10 Things Every Writer Should Be Doing

By Rachel Beck

They say you’re a writer if you write. But anyone chasing a book deal, who has put words on the page, enough to meet a goal word count, may constantly doubt those words are worth anything. Going from a writer to an author is the goal of anyone submitting their work to agents. As an agent, and former editor, I have received countless submissions and exchanged numerous email communications with aspiring authors, offering advice and as much helpful feedback and thoughts as I can.

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I constantly wonder how helpful I’m being, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to spell out ten simple things that I may not be able to communicate individually to each writer I interact with. If you want to go from a writer to an author, with a book deal and an editor and the whole she-bang, your chances of making that happen will be a lot greater if you can check off each of these things:

1.) Be able to define your genre: It’s okay if it’s a cross between two or three. It’s not okay if it’s a cross between four or five. Study the most recognized genres, so that you’re accurately classifying yours.

2.) Be able to summarize your story in a one-sentence elevator pitch: Also be able to summarize your story in a cohesive paragraph, that includes your word count, genre, major goals, motivations and conflicts of the main characters.

3.) Know your story’s WORD count, not PAGE count: Page counts mean nothing in the industry, because there are multiple book formats. Word counts are what matter. Also make sure your word count is appropriate for your genre. A 50,000 word women’s fiction novel is too short. A 120,000 word young adult novel is too long (unless it’s Harry Potter).

4.) Have two or three comp authors/titles for your work: Make sure you’ve read those authors/books and that the comparison is accurate. Pick authors whose books have sold well, such that you’d be comfortable with your publicity team pitching your story in the same vein. You don’t want your book compared to another one that had a good premise, but flopped when it came to sales.

5.) Know your subgenre/s: Is your book mystery, suspense, thriller, horror? Domestic noir, domestic suspense, cozy mystery, psychological thriller, procedural suspense, Stephen King-esque horror? Do some research so that you can tell an agent more than just “it’s a romance.” Contemporary romance? Historical romance? Romantic comedy? Inspirational romance? Amish romance? Erotic? The more specific you can get when it comes to genre, the more it will be evident that you know your subject matter–and thus the more articulately you’ll be able to sell it to agents.

6.) Have, at the very least, a Twitter profile: It’s great to have a Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts for your author profile. A website is even better. But it isn’t totally necessary to set up these things until after you land a book deal. Twitter, however, is the main social media forum for the publishing industry, so you should be active on there, following other authors and the industry in general.

7.) Research the industry as much as you can: Along with Twitter, subscribe to publishing newsletters and read up on the industry often–trends, fads, etc. Follow the NYT bestseller list.

8.) Make other writer friends, and have beta readers look at your material before professionals: Writers’ support groups are invaluable. You’re all working toward the same goal, so you can help each other out. Read each others’ drafts before submitting to agents. A fresh set of eyes can go such a long way. Critique partners are an awesome resource.

9.) READ, READ, READ: Especially in the genre you wish to write in. You should know that market like the back of your hand.

10.) WRITE, WRITE, WRITE: This one should be obvious. Every day.

Rachel Beck is a literary agent at Holloway Literary. Follow her on Twitter @Rachel_C_Beck.

 

Finding New Readers Through Your Local Library

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By Katelyn Uplinger

Writing a book takes a lot of time, effort, and determination, but authors aren’t off the hook when the book is published. Next comes marketing, which can be just as frustrating as writing. I’ve written before about how useful libraries can be for writers, but libraries can help you with more than just writing, researching, and improving your craft. Libraries offer other helpful options for published authors. Getting your book on the shelves of your local library can help you snag new readers and reviews. Some libraries even invite local authors to give talks or meet up with other authors.

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How to Motivate and Help Other Writers

By Sabrina Berndt

Although I am not a writer myself, I have plenty of friends and family members who do consider themselves writers. Sometimes they fall into a slump and don’t know how to get past their writer’s block. This is completely natural, but people tend to believe there’s nothing they can do to help. Today we’ll look at what you can do to help the writers’ in your friends and family conquer their writer’s block and keep telling their story.

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Be their cheerleader

Sometimes writers just want to feel appreciated. Especially if they’re unpublished, it’s hard to stay encouraged although their hay-day may be on the horizon. Or they simply get stuck and can’t seem to get around the dreaded writer’s block, which plagues every writer. Don’t be afraid to compliment them on their hard work and the piece itself. Writers have a difficult job, as we all know. It’s no easy task to create a place where readers forget reality and lose themselves in their story. If a writer you know is having a hard time, compliment them on their unique ideas and encourage them to tell their story. Whip out your pom-poms, sing them a song, whatever you need to do to make their day and break out their computer (or typewriter, we don’t judge).

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Add a Sense of Time to Your Manuscript – An Agent’s Perspective

Time in writing is important. I know this is not groundbreaking news, but I think it should be said often and with passion.

Time informs everything within a story. Is it noon? Are we going fast or slow? What century are we in? Decade? Season? Day? You’d be surprised how often the amateur writing forgets or neglects time in their writing. And if I—or any other agent—lose the sense of time in a story, this is essentially the death of the story. So I have three general tips to keep in mind when revising. Continue reading

How to Keep On During NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again. Writers of all levels of experience have prepared their keyboards and notepads for a month of tough use. If you’re late to the party, that’s okay! There are still 24 days left of November, and though you may not make your goal of 50,000 words, this magical month is more about disciplining yourself to write each and every day than it is about completing the fantastic manuscript. Here are five tips to staying on top of your writing during National Novel Writing Month. Continue reading

Why You May Not Be Winning With Agents

By Rachel Beck

Editors, agents and authors publish a lot of instructional pieces about the craft of writing, and the mechanics of creating a strong novel. These tips tend to focus on plot, character, conflict, story arc, narrative voice, tone, etc. After all, you cannot have a successful book without these pieces in place, and not only must they be present, but they must also work in tandem to build on the goals and motives of the characters and story as a whole. If these pieces aren’t working in unison, your story may be rejected by publishing professionals, though hopefully with some helpful advice for improvement. Continue reading

2017 Goodreads Choice Awards

It’s that time of year again. The 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards is calling on the writing and reading community to nominate their favorite novels in various genres. And we’ve got some fantastic news.

Holloway Literary’s client, Kimberly Belle, and her international best-seller THE MARRIAGE LIE has been nominated for Best Books of 2017 – Best Mysteries and Thrillers. Show your support and vote to make this novel a 2017 winner! Vote here.

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Don’t forget to share your vote on social media and spread the good news! Thank you for your support.