Thursday, February 28, 2013

Literary Agents

If you had only three minutes to pitch your book to an agent face-to-face, what would you say? It can be intimidating to put yourself on the line and try to express all the passion for your book in a few sentences, but that's what we as writers have got to do, right? Several of you asked to hear more about how my speed-dating sessions with literary agents went during the last day of my writer’s conference. Despite the long lines I met with six in the allotted hour, four of whom asked to see partials of my work.

I only just recently sent out my stuff, so I don’t figure on hearing back anytime soon, but the key to each speed-dating pitch with agents is to get the gist of your story across effectively and to hook their interest. Needless to say three minutes, half of which is taken up with their questions for you, isn’t much time. My advice would be, the more you sharpen your elevator pitch, the better off you’ll be.

Nonetheless, I had fun meeting with agents, and got some great feedback. The last agent I sat down with at the end of the hour wasn’t necessarily interested in my genre, but asked to see my work anyway, because she said I was the only person all day who had told her a story with an actual plot. So what have been your experiences face-to-face with agents? Have you found it more effective than querying over the internet or snail mail? Have you ever tried speed-dating with agents at a conference elsewhere?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stand Alone Books or A Series?

Do your favorite authors write stand alone books or series books? Perhaps you have a preference in writing one over the other? But which is more marketable, especially if you choose to self-publish?

At my writer’s conference last week, one of the hot topics revolved around writing stand alone books versus a series, and some of the answers I heard from authors and publishers surprised me. In book sales, especially for self-published authors or eBook sellers, a series definitely garners more attention. However, agents were quick to remind authors that they should only write a series if the first book engaged a good sized audience, otherwise they will have written a sequel for a book no one wants to read. As if that wasn’t enough, they went on to explain that it varies greatly by genre, and romance or sci fi genres did much better with series books than literary stories which fared better as stand alones.

Of course, these statements are marketing focused and shouldn’t be the primary motivator when writing a new book, but it’s food for thought that all authors should consider. So where are you in your own writing, debating whether to make a sequel to one of your projects or start on a new topic? What works best for you in your current situation and in your own previous experience?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How To Make an eBook

Ever wonder how your words would look on an eReader? Want your books to never go out of print (so-to-speak)? Not sure how to get started?

I got loads of great responses from everyone earlier in the week regarding what topics they’d like to hear about from my foray into the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. A bunch of you wanted to hear more about eBooks, so let me start there, but I will get to each of your points of interest in subsequent posts as well.

First off, eBooks are gradually going to overtake paper books in a matter of years. Yep, you heard me right. Already 30% of all books sold today are eBooks and more than half the households in the nation now own one or more eReaders. I listened to a great talk given by Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords (seen below), and he accurately described the eReader Revolution as a Gold Rush where some debut writers are striking it rich and other established authors are leaving their publishing houses to strike out on their own and reap bigger profits.

Checkout Smashwords to see how you can upload your book on Smashwords in order to generate an eBook. Best of all, it’s free! What I particularly liked about Mark’s talk was his honesty and sincerity towards writers and their craft. He takes issue with publishers, believing that they take advantage of writers and that’s why he doesn’t charge writers to use Smashwords. You may or may not agree with him, but he genuinely cares about helping authors out.

Do you want to learn more about eBooks? Just let me know. Or perhaps you’d like to hear more about agent speed-dating or book cover design? Or maybe whether a series or stand alone books are easier to market? 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

San Francisco Writer’s Conference Highlights

Got a new book you want to pitch to agents? Trying to connect with fellow writers interested in your genre? Looking for ways to improve your writing?

Look no further than the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. This weekend I had a great time meeting fellow writers and editors all the while continuing to broaden my knowledge of the publishing industry. The biggest shocker this year was seeing the prevalence of online publishing and the power of the eBook. I could go on and on about the rapid changes in eBooks, so I’ll save that topic for one of my upcoming posts.

I actually could do quite a few posts just trying to distill all the things I learned this weekend, so I guess I’d like to know what you’d like to hear about first. Interested in the importance of cover art for your upcoming novel? How about learning easy ways to publicize your latest book? Do you want to know whether it’s easier to market novels in a series or one topic at a time? 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Attending San Francisco Writer’s Conference


This upcoming weekend I’ll be attending the annual San Francisco Writer’s Conference at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. This is my third time attending the conference and I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces as well as making new friends. This also marks the tenth year that this great conference has been in existence.

I’ll be promoting my latest historical thriller, Caesar’s Revenge, which you can learn more about here. In addition, I’ll be listening to great talks by famous writers, including this year’s guest speaker R.L. Stine (famous for his Goosebumps book series). There will also be many literary agents in attendance who I will meet with during the “speed-dating” sessions on the last day of the conference.

What writer’s conferences do you like to attend? What experiences have you come away with that helped make you a little wiser? Anybody else going to be attending the SFWC this coming weekend? 

Monday, February 4, 2013


Well, it was close, but the 49ers still lost. It was a great game to watch, and especially great since I got to watch for the first time with my little boy. He was pretty cool with the game except for the times I shouted excitedly at the TV:)

But on the flip side, I’ve recently gotten some great feedback from you and other readers reviewing the first chapter of my manuscript, Caesar’s Revenge. Many thanks to those who donated their time and helped me sharpen my novel even more. If you wish to learn more, please check out my previous post.   

I’m feeling really good about the state of my new book as I prepare to head off to the San Francisco Writer’s Conference next week. Needless to say, the great/helpful reviews I’m getting for Caesar’s Revenge more than offset my disappointment at the 49ers’ Superbowl defeat. So what’s going your way right now with your own writing? What continues to inspire you?