Pierce meets George R. R. Martin in this smart, political, medieval fantasy-thriller.

There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, angling to exploit the young Crown's inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.


Alex is a YA fantasy author, a Tamora Pierce addict, a horse rider, and paramedic. The latter two tend to hand in hand a bit more often than one would like. Alex started writing at 2 am.

Alex Lidell| Facebook| Twitter

Friday, October 12, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Don't be lazy!

I recently read SAVE THE CAT for the first time. Ohmygosh. I wish I would've known about this book 4 1/2 years ago when I first started writing! It is nothing short of brilliant. Blake Snyder's fifteen "beats" are one of those things that once you read them, you think Of course it needs to be that way! It just feels right. If you haven't read it, I'd definitely recommend it. I wrote a synopsis of my book 2 my usual way and sent it to my agent. Then I wrote a synopsis of the same book using the beat sheet to send to my editor, and it's about a billion times better! (Sorry, Sara, for sending you the crap one first.) I'll never write another synopsis (or another book!) without using the beat sheet. So, in honor of my new found love, today's quote comes straight from SAVE THE CAT. It's one of the paragraphs at the end, after he suggests all the things you should do to make your manuscript shine.

If you are having any nagging doubts about [your manuscript], you now know what to do. You have the tools to go back in and fix it. But will you? That's the rub. Here's a tip: When in doubt, do it. Don't be lazy! Don't say "Oh well, no one will notice" because... they will.

You only get the one shot at a first impression. Try to get over the love affair you have with yourself and your work and do what needs to be done. This is what separates the pros from the wannabes--- that nagging voice that says: "It sucks!" And the mature, adult, professional voice that quickly chimes in: "And I know how to fix it!"

~Blake Snyder

So I guess that means we need both the nagging voice and the professional voice to get us through it... And possibly a cookie.

By [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Way We Are: Do you stop reading in the middle?

Not every book is for everyone. I think we all get that. Just because someone else is in love with a book, doesn't mean that you're going to like it even enough to finish it. Sometimes......

you stop in the middle. Because why waste your time when there are so many good books out there that you really DO want to read?

Or maybe you don't.... Because who likes to leave things unfinished? Who likes to not know how it ends?

So that's my question for you-- are you willing to stop reading in the middle, or do you have to see it through to the end? Why?

photo by Tomas Fano on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As for me, I'm not against stopping in the middle-- I just rarely do. Probably because I rarely pick up a book without first having heard glowing things about it from people whom I know have similar tastes in books as me. Sometimes I PAUSE in the middle... with every intention to eventually finish. (Usually because I have another book to read that's on more of a deadline. Or it's one I've been waiting for.) But I'll admit: I have at least five books at my house right now that I'm technically "in the middle of reading," that have sat there for months. BUT SOMEDAY, I WILL FINISH!

Series, though-- that's another story. I might finish the first book, then have no inkling whatsoever to read the next. My husband though, is "not a quitter!" If he starts a book, he'll stick with it until the series end. Even if that series is a dozen books long. Even if he's not in love with it. I'm not joking.

How about you?