August 20, 2019

To Get a Literary Agent, Make Your Query Letter–and Manuscript–Lean

Mike Wells is an American bestselling thriller and suspense author who also teaches creative writing at Oxford University. He is known for fast-paced, ‘unputdownable’ novels. His 5 Steps to Landing a Good Literary Agent is a helpful read. I want to focus on a side comment he makes: The main problem most writers have when […]

Author Body-Language Cheat Sheet and the Dangers of Cliches

Carol Kaufman wrote The Writer’s Guide to Psychology . Her purpose? To help authors better communicate to readers behaviors that can suggest, say, agitation without telling readers this. She offers a free “Body Language Cheat Sheet,” which is helpful, especially in getting an author’s mind to get just the right clues. Yet, I feel compelled […]

6 Notes about the Book Proposal that Got Lena Dunham a $3.7 Million Deal

Lena Dunham’s Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” garnered a $3.7 million book deal from Random House. Download the 66-page proposal. Here are some of the things I see. 1. I usually recommend that the entire proposal be in Times New Roman, 12-point. Lena has gotten into character […]

Writing a Bare Bones Synopsis

Beth Anderson has a helpful technique for writing a bare bones synopsis. Coming to this task, Beth recommends that you have in hand your character’s motivations, emotional unresolved issues, back story, and so on–all part of some internal conflict. You need to know what your main characters want and how they plan to get it. […]

Fiction Synopsis Examples: How to Write Your Book Proposal

Chuck Sambuchino at Writer’s Digest recently posted a summary of his synopsis examples for fiction titles. What is most helpful is the range of genres included and Sambuchino’s expressed self-awareness in providing examples. My favorite synopsis (although not my favorite movie in the bunch) is “The Ides of March,” which Sambuchino calls a character-driven thriller. […]

Book Query, Synopsis, Manuscript Partial–Which Isn’t Working?

Recently an author approached, somewhat frustrated. He has been sending out his query and synopsis to literary agents. Some have requested 5 pages, 10 pages, or 50 pages. He has also received many personal emails of encouragement from these agents–to keep searching for that right agent. Sound familiar? If you are in this situation as […]

Literary Agent and Book Editor Turn Offs

Christina Parisi has an excellent blog on her top 10 turn-offs for book editors reading your proposal. She┬áis an Executive Editor at AMACOM Books and the Director of AMA Self-Studies and acquires books in management, leadership, training, HR, and general business so she probably has in mind nonfiction books. Yet, I am adding literary agents […]

Focus Your Book Proposal with 3 Questions

Have you ever heard (or said), “I know who my readership is, but I am not quite clear on what I want to say to them?” If you are at the planning or proposal stages, and if this is your sentiment, then you may need to do more research on your readership. Working on your […]

Mike Well’s Secret Formula for Book Synopsis

  Mike Wells is an American who teaches creative writing at Oxford–and who happens to be a best-selling thriller and suspense author. Readers talk about his fast-paced, “unputdownable” novels. Every story contains the same five elements. Identify these in their most undeluded, potent forms, and (Mike claims) you will draft a beginning, two-sentence synopsis of […]