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When attempting to sell a novel, everything should relate to “the novel” you’re selling.

  • The Plot: Use clear language that introduces your characters and explains who did what to whom. You’re selling the book to a publisher, not writing the back cover copy. Give away the ending. Don’t hold anything back.
  • Genre and Word Count: Publishing companies maintain detailed demographic information about their books and readers that result in having “slots” to fill. Include the genre and word count so it’s easy for your reviewer to determine if your 65,000 word Space-Cowboy Romance fills an open slot in their Spring lineup.
  • Writing Awards: Only include awards won by the novel you’re selling.
  • Past Publications: Novels must stand on their own merits, not the authors. Only include past publications if you are submitting something like a freelance article to a magazine.
  • Critique Groups: Never include them. They aren’t recognized as valid by the professional community.

Remember, you’re selling a novel, not yourself, your past successes or your commitment. All of those things distract from the purpose of the query – to sell your novel.

For some tongue-in-cheek advice from an industry professional, I recommend the hilarious Annotated Query Letter from Hell by Cheryl Klein. She is the Executive Editor at Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic) and has worked on, among other things, the american editions of the Harry Potter series.

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Interesting thoughts on where publishing is going in a convenient list of bullet points. My thanks to Nancy Cohen for sharing on The Kill Zone.

  • Everyone will be reading on their mobile phones in the future. What will this mean for the art of writing? Smaller paragraphs, shorter books, scenic descriptions perhaps replaced by video.
  • Ebooks will be the next mass market.
  • Think global. People in other countries want to read our work and they want these stories to take place in the U.S. so they can read about our lives here. The demand will continue to grow exponentially. This is a huge potential market.
  • Many pirate sites originate overseas where English language content is unavailable. How to combat piracy? Cost and Convenience. Make our work cheaper and easier to obtain.
  • Be prolific to build your brand.
  • Don’t think of writing as draining your mental energy so you need to refill the creative well. Think of writing as recharging your batteries so that the more you write, the more you’ll want to write. It’s harder to restart the engine so keep it running.
  • Publishers need to step up to the plate and provide authors with editorial, distribution, promotion, and product if they’re to be viable in the future. The most important role of publishers continues to be as a gatekeeper for a quality read.
  • Social networking is crucial for authors to establish a platform.
  • Reviews still drive book sales, and bloggers are the new reviewers.
  • Indie bookstores still have tremendous influence. They may still be around after the chains go out of business. Establish a connection with your indie booksellers.
  • Writers with a backlist have many different avenues to explore to make their books available to readers again. This is an exciting time because we can bring our stories directly to readers ourselves.

Source: The Kill Zone: Brainstorming on the Beach

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I had a fabulous time attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) this year! I met a lot of other great writers and made some great contacts in the industry. It was well worth my time and money.

Me with Angie Hunt

Angie Hunt and Me

I definitely have to take more photos next year, but at least I got this one with Angela Hunt. She’s a great writer who’s well published across a variety of genres. And she was a great mentor for my first writing conference. I learned a great deal from attending her sessions and recommend them to future conference attendees.

The conference is held each year in late May at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in the western mountains of North Carolina. Information about this conference (and some great tips on writing) can be found at the following links:

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