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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

"Don't Hire Me": 2 Cautions

Before I try to dissuade you from hiring me, I'll tell you what I do for clients seeking to publish a book:

  • If you're seeking a contract with a traditional publisher, I review your book proposal, and coach you on how to strengthen it.
  • If you're planning to self-publish, I offer a developmental edit of your book, which is the first of several edits you'll need on the road to publication.

But I don't want you to hire me to do either of those things without counting the cost.

1. Traditional publishing

Authors are submitting proposals with compelling ideas and beautifully written prose, but if he/she doesn't have a "platform" to help a publisher sell that book, publishers often have to say "no."

What that means, practically, is that you need to be reaching readers right now, in any variety of ways: blogging, speaking, social media, publishing articles, etc. (Check out Michael Hyatt's book Platform for ideas about building yours.)

Sometimes a smaller publisher can take a chance on an author with a smaller platform, if they really believe in what you're writing, but those opps are few and far between.

2. Self-Publishing

Front end: I want you to know that self-publishing requires a sizeable investment of money for a developmental edit, line edit, proofreaders, cover design, interior design, printing, etc.

Back end: When you choose to self-publish, you become responsible for selling every single book. Don't choose this path without having a clear plan about how you'll sell those books.

If you have any questions, visit to send me a message. I am FOR you.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Nailing the Author Marketing Section of Your Book Proposal

The author marketing section of a book proposal is where you demonstrate to an agent or publisher that you will hustle to sell books.

And it's really important.

Keep reading and you'll get to see an awesome example of an excellent author marketing section.

For starters, here are a few tips:

1. Demonstrate What You Will Do

Don't tell a publisher what you're willing to do to promote your book. Don't assure them that you'll go on the 20-city book tour that they'll plan and fund. Cuz that ain't happening. Publishers want to see what kinds of promotional strategies you will create and implement. Give them names of 10 bloggers who've already agreed to let you guest-blog when your book releases. Tell them the name of the TV anchorman from your church who's promised to interview you on air. List the names of the 5 women's conferences where you've already been invited to speak 18 months from now.

2. Demonstrate What You Are Doing

Even better than showing a publisher what you will do is showing them what you're already doing! Don't promise a publisher that you'll grow your mailing list or social media followers. Instead, show that publisher that your numbers have increased by 30% in the last month or that you've hired a publicist who's growing your list. 

3. Be Creative

You may not have access to Oprah to help you promote this book, but with some creativity, you can come up with some innovative strategies to prove to a publisher that you're going to partner with them to sell a lot of books. Do some research online. Buy a book like Michael Hyatt's Platform. Brainstorm with your tribe. What are the networks and resources to which you already have access that you can leverage to sell books?

A few years ago, an author with whom I work wrote a killer author marketing section of a book proposal, and he gave me permission to share it with you here. You're welcome. Even though he has access to some unique networks, I'm convinced that if you put in the effort, you can also craft an impressive author marketing section in your own proposal.

Find this killer author marketing section on my page of resources for authors!

Best of luck you as you write a winning proposal!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

1 Great Way to Build Your Subscriber List

A lot of writers are trying to figure out the best way to increase followers, gather a tribe, build an email list, etc. So when I see something that's working, I want to share it with you!

The savvy Jen Wise shared this post with our writers group this morning--about a smart way to build your email subscriber list--and I think it's so useful that I asked her permission to share it with you!

You're welcome.

Jen writes,

"This is a new resource I'm giving away--I wanted to share because there's always a lot of discussion about building engagement and followers and email lists.

She continues,

"The easiest way for me to build my email list has always been by creating free resources/devotionals/journals. I never charge for them, because the email list is way more valuable than the small amount of money I cold make on each journal. So, I throw them all into a resource library which requires an email address to enter.

Each time I create a new resource it is with the expressed purpose of gaining new email subscribers, and also retaining the ones I have. (And, of course, I just enjoy creating them.) It's worked really well for me. These are the posts I push the absolute hardest on social media and will always pony up the money to promote.

Sharing this, as some of you are trying to build email lists, and this has been absolutely essential for me in the process--and the most effective."

Smart, right?

It's possible that this approach isn't one that has your name on it, but I love that it's working for Jen!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Q & A: "Do I need a literary agent to sell my book?"

Q: Do I need a literary agent to sell my book?

A:  In my experience, publishers take submissions from agents more seriously because they know the writer/project has already been vetted. Agents don't want to ruin their rep with publishers by sending them bad stuff. (That’s pretty sophisticated industry insider lingo: “bad stuff.” Now you know.)

Publishers and literary agents are looking for exactly the same thing: a project with a unique slant—that meets a readers’ felt need—from a talented author who’s reaching audiences and building her/his platform.

Possible exceptions—that might preclude you needing an agent in order to sell your book—include but are not limited to:

1.    A publisher has contacted you because they’re interested in you or your work. (They may have read your article at Christianity Today that went viral or seen you as a featured guest on Good Morning America.)

2.    A person of influence—possibly a best-selling author or CEO of an international organization—introduces you, enthusiastically, to the publisher, offering her/his unflagging support to promote your work.

3.    You are affiliated with a reputable organization or institution that commits to purchase 50,000 books as gifts for their donors.

4.    A smaller publisher is willing to represent you as a new author if an editor there connects with you and what you’re about. It never hurts to have the support of a reputable organization or institution.

Note: although these kinds of opps might lead to getting a book contract, it is always beneficial to have an agent as your advocate with a publisher.

Here are a few ways that agents serve publishers and benefit authors

·      On the front end: Agents ensure that your contract is fair and they can advocate to increase the value of your contract: advance monies, royalties, deadlines, free books, etc. (They’re not magicians, but they will go to bat for you.)

·      During the writing of the book: Agents are your advocate if you run into any personal or professional bumps during the process of writing the book.

·      On the back end: Agents communicate with the publisher if there are ever any additional questions or issues pertaining to your book.

If you're a Christian writer who is interested in finding an agent, explore agency’s websites to find the one that will be the best fit for you. Questions to ask as you peruse their sites:

·      Does the agency seem to represent only bestselling authors, or do they represent some newbies like me?

·      Does the selection of books the agency represents indicate that they’d champion a book like mine? (subject matter, theological perspective, etc.)

·      What types of books is this agency looking for right now? (Dig around the site, and the agency will often post the kinds of projects they do and don’t want to receive—because that information benefits them and you.)

Note: If an agent doesn’t accept poetry or sci-fi, do the agent and yourself a favor by not sending them your poetry or sci-fi. (Do not, under any circumstance, promise that yours is amazing and different and sure to be a bestseller.)

The best listing of literary agents I know is available for download at:

To write a killer cover letter to your dream agent, I highly recommend this little e-book: Writing Pitch, Query, and Cover Letters That Shine. It’s a gem not because I wrote it, but because It’s filled with tips from agents and publishers about what they do and do not want to see in pitch letters!

More questions? Leave them as comments below...

Friday, November 24, 2017

How Literary Agents and Publishers Think

This week I heard from a writer who's pitched to agents and publishers without success. And the query reminded me how important it is for writers to be able to get inside the head of these important gatekeepers. Here's what I want not-yet-published writers to know about how agents and publishers think...

When they're reading your proposal, the agent is thinking about what the publisher wants, and the publisher is thinking about what the reader wants. And the reader is thinking about...the reader. The BIG question you have to answer for agents/publishers is, "What's in it for the reader?" Whatever book you are writing HAS TO meet the felt need of the reader. Reader's don't buy books they "should" read, they buy books they "have to" read. Why is the book you're pitching a must-read?

Without knowing what book you've written, I will hazard a guess that an agent/publisher has seen this book before. Maybe 100 proposals for this book and 5 that made it to market--saying the exact thing you're saying, in a slightly different way. While that can sound jaded, that's their reality. So whatever message you want to communicate--ideally, in the words of Stephanie Smith, a "timeless truth"--must have a FRESH FRAME. Whether you're communicating that "God is gracious," or "You are loved," or "Kittens are God's gift to the world," the agent/publisher must read your proposal and say, "Hmmm...I haven't heard it quite that way before." Are you saying something in such a fresh way that the agent/publisher wants to know more?

The #1 rule of good writing is "show, don't tell." Your proposal needs to prove to agents/publishers that your project has FOUR THINGS: (1) a unique and compelling project, (2) a market of people who can't wait to buy this book, (3) a growing platform, and (4) mad writing skills. While I'd love to say that if they love your fresh idea, or if they think you're a great writer, they will take a chance and contract your book, I can't say that. They may WANT to, but to convince a publishing board to publish a book, they really need to see strength in all four areas. If you need to develop one or more of those areas, it might make sense to do that before pitching again. Does your proposal demonstrate that you are offering all four things a publisher needs to see?

The job of your book proposal is to convince the agent/publisher that your project meets the reader's need in a fresh and compelling way, and that you can sell books. To help writers do that, I've got a few free resources online...
1. An Author Inventory helps you mine and mention every asset you're bringing to the table.
2. An Annotated Book Proposal Template offers tips for each section of the proposal. (Not necessary to use this particular template, but do read the tips.)
3. The Book Proposal Checklist helps you review the first draft of your proposal, to make sure it's as strong as it can be.

Help agents and publishers say YES by offering them the strongest proposal you can!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Q & A: "I'm a writer. How do I build my platform?"

Most writers I know prefer to write over building their platforms But they also understand how critical platform is to securing a book contract and reaching readers. Karen Hardin, President of PriorityPR Group & Literary Agency, offers 4 wonderful tips to start building yours.

Q: Any tips for how a writer can be growing her platform?

It takes approximately one to two years to really get a solid foundation under a platform. Writers often wait until they finish their book to begin, but that is when they already need the platform as they are ready to self-publish it or present to a publisher. Unfortunately, with no platform, they have no audience.

Here are four important steps to begin:

1. Build Your Writing Resume

I usually instruct my authors to spend time while writing the book to build their writing resume. Choose 2-3 strong online magazines (by “strong” I mean has a good strong readership ideally of 100,000 or more) that fits the audience for their book and submit to them monthly. You may or may not receive payment. That is not the goal. The goal is to make that audience your audience. If you are published monthly in a magazine, then the readers become familiar with you and most will eventually gravitate over to your blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account to find out more about you.

2. Build a Database and Page Views

Work to build a database and page views for your blog or website. This is important to publishers and to us. If we write and no one reads it, then what’s the point. Building page views is all about posting and reposting in your primary social media forum so that you are found. For example, if you post in any area just once a week or once a month, then your readership isn’t really going to grow like you want. It’s a matter of putting out great content that THEY want and need on a regular basis.

3. Pursue Endorsements

Work on endorsements. These take months usually to obtain. You need at least one recognized name or recognized title to really sway publisher’s in your direction. Who do you know or who do you know that knows someone influential? Sit down and write out a list.

4. Make Friends and Help Each Other

Last, who do you know who has a much larger social media reach than you? I have friends in my corner who have Twitter followings of 100,000+. Sometimes they have reached out to me first to ask a question or help with something and via relationship we can begin to help each other. Other times I have sought out people who reach an audience that fits mine and tried to see if we can help each other.

What does that mean?

We each have gifts and talents and can use them to help each other. Is there a way you can supply something they need now, so that they may be willing to help you with something you need in the future? What do you have in your hand to offer? What is your skill set or gift? Think about who you can help and possibly they can also help you. Those are win/win scenarios.

This can really help when it comes time to launch your book or get a publisher’s attention.

Margot adds: Karen, this wisdom is golden. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Connect with Karen:
Karen Hardin
President of PriorityPR Group & Literary Agency
Over 25 year’s experience in the publishing industry

Friday, September 1, 2017

Q & A: "Does a writer need a large platform to get signed with an agency and get a book contract?"

I so appreciated this wisdom, on author platform, from Karen Hardin, President of PriorityPR Group & Literary Agency, that I wanted to make it available to writers, here. You're welcome.

Q: Does a writer have to have a large platform to get signed with an agency and get a book contract?

I really am looking for good writers who are willing to work hard to create a career. I am less and less willing to take on complete newbies who have absolutely no platform and want me to push it all uphill. I’ve done that, and can make it work, but at this stage in my life, I just don’t want or need to go there. I’m looking for good writers who have something interesting to say and are hard workers.

Q: So what about writers who don’t have large platforms?

I tell writers to be working on their platforms every day. Just a little bit daily helps. That’s really the key. 

One author I represent didn’t have much, but she had a couple of key contacts that we worked hard for a year before I would present her proposal. The result was she was a very hard worker and even though she had a small platform we got a contract that has now resulted in another contract. 

Karen says, "Small platforms that are growing work. No platforms don’t."

Margot adds: Love this, Karen. Thank you! Stay tuned for Karen's four steps to begin building platform. (Seriously, she's a smartie. Don't miss it.)

Connect with Karen:

Karen Hardin
President of PriorityPR Group & Literary Agency
Over 25 year’s experience in the publishing industry

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