August 10, 2020-Do you know what a query letter is and what purpose it serves for a publisher? If not, you’re missing some important information! Publishers expect several things when an author submits their manuscript for consideration, and one of those items is a query letter.
By definition, a query letter is what introduces you and your work to a publisher. Its primary purpose is to get the publisher interested in your book so that they want to read more! Well written query letters whet the publisher’s appetite and pique our interest, poorly written ones make us recycle your query and move on to the next one.
There are four essential parts to a query letter:
1) Title, word count, genre, and category-Including a working title is fine as well as where you would place your book in the market. The rest is self-explanatory for this first step.
2) Brief description of your story and the HOOK-The hook is what gets us hooked on your story! What does your character want? What will they do to get it? And who is preventing them from getting it? Remember to include the ending of your book. We don’t like to be kept guessing.
3) A bit about yourself-Credentials, awards, classes, continuing education etc. And why you wrote the book that you’re sending to us and any other relevant information.
4) Thank you and a closing line-Thanks for reading my manuscript. I hope to hear from you soon. Nice and clean and simple.
Q: “Lacey, I’m looking into taking some writing classes to improve my technique, I’m overwhelmed with how many there are and I’m starting to wonder, are they worth the cost?”
A: I love this question! Taking any type of class to improve yourself is always worth the investment. If you’re considering a career in writing, it’s especially important to hone your skills so that you can be successful in whatever genre of writing you choose. Be sure to take classes from credible sources! If someone in your local community is teaching a course on writing children’s books, make sure that they’ve written a few children’s books of their own that have been published. Never take advice from someone who hasn’t walked the walk. Good courses to consider are from Writer’s Digest, your local universities, and colleges (as long as the teacher’s have a proven track record and have been published). Make the investment in yourself and for your future! X LLB
January 11, 2019– Man, there are some pretty cool names out there. I remember the first time that I thought, “Whoa, that’s a cool name that totally suits his profession!” The gentleman I’m talking about is a real person named Harvey Karver. Want to know his real-life profession? Butcher. No joke. How perfect is that?
Naming your characters properly is as essential as picking an excellent title for your book, and really, they do the same thing; they let your reader know subtle information about the book or the person, both if you’re a pro. So, what do I mean when I say you’d better pick a great name? Here are three simple tips!
Get your era right. You’re not going to find a Chase, or a Stormi, or a Madison in a period piece or historical fiction novel. Know the names that were popular in the era that you’re writing about or risk your credibility as an author and your entire career for that matter.
Don’t do trends. See the names above? Chase, Stormi, Rayne, and Colt are names that sound like they’re ripped from the Kardashian’s Baby Naming Handbook. These names are unique enough but tend to be overdone in romantic fiction especially. Plus, anytime that you use a trendy name, you take a chance of aging your book too soon.
Say them out loud. Does your character’s name sound right? Does it sound like it belongs in the genre you’re writing? Does it have a nice ring to it? Does it work with your character’s profession and personality? If not, choose something different. There are thousands of names out there and if you’re not stuck on yours, keep trying until you find something that you love and that you believe. Because if you don’t believe it or like it, chances are that your reader won’t either! There is name-generating software available on the web. Do a quick Google search for fictional character names or name generator.
Oh, and one more important piece of advice; if there’s any possibility that you’ve named your fictional character after someone in real life, be sure to put in a disclaimer at the beginning of your book in order to keep from getting sued…especially if that person is still living!
January 9, 2018- We haven’t done one of these for a long time and we’re way overdue to have some fun; I love photo writing prompts! They certainly help me break out of writing ruts when the ideas just aren’t flowing. The picture prompt below has unlimited opportunities to write about; this photo can break into multiple genres. Your imagination is the only limit! Have fun with this and happy writing. X LLB
December 17, 2018– You’ve seen it on bookshelves across the country; James Patterson and Bill Clinton, Stephen and Owen King, and soon enough, yours truly with an author I have yet to introduce you to. (I’ll talk about this next year because I know how you guys love waiting for surprises;)
Co-authoring is on the rise so let’s talk about how to do it right because there is a whole pile of ways to do it wrong! Here are some ways to destroy your chances of collaborating successfully and how to ruin your working relationship with the author you’ve chosen to pair up with.
Moving too fast. Writing with someone is essentially like getting married; it’s a terrible idea to get engaged on the first date and let’s face it, people who do this aren’t likely to last. Same goes for collaborating with another author; read their stuff, get to know their style and strengths, and allow them the time to do the same for you. Also, be sure to decide if the person you want to work with is a good fit for your personality; you guys will be spending a lot of time together and the last thing you need are major personality clashes. That won’t work for anyone.
Not planning. Planning is quite literally the thing that either supports or inhibits your success while writing with someone else. If you don’t have a plan, you’re screwed. I’m a massive fan of outlines, and I use them always, that’s why I recommend 3 frameworks when collaborating: A) General outline of the book from start to finish, B) An overview of what author number 1 is working on C) An overview for what author number 2 is working on. Your outlines should include deadlines because if they don’t, what’s the point? We both know it will never get finished. This outline had better include what the marketing expectations are for both parties once the book is published or you’re going to have a killer headache sorting things out at the end of it!
Lack of communication. Not clearly defining the expectation of both parties is a recipe for setting yourself on fire. You don’t want to burn, and you don’t want the other person to burn either, you guys are a team; decide how often you’re going to communicate and how the communication will be sent. Also, make perfectly clear who is responsible for what. Communication is key, and if you can’t communicate properly with the person you’re going to collaborate with, how the hell are you going to co-author with them?
No Genre. For the millionth time, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. If you don’t know WHAT you’re writing, HOW are you supposed to write it and market it? You can’t. Pick a genre and stick to it. The writing marketplace is structured by genre; where will you put your book on the shelf when it is finally finished if you don’t know which genre it falls into? Your book isn’t for everyone, and if it is, your book is for no one.
Collaborations on any type of work can be risky, but that shouldn’t deter you from creating fabulous art with your fellow writers. Just make sure you follow the above tips and work with someone who is as awesome as you are!
November 14, 2018– We read a lot of books around here at Pandamonium Publishing House, as we should because we are writers. I’m a firm believer that the more you read, the better you write. We like to read all types of books including books that aren’t always in our genre. I’m currently reading an interesting and pretty short book that’s non-fiction and it’s written by Admiral William H. McRaven (talk about a cool name) who is retired from the United States Navy. The book is called, Make Your Bed, Little things that can change your life…and maybe the world.
Admiral McRaven gave a commencement speech to the University of Texas students, which you can view on Youtube. His school of thinking is that if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have accomplished the first task of your day. He also believes that making your bed reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter and if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
This is my second time reading this book in a year. I read it at the beginning of the year and I’m re-reading it now. This book is fantastic because McRaven is right! I made my bed every single day except for four days over the past year and let me tell you, boy did it make a world of difference when I didn’t! When I neglected to make my bed, I went to bed restless, had a terrible sleep, couldn’t shut off my brain, and felt unsettled. That’s not to say that every day that I did make my bed was a great day, but the point was that no matter what life threw at me, I could come home, get into my perfectly made bed, and disappear from the world. Daily life requires structure and making your bed is the first step.
I hope that you’ll read this book as there are a lot of fantastic stories and lessons within. (My favourite chapter is number four, the sugar cookie story!)
October 15, 2018– Wow; This is a great infographic on how to pitch your novel or screenplay! As a traditional publisher, I cannot tell you how important it is to get your words on the page concisely and effectively, because publishers and movie makers expect this. It makes things easier for everyone and allows us to make a decision quickly and intelligently. Check out the info below from our friends at bang2write.com and keep this in mind the next time you pitch your work. Best of luck! X LLB
October 5, 2018– Ahhhhhh Fall; what a wonderful season! It’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up and read. Check out the fall reading challenge below, but feel free to substitute where you need to. Happy fall and happy reading!
September 21, 2018– I love picture prompts! Picture prompts are images that inspire you to write creatively; they’re useful for a couple of reasons:
They get you out of your comfort zone. More often than not, the image won’t match what genre you usually write in. Today’s picture prompt is especially true for me because I’m not a fantasy reader or writer.
They help you focus. Picture prompts force us to focus on an idea, and they don’t allow us to write randomly. They provide the bones for a story and allow us to branch out from there. They give us a bit of structure to get started.
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