Free Business Networking for Writers, Agents, Editors and other Professionals

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Five Secrets of Winning Book Proposals

by: Melissa A Rosati

Working in the publishing industry comes with a high expectation, especially from complete strangers. After the causal ‘hello’ progresses to ‘what do you do,’ and my answer is ‘I am a publisher,’ the words, like fairy dust, work magic; and in the eyes of my conversation partner, I’m transformed into a glamorous Advice Goddess—would I mind reading this stranger’s book proposal?

Cornered in frozen foods at the grocery, black-tie events or at the bus stop, I’ve been ‘pitched’ as we say in the business, with such book proposals as: A Cat’s Tale of Christmas; Old Testament Aphrodisiacs; Break Out (after being committed to a mental institution by jealous relatives, the story of one man’s quest for revenge); and Suck it and See: A Guide to Tropical Fruits.

Admittedly, I chose to share with you the more colorful examples. My point being that the purpose of a proposal pitch is not to motivate the publisher to love the idea as much as you do. That’s the misconception. The publisher is listening for signals that you understand the process of transforming a book concept into a business plan. It’s not just about your passion for the topic: it’s how well you filter your passion through the publisher’s prism of marketing and distribution. That’s the difference between a contract and a polite rejection letter.

Let’s take a look at five typical questions that an agent or a publisher will ask in their submission guidelines.

Question #1: Please provide the title that best captures and conveys the essence of your book and briefly explain why you chose it.

What the publisher is really thinking:
  • Will the book buyer for Barnes & Noble recognize the section to shelve the book by its title alone?
  • Is the title’s message succinct and snappy so the publisher’s sales representative will remember it easily?
  • How does the rest of proposal support what the title says?

Question #2: Briefly describe the primary audience for your book and how they will benefit from reading it.

What the publisher is really thinking:
  • The book cannot be all things to all people. Do you demonstrate focus?
  • Are you confident about who the customer is and the primary (most appropriate) category where the book should be placed in the bookstore?
  • Do you provide three distinct benefits that relate to the book’s core premise?

Question #3: List competing books that you are aware of on this topic and explain how your book differs.

What the publisher is really thinking:
  • How do you demonstrate that your premise is solid in relation to existing books?
  • Will the publisher’s sales representatives understand where your book fits among five other books in the same category?
  • Do you contradict what the book is or is not elsewhere in the proposal?

Question #4: What are your expectations for the project?

What the publisher is really thinking:
  • Do you sound like you expect to make a million dollars and plan to retire on your royalty earnings?
  • Is your goal to raise the level of topic discussion and to advance your profile as a thought leader?
  • How realistic are you about the work involved to write the book from start to finish?

Question #5: Describe your qualifications for writing this book and include your latest curriculum vitae or other relevant factors.

What the publisher is really thinking:
  • Several proposals are discussed during a publisher’s editorial board meeting. Why say ‘yes’ to yours?
  • What is your media platform? How are you going to be an asset in marketing and promoting the book?
  • What’s your track record?

If you are now thinking about you book concept as a business plan, bravo! This is the foundation for a solid beginning; and, I encourage you to continue forward. High-quality books written by people who are committed to excellence (in any sphere of living) are in short supply. Adopt the publisher’s perspective—how will it sell and to whom—and you will not only become a published author. You will make a difference in the world.

About The Author

Melissa A. Rosati is a co-active coach, whose clients are writers, authors and creative artists. Prior to her coaching career, she was the Director, Editorial & Production for McGraw-Hill International (UK). She now resides in New York City. Her forthcoming book, The Essential Publisher’s Handbook shows readers how to publish profitably. Register for a complimentary subscription to her newsletter, The Essential Publisher at

© 2005 Melissa A. Rosati. All rights reserved.

This article found at - Free articles for reprint.

Monday, May 30, 2005

A First Time Author's Publicity Kit Material Tips

by Laura Hickey

If you're a new author that has been requested to send publicist materials, you may feel left in the dark on what to send. Here's a list of the usual items.

1. Author Bio
This is no place for modesty. You're competing with many other authors out there and need to show how your hot and worth it. Remember to include your accomplishments and give a little background information. Often readers want to know about the author's interests..

2. A photo
This is optional, but if you want to get your face out there, this could help. Keep in mind that not every editor will use your photo.

3. Interviews
Any newspaper/magazine clippings may be include if it's related to you and your writing, awards an accomplishments. Clippings about your personal life may bore the editor requesting your materials.

4. Reviews
If you have any reviews for your latest release, have them printed on clear 8.5 X 11 paper and include them in your kit.

5. Promotional Items
It may also be requested that you send any promotional items. Examples would be: Posters, pens with your web address, buttons, bookmarks,etc...

As time goes on, you'll expand your PR kit. A great idea is to have a press kit right on your website to save editors time and money. You may want to have all your current materials in one easy to download PDF file. Each time you have something new to add update the file.

About the Author: Laura Hickey is an up and coming author. Her works include Mysterious Chills and Thrills for Kids and a co-writer position for the TV pilot, Officially Lush. You can read more free articles by Ms. Hickey on her homepage:

This article is reprinted with permission from

Memorial Day Essays, Speeches, Poems, Prayers and Song Lyrics

A link for Memorial Day -

Memorial Day Essays, Speeches, Poems, Prayers and Song Lyrics

Friday, May 27, 2005

From Writer's Market - Australian Book Publishers lists more than 40 Australian book publishers. Here are three:

Allen & Unwin, Ltd., publishes 220 titles a year. Established in 1976, Allen & Unwin publishes fiction and nonfiction titles. Submit a cover letter with a 1-page synopsis and the first 60 pages of the manuscript. Recent titles include Ultra Marathon Man, by Dean Karnazes, and Divided Kingdom, by Rupert Thomson.

The Federation Press publishes 40-50 titles a year—all nonfiction. Submit a proposal package, including an outline, author bio, rationale, subject category, competitive advantage, and intended market. Recent titles include Changing Policing Theories, by Charles Edwards, and Environment and Sustainability Policy, by Stephen Dovers.

Wakefield Press publishes 20 titles a year—both fiction and nonfiction. Submit a cover letter, 1-page synopsis, author bio, 1-page outline of projected readership, or submit the complete manuscript. Guidelines can be found online. Recent titles include All That Glitters, by Raymond Chandler, and Innocent Murder, by Steve J. Spears.

You can view complete, updated listings for more than 1,400 publishers by subscribing to ($29.99 US/year).

Note: This is not an endorsement for Writer's Market membership subscriptions. This post is provided for informational purposes only and can be found via the free Market Update from

About F&W Publications

Do you want to share your expertise with budding authors?

F&W Publications owns Writer's Digest Books, publishing instructional and reference books for writers.

( Writer's Digest Books submission guidelines)

The Company also publishes Writer's Digest Magazine, along with more than 20 newsstand-only publications covering a variety of specific genres and topics crucial to today's writers. In addition, F&W Publications offers educational programs, conferences and competitions and maintains free and pay-based web sites.

(Magazine and Web Properties submission guidelines)

Submissions Editor
Writer's Digest

4700 E. Galbraith Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45236
513.531.2690 phone


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Original Fiction & Fanfiction @

Take a break and check out the great short stories at! There's lots of Original Fiction and Fanfiction to read. Be sure to take a look at the Past Features page for a list of all the stories that have been spotlighted in the past.

Remember to click on the Author's email link and let them know you enjoyed their work! Positive feedback is always appreciated, along with friendly constructive criticism.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Encyclopedia Mythica: mythology, folklore, and religion.

Want to write a story based on legends and folklore? Start your research here...

Encyclopedia Mythica

From the website:

The award-winning internet encyclopedia of mythology, folklore, and religion. Here you will find everything from A-gskw to Zveda Vechanyaya, with plenty in between.

The mythology section is divided to six geographical regions: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Oceania. Each region has many clearly defined subdivisions that will ease your search.

The Folklore section contains general folklore, Arthurian legends, Greek heroic legend, and fascinating folktales from many lands.

In addition, we feature special interest areas to enhance and refine your research. A Bestiary, legendary heroes, an image gallery, and genealogical tables of various pantheons and prominent houses.

The encyclopedia will serve the serious researcher, the student, and the casual reader with equal success.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Finding a Book Publisher

By Jenna Glatzer

Recently, a few writer-friends on the Absolute Write message boards and I were lamenting the fact that many inexperienced writers get tricked into believing that vanity presses and borderline-vanity presses are traditional publishers. We were talking about the numbers, mostly—how did so many new writers even find these publishers?

It all became shockingly clear: search engines.

We found that new writers often type phrases like “book publisher,” “find a publisher,” “book publishing,” or “novel publishers” into search engines like Google. And what comes up when you do that? Vanity presses all over the first page, with enticing messages like “Publish fast! We want your book!” Many writers don't dig much deeper than that. They find those first few publishers, submit their manuscripts, and take the first "acceptance letter" that comes their way.

See, vanity and fringe presses caught on a lot faster than I did. They figured out what new writers were searching for and they optimized their web pages to make sure that when a writer typed in keywords like “book publisher” or “novel publisher,” their pages would come up first.

Now, I love the Internet. It’s a fabulous tool. But search engines are not the best spot to start your research when you’re a new writer in search of a book publishing contract. They’ll take you to the last-resort places first.

If you’re truly serious about building a career as an author, whether you plan to write novels or nonfiction books, you won’t skimp on the research. Aside from the time you spend actually writing the book, researching your publishing options may be your most valuable effort in the publication process. If you put your heart, your labor, your discipline into this manuscript, doesn’t it deserve the best home you can find for it?

Choosing a publisher is no simple task, and it’s not a decision that should be based on impatience. Yes, the easy way out is to find one of these “we’ll accept anything” publishers, turn in your manuscript, and have your book in your hands in a matter of just a couple of months (maybe even weeks). Unfortunately, it’s the easy way out only until you actually try to sell the darn thing—then it’s about the hardest road you could possibly have taken.

The next simplest way to find a publisher is in the Writer’s Market. I look forward to its publication every year; it helps to keep me up-to-date about thousands of markets for my work. You can search through it in hardcopy or online, and it has a genre index at the back so you can flip to book publishers that match your genre quickly. However, it shouldn’t be your only tool.

You may choose to look for an agent first, or you may choose to go it alone. Agents typically take a 15 percent commission from sale money; legitimate agents do not charge anything up-front. A good agent can help you get read faster, can help you get read in places that are typically closed to unsolicited submissions, and can help you negotiate the best possible deal.

That said, I’ve made more than half of my book deals on my own. I tend to be more proactive about my career than an agent ever could be, and I’m not afraid to negotiate. It’s all a matter of figuring out what works best for you.

If you choose to fly solo, there really are better ways of finding a publisher than doing random searches or reading books of guidelines. Here are my best tips:

1. Read Publishers Lunch (, which gives a run-down of book deals. It tells you which publishers are buying which types of books, and usually includes the name of the editor who acquired the book and the agent who made the deal.

2. Read Publishers Weekly ( It’s expensive, but you can probably find it at your local library. This will keep you up-to-date on industry happenings, trends, who’s buying what, and staff changes.

3. Read books! This may be the most obvious, yet most overlooked suggestion. The best way to target your submissions is to find books in your genre or on similar topics at a bookstore or library, then copy down the name of the publisher. Check the acknowledgments section, too, to see if the author mentioned the editor or agent. Then you can hop onto Google and type in the publishers’ name. More often than not, on any publishers’ site, you’ll find a link to submission guidelines. Barring that, there should be a mailing address or e-mail address at the very least. You can cross-reference information with Writer’s Market once you’ve found publishers that interest you, too.

4. Ask around. Let’s say you found a book in your genre that you enjoyed, but you’ve never heard of the publisher. There’s no harm in looking up the author, then sending off a polite e-mail to ask if he or she is having a positive experience with that publisher.

5. Search Amazon. Look up books you’ve read or heard of in your genre or category. Amazon lists the book publisher in each book’s entry. Then look up the publisher in a search engine or guidebook.

Assuming you want to earn a living from your writing, it’s important that your book reaches a large audience. That means it needs adequate distribution. Unfortunately, most print-on-demand publishers can’t achieve decent bookstore distribution because of a number of bookstore-unfriendly policies (no returns allowed, lower-than-average discounts to bookstores, lack of a bar code or price on the back of the book, etc.), not to mention the overall poor quality of vanity-published books due to a lack of editing and lack of editorial standards. This is not the crowd you want to be in if you plan to be a professional writer.

Above all else, you must be patient. There’s much more to book publishing than I could ever share in a short article; luckily, there are plenty of professional authors who are more than willing to share their expertise with you. Don’t rush your manuscript out until you feel secure that you understand the way the industry works. A few good clues: Do you know what a distributor does versus a wholesaler? Do you know which trade magazines’ reviews are important? Do you know why it’s preferable to get royalties on list price instead of net? Do you know why it’s important to have an “out of print” clause and what it should look like?

There’s nothing wrong with not knowing the answers. Everyone starts someplace. The only wrong thing is rushing into the publishing industry before you get those answers. The more naïve you are about the process, the easier it is for unscrupulous people to get hold of you.

A traditional publisher will never pressure you to buy your own books, to pay for editing or cover art or even your own copyright. They’ll cover the expenses. You’ll be expected to pitch in with publicity efforts, but it won’t all fall on your shoulders. With vanity and fringe presses, these standards aren’t there. Those companies make money from authors instead of from readers.

I know the road can seem long and difficult. Most authors receive many rejection letters before that first acceptance letter. But it’s a worthwhile wait. In a case like this, your first “instinct” may not be the best one. The kinds of publishers you probably want to deal with are not the ones who are screaming, “Click here! We’ll publish your book!” They’re the ones who are busy actually selling books instead of concentrating their efforts on luring in new writers.

Keep working at it until you find the right solution. Take as much care in finding a book publisher as you would a marriage partner; get to know the publisher before you commit, and understand what you’re getting into. When you begin walking into bookstores and seeing readers picking up your book, you’ll thank yourself that you took the time to get it right.

Jenna Glatzer is the editor-in-chief of and the author of many books, including Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer, which comes with a free editors' cheat sheet at Her latest book, Fear is No Longer My Reality, which she co-wrote with Jamie Blyth of The Bachelorette, is hot off the press.

Fear is No Longer My Reality
by Jamie Blyth, Jenna Glatzer

Other Books by Jenna Glatzer


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Is it a Novel, Novella, Short Story, or Something Else?

The information below was pulled from several different online resources. You'll notice some discrepencies in the numbers, but this will give you a general idea about word count and what to call your finished product.


Word count runs 40,000 words or more.


Word count runs between 17,500 and 39,999 words.


Word count runs between 7,500 and 17,499 words.

Short Story:

On average, a short story tends to run between 2,000 and 7,499 words.

Short, Short Story:

Word count usually runs between 1000 and 1,500 words.

Micro-Mini or Flash Fiction:

Word count runs between 250 and 1000 words, but often at 500 words or less.


What 'Point of View' to write?

Point of view, or POV, is the position from which a story is told. Below are the three types of POV you will encounter most often.
First-Person POV:

The narrator is one of the characters in the novel and explains the events through his or her own eyes, using the pronouns I and me.

Third-Person Omniscient POV:

The narrator is not a character in the novel. Instead, the narrator looks through the eyes of all the characters and is "all-knowing." Pronouns used are he, she, and they.

Third-Person Limited POV:

The narrator tells the story through the eyes of only one character, using the pronouns he, she, and they.
The advice generally found is for a newbie writer to stick with the Third-Person POV in the beginning, since it is the easiest point of view to master.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Librarians' Index to the Internet -

Librarians' Index to the Internet is packed full of links to a wide range of different subject matter and makes it possible to track down little know research material.

The LII Mission Statement:
The mission of Librarians' Index to the Internet is to provide a well-organized point of access for reliable, trustworthy, librarian-selected Internet resources, serving California, the nation, and the world.

Librarians' Index to the Internet (LII) offers two services: a searchable, browsable collection of over 16,000 high-quality Websites, and a weekly newsletter, available by email or RSS, of high-quality Websites related to current events, holidays, and popular and important issues.


Monday, May 16, 2005

Awesome Endings

by Lea Schizas

Bungee jumping, sky diving, secret mission, Indy 500: how do these events compare to the art of fiction writing? Each one brings to its ‘doer’ an element of anticipation, exhilaration, unfamiliarity, and adventure. A pure adrenaline rush. And as a writer of fiction, this is the plateau you want your reader to experience.

Straying from the anticipated ending to a twist makes for good reading, pleasing the editor, and upping your chance of getting accepted. But be wary. Your twist should conform along the lines of the story you have crafted thus far. Not an easy task to accomplish, but plausible.

For example: fifteen-year-old John stole the answers to his exam from his teacher’s desk. Throughout the storyline, John has been portrayed as a ‘bully’ but every so often the writer has offered either flashbacks or little inconspicuous hints into John’s childhood. The reader assumes that John will either get away with it, or get caught and suspended. The author has gripped the reader into continuing the book to see where this will end up. Here comes the twist.

Because of these rare flashback insights, we’ve seen another side to John that, although subtle, it’s still there. So when John ends up placing the answers back with no one being the wiser, the reader is stunned, surprised, but content with this twist ending because it has been subliminally build into the plot.

If the writer’s portrayal of John had been exclusively ‘bullish’, mean-spirited, unfriendly throughout then the reader’s reaction would have been stunned, surprised and obviously, left cheated with an ending that holds no basis with the rest of the storyline.

This is called character reversal, when the character reacts different than what the reader expected. And to pull it off, you must have planted subtle seeds along the way.

Does this affect your plot down the line? In certain circumstances, yes. For example:

Bruce is a studious clean-cut senior high school student. He’s portrayed as the ‘geek’ for most of the story, not a main character at all. Then the writer decides to spruce things up and throws a dare at Bruce. Bruce accepts. He takes his friend’s ID and goes to a ‘Rave’. Big mistake, but a twist for the reader. The ‘Rave’ is raided, Bruce ends up in jail because his friend is wanted by the police and he’s holding the fake id. He escapes and now tries to clear his name that somehow has crept into the police files. A sedate YA high school book has now turned into a suspense novel all because of a character reversal.

When writing up your character(s) sketch, try to include opposite reactions, as well. By doing this, you can easily plot foreshadowing more convincingly ahead of the game.

Remember that fiction is often, if not all the time, crafted out of real people, real situations or real events. So think of a ‘real’ person and envision his reaction to several possible finales to a ‘dilemma’. Then start crafting the ending with one of these ‘reactions’ while dropping subtle hints to a totally different ending than what your reader is expecting. Try to use this character reversal for a completely out of this world ‘awesome ending.’

Make sure your story propels forward, making your reader want to turn the page. Bungee jump them out of a plane into a secret path that will drive them to the finish line.

About The Author:

Lea is Editor in Chief and co-founder of two Writer's Digest 101 Best Writing Sites of 2005: Apollo's Lyre, and The MuseItUp Club, Her YA Fantasy novel,THE ROCK OF REALM, is now available for purchase,


Writer Beware

From the Writer Beware web site:
Writer Beware is the public face of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Committee on Writing Scams. Like many genre-focused professional writers' groups, SFWA is concerned not just with issues that affect professional authors, but with the problems and pitfalls that face aspiring writers. The Committee on Writing Scams, and the Writer Beware website, founded in 1998, reflect that concern.

Although SFWA is a US-based organization of science fiction and fantasy writers, the Committee's efforts aren't limited by country or genre. We've designed the Writer Beware website so it can be used by any writer, regardless of subject, style, genre, or nationality.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

London Slang - A Dictionary & Guide

London Slang is a website that provides an entertaining and somewhat educational look at unique (and not so unique) forms of 'Brit-Speak' for those of us "across the pond".

You'll be surprised at the number of slang terms that are shared between the U.S. and G.B. You'll be even more surprised at the number of words and phrases that are largely unknown to us as Americans.

A great many of the dictionary entries could be considered unique to youthful, trend-setting Londoners, especially the entries found in the 'Just Heard' section. Although the site does specify that most of the terms are collected from contributors within London itself, you will find many terms that are commonly used throughout Great Britain in general.

London Slang is not a site for those who are obsessed with being politically correct or for those who may have moral objections to off-color subjects, as you will find a liberal mix of raunchy entries within the mundane. However, the site is a fabulous example of the entertaining, and often under-rated, wit of the British.


Monday, May 09, 2005

WRITING FOR CHILDREN WORKSHOP: FAQs on writing books for children

WRITING FOR CHILDREN WORKSHOP: FAQs on writing books for children is an interesting resource I recently surfed across.

This is the link summary provided at the site:

Answers to questions new writers frequently ask on writing for children: on how to get started, agents, illustrators, submissions, correct manuscript form, cover letters, query letters, multiple submissions and rejection letters.
Feel free to share your Children's Writing resource links in the comments section.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Chicken Soup for the Soul does that? Really?!

Everyone has heard of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® books, right? The books were on the New York Times best-seller list continuously from 1994 - 1998. In 1999, the CSS series was listed in The Guinness Book of World Records for MOST books on the New York Times best-seller list at ONE TIME.

I guess one would have to be pretty detached from current events news over the past ten or so years to have missed the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series. The CSS series has 57 titles and over 80 million copies in print in over 32 languages, for goodness sakes.

The creators of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series are Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. Their bios on the CSS website reflect decades of experience coaching self-esteem, empowerment, and many other life skills to help others achieve their dreams around the world. Both gentlemen have truly dedicated their entire careers to helping others, both personally and professionally.

So what's next? What more can Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen possibly do to help others enrich the quality of their lives?

I recently spoke with an associate, Marianne, who is a fan of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® book series, and she directed me to her website that shows exactly what these gentlemen have in store.

I was surprised at first. But, after a bit of thought, this endeavor is really the next logical step for two people that have consistently focused on helping others find all the missing puzzle pieces for a positive, successful life.

What is this next step?

Chicken Soup for the Soul® Supplements.

In explanation for this latest endeavor, here is what Jack and Mark had to say:

"Many people have asked us why we decided to take Chicken Soup for the Soul® into nutritional supplements. Frankly, it came about as part of our own personal pursuit of a healthier longer life and some secrets we learned along the way."
Jack and Mark found New Health Systems, LLC, an emerging organization in the nutritional supplement marketplace, and identified them as having the same heart-level commitment to enriching individuals' lives as the group at Chicken Soup for the Soul®.

The 'About Us' page further explains the business relationship Jack and Mark have developed with New Health Systems, LLC:

New Health Systems, LLC, under their exclusive licensing agreement with Chicken Soup for the Soul®, has identified and is developing an unprecedented product line of nutritional supplements that can have a lasting impact on the quality of your life. Each product must pass a detailed performance assessment as well as a stringent quality control process before receiving the Chicken Soup Supplements™ "Best-of-the-Best" nameplate.

It is our goal to improve the health and enhance the lives of all who seek it though our discoveries.
This seems to be an impressive step towards providing a total mind, body and spirit solution for positive enhancement from the Chicken Soup for the Soul® organization. I know that I will be giving the products a try. I'll be sure to let you and Marianne know my thoughts as soon as I do.

Visit the Chicken Soup for the Soul® Supplements website to learn more.