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Posts Tagged ‘query letters’

Slushpile Hell

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Last week, I stumbled across one of my new favorite blogs:  SlushPile Hell.

The entries are generally short, but do an excellent (and often humorous) job of pointing out mistakes that writers are making when they query.  Any writer who’s working on a query letter should read through to help avoid typical errors.

From the agent’s perspective, what’s the most common error?  Based on what I’ve read, it’s the use of rhetorical questions.

Other things to avoid:

  • Being overly familiar (don’t call the agent “dear”, “honey”, or any other nickname)
  • Creeping out the agent
  • Thinking too highly of yourself
  • Thinking too low of yourself
  • Mentioning anything outside the scope of the query (brief intro to the author is okay)

Don’t make the same mistakes.  Read SlushPile Hell or (your query will) die!

Why Should Writers be Social?

Monday, March 8th, 2010

If you haven’t already joined, you may wonder why a writer would be interested in joining something like Twitter, Qwisk, or Facebook.  You also might wonder why a writer would want to start a blog.

In today’s socially networked world, writers have far more opportunities to connect with their target audience.  Before we talk about opportunities for connecting with their audience, let’s first focus on why writers should be social.

We will talk about specific opportunities to connect in next Monday’s blog entry.  Today’s entry is focused on why a writer would want to actively market themselves through social networking.

1.  Let your fans know when you’ve released something new

For those who enjoy the things you write, let them know when there’s something new to read.  Leveraging social networks is a great way to increase membership and make it easy for your fans to let others know about your work.

2.  Help your fans get to know you

Ever since writers began writing, people have wanted to know more about the people who have made them care about carefully crafted characters, scenic settings, and perfectly executed plots.  Help your fans get to know you as a person, and as they care more about you, they’ll be more likely to be the first in line for your next book or article.

3.  Offer help to your fans

I’m not saying you need to offer to mentor your fans through writing their books (this takes a lot of time and dedication), but you can pass along interesting articles that you find helpful.  Besides the good feeling that helping others brings, you also build a stronger fan base by showing that you’re not solely trying to promote your own work.

4.  For new authors, this is a good way to start your fan base

If you’re a new author, you may not have a large following yet.  However, by using a social network to show off small samples of your writing and things you find interesting, you may be able to help your first book be more successful.

5.  Using a service like Twitter helps you become a better writer

Twitter limits each message to 140 characters.  This forces you to become more concise when writing your messages.  You quickly learn to take out extraneous words to make your message simpler.

6.  Agents and publishers like socially connected authors

There are two ways to look at this.   First, you get to hear about interesting ideas and articles that publishers are talking about, and even potentially get to use this information in a future query letter.  Mentioning something from an agent’s Twitter feed or blog is simple, free, and is likely to catch their attention.  As an author, take any advantage you can to avoid the slush pile.

Second, you get to show publishers and agents that you already have a base of followers who are likely to be interested in purchasing something you’ve written.  No one would expect that everyone who follows a particular author will purchase something they’ve written, but a percentage of your followers will.

Convinced that you should also focus on social networking?

Next week’s blog entry will focus on opportunities for writers to become better at social networking, and also highlight some of the authors who have been best at marketing themselves socially.  Check back soon!

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