Welcome to #4 Birthday Weekend Edition in celebration of our 9th Birthday. That means Seekerville is starting year TEN! Every week we have a fabulous giveaway ($50 Amazon gift card or a Kindle Fire) and on November 5, we'll draw for our Grand Prize, an iPad mini. All commenters, all week get their name in the birthday box for all drawings.
This weekend we celebrate the release of
Leave a comment for a chance to win one of THREE copies!
Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.
We Have Winners
If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes. Send to Seekers@Seekerville.net
This weeks Birthday winner of a Kindle is Evelyn Hill.
From the last Weekend Edition, winner of a surprise package of books is Caryl Kane. Winner of the Descriptive Thesaurus book of choice in print or ecopy is Shanda Miller.
Monday was "Conflict: Roadblocks to Your Character's Happy Ending" with Janet Dean. Chill N (Nancy C) is the winner of a Seekerville ebook of choice.
Seekerville was thrilled to have Terri Reed join the birthday celebration. Her post was "9 Ways to Develop Story Characters." Terri brought a mega-birthday surprise! Connie Queen is the winner of a prize package that includes her heartwarming holiday release from Howard Books, A Family Under the Christmas Tree, and her latest Love Inspired Suspense release, Identity Unknown. Terri W, Heidi, and Sandy Smith are winners of the copies of the Love Inspired Suspense Classic—2 books in 1 volume—Double Cross and Double Threat Christmas.
On Wednesday, Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Debby Giusti talked about her writing journey with "9 Tips in 9 Years." Jodi Janz and Suzanne Baginskie won copies of Plain Truth, a journal, The Writer's Prayer and a $9 Starbucks Gift Card! Congrats, ladies!
On Thursday, Literary agent Amanda Leuck from Spencer Hill Associates was our special guest with her post, "9 Tips for Querying an Agent." Rhonda Starnes is the winner of an Amazon gift card.
Friday: Seekerville is delighted to welcome Misty Beller today. Her post is "9 Steps to Market a New Book Release." Winner of the first three books in her Mountain Dreams Series is Deanna Stevens.
Saturday we shared, "The Real Story: How 13 Writers Left Unpubbed Island." We went back to Unpubbed Island and shared the Seekers' first sale stories. Winners of Seeker E-Book of choice, are Jessica Baughman and Jackie Layton.
Next Week in Seekerville
|Click on the picture to read this RT 4 1/2 Star TOP PICK! Review.|
Monday: Carol Moncado returns to Seekerville with some techy help for us! "Nine (Plus) Tips for Using Dropbox." And she brought a special giveaway!
Tuesday: Pam Hillman is your Seekerville hostess today!
Wednesday: Sandra Leesmith will share "Nine Ways To Promote Yourself." She will discuss ways that work for her. She is offering a special treat to a lucky commenter who shares what has worked for them both as a writer and a reader.
Thursday: Seeker Tina Radcliffe has on her hard hat for "Deconstructing a Romance Novel." And she'll talk a little about the book, "The Bestseller Code," as well. The prize vault is open!
Friday: Melanie Dickerson returns to Seekerville with her post, "Top 9 Reasons to Read the Seekerville Blog Every Day." Melanie is generously giving away a hardcover copy of The Silent Songbird, which releases November 8th, to three select commenters.
Saturday: Time for the November Contest Update! Stop by to meet our monthly Diva/Divo. The prize vault is open!
Sunday: The week 4 winner will be announced today & the Grand Prize winner will be announced on Saturday, November 5.
Bundle up and stop by to visit Glynna Kaye on the Love Inspired Authors Website.
A Taste of That Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
If you aren't enrolled in My Rewards, you can do that here.
If you need help or want to be walked through the receipt submission process, email us at Seekers@Seekerville.net
Random News & Information
|Can the brother left behind and a woman without hope
work together for the good of two precious children?
Home on the Range
Thanks for sending links!
It's that time of year when we ask you to please consider nominating Seekerville for the 18th Annual Writer’s Digest 101 Best Website for Writer’s Award. Send an email to email@example.com with “101 Websites” in the subject line. We are an Inspirational Romance Writing Community.
3 Ways Writers Can Instantly Spot Telling (Writers Helping Writers)**
Questions to Ask an Agent (Books & Such Literary Management)
Which Reading Nook is Perfect for You (Bethany House Books)
Synopsizing Your Way to Revision Success (Writer Unboxed)**
9 Tips to Building the Book Cover Design You Always Wanted (Jane Friedman)**
Why I’ve Moved From Scrivener To Vellum For Formatting Ebooks (The Creative Penn)
An Evernote Guide for Writers: 5 Ways to Use it for All Your Projects (The Write Life)
10 Tips to Help You Get More Twitter Followers (Novel Rocket)
Promoting a Sequel in a Book's Back Matter (With Examples!) BookBub**
Writing a Series: How Much Do We Need to Plan Ahead? (Jami Gold)**
23 Million Books Sold. How To Have A Successful Long-Term Writing Career (The Creative Penn)
What Kind of Writer are You? (Steven Pressfield)
Book Promotion: Do This, Not That (The Book Designer) **
Short on Time? Read ** First and then come back for the rest!
Happy Sunday, readers, and writers!
I love a good trip down memory lane, don't you? As we start our tenth year, we'd like to share our original call stories with you along with fun pictures and milestone events.
Seekerville began as a Yahoo Group in 2005. We were divas who kept bumping tiaras on the contest circuit. We came together with the intent to pray each other into publication. The blog itself began in October of 2007.
A decade ago we sat on Unpublished Island waiting for a chance to sail to the mainland. We had a lot to learn! (and still do!) Besides hanging out in Seekerville, we've been busy writers. Here's a peek at our journey.
Debby Giusti was the FIRST Seeker to leave Unpublished Island. Find Debby Giusti books here.
"In the summer of 2005, I entered and won three contests where the final round judges were Love Inspired editors. Each entry received a request for submission. Wanting to meet the editors in person, I attended my first RWA National Conference, held in Reno at the end of July, where I also met Janet Dean, Myra Johnson, and Julie Lessman. It was there that the idea for what would eventually become Seekerville was first discussed. While at the conference, LI senior editor Krista Stroever shared with me that Joan Marlow Golan, the LI executive editor, was reviewing my manuscript. Needless to say, I flew home, eager and anxious about what might unfold. Three days later on August 3rd, I received “The Call.” Nowhere to Hide, my debut Love Inspired Suspense was published
A short time later, same year, 2005 at the ACFW conference in Nashville, Mary Connealy sold her first manuscript. It was released as Golden Days. Find Mary Connealy books here.
"Every year at the ACFW conference Barbour Publishing gives a contract to an unpublished author. I was so hopeful! I had a book submitted to HP and they’d asked for revisions. I knew there was a chance it could be me.
Tracie Peterson, the acquiring editor for Heartsong Presents at that time, called my name. I get chills saying that! It was a wonderful, thrilling shocking moment. I had to go up and get the contract, in front of 350 other writers, all clapping. A great, great moment in my life."
Audra Harders, Julie Lessman & Ruth Logan Herne Circa 2005, ACFW Conference.
In July of 2005, Janet Dean, Myra Johnson, Julie Lessman, and Tina Radcliffe were the four finalists in the Inspirational category of the RWA Golden Heart. The Golden Girls met for the first time in Reno for RWA. Myra Johnson won with Autumn Rains which would later be published by Barbour.
In 2006 Julie Lessman sold what would become her epic, award-winning, first novel, A Passion Most Pure. Find Julie Lessman books here.
"After receiving the booby prize for the most rejections at an ACFW Conference (19 at that time), I was signed by agent extraordinaire, Natasha Kern, who actually blanched a bit when she first signed me, realizing after the ink was dry just how many times I’d been rejected. I believe the word she used was “daunting.” But apparently not too daunting for her amazing skills as an agent because she landed a contract for me within six months.
The call came—appropriately enough—when I was in the middle of praying with my prayer partners. My heart dropped when I heard Natasha’s voice, but when she said that the editor, Lonnie Hull Dupont, told her she'd never seen a pub board vote unanimously for a book before, I started crying. I repeated everything she said so my prayer partners could hear, and they were screaming and jumping up and down in the background. Lonnie told Natasha it was very unusual for an editor to call on the day of pub board, but that she was too excited not to, and that a number of the editors had stayed up late the night because they couldn’t put the book down! She said they were so excited that they actually started brainstorming taglines for me, one of which was “a Christian Maeve Binchy.” Believe me, after 46 rejections and another publisher giving me a slice-n-dice rejection the very week before, this phone call was a balm to my battered soul."
And that same year, Janet Dean sold to Love Inspired Historical. Find Janet Dean books here.
"On June 29, 2006, my agent called with the news that Melissa Endlich, Senior Editor, Steeple Hill Books, wanted to buy my manuscript Orphaned Hearts for the Love Inspired Historical romance line launching February of 2008. I was home alone and so excited I could barely contain myself. I called family and friends and told my husband the news the minute he walked in the door from work. I could barely choke down dinner before heading out with my published critique partner to her out of town speaking engagement that evening where she told attendees I’d received The Call.
I had to wait for what felt like forever to see my debut re-titled Courting Miss Adelaide hit the shelves in September of 2008. I will always be grateful to Melissa Endlich and Love Inspired for opening the door to publication, enabling me to sail off Unpubbed Island, to my readers who have blessed me beyond measure, and to God, who gave me the gift to write for Him. "
2006 was a BIG YEAR. Missy Tippens was a Golden Heart finalist! Missy and Janet in this photo. Circa 2006.
ACFW Conference 2006
Front-Audra Harders, Camy Tang, Cheryl Wyatt.
Back, Debby Giusti, Janet Dean, Myra Johnson, Ruth Logan Herne, Sandra Leesmith, Cara Lynn James & Missy Tippens.
"After doing two sets of revisions for Emily Rodmell, I waited, holding my breath for that first sale I'd dreamed of for over 10 years. On January 30, 2007, I came home from the grocery store and put everything away. I made my lunch, then as I was walking by the phone, I happened to check for missed calls. Most writers memorize the NY area code: 212. LOL But I actually saw "Harlequin Books" on the caller ID!
I listened to the message.
Then senior editor, Krista Stroever, asked me to call her when I got in. I knew they don’t call for rejections! They only send a letter for that—those letters with which I had become well acquainted. :) When I called Krista, she said they loved my story and wanted to offer a contract. She said she knew I would want time to consider the offer and told me to call her back when I decided. I stifled a maniacal laugh and acted as if I had enough sense at the moment to respond professionally. I was still in shock a couple of hours later after I called back to accept. Only later that evening did I finally gather my wits enough to celebrate! I'll be forever grateful to Emily for making my dreams come true."
Myra Johnson sold to Abingdon Press in 2008. You can find Myra's books here.
"In July of 2008, 25 years and 200+ rejections into my writing career, I learned of a new fiction line at Abingdon Press. Barbara Scott was the editor then, and she had put out the word that she especially welcomed submissions from unpublished but talented writers who had "paid their dues." I figured that described me, so right away I shot Barbara an email describing the novel manuscripts I had available. She requested one of them, and barely a month went by before she called with a contract offer for what would become my first published novel, One Imperfect Christmas.
Sharing about “the call" on my personal blog, here’s what I wrote: "So I’m calling myself the poster child for publication perseverance. It has been a long, arduous journey, a roller-coaster ride emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I’m smart enough to realize I haven’t arrived' yet. This is just the next leg of the journey, and one I can’t wait to explore! If God has given you the desire, talent, and skill to write--or whatever He may have gifted you with--until He personally tells you otherwise, keep on keeping on. If success seems long in coming, ask God to help you see what you still need to learn, how He still wants to grow you up. Our path through this life is not about what we can achieve, but what God wants to shape us into. He is the Potter, we are the clay. Be moldable!"
In 2008 Mary Connealy is a Carol Award winner for Golden Days. She is also a finalist in the Best First Book category with Petticoat Ranch.
In 2008 Debby Giusti was a Carol Award finalist with Nowhere to Hide.
L-R Debby Giusti, Lenora Worth, Janet Dean, Missy Tippens, Linda Goodnight (with RITA), Allie Pleiter, Debra Clopton, Pamela Tracy, and Merrillee Wren.
Sandra Leesmith, Missy Tippens, Debby Giusti and Janet Dean.
|Myra, Julie, Mary, Cara, Janet, Debby & Darlene Bucholtz|
|Missy Tippens |
| Missy, Janet, Editor Emily Rodmell, Debby|
Glynna Kaye sold to Love Inspired in January of 2009. You can find Glynna Kaye books here.
"Although I’d finaled or won quite a few contests with my unpubbed “chick lit flavored” romantic mysteries, in August 2008 I entered The Golden Pen contest with the first book I’d written that was specifically targeted toward Harlequin Love Inspired. By October it finaled and in mid-December, it had not only won first place in the inspy category, but finalist judge/Love Inspired Senior Editor Melissa Endlich wanted to see a full “right away, please!” With my Seeker sisters cheering me on, I frantically finished writing the book (Pam and Sandra even dived in to critique it for me). I sent it “priority” mail on January 13 and 9 days later I got an email from Melissa asking what the best time would be for her to contact me about “some good news.” Believe me, I was bouncing off the walls and thanking God when the NEXT MORNING, Friday, January 23, 2009, at 7:25 a.m. I got the long-awaited “Call!” Unbelievably, in October of that same year my first published book, “Dreaming of Home” was on store shelves!"
Ruth Logan Herne sailed off Unpublished Island in 2009. You can find her books here.
" The Call came on June 7, 2009.... But I wasn't home! I was in New Jersey, babysitting a beautiful granddaughter while my daughter and son-in-law flew to Ethiopia to bring home her little brother... Two amazing reasons to celebrate. But this hadn't been an easy year... we'd lost a grandson in utero in January and it broke my heart... It was so hard to write sweet words while my daughter and son-in-law were grief-stricken. They'd moved here in the fall and had been looking for work, and then... the baby we expected in spring was gone. Just like that. In February two wonderful editors contacted me, one from Toronto, one from New York... they made it clear that they wanted to work with me and my daughter grabbed my hands and said "You've been doing this for eight years, waiting for this moment. Get to work. This is your chance. We'll be fine. I promise".
I went through all the steps. I sent manuscripts, and I waited. Beth and Jon both got jobs that week, and that was a symbol of hope. We rode the roller coaster of emotions daily. They found a house. We got them moved. Spring blossomed all around us, despite our sore hearts. And then June rolled around... and The Call. Melissa Endlich, leaving a voice message on my phone, a voice message I have NEVER ERASED because that call changed everything. She jump-started my career, and I've been pinching myself ever since. And Beth and Jon are now the parents of four little ones here on earth... and baby Joseph, in heaven. The darkness of that winter blossomed into this beautiful time in our lives, and we are forever grateful.
2009 is a big year! Cara Lynn James was a Golden Heart finalist!
Cara Lynn James left the island July 10, 2009! Here is her call story from the archives.
You can find Cara Lynn James books here.
Photo: Missy and Cara at the RWA gala in 2009.
Sandra Leesmith literally kayaked off the island on July 23rd, 2009. You can find all of Sandra Leesmith books here.
And here is her call story from the archives!
In 2009 Julie Lessman was a Carol Award winner in the Best First Book category with A Passion Most Pure.
In 2009 Mary Connealy was a finalist in FOUR categories of the ACFW Carol Awards with Montana Rose, Buffalo Gal, Clueless Cowboy, Of Mice and Murder!
Photo Circa 2009: Mary Connealy & agent Natasha Kern.
Mary was also a Christy Award Finalist in 2009 with Calico Canyon.
In 2009 Janet Dean was a Carol Award finalist with Courting Miss Adelaide.
In 2009 Missy Tippens was a Carol Award finalist with Her Unlikely Family.
In 2009 Debby Giusti was a Carol Award finalist with Countdown to Death.
Agent Natasha Kern and Myra Johnson.
|Ruth Logan Herne & Missy Tippens. |
|Sandra Leesmith & Carla Stewart|
January 2010, Tina Radcliffe sold to Love Inspired. You can find Tina Radcliffe books here.
Tina shares her call story in this archived post!
Audra Harders sold to Love Inspired in January of 2010 also! You can find Audra Harders books here.
Enjoy Audra's archived call story post here.
Mary Connealy won a Carol Award in 2010 for Cowboy Christmas.
In 2010 Julie Lessman was a Carol Award Finalist with A Passion Denied.
In 2010 Myra Johnson was a Carol Award Finalist with Autumn Rains.
Glynna Kaye was an ACFW Carol Finalist in 2010 with Dreaming of Home.
In 2010 Pam Hillman won the Genesis. Here she is with her agent Steve Laube.
Cara Lynn James & Glynna Kaye.
Melanie Dickerson & Mary Connealy.
Janet Dean, Missy Tippens, Ruth Logan Herne, & Debby Giusti.
Debby Giusti, Missy Tippens, Michael Hauge, and Janet Dean.
In 2011 Ruth Logan Herne was a Carol Award finalist with Winter's End.
Photo: Circa 2011 ACFW Gala with Carol Award finalists. Linda Goodnight, Senior Editor Melissa Endlich (back) Irene Hannon and Ruth Logan Herne.
Also in 2011, Mary Connealy was an RWA Rita Award Finalist with Doctor in Petticoats, and an ACFW Carol Award finalist with The Husband Tree.
In 2011 Pam Hillman was a Golden Heart finalist. Not only that but that year she became part of The Golden Network's Hall of Gold - for chapter members who have finaled in the Golden Heart contest three or more times. She also finaled in the Golden Heart in 2001 and double finaled in 2004, when she took home the award.
|Mary Connealy and Audra Harders|
More ACFW 2011
|Ruth Logan Herne & Cara Lynn James|
|Debby, former Executive Editor, Love Inspired, Joan Marlow Golan & Janet Dean|
|Mary Connealy, Pepper Basham, Myra Johnson, Janet Dean & Cara Lynn James|
|Ruth Logan Herne, Audra Harders, Cheryl St. John & Sherri Shackelford
Tina Radcliffe was a 2012 Carol Award finalist with Oklahoma Reunion.
|Tina, Erica Vetsch, Mary Connealy|
Missy, Mary, Tina, Debby, Janet Audra and Myra.
Nora Roberts, Debby Giusti, Debbie Kaufman
Myra, Missy, Debby, Melanie Dickerson, Audra Harders, Debby Giusti, & Mary Connealy.
Myra Johnson was a 2013 Carol Award finalist with A Horseman's Hope.
Myra, Debby, James Scott Bell, Missy and Janet.
Back row, Mary, Myra, Missy, Janet, Debby. Front row, Pam & Julie.
Missy Tippens was a 2013 RITA Award finalist with A House Full of Hope.
2013 RITA Finalist Missy Tippens and LI author Janet Dean all glamed up at the HQ pre-party for RITA finalists.
Find more RWA 2013 pictures here and here.
Tina Radcliffe was a 2014 Carol Award winner with Mending the Doctor's Heart.
Tina Radcliffe, Associate Editor Shana Asaro, Editor Emily Rodmell.
Genre Dinner with Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, and Debbie Giusti.
Genre Dinner with Glynna Kaye & Tina Radcliffe.
Glynna Kaye, Janet Dean, Mary Connealy, Pam Hillman, Debby Giusti & Julie Lessman.
Find ACFW 2015 Pictures here.
Find RWA 2015 Pictures here & here.
Missy Tippens was a 2016 Carol Award finalist with The Doctor's Second Chance.
Find RWA 2016 photos here.
Find ACFW 2016 photos here.
Once a year we allow ourselves a little pat on the back for a job well done. This is that once a year. We have been privileged -thanks to God- to leave the island, to help others off the island, to kick a few off the island, and to be here with you. And we'll keep doing what we do as long as He says so.
Thank you, Seekerville for celebrating with us!
Leave a comment today and we'll pick two winners for a Seekerville author E-book of choice as available on Amazon. Winners announced tomorrow in the Weekend Edition.
We're giving away a Kindle Fire or Amazon $50 Gift Card every Sunday in October, and at the end of the party, all names go in the birthday hat for an Apple iPad mini.
with guest Misty M. Beller.
I’m so excited to celebrate nine years with y’all! As you paddle furiously from unpubbed island to the shores of success, one of the important supplies you’ll need is a bit of marketing savvy to help make the most of your experiences in Published Land. I’m in the midst of releasing a new book myself, so this topic has been forefront in my mind! (If you’d like to check it out, A Pony Express Romance is available for pre-order and scheduled to release Dec. 27, 2016).
To grow those skills (and in keeping with the theme of “9”), let’s talk about nine critical steps to successfully marketing your new release!
Note: Sometimes marketing can be a bit overwhelming, so if that’s the raft you’re rowing, I’m going to make it easier for you. I’ll put an asterisk beside the steps that are absolutely critical. The others you can pick and choose what you want to do.
So let’s get started!
1. Announce the Book to Your Email List*:
When these folks signed up for your email list, you probably promised they would be the first to know about new releases, so keep that promise! Announce the new release to your email list first. If your book is available for pre-order, you’ll want to send a total of three emails to your list: one when the pre-order starts, another on release day, and the third a couple weeks after release. In this last email, thank them for the purchase, let them know you hope they enjoy the story and ask them to leave a review. Here is a blog post where I cover these emails in more detail.
2. Post the Book*:
We’re not talking social media yet. In step two, you want to make sure that book is added on all the websites where readers are looking. Add the book cover, blurb, and buy links to your author website. Make sure you have an Amazon Author Page and your new book is linked to it (no, this doesn’t happen automatically). The same with Bookbub. (You do have a Bookbub Author Page, right?) Add the book to Goodreads, ACFW’s Fiction Finder, etc. And if you have any indie published books, make sure you add links to the new book in the back matter of your existing inventory.
3. Prep your Launch Team*:
Send advance reader copies to them a couple months before release, if possible. I also like to send out the links where they should post reviews as soon as those are live. You can send out the Goodreads link right away, then send out the other links when the review option is live (usually on release day).
4. Announce on Social Media*:
Now is the time to share with the world! Make sure you include the buy links so people can get in on the fun.
5. Schedule Blog Tour:
If you plan to do interviews or guests posts on blogs, you’ll want to schedule these several months in advance. Guest blogging can be time-consuming, so make sure you choose blogs geared toward your target reader.
6. Submit for Critical Reviews:
This is another step that needs to begin early, often four to six months before release. If you’re traditionally published, your publisher will likely handle this piece for you. However, indies get to do the legwork on their own. Some of the bigger review sites include Booklife, RT Reviews, and Kirkus Reviews.
7. Schedule Paid Ads:
Again, if you’re traditionally published, you’ll want to discuss this with the publisher’s marketing team to make sure you’re clear about what they’re doing and what they’re willing to pay for. My favorite paid ads for pre-orders are Facebook Ads. After release, I submit for a feature with EreaderNewsToday.com as soon as the book has ten reviews. Then when the book hits 25 reviews or more, I start requesting a feature with Bookbub.com. There are lots of other ad sites out there—some more effective than others—but these are my personal favorites.
8. Schedule any Appearances or Parties:
If you plan to host a release party, either in person or on social media, or book signings, now’s the time to get them lined up!
9. Document Each Step and the Results*:
Even if you think there’s no way you could possibly forget the details of this launch, I promise you will! Create a document (in Excel, Word, a spiral-bound notebook—anything!) and write down EVERYTHING you did to market this new release. Then record the results of each activity. What step had a lot of impact, either in book sales or recognition? What was a waste of time or money? What do you wish you’d done differently? Record it all! This is called a post-mortem and will be so helpful to you next time!
Although the marketing possibilities are endless, these are the core focus areas. And as you gain experience releasing new books, you’ll find some of these bring you more value than others. So let’s hear from you! What are your favorite ways to market a new book release? And readers, how do you typically find out about new releases from favorite or new authors?
Join the conversation for a chance to win the first three books in my Mountain Dreams Series. (Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.)
I’m giving these away so you don’t have to wait until the end of December for my new release, A Pony Express Romance, but you can take a peek at it here!
Additionally, I have a free Book Launch Marketing Checklist that you can download here.
Misty M. Beller writes Christian historical romance and is the author of the Mountain Dreams Series and the Texas Rancher Trilogy.
She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Misty has worked over a decade in the corporate world, focusing her efforts in project management, business leadership, and marketing, and now loves to apply those same skills in her writing life. spends treasured days with her husband and two daughters. In the midst of it all, her husband and daughters keep her both grounded and crazy.
Misty loves to connect through her website, marketing blog for authors, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
After growing up as an orphan, Josiah English wants nothing more than to have his own ranch and raise Arabian horses. Riding for the Pony Express seems like the ticket to his dream. And when he meets the stationmaster’s beautiful sister, it seems he may be within reach of the happy life he craves.
Mara Reid is thrilled to finally meet the man of her dreams, and the fact that they both want to raise horses in the Sweetwater River valley seems like confirmation straight from God.
But when the Express shuts down and Mara's family home is in peril, the danger looming over Mara's life may not be half as destructive as that threatening her heart.
with guest, literary agent Amanda Leuck.
It was serendipity when Seekerville asked me to write a post, then suggested writing nine tips for querying an agent to go with October’s theme of nine for Seekerville’s 9th birthday! It just so happens that in our office, I’m the one most often found digging through the slush pile, and I have often wished I could give the writers there a few tips.
We get on average a thousand queries a month. I had to learn very quickly what to delete right away, and what was worth reading. So here is a list of tips to help make sure your query gets a fair read, and a shot at catching an agent’s attention.
Number 1 – Do Your Research
This is probably the most important thing you can do before querying. You wouldn’t hand over cash for a car without knowing if you were getting a Yugo or a Lexus, so don’t blindly query agents before making sure they represent what you write and can sell it.
The Internet is a great tool for discovering what an agent likes, the types of books she represents, and the agency’s SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Submission guidelines are different for each agency, and it’s important that you follow them if you don’t want your query deleted.
At Spencerhill Associates, we ask for the query in the body of the email, and a detailed synopsis and first three chapters attached separately as word documents. If I open an email that is blank with attachments, it’s automatically sent to the trash. Do I worry that I may be deleting the next GONE WITH THE WIND? Yes. But more likely, a writer who didn’t take the time to read our guidelines, didn’t take the time to research our agency or make sure his manuscript was ready for professional review. Following the guidelines tells an agent you are serious about her and your work.
Other authors are also a great resource when researching agents. Who do you know that has representation? Are they happy with their agent? Does that agent represent the types of books that you write? Are they accepting new clients? Knowing those answers will help you narrow the list of who you want to query and who may not be a good fit for you and your work.
2 - Spell Check
This seems like a no-brainer, but please make sure the spelling and grammar in your query and writing sample are correct. I have a terrible habit of leaving off letters and changing verb tense when I type. And don’t get me started on autocorrect. This has led me to re-read every email I send at least three or four times. Make sure you check, double check, and have a friend check, before you hit send. When there are errors, it’s like showing up to a wedding in sweatpants. It says you don’t care.
3 - Never Mass Mail Agents
It is understandable that you want to get your work in front of as many agents as possible. But, you want to make sure your work is going to the right agents. Don’t send us all the same email at the same time. When I see more email addresses in the address bar than I see stars in the sky, I can tell that writer didn’t do her research, and it looks unprofessional.
4 - Get the Name Right
Make sure you are addressing your query to a specific agent, and make sure you have the name right. If I had a dime for every time I opened a query addressed to someone at a different agency, I would probably have $78. Still, that’s around 780 queries a year that don’t get read because the senders never bothered to check who they were emailing.
5 - Never Hire Someone Else to Query for You
This is a waste of money, and never works. Think about it, if an author can’t write her own query, why would an agent think she could write her own book? Services like this prey on enthusiastic new authors, but they get you no closer to a call back or request for a full.
6 - Sell Yourself, But Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Never start a query with, “Although I have no writing credits to my name…” or “This is the first time I’ve attempted to write a book.” Even if this is true, it’s in your best interest not to start your letter that way. Let an agent know about what professional writing organization you belong to, such as RWA, ACFW, or SCBWI instead. And if you’ve won or placed in any contests, please let us know that too.
7 - Sell Yourself, But Don’t Over Sell
I can pretty much guarantee that an author hasn’t read an awful lot when he sends me, “This completely original manuscript is like no other book, and like nothing you’ve read before.” How would someone know that? There are millions of books in circulation in bookstores and libraries and online. It has to be similar to something – and that is something that’s helpful for me to know. And please don’t use gimmicky fonts or colors. Bright colors and comic sans get my eyes to cross, not my undivided attention.
8 - Format
This is what I like to see, and should work for most queries.
First sentence should hook me into your story. Word count and genre is something I’d like to know.
One to three paragraphs summarizing the story (like jacket copy).
Then give a short bio including your writing credits.
Contact and website info
9 - Don’t Give Up
No doesn’t mean never, it just means not right now. Keep writing. Keep improving. Keep querying. Remember agents need authors just as much, if not more, than authors need them.
I’d love to hear what has worked for you. Was there something you did that got multiple agents interested? Do you have questions about protocol? Did I forget something important? Let me know!
Leave a comment today to get your name entered for an Amazon gift card giveaway in honor of Amanda's visit. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!
Amanda Leuck is an agent with Spencerhill Associates. She lives in sunny Florida with her family. When she’s not reading and working hard for her authors, she likes to knit toys, because it’s too hot for sweaters. Learn more about Spencerhill Associates at www.spencerhillassociates.com and find Amanda on Twitter @mandileone.
Happy Birthday, Seekerville!
My first book was released in 2007, the year this blog went live. After looking back over those nine years, I came up with nine steps that took me from fear to freedom.
Pray. In my opinion, everything should begin with prayer. We were a military family and moved every two to three years. Each time we changed locations, I prayed for the Lord to direct my steps to what he wanted for my life.
Make a decision to write.I had published a few articles when my children were young, but as they grew, I set aside my love for writing and volunteered heavily in their schools, in our church and within the military community in which we lived. All the while, the Lord gently reminded me about my heart’s desire. When we moved to Georgia, I realized I was running out of time and needed to try my hand at writing again.
Ignore the negatives. Early on, I purchased Julia Cameron’s book, THE ARTIST’S WAY. Cameron talks about the negative voice that lives within each of us. It’s the discourager who rears its ugly head all too frequently with caustic rhetoric, such as “Who do you think you are? You will never be a writer,” or “You’re stupid to expend so much energy on something in which you will never succeed,” or even, “Get real. You’re too dumb to write.”
I controlled the negative voice by following Cameron’s advice. She says to turn each negative into a positive and write it five time. When Mr. Negative whispers, “Who are you trying to fool? You’re not a writer,” I countered by writing and rewriting “I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer.”
Fiction mirrors life.The characters in our stories have baggage and so do most of us. Screenwriting consultant Michael Hauge, in his book, WRITING SCREENPLAYS THAT SELL, encourages writers to explore past wounds that shape the way their characters act. Characters must overcome or heal their brokenness before they can live fully in the present. My father was an excellent technical writer, and in my youth, he always corrected my creative attempts, perhaps a bit overzealously. Growing into adulthood, I never felt my writing measured up to his standards. Realizing that even my dad would have struggled to create a full-length work of fiction freed me to move forward on my writing journey.
Put God in control. Soon after receiving “The Call,” I penned “The Writer’s Prayer.” The Lord provided the words, and I was merely the scribe. As many of you know, I give the prayer away at conferences and in mailings, and so many authors have told me how meaningful the prayer has been in their own lives. “The Writer’s Prayer” sits next to my computer and always helps me focus as I start to write. It also reminds me that the Lord is in charge of my career.
We’re not alone.While working on an especially tight deadline in the wee hours of the night, I was overcome with fear that creating the next story depended totally on me. Thankfully, I was able to power through that fear and complete the manuscript on time. The truth is that authors have the support and expertise of their editors, copy editors and marketing and art departments. That entire team is working together to make the story the best it can be.
It’s common knowledge that writing is a solitary profession. Whether published or pre-pubbed, writers need to surround themselves with writing friends, critique partners and blog communities, like Seekerville, for support, affirmation and encouragement.
Analyze the process. Once we have a few books under our belts, we might see a pattern in the way we write. By understanding our process, we can take comfort, knowing we have faced similar doubts before and have gone on to accomplish our goals. My husband and children remind me that with each book I go through the this-is-the-worst-thing-I’ve-ever-written phase, the this-story-will-never-work phase, the I-should-just give-up phase, and how-can-I-call-myself-a-writer phase. Eventually, the story is completed, submitted and, with the help of my wonderful editor, reaches publication.
No ticking time bombs.Our stories have ticking time bombs, but that’s not what we need in life. Instead, we need to set achievable goals and give ourselves adequate time to complete our projects, to learn new craft techniques and to write our books or get our stories ready for submission. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was a writing career.
God’s timing is always perfect. Two years ago, I meditated on the idea of God’s perfect time and realized He always provided the wherewithal for me to write my stories and make my deadlines. That realization brought a sense of security. Now even when I’m short on time or when I’ve overextended my schedule, I trust that the Lord will provide enough time—His perfect time—for me to complete the work.
|The photos were taken on my recent trip to Montreal.|
What steps have you taken to overcome fear and achieve your goals? Leave a comment to be entered in one of two drawings for a copy of my latest release, PLAIN TRUTH, a copy of “The Writer’s Prayer,” a writing journal and a $9 Starbuck’s Gift Card.
In honor of Seekerville’s birthday and in keeping with the suspense genre, I've baked nine Death By Chocolate cakes for us to enjoy. The coffee’s hot. Tea is also available. Pour a cup of your favorite brew, and let’s talk about moving from fear to freedom!
Wishing you abundant blessings,
When widowed doctor Ella Jacobsen is attacked and left for dead in her childrens’ clinic, the peace she’s found in Georgia’s Amish country is shattered. Someone is after something in her clinic and wants her out of the way...but what are they looking for? Ella knows only that her life is in the hands of army special agent Zach Swain. Zach can’t resist the vulnerable but headstrong Ella, who stares down danger to care for the people she loves. With one look, the loner soldier goes from investigator to protector. To save Ella, he must uncover the secrets that swirl around the idyllic community. And he needs to do it fast, because Ella is running out of time.
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