THE WRITE BRAIN: How to Pitch a Book

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BLOGHER’11
SAN DIEGO, CA
AUGUST 6, 2011
THE WRITE BRAIN HOW TO PITCH A BOOK

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>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Good afternoon. I would like to welcome everyone to The Write Brain, How to Pitch a Book. I'm going to start off by introducing the wonderful ladies who are up here with me on the panel. First, to my left is an utter and complete thrill to have Carleen Brice who is the author of hold up the book. Can you tell I'm in marketing, "Orange Mint and Honey," a target breakout book. And she's the author of the best selling "Children of the Water." In 2010, it premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network as "Sins of the Mother." I think you have to say is that way, right? "Sins of the Mother," starring Jill Scott. It was the second highest rated original movie in lifetime movie network's history and received two 2011 NAACP Awards. Brice is the recipient I can say Carleen, right?
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Yes.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Carleen, my girl, is the recipient of the 2009 First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and the 2008 Breakout Author Award at the African American Literary Awards Show. She was recently named one of the top 25 most influential black fiction writers on Twitter, although, I would just say fiction writers, myself, because you are pretty darn influential.
And my new thrill is Sarah Maizes. She's the author of "Got MILF?" book. I'm the SMILF, soccer mom. Never mind. "Got MILF,The Modern Mom's Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great and Rocking A minivan." She a former literary agent and the founder of mommyliteonline.com, a parenting humor site because there's nothing funny about parenting, is there? Her work has been featured in Los Angeles Magazine, on CBSLosAngeles.com, hybridmom.com, monitorage.com, more.com and many other sites. She's also the creator and coauthor of the "Bridesmaid's Guerrilla Handbook," a Border's best selling trade paperback. Everyone, Border's. Her first children's book "On My Way to the Bath" will be published in September 2011 and the sequel is due out in 2013.
And to my far left, which is known as the other right, which is someone that I worked with a long time, even though wracking our brains we couldn't come up with any actual instances but we go back.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Way back!
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Colleen has more than 25 years of experience in book selling and publishing, which means she started when she was four. And for five years she served as director of publicity for Del Rey Books where she specialized in science fiction, graphic novels and licensed media. More recently she worked as a literary agent at FinePrint Management, focused on science fiction and fantasy and young adult writers. She's currently part of the Penguin Group USA Business Development Group, and the community manager of Book Country, Penguin's new online community for genre fiction writers. I will say, check out bookcountry.com. It's a wonderful site in the community.
And the last person would be me, my name is Ellen Gerstein, and I too have almost 25 years in publishing. By day, I'm the director of marketing for John Wiley & Sons, the global nonfiction publisher based on the East Coast. I work with editors and find markets and communities for their books.
Authors I worked with are Chris Brogan and David Meerman Scott. Noted hacker Kevin Mitnick, boy, there are stories there, and blogging pioneer, BlogHer luminary, Sean J. and Susan Getgood. By night, I can be found fighting crime at Confessions of an IT Girl.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: I remember where I worked with you first, Bruce.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Yes, we had a Bruce moment, of course.
As bloggers, you all have passions. Passions for what you believe in, passions for what you write about. Now, your passion won't be the same as her passion or her passion. It's the message, what you are trying to convey to your readers. We are here to talk about how to take that passion and make someone else believe in its potential to exist in another form. Now that someone can be anyone from an editor to an agent and ultimately to a reader. That's what we are here to help you think about, how to get someone else to believe in what you want to say.
We're here to support and enable you. Now, the rules of the road. We are going to tell it like it is and we hope you will as well. Please ask questions. Please interact with us. We have a lot of experience we want to share with you, but know that what we want to say is based on our individual experiences so your mileage may vary.
We are, however, a great place to start. Let's have some fun. I will kick it off by asking you a couple of questions. Who on this room is planning on pitching a book idea.
Okay. Good. You are in the right room. Who has already tried to pitch a book? Who has already done that? Okay. Great. Was anybody in these lovely ladies Pathfinder my blog as book session on Thursday? Okay. Welcome good. Thank you.
Has anybody published a book already? You know, or book length product or short form content. How many of you are active users of eReaders, Kindle, Nook, iPad.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: I have all the above.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: And the last question who is interested in writing fiction. Nonfiction, memoir, that kind of thing. Okay.
(Laughter)
Potentially both? Okay.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: All right!
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: One of the things that I talk about with people is how in my job I get a lot of editors coming to me. I'm director the marketing at Wiley, so editors will come to me in the hallway, in a scheduled meeting, bathroom, I can't tell you how many times I have been accosted in the bathroom, saying I just had this conversation with an author, and here's what I want to tell you. It's a five minute conversation but I know behind that, someone has talked to this author for, you know, a couple of hours over the course of a couple of weeks, has formulated an idea and been working on this for four to six months. They then have five minutes with me. I turn around and talk about the book for two minutes in sales. Sales in turn working with their accounts has anywhere from no jokes, seven seconds to 60 seconds to pitch a book to an account. It becomes more important than ever. You guys are going to work on a book proposal that can be anywhere from 15 pages to 50 pages, but you have to have a really cohesive idea beginning with the end in mind of what you want to present in a book. Sarah here has a book trailer that she wants to show. Now, I have been pitched a lot recently by book trailer, people doing their own trailers for their book ideas and I think this trailer does a good idea of taking what is a full book length work and compressing it into a two minute segment. So we are going to start by showing that assuming we don't have technical difficulties. MILFs have to wear reading glasses. It's part of the world.
>> SARAH MAIZES: It makes you super, super MILFy to wear reading glasses. I don't know why it's not going. Sorry, sorry.
(Music)
>> Hi, I'm Sarah Maizes, blogger, comedian and mother of three. I'm also the author of "Got MILF," the modern mom's guide to feeling fabulous, looking great and rocking a mini fan. Got MILF is all about embracing motherhood and sexuality are you kidding me?
>> Sorry, mom.
>> SARAH MAIZES: I mean, if you think about it, the concept of embracing motherhood and sexuality is revolutionary. For thousands of years, women have been
>> Cut!
>> SARAH MAIZES: Today's MILF is a shining example of confidence and poise and age defying
>> Mommy, I'm hungry.
>> Even as the mull of is juggling car pools and PTA, she still always has a sense of grace and what are you doing?
When you buy "Got MILF" you will learn about
>> I'm hungry now.
>> Stop. Stop! Low fat MILF and skim fill of.
>> No!
>> Stop.
What is the difference
>> He wants to be in your movie!
>> A MILF is still the you guys, stop it! I swear to God, I can't think straight.
>> I don't have much time. The book is called "Got MILF, the modern woman's guide to feeling fabulous, looking great, and rocking a minivan
>> How long are you going to bathe.
>> One second, I'm just finishing up. Just go buy the book. Go buy the book.
>> Mom, mom!
(Applause)
(Laughter)
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: That's the joy of having a finished book. As much work that goes into it, it's good to have some fun with it, but also in two minutes we can absolutely convey what a book is about, so thank you for that, Sarah. Thank you for sharing that.
One of the biggest questions I get in a conference in line for lunch, or in a bathroom, I'm interested in writing a book and the first thing I always ask people, are you interested in writing fiction or nonfiction. There are a lot of differences between how a book is pitched, how you deal with an editor, whether you need an agent and so on.
So I will start with Carleen and we will take you back to the beginning, way back machine. Tell us a little bit about how you pitched your first book. Did you work with an agent in did you do it on your own? How did you get your ideas? Just give us an idea of how the process works.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Okay, well, I won't go all the way back, because all the way back was my first book was actually a collection of affirmations, and I did it all by myself. I didn't have an agent and I got a small publisher and I got a small advance. But but it went really well.
By the time I tried to pitch for my first novel, I had published a couple of small books and had done well, you know, my first book had initial over ten years, had 100,000 copies in print, had been in print for ten years. That's really good.
So I was fortunate enough to be able to lead with that. What I did was I wrote the novel. When you are writing fiction and memoir, you have to write the book first. So I know everybody gets excited. I know lots of writers and you want to test out your idea and you want to make sure somebody is interested in it. Don't start to contact agents or any publishing professionals until the book is done, and the reason for that is you might be lucky enough to get an agent who says, I love that and I would love to see it!
If your response is, okay, I will get it to you about a year or so... you are sunk. You wasted a really good opportunity. You don't want to do that.
And I heard so many stories. That happens a lot. Don't do it.
You write the book. I wrote the book, and then I went online and did some research. There's some really good places like agentquery.com, publishers marketplace, to see who is out there, who is representing books like the one I wrote.
The other thing I did, which is go to your local book store. Buy some books while you are there, don't just use them as a resource, but buy some books. Look on the shelves and see which books are like yours and open up to the acknowledgment page I think our mic wrangler's mic might be live. Nope?
Okay.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: They always blame the MILF.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Anyway, see who the author has thanked in the acknowledgments page and that does two things. One, it tells you who is agenting books that are like your books, but it also gives you something you can use in your query and you can say you represented this novel that that called such and such, that is in a similar genre as mine and that's why I'm contacting you.
So I did all of my research and made a list of everybody from new agents who were young and hungry, but in reputable, large, agencies. So they would have, you know, that power behind them to, you know, my top tier agents. I made a list of like ten to start with. And I sent it I sent query letter via email to a young hungry agent and I sent a query letter via email to somebody who was who was more established and someone that I knew had represented a lot of authors that I admire.
And my query letter, via email, because someone was so helpful in tweeting from Pathfinder day, I suck at query letters. Feel free to say that Carleen Brice sucks at query letters. I wrote a short basically a business query, just a business letter that says I'm an author, I have already published stuff and now I'm moving into fiction, here's what I got, and here's my idea and I recommend you keep it short, and for me, business worked, that kind of style. And I got a couple of agents interested and we went from this.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Sarah, your MILF idea is really fun. It's a great reflection of your blog and what you do. I'm dying to know, I'm sure others are, how did that come about?
>> SARAH MAIZES: Well, the MILF idea, a lot of it comes from blogging. Sometimes you are just writing. You just keep going and an idea just suddenly feels right. It's one of these things where it was a life experience, and someone had actually said to me I was writing about it. They called me a MILF and I laughed in his face.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: See, I would be good with that.
>> SARAH MAIZES: You know what, I think most of my work is inspired "The Preppy Handbook." I was obviously so completely in love with this book that I have written two books that were very similar to it, but the concept of I write nonfiction humor. I am currently in the middle of a novel, but I really consider myself a humorist and a nonfiction writer. And so I'm always looking for something that I feel really stands out in the marketplace, something I have never seen before.
If you are beginning to see a trend, don't write about it, because by the time your book comes out, it will be over and chances are, most editors already have about 20 proposals on their desk about that, and that actually happened with the whole cougar thing. And so I was looking for an answer to that. Sometimes the idea comes from you see trend it's and you are writing something that bucks the trend, and that's where the whole concept came from. And it was something that I wrote about on my blog, on mommylite, I talk a lot about trying to find time to spend with my boyfriend when my kids are home, and it's it's life experience.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Cool.
>> SARAH MAIZES: Purely life experience.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Colleen, even though you are with a publisher now, you have a great history as an agent. Give us a role of what the agent is in the proposal process and how you looked for what were you looking for in terms of author? What was ringing bells for you and getting you all tingly.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: When I was an agent, I repped exclusively fiction. With fiction, you don't do a book proposal. As Carleen says, you finish the book and get it as polished as possible and you send a really good query letter and your pitch is all in the query letter.
And the query letter really shouldn't be more than 250 words, very, very short. What I was looking for were people who knew how to give me a really good hook for their fiction, in one or two sentences and a hook is something that sums up the story, not the entire plot, but it's enough to make the editor or the agent want to read more because a really good hook can go all the way through from the agent to the editor, from the editor to the sales force or to the marketing person, the marketing person to the sales force and guess what, it ends up in the back cover cop fiction writers it's good enough. Three of my clients, the original a hooks that they wrote appear verbatim on the back of their cover copy.
So that's one thing that I'm looking for. The other thing that I'm looking for that I was always looking for, you know, without getting into the kinds of genres that I represented, really in terms of writers, were writers who comported themselves professionally online and personally. In other words, if we were interested in your manuscript, any agent would is interested in your manuscript, we're going to look at your blog. We are going to look at your Twitter posts and search for you on Google and we are going to research the hell out of your online presence. What we don't want to see are writers who are spending a lot of time whining about how people don't get back to them about query letters.
(Laughter)
Or talking about how many rejections they get or just doing hard sells of their book over and over and over again, because, oh, wow, what a way to turn off an audience is to just talk about yourself all the time.
>> SARAH MAIZES: You mean like showing your trailer at a panel.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: And making panelists hold up their books?
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: New York I think there are some writers who don't know how to do a really good balance between personal and professional on a blog. I mean, if a blog, for instance, is about being you know, about your life as a MILF, you are not so much talking about just about yourself, but you are talking about that experience for a lot of people and, you know, how other people are relating to that as your experience.
What you are not doing in every single post on your blog is buy my book. Buy my book. My book comes out this day. I will be signing books on this day. Oh, my cover just came out. That kind of stuff gets really old and people don't want to see it. What's really great on a blog is if you are writing things to give back. So if you are offering Lilith Saintcrow, has an amazing blog where she talks about 10% on what's going on in her writing life. The rest of the time she talks about personal stuff or she talks about writing advice for you. She's talking about ways that you can make your writing better. That kind of thing I love to see. I love to see a writer doing that.
And the other thing that I always liked seeing in a writer was a writer who understood a little bit about how the publishing industry works. So here's a way that you can really, you know, educate yourself beforehand. Read publishers marketplace. Read publishers weekly, read agent blogs. There are a lot of them. If any of you have a chance, go on to the BlogHer blog side to the Pathfinder live blog post. Carleen and I put together a great PDF with a lot of writer resources for finding agents, vetting agents, learning about publishing, learning about agenting from the agents themselves, learning about writing from writers. Download this resource, because it's full of great stuff.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Let's talk a little bit about timing. Sometimes you hear about bloggers who got these book deals and got their book out and it seems like a fairy godmother waved a wand and it all happened within a matter of days.
In reality, when you are having a conversation with a editor about a new book and you are going back and forth, what is the timing like between initial discussions and you guy can both take it because it does differ when you are writing a full book and handling it in versus creating a book in conjunction with somebody, but give us an idea of the timing and what people could expect the process to take in terms of days, months, weeks.
>> SARAH MAIZES: You mean when someone actually turns a proposal in?
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Yes.
>> SARAH MAIZES: When you contact an agent, chances are, they are going to say, this will take six weeks to three months. I also used to represent children's books writers and I used to get comments from people who say, but, it's only two pages long! And I would think, let me drop everything else I'm doing and just completely ignore everything my boss is asking me to read, your two pages. It's just not physically going to happen. It's just there is a long time line, there's a very, very long timeline involved.
My suggestion would be at least always give for an unsolicited if you send in a letter to somebody without them having asked for it, having met you, you can almost always count on waiting at least six weeks for a response. If you don't hear back within six weeks, you can send another letter, send an email, or call. I actually was going to make the comment, the other thing you don't want to do is this was a personal pet peeve of mine as an agent, never call an agent on Monday morning and never call an agent on a Friday afternoon.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: I would add never call an agent if it's not your agent.
>> SARAH MAIZES: You know, I used to get I would get calls every now and then and if I was in a really good mood, I would take them.
(Laughter)
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: You are a better woman than I was.
>> SARAH MAIZES: These are people and they have lives and we forget that sometimes something as simple as someone could be having a bad day or they got a ticket on the way to work can affect whether or not they decide to take a look at your book.
So you always want to be, regardless of them, you talk about editors don't want to see you bitching and moaning on your blog, agents don't want they need you to be understanding of the fact that they have other stuff going. You just need to kind of suck it up and be like, that's fine. I will hear from you later, and just be conscious of that, because sometimes it can be something as small as somebody had a bad day.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Yeah.
>> SARAH MAIZES: And so really good times to reach someone are Tuesdays and Thursdays. I know that sounds so stupid, but believe it or not, it's actually a phenomenal hint.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: I would also say, Carleen and I have a beautiful friend, Kwana Writes, and she had proposals put under her hotel door at the romance writers conference, and that's creepy or stalkerish, but if you do anything like that, take a step back.
Carleen, you have created a book and gave birth to this baby and now you are sending it out to other people in the world to judge it. That must be hard to wait any sort of amount of time to wait to hear what people say about why you are book.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: It is. One of the things I want to step back and say. We are going to say things that are absolute rules and as you know with everything, there are no absolutes. The two I would say is be polite and be professional. Other than that, things changed. I queried two agents on Saturday with an email and on Sunday, one responded and one said send me first 50 pages and another said send me the whole book. If you have a hot hook and I great query letter and you are a nice person.
>> SARAH MAIZES: Email is really it's nonintrusive.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: It depends what the agent takes. These two agents happened to prefer query by email. So that worked. Some agents still may not, but, anyway, I just wanted to say that. You know, those are two absolutes. Everything else, you know, it's kind of case by case a little bit.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: One way one way that you can help avoid shooting yourself in your foot is to really do your research on each individual agent that you are sending to. I know that a lot of people here are probably using things like the writers market. How many people are using the writers market. Throw it away.
How many people are using the Jeff Herman guide. All right. Never use paper guides agents. They are a year out of date. They mean well, but you can get a lot better information online at agentquery.com. You can actually look up an agent and they will tell you right there and then what they represent and the agent keeps those pages up themselves so that the you know, if they are out of date, it's only the agent's fault.
The paper guides really, at this point are almost useless because so many people are moving into agenting and out of agenting that the information is just very out of date.
>> SARAH MAIZES: If I can also add to that, again, this is just a little bit of advice, and it is the easiest thing and the it's completely within your control. Always spell the agent's name correctly.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Yes!
>> SARAH MAIZES: It's amazing to me. I would work at the William Morris agency and I would get letters addressed dear Mr. Morris. Do your research. It's the simplest thing. If someone sent me a letter, God, I really sound like this horrible bitch. But
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Nah!
>> SARAH MAIZES: If someone spelled my name wrong, I would toss it out we get so many queries. Piles. I mean from here to here, three huge piles of them would come in every month. And it is so hard to stand out in that, and if somebody just can't even take the time to make sure that you know who you are actually contacting, you spell the names correctly, something as silly as that can just knock you off the table.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Or the emails and letters that I get that say, dear sir.
>> SARAH MAIZES: It's just
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: It's simple.
>> SARAH MAIZES: Be as professional as you can. There are attitudes that writers get of being creatives and the most important thing is your letter and being as on point and respecting the person you are sending to as much as possible, and their time and keeping your hook short and simple and being as neat and clear as you possibly can be.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: In terms of waiting and judging this thing out in the world. I have got an agent pretty quickly and then my agent started sending it out to editors. It took four months before we had a deal. Four months in writer time is like an eternity. Now I look back on it and realize it was the summer and that was it. But at the time, it feel like it was forever and I went through, you know, all the stages of grief. I went through all the stages of, you snow, writer neurosis, and I think that's just a natural thing.
But the best advice I got was once you have an agent and everything is all ready for him or her to go off and do her part, start the next book. That's the best thing.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: And to give you an idea of the difference in time frames that it can take to sell a book, the fastest that I ever sold a book was 36 hours in a three book deal at auction. The longest it ever took me to sell a book was a two book deal that took almost two years. Okay?
You think about how how hard that was for that writer, and I had to talk him off the ledge a number of times but I really believed in his book. And eventually I found an editor who felt the same way.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: We have our microphone wrangler if anybody has any questions, just raise your hand and we'll take a few. We will do jazz hands.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Nobody is going to be doing jazz hands.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My question is, how do you feel about those who want to publish and those who write that publish portions of their book or their writings on their blogs on a regular basis and then try to get their ideas published book form? Is it advisable.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: I think you should handle that one.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: I think I will paraphrase what our friend Melissa said in the Pathfinder day. If you are if you are thinking particularly of doing a blog to book kind of thing, people don't want to read the same thing in the book as they did in the blog. They feel like they read this once already for free and they don't want to read it again.
For fiction, I think fiction can be a fun place to place vignettes that you and your editor cut out or didn't make it in the book, but give you a little sense of value added. It might also be nice to save a portion, an extra chapter that got cut out only for people who purchased the book, maybe the code in the back of an ebook.
>> SARAH MAIZES: The special feature DVD!
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: I usually tell my authors, it's a delicate balance, but you want to give just enough information to give somebody a taste for what the book is about, and then entice them to buy it. Blogs are a great way to do it.
You can have people who can purchase it electronically, and you can put the link there. I have authors who developed their book completely online with edits and everything, and then the final book is the only one that's the complete edited version. I had two authors, CC Chapman and Ann Handley, they put nothing online. They didn't give review copies to their own parents. As much as they are into sharing and electronic, they didn't want anything getting out there before the published book. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I think the best practices are somewhere where you want to give just enough, but I'm personally not speaking for my work or any of the authors I have worked with. I'm personally loathed to put a lot out there. As Colleen said, not to repeat her, I have a lot of people who say I have this all of this great content in my blog, and it's going to make a great book and my answer to them is you have already published it. It's done. Let's work on building that and doing something else.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Kind of in a similar vein, I've been noticing a lot of contests. There was just one done a couple of month ago, called thenextbigauthor.com, and a lot of big publishing houses get behind them. I was a little hesitant to put it out there because it would become so public and it was something along the first 5,000 to 7,000 words and I was just curious as to what your opinions were on those types of contests too.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: I only know of a couple of them. I don't know that I can speak to those in particular, and, again, I'm not speaking as a representative of my organization. I'm speaking as Ellen Gerstein but be very careful of who owns the work once you get it out there. If it's the kind of thing where you are giving right over and this organization whoever it is running the contest can do what they want with it, be very careful with that. You have the power and should retain power over your own works.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: The national novel writing month, there are a handful of people who got book deals by having that community and that exposure for it and bringing their book in November. I'm all for that.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: I would say, from an agent's perspective, NaNoWriMo is one of the banes of our existence.
(Laughter)
The truth of the matter is 90% of the people in NaNoWriMo, they think when they finish their book at the end of November, it's finished and they try to query it. And I think that the increase in query letters that we got in December and January, was 1,000 fold. I never wanted to see that you wrote a book in NaNoWriMo, I will just throw it right out there and be honest. We really didn't want to see it.
In terms of contests, there are some legit contests that publishers get behind, Amazon breakthrough novel award is one of them and that is something that the company that I work for cosponsors that, but there are very specific rules that you agree to when you enter that and one of them is that penguin has the right of first refusal if somebody is going to make a book offer on it. You need to think very, very carefully as Ellen was saying about who owns the rights to your book.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. My name is Mary Hall. I write the recessionista blog. And I have been working on a book for a while. I have an agent, and my question for you is, this is something I've noticed with my agent, but I think it's true of all book agents, social media's a huge part of my book and tips on how to use social media. I don't know that my agent truly understands those tips. I don't know that some of the publishers who read it truly understand the tips, and I wonder if you see the book publishing business evolving as the new social media platform comes, how meaningful is it to be working through an agent and talking to a publisher versus self publishing and clicking on links that are you know, the things that you are talking about that people can actually use?
>> SARAH MAIZES: Okay. If it's okay, I will break that down into pieces. So you have a book with an agent that's about a lot of a lot of it is about social media?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Social media using social media to find deals, find the best bargains, stay up to date, living a great life for less.
>> SARAH MAIZES: Okay. As somebody who does consult on books my first note would be if your agent doesn't understand it and the publishers don't understand it, you should go back and make them understand it.
I used to I think a lot of editors sort of have a rule. It's like if I don't understand it, it's not clear. You are going to people and it's their job to understand what it is that they are reviewing. So that would be the first step is perhaps find a way to make it more accessible.
Also, if your agent is selling it to publishers, chances are she I guess I would hesitate to say, that she or he had does understand, it but William Morris, my boss used to say, sell it, don't smell it. So I can't speak for them.
I can speak for just having been through the publication process and the savviness of my publisher who is penguin, I'm in a division of penguin, they actually published both of my books and my publicist and agent were incredibly savvy about social media and they are very, very much aware of the impact social media has and how to sell it, so much so that they agreed to me hiring an outside publicist who specializes in social media to help extend the reach online, which I'm so curious.
Has anyone here ever seen that book trailer before? I'm getting a new publicist. Thank you!
(Laughter)
That was just that was a Litmus test. No one is being judged on that.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Let me take off on one thing there. I'm just curious, if you guys have had the experience and maybe you have. What happens when you are going into the direction and somebody really doesn't get what you are doing. I was having a book pitched to me and it was between two publishing houses and this was a long time ago, the author says you guys don't blog. I want to go with Michael Hyatt at Thomas Nelson because even though they are a Christian publisher, he blogs. He gets this audience. You guys don't. We ended up starting blogs and that's how my blog came into existence in 2006.
>> SARAH MAIZES: It was a bad choice.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Do you think there's a time to cut bait because they don't get your mission?
>> CARLEEN BRICE: I do. I also think as bloggers, you are probably ahead of the curve of where publishing is with blogs and social media. You probably are. It doesn't mean that they don't get it.
>> SARAH MAIZES: And it makes you more appealing. I know for a fact it was very appealing for my publisher that I did blog. You come with an audience, a built in voice, if they don't understand how to add code and any of that.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: If your agent doesn't understand social media and your book is about social media, you have the wrong agent, because here's the God's honest truth is I was an agent who rocked social media. Nathan Bransford, rocked social media, Jessica Faust, I can name at least
>> SARAH MAIZES: Christen Nelson.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: David few gate.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: You find those agents who are on Twitter, who are blogging, who are out there on social media. It's not that hard! And then once you get an agent who understands social media, they are going to find the publisher that gets social media. It's pretty simple.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I had I'm very loud. My name is Colleen I blog at blue skies and yellow dogs. My research has shown that the query letter seems to be the most pivotal part of getting to your book into the publishing process and I was wondering I know you said, Carleen about being professional in your letter, obviously. If there's something, some tips you could give us about what makes a great query letter and what you absolutely should not do in a query letter.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Sure and then I would love to have Sarah talk about it as well. We are looking at it from two different places. I only repped fiction and query letters for fiction are very different. Is that me or is that your mic?
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Leave the mics alone.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: For fiction, what I was looking for was the first sentence, tell me the genre that you are writing in. Tell me the word count of the book, and tell me the name of the book and then I want a hook. I want your very quick, one or two sentence hook, maybe a few more sentences about the plot and a very short bio. What I don't want is I always wanted to be a writer when I was 7 years old, I wanted to be a writer. When I went to first grade, my teacher thought I was a great writer.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: It doesn't make us cry.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: If you are applying for a job in human resources. When I was five years old, I went to the Piggly Wiggly down the street and talked to them about helping them hire people. Doesn't that sound ridiculous? Well, that's exactly how it sounds in a query letter. It makes us think that you are just a goober, and we don't want we don't want anything to do with you.
>> SARAH MAIZES: That's a professional term!
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: And dork. So, yes. If you haven't published before and you don't have any publishing credits, that's okay. There's a myth that publishers don't want to debut authors. Big lie. 90% of the people I authored were debut authors. So say I live in Tennessee with my wife and three cats. That's fine. You don't have to have publishing credits. If you don't have them, you don't have them.
>> SARAH MAIZES: Are you writing? Is it nonfiction?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fiction.
>> SARAH MAIZES: Oh, then you don't need to hear from me.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: We want to know.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Go MILF.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Please!
>> SARAH MAIZES: With a nonfiction proposal, introduce yourself right off the bat again, also a line, who you are, what your background is and about a paragraph about what the book is. Some places will say to only send and, again, I can only answer this from the position is this not is this not okay. I can only answer this from my experience and there may be other people out there who will say, oh, my God, it's the worst advice you have ever gotten, it's a very subjective business. If you are putting together a nonfiction proposal, you send the nonfiction proposal. Just sending there are so many agents who will say, I only want a letter, a solicitation. I don't want to see a proposal. Attach it. Most of them will look at it. They are going to take a peek through it. If you have captured them in your letter, they want to see a bit about what your proposal is and I'm happy to talk I don't know if you want to talk here or later, about what should inbound a nonfiction book propose should be in a nonfiction book proposal. Keep it down to a page and a half at the very, very most. And again, if shouldn't be, I love writing about funny things. People tell me I'm really funny.
I think a key piece of advice is show, don't tell. Don't sit there and tell somebody what you are going to do in the proposal, what it's going to be. Show. Make everything an example of what your work is, and one of the reasons I wanted to show this besides just purely pimping it because I had a captive audience was it's about showing what the book is about. Not one word in the book trailer is in the book, but I think you walk away, one of the things that we tries to accomplish, you completely understand what the book is about when you watched the trailer. You get it. You get that it's humor. You get that it's not porn. You get that it's PG. You understand where it's going. You have a feel for it and your letter should reflect that. It's very important to put if you are writing nonfiction what your credentials are and put down a bio.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: I would say for fiction, the best thing I could suggest is it's very old, but there are archives up for Miss snark. She still has the archives up and there are many, many examples of really bad query letters and really good query letters and her advice was always when you send your query letter, send maybe the first couple of pages of your novel. Like, Sarah said, the agent, you know, might say, I only want a query letter but if you send those first couple of pages they might read it. And if your query letter is just, here's my name. Here's my title. Here's my genre and here's the number of words that my book is, and here's a little bit what my story is and maybe you don't boil that down very well, if the agent, you know the title perks you know, gets their interest and she turns the page and reads the first couple of pages, you know, you might have an in. That would be my best advice. Those were immensely helpful.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: I would just one word of caution about sending attachments. When an agent tells you that they don't want an attachment sometimes, like me, I actually had a filter on it that automatically deleted anything that came in with an attachment.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: When I say, don't send it as an attachment. Paste it into the email because people are concerned about viruses and stuff. I never send attachments unsolicited.
>> SARAH MAIZES: That's a good point.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: That's a good point.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, good afternoon. I have a question regarding when you submit a proposal and you are coming I would say, I already have an audience and I already have a targeted audience, how much weight does that cover within a proposal how much space should someone dedicate to drawing out, hey, I have already got a marketing strategy in mind and this is where it could go.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: A lot. That's big.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Most of it.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Oh, really?
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: We care about your platform for a lot.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: For nonfiction.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: I heard that a lot nor fiction too.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: With book stores disappearing, so much is going online, so much is, you know, not traditional, and it's come down to what's the author's platform.
It used to be where I would come into a meeting and tell somebody in sales, wow, this author has 40,000 people on a mailing list. Isn't that great? Now it's how many Twitter followers, how many, you know, R. SS feed subscriptions, you know, how many Facebook likes does he have? Does he have a speaking schedule? It all builds to go and I'm hesitant to sit here and say, well, don't even think of pitching a book if you don't have X number of followers. It's about the quality of your platform. If you are looking to do a book on, you know, widgets just throw that in you know, are you reaching the widget audience? Is that the customer you are after?
If you are in a specific genre, are you reaching enough of that community to make a book viable? We are very interested in that, and all of those demographics and, you know, everything that adds up to your platform is of interest.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: And is it also okay to project. You may not have that followership now, but if you are going to be writing about something that could be appealing to a certain demographic or whatnot, is it okay to do that or do you want to stick with what have you right now?
>> SARAH MAIZES: Project how so? I believe I will have this many followers by Halloween or
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: If you are writing about a topic that that isn't very popular, but you can I don't you guys
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Can you qualify?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, if you are able to think that, okay, so everybody has written about podcasting or widgets, but I'm going to be writing about this, and it may be interesting to the science and tech geeks in this genre.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: You have a number and you can say there are the association of blah, blah, blah, says there are 50,000 members about yada, yada, and my book is going to be about yada, yada.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: That's what I was trying to get at.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Yeah.
>> SARAH MAIZES: The other flip side of this and a lot of people will do this, you know, I have this blog or I have this thing and it's really great and I have all of these followers and they will send a note to their editor to an editor or agent expecting the editor or agent to come up with the book idea for them.
I am so huge, you want to publish me! And the editor is going to turn around and say, what's the book? So in addition, it's not enough to just have the followers and I'm sure I'm not in any way, shape or form suggesting this, but it's just as important to be able to discuss what the project is, what the book is and having the vision. Because when you pitch a book, it has to be so clear. If you are not especially for nonfiction, everything except the book needs to be in front of somebody. They need to be able to fully envision it.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: And part of a proposal is a couple of chapters too. So you are not just sending an outline. You've got to send them enough of your writing to let them know that you can write the book.
>> SARAH MAIZES: At least four or five chapters.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: And there's a how to write a book proposal by Michael Larson. And there's an amazing book called thinking like your editor by Susan Rabiner who is an agent. There is also a downloadable ebook by Michael Hyatt, the head of the the CEO of Thomas Nelson called writing a win book proposal, it's available only online but these three are some of the best advice that you will get in how to write a nonfiction book proposal.
(Inaudible question)
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Thinking like your editor, by Susan Rabiner. And what was the Michael Larson.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: To write a book proposal.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: By Michael Larson. And then one this one you are going to have to Google because it's available only I think only on Michael Hyatt's web site, it's writing a winning book proposal by Michael Hyatt.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: How do you spell Hyatt?
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: H y a t t.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: And he's also a good person to follow on Twitter.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: And his blog has a lot of social media advice and writing advice.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: We have a lot of questions on this side. Can we maybe, like, move that way too.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm sneaking in. Hi, I'm Shannon Coleary and I blog at the woman formerly known as Formerly Beautiful. Is it a turn off to take on someone who is already self published? In other words, if a book has been self published, would agents be interested or publishing houses be interested in taking it to a more you know, common marketplace, a book store?
>> CARLEEN BRICE: What I know from fiction is if you self publish and you sell 10,000 copies, 5,000 copies, that's really impressive, and if the book is good and you have got a you know, you've got an online presence, a publisher will be interested in that.
If you have sold the book to everybody you can possibly sell the book to, then they are probably not going to be real interested in you. There's some kind of, like, fine line of
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Yeah.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: You have done a really good job, but there's still more we can do, versus, you know, there are 10,000 Americans who do yada yada and I have sold my book to all 10,000. Now do you want to buy this book, probably not.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: What a publisher might be more interested in, is if you say I self published and I sold 5,000 copies of my previously self published book and here's my new idea.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I heard you say that you need to have the book finished before contacting an agent and my understanding is you meant for fiction work. Does the same apply for nonfiction?
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Fiction and memoir.
>> SARAH MAIZES: But you do need to just to add to that, not to say no, a proposal can be anywhere between 20 to 50 pages. I mean, you won't be able it's not like with TV or film you can sell on a treatment page.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have a question in regards to someone who is doing an ebook, like, how do you guys feel about ebooks just in general and someone coming to you, like, if you have a book and it's like, okay do I go the ebook route or do I just or do I pitch it? Because like, for me, like, I finished my ebook and I just was like, that's where I'm going to go. I didn't even think of going into the route of publishing a hard copy. I just figure, like, that's where the first step was.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: So you self published an ebook.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, I'm about to. I have finished it and I'm in the process of putting it into ebook format. I was thinking, oh, it's just a little
>> CARLEEN BRICE: You were afraid to share it?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Or pitch it. For me, I just followed like I did the research of, like, where things were going and there was a lot of information about ebooks. So for me, I followed where that was going. So for, like, especially for me, I'm a plus size fashion blogger. So for me, I'm coming out with with something for that in my niche. So I just figure that was the best way.
For someone who is a blogger, do you feel like that's kind of not so much of a good route or is it just another alternative?
>> CARLEEN BRICE: It depends on what you want to get from the book, you know? There's a lot that having a published book can do for you, if you are trying to build a platform for yourself, where you are going to be a speaker, where you are going to raise your profile in a lot of ways. If you want to put a link on your blog and sell it directly and maybe make a little bit directly more profit off of it, maybe that's a way to go. It depends kind of why you are doing it.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: And also remember that in and I'm coming at this from the perspective of somebody who has worked primarily for big six publishers, but this applies to most of the smaller publishers as well, is that when they buy your book, they are also buying your ebook rights. So unless you have a very stupid publisher, they are also going to publish your book in an ebook form. So you are getting a much broader distribution if your book is published in a traditional way, simply because they have sales channels, which ebook distribution, you can have really great ebook distribution, but unless you are someone like Barry Eisler who already is a "New York Times" best seller and then you decide to self publish a book, you don't really have enough of an audience and you don't have a distribution channel and this is what traditional publishing brings to authors is sales channels.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. Do publishers and/or agents like to see for example, I have two to three books in my head, and I could go several different ways, and I could write all the proposals. Would that be a horrible thing or a good thing to let them choose or do I need to choose? Like, does it make me look like a fool if I say, I have
>> CARLEEN BRICE: You have to choose. But what you can do is in your query letter, Colleen said this Thursday, here's my proposal for blah, blah, blah, blah, book and I'm also at work on a book about yada, yada.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: I feel like I should do theme music.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hey, this is somewhat of a specific question, but spring boarding from the nonfiction proposal thing. I just had a really discouraging experience, where I wrote a proposal. I had a great agent who was very well known in children's literature but this was like her foray into nonfiction and she wasn't 100% sure on what she was doing either, which is why I'm asking you and not her. We wrote this proposal that was very clear and then sold it and then I spent a year writing it a book which I invested a lot of time and money in, and the publisher who bought it agreed that I did produce the book that my proposal promised, however
>> SARAH MAIZES: Could you say the last part again?
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: We are having a hard time hearing.
>> SARAH MAIZES: You might be too close to the mic.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: So I wrote this book that was bought by a publisher, that both my agent and I felt was very clear and they basically turned around and said they wanted a different book that. They agreed that I wrote the book that I promised them, however, they were more interested in the subject matter, I think than what my voice actually was. So I'm just really weary I'm still trying to decide if I should stay or go with the publisher and I guess my question is, does this happen often that you would write a proposal and somebody would buy it based on the topic without really considering what your voice was?
>> SARAH MAIZES: How much of the proposal how big was the proposal?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: It was a 60 page proposal, including several chapters which were identical. The book was primarily written when I did the proposal. So chapters hadn't changed and actually we got stuck with the publisher on the first three chapters which were the same chapters that were in the original proposal. She bought it based on those chapters and turned around a year later and said I want a completely different book, I want an academic book, and I'm by far not an academic writer.
Going forward, if I leave this publisher and trying to move on, is there anything is this a typical thing that can happen or is it
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: No.
>> SARAH MAIZES: No, I don't think it's typical.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Okay.
>> SARAH MAIZES: I definitely don't think it's typical. There are a couple of things that could have happened. One is that your publisher suddenly decided that whatever book they had purchased wasn't the book that they wanted to publish anymore.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Yes.
>> SARAH MAIZES: And are looking for a way to pin not accepting it on you, or to get a different book out of you and that's really something your agent should be getting on.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Right.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right, and they, did but they actually said to me that they would like me they are basically asking me they are commissioning me to write the book that they want now, but not with a different advance, you know. So they they are saying that they want me to write it, but it's completely not the book that I had pitched or intended to write.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Can you do us a favor and hang up afterwards and come up and talk to us more specifically about that.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Absolutely.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Because we are intrigued. We don't have a whole lot of time and we want to move on.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Absolutely.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I'm Jan Cabeily, and I'm very fortunate in that I have written some books already and had them published Czech.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Hi.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, Ellen how are you? Why is it that everyone is in this room and wants to write a book? I specifically remember editors saying to me, number one, you are not going to get rich by writing these books. And number two, you are probably not even going to get famous by writing these books and I would love to hear the input of guys up there and also in the audience, why do you want to write a book so bad?
>> SARAH MAIZES: Well, thank you for scaring away our audience.
(Laughter)
We'll be sending you flowers.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: I will be talking to your editor tomorrow?
>> SARAH MAIZES: Is the question why would you want to write a book?
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Well, you said you wrote and published, why did you do it?
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Yeah! Yeah!
(Laughter)
We'll be passing out Xanax to everyone in the audience later.
>> SARAH MAIZES: We decided it wasn't worth it. Thank you, everybody!
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: No, I tell authors a lot of times, if you have visions of grandeur and stars in your eyes and limbos and Oscars, that's not reality, and, you know, when you say begin with the end in mind, I think you should think about what your goals are. If your goals involve having a book for a reason, maybe it's the $24.99 business card. Maybe the book is going to unlock something else for you, it will get you more speaking engagements as she said or more freelance work or it will get you a permanent position somewhere.
I think if you look at a means to an end and how a book fits into your portfolio of who you are in your platform, then I think there's a valid reason on it.
>> SARAH MAIZES: You know what, that actually raises a whole philosophy that I have, and the whole thing that kind of pushes me forward, I think a lot of people say, oh, my God, you wrote a book? How did you do that?
You know, and you do it one page at a time.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Word by word.
>> SARAH MAIZES: Yes, it's the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. And I think you really hit the nail on the head. The question is what is it that you are looking for? And I think it's very overwhelming to set the goal for yourself, I want to buy this huge I'm going to be the next JK Rowling and I will do this and that. There's something about the process of writing and publishing and knowing it's something you can build on for the future that's very satisfying to me, and that's why I write books.
If they were to ever eventually bring me any sort of success, I'd welcome it openly, but it's it is such a personal a personal thing, and I also work I publish children's I write children's book. I used to work with children's book authors and, there are God knows how many millions of them out there. They make less money than regular authors. I mean, it's the advances are absolutely minuscule. I think the question is, what do you want to get out of it? It's almost like choosing whether or not you want to get married or not get married or have children or not have children. What is it that you want out of this life?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, thank you. My name is Jill. I blog at a blog called writes like she talks. I have a question, about anthologies, are you interested in putting together a topic on anthologies. I write in two large areas. I write a lot of politics and I write a lot of mommy stuff. And I have audiences in both. If I'm pitching, do you have I would like to hear your opinion on whether if I'm pitching in politics, do I mention the platform related to the mommy and mothering, parenting stuff or vice versa? Thank you.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: For the anthology stuff, why don't we talk afterwards. I put to go an anthology and wrote a proposal for that and I would be happy to answer. If you are interested in anthologies, meet us afterwards.
If you are selling politics stuff, and you don't think that they will be buying the mommy.
>> SARAH MAIZES: I will just make a statement that my children's book is not putting anything that I wrote a book called "Got MILF."
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: What usually comes first the book or the script?
>> CARLEEN BRICE: The book always comes first because the book is better. Don't you know that?
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Although, I love Jill Scott.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: No, no, if are you a screenwriter or are you a novelist?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm neither yet.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Write a novel.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: The path is write a novel, and your agent, or rights manager will sell the rights will sell an option for the rights to produce a screen play, but
>> CARLEEN BRICE: And someone else will write it.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: You don't write the screen play, because they will laugh, laugh, laugh at you. So don't even suggest it. Let Hollywood do it. Take the money and run.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Well, I have a lot of contacts in Hollywood and they keep asking me if I want to do an eat, pray, love, or Julie Julia.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: If you have contacts then don't listen to us! Listen to them.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: If you have contacts in Hollywood, make sure that your agent your agent subsidiary rights person knows them.
>> SARAH MAIZES: If you want to talk to me afterwards, I come out of that area too. So I'm happy to talk to you about it.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, my name is Lisa and I blog over at seven yuck months in autism. We are working on my children's book me and my husband. How hard is to pitch one?
>> SARAH MAIZES: To pitch a children's book?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes.
>> SARAH MAIZES: On autism?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's about my son it's not going to be a depression look in any way.
>> SARAH MAIZES: You know, what I do stand up comedy about the fact that my daughter has autism. I hear that. It doesn't always have to be very, very somber.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Exactly.
>> SARAH MAIZES: It is very hard to pitch a children's book. There are more children's books authors than regular authors. Everybody has a children's book. Everybody thinks they can write a children's book. I have never I used to have to go to parties. I couldn't say I was a children's book agent because I
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Yes.
>> SARAH MAIZES: I got pitched nonstop. I couldn't go anywhere.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: You really can't say you are an agent at a party.
>> SARAH MAIZES: No, no.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: It's hard to say that you are in publishing. Or that you are a plastic surgeon. In L.A., at least.
(Laughter)
>> SARAH MAIZES: You have some Botox
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Just don't ever talk at parties.
>> SARAH MAIZES: It's very hard. Here's the thing, I I actually one of my stories that I have was more geared towards I have been I have been down that road. Again, I can talk to you about it afterwards. I don't know if there are other children's book people here. It is a completely different marketplace. It is it couldn't be another world away from everything else.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Okay we have time for this question and probably one other.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Margaret and I blog at shortfatdictator.com which is a mommy blog and
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Okay.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: And I find a lot in blogs that it's the genre is sort of a series of different stories from different aspects of my life, and what I'm wondering and putting together a book proposal, sometimes when I try to formulate it into something that I think is interesting to other people, I find what they are responding to is different than what I sent to them. I know you don't want bloggers to say, isn't my blog great and how do I turn it into a book? How do we find out what parts of my blog that are interesting.
>> SARAH MAIZES: I don't know what freelance editors do. It sounds like that might be you definitely don't want to approach an editor at a publishing house, I think.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: No.
>> SARAH MAIZES: With that, you don't. You need to screen that first through somebody else.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: You you never want to approach you probably don't want to approach an agent and tell them that you have hired a freelance editor to work on your book because they don't want to know that your book needed that much work. I do encourage people to hire freelance editors. There are a number of great ones out there who can help you maybe with the first book and they can fix some of the places where you are going wrong. And then you can learn a little bit in the process of working with them on how to make the next book better yourself.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Cheaper is joining a writer's group or taking a class in your town. And there are online courses.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: Or you can go to book country.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: And there are online sites like shewrites.com and writer unboxed. If you are trying to figure out what people are responding on to your blog, you could survey them, what do you like? What do you hate but, yeah, you don't want to go to an editor and try to get that information because they will not give it to you.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: I wanted to mention again very quickly we did put together a resource, a PDF for writer's resources that the last time I I just checked and the the live blog for the Pathfinder doesn't seem to be up. So if you want it and you can't find it online, please email me directly. Deadlanguages@gmail.com. And I will be happy to email you that PDF of writer's resources that has these these it has the writing groups, it has the names of the books that we have been talking about, the web sites that we have been talking about. Deadlanguages@gmail.com. That's my nonwork address. So I'm happy to email it to anybody who sends me an email request.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: If we can get that question, maybe the blonde woman who has been holding up her hand for the past hour. So her and then her. And then we'll be out of time.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I have a what I thought was a fairly rare medical condition, which I determined was not that rare. I want to write a book because I want to raise awareness which is why I have been keeping a blog with recipes for people with my condition. I bet nobody in the room has actually heard of this, histamine intolerance. So that's my blog is about. That's unusual.
My question was so my blog is basically recipes and I the book, can you blend recipes with your story? I want to tell my story so for the awareness issue but recipes are a huge part of this condition because people with this issue find it almost impossible to eat regularly and lead a normal life. Most people are only able to eat three or four foods and don't tolerate chemicals.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Have you seen sauna James, gluten free girl, and gluten free girl the chef, there's allergic girl as well. She's got a number of recipes in there. It's part memoir, part recipe, but, you know overall I would say, you know, because we can't answer every genre's specific question. There are a lot of blogs that do a good job of taking the content that they have, whether it's recipes or photography or whatever, and carrying out in something different in a book.
My best example out of gluten free girl. Sharon Walton, she wrote "The Beauty of Different" which I think if you haven't gotten it, I wholeheartedly pimp it. I have no financial interest in it. She's a personal acquaintance but it's a good job of taking that content in your community and translating it into book form. I think she did a wonderful job with it. And Shauna James Ahern is one of my authors so when I recommend the book understand that disclosure.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Who was the last question?
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: That one back there.
>> COLLEEN LINDSAY: I think that's the last one.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: An answer to the question about why I want to write a book, it's actually for bloggers. My book is geared towards bloggers and how to make money blogging. I've been very successful with that, and so I wanted to talk about ebooks versus traditional publishing.
Since my target audience is people online blogging and people who want to blog, would I be do would you consider doing an ebook a better route for that kind of audience?
>> CARLEEN BRICE: You know your audience better than we do. If you think that you can put a link on your blog and make 100% of the money back with an ebook, you might be coming out better than trying to sell it with a publisher and getting whatever royalty rate. You really might.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I really don't even care about making money from the book. I make enough money. It's not about that. I want to do more publish speaking.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Then do an ebook and put a link on your blog.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: And that would be good enough in.
>> CARLEEN BRICE: Yes, absolutely. Just do a nice cover for it. It's deadlanguages@gmail.com. It's an email. Email me and ask me.
>> ELLEN GERSTEIN: Thank you everyone. We should be here for a little bit after the session if you have more individual questions but we appreciate your time and energies.

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