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Book Deal Part 2

Let it be known that I am not a professional. I’m not an agent nor am I a publishing company. Although I do have very strong opinions that I’m not afraid to express. Often. Sometimes unsolicited. That being said, there’s no accounting for taste so if you truly want to write and be published, your number one skill must be persistance. You should probably be a decent writer but, in all honesty, that doesn’t seem to matter as much as having a great idea and again, persistance. OR you need to have a strong voice.

What do I mean when I talk about a strong voice? When you read someone’s blog, what keeps you coming back? Let’s just say that not one person whose blog you read is ever going to be your friend on the Web or off. Let’s just presume that you are reading strictly for your own enjoyment and not reading your friend’s blog about their cat just because they loyally comment on yours. Now. Think about those blogs that speak to you. Why do they speak to you? Are they highly personal? Are they funny? Are they snarky? I will guarantee you that no matter what they are, they have a consistant voice. A point of view. A world view that most of their posts fall under.

This is what you need to write a book.

Here is how a book is very different than a blog: A book doesn’t presume that people know what the hell is going on in your life. A book doesn’t care how hilarious your life is with four kids at home and no outside help. It’s like when I used to do stand-up and people would say to me, “you should come to my house/job/etc. because hilarious stuff happens.” Really? but what’s the joke? My point is, if you had to be there, it’s not funny.

Okay, so let’s just say you have a strong point of view – now you need a story to tell be it your own (memoir), someone else’s (novel) helpful hints (self-help, how-to) or even essays (funny stories, memoiresqe).

For a couple of examples of what I think is a book go to Immoral Matriarch her posts called Dance, Dance are a book. Or try Crystal’s blog and read through her Crazy Chronicles. Those are both examples of good writers who also have a story to tell.

Here’s the hard part: you have all that. Now you need a connection. You don’t need to bust your balls going to the library and buying a book on writing proposals etc. No one is going to read your proposal from sending it out cold anyway. I say, have a few chapters that really showcase your voice, then find someone who knows someone who can refer you to their agent. You need a referral. Seriously. I can’t stress enough the importance of being bold and asking for help. But ask for help from people you do know at least a little bit and be prepared for them to say no. Did I pop your balloon? Sorry. It is possible to get an agent by cold calling but I don’t believe you need an official proposal. Just have some of your best writing and email it to agencies that say they are open to new clients. Run your chapters by someone first though to make sure you aren’t sending something that’s not quite its best.

It’s like this in any business right? If you send out a ton of resumes to companies who aren’t hiring, you probably won’t get a meeting. But, if a friend refers you, even if the company isn’t hiring they may just meet you anyway and then you’ll blow them away with your charm and wit and beauty, oh and willingness to put out.

Once you’ve gotten an agent – any agent by the way – to look at your work – be prepared for them to say “not interested” but they may know another agent who will take a look.

Once you have an agent interested, you may need to write a proposal. NOW you can get the book but make sure it’s not written super serious and business like. Nobody wants to read that crap. I don’t care what the agent says. I know better. Make it fun to read.

Okay, questions? Comments?

tomorrow I will have a guest poster named Claudine Wolk who wrote the book It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Moms. She self published although now she has a fancy book deal and is going to tell us all about the self publishing way to go.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 8, 2008 7:33 pmUncategorized19 comments  

19 Comments

  1. Cheryl Lage said,

    This:

    “there’s no accounting for taste so if you truly want to write and be published, your number one skill must be persistance. You should probably be a decent writer but, in all honesty, that doesn’t seem to matter as much as having a great idea and again, persistance.”

    was hands down the key to my deal. That combined with stick-to-it-tive-ness in finding the right “agent” match.

    Although you say persistence, my husband says obstinence. Tomato, tomahto if you ask me! 😉

    Great idea for a blog series Stef…you are a good woman!

    | September 8, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  2. Surfer Jay said,

    Sounds good.

    Although what if you don’t know anyone that knows anyones sister’s former roomates cousins agents dog trainer?

    | September 8, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

  3. sweatpantsmom said,

    Oh god, I thought you’d never ask.

    So, can I have a referral?

    Okay then, how about just floating me some cash to get my kitchen redone. I’m going to be waiting a while for that book advance.

    | September 8, 2008 @ 10:25 pm

  4. Backpacking Dad said,

    “have a strong voice”

    Reason number 37 why I won’t get a book deal.

    But I’d love an update on how many requests for agent referrals you get after this invitation, er, post.

    | September 8, 2008 @ 10:36 pm

  5. Giovanna Diaries said,

    Although I have no intentions on ever writing a book, I find your posts about it interesting and makes me think of a few people I know that should think about writing one.
    I just blog for the heck of it….and because everyone else is doing it.
    I do not have the patience to write and rewrite and rewrite again. I just think, write, post. No further thought goes into it…..ohhhh and it shows. Hey, at least I spell check….most of the time.
    Thanks for the inside scoop.

    | September 8, 2008 @ 11:46 pm

  6. The Yummy Mummy Cooks Gourmet said,

    I’m thrilled you wrote this.

    I’ve written a bunch of books as a ghostwriter but navigating the publishing machine for myself is just freakin’ terrifying.

    I’m intrigued by your idea of sending off a few chapters and an outline to an agent. I have several agent referrals lined up from author/blogger friends, but I really was thinking I’d have to have the whole proposal done, polished, perfect, marketing plan, competitive analysis, blah blah blah.

    Hmmmm…thanks for giving me something to think about. This is very helpful. And congrats on all your book writing success!

    Kim

    | September 9, 2008 @ 1:44 am

  7. Alexa said,

    “No one is going to read your proposal from sending it out cold anyway.”
    Oh, weep. All the air just went out of my balloon.
    On the bright side, perhaps this means I needn’t worry about finishing my proposal just yet, as my energy would doubtless be better spent finding fancy, agent-having friends in order to strong-arm them into giving me referrals…

    | September 9, 2008 @ 1:57 am

  8. Black Hockey Jesus said,

    Are there agents and editors who will only work with me for sex. Because I’m committed to this enterprise.

    | September 9, 2008 @ 2:11 am

  9. Andria and Co. said,

    Just stumbled on to your site, and I am so glad that I did! Consider it fate, karma, whatever. Just like the bag of candy corn that happened upon my lap that I am eating.

    Thanks for the great post- it was very informative. I have tossed the idea of writing around for a while, and have a story played out in my head that is based on the sexual assault (and aftermath) that happened to me as a teenager.

    | September 9, 2008 @ 4:18 am

  10. Anonymous said,

    You forgot to add …”and, no, I can not introduce you to my agent”. There’s nothing I hate more then when people say to me “hey, I have a book idea, can you hook me up with your agent!” It really is insulting.

    DEAR READERS OF STEFANIE’S BLOG: She’s way too nice to say no….but seriously, don’t ask her this anymore”. And please, don’t ask me again either!

    That’s why I’ll call myself…

    ANONYMOUS

    | September 9, 2008 @ 5:13 am

  11. Ms. Bar B: said,

    Yep, Crystal’s blog is one of my favorites!

    | September 9, 2008 @ 6:22 am

  12. Lapa37 said,

    Good information but like surfer jay said what if you don’t know anyone? Also what if your not sure your writing is good enough? What I mean is I have a blog about my dog written as if I am him now my family says it should be turned into a children’s book but they are my family. How do I know that someone else will like it? Do I ask someone outside the family who is not bias for their opinion? Should that person be in the writing field? Thanks

    | September 9, 2008 @ 11:54 am

  13. Erika Jurney said,

    I’d also add “How He Became Our Son” by Mamma Loves. That’s another book.

    | September 9, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

  14. Wicked Step Mom said,

    I am glad that you are having a guest blogger post about self-publishing. I have done it a few times but I haven’t truly written anything in a while. So, the post will probably be a good kick in the butt for me to start working again.

    | September 9, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

  15. Rhea said,

    Helpful.
    Honest.
    Right on.

    | September 9, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  16. Immoral Matriarch said,

    So it’s totally a crap shoot? *lol*

    I’ve read and read over the past few months the best ways to go about getting a book deal, but most of them say different things, or say the same thing: It’s basically luck.

    It’s…discouraging, to say the least. And thank you, thank you for the shout out. I’m off to read the Crazy Chronicles. :)

    | September 9, 2008 @ 10:58 pm

  17. Lisa said,

    Ok, does it HELP to put out? Just wondering.

    | September 10, 2008 @ 1:11 am

  18. Aubrey Anne said,

    Thank you thank you for writing this! So few people are willing to go out of their way to help people in this department, and some of us are incredibly clueless! What a fantastic way to help fellow writers.

    | September 10, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

  19. Senalda said,

    Thanks for writing this.

    | November 11, 2008 @ 1:33 am

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