Showing posts with label agents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label agents. Show all posts

A Simple Way To Be "Different"

Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin) 

While I’ve been in book publishing for decades, one topic is central to our business yet something I rarely see written about or discussed: communication.

Communication undergirds everything from email to print to phone calls to face to face. I believe it is infrequently highlighted because we work in a non-communication environment. Writers work hard on crafting their query letters or proposals. They edit and rewrite them and even send them off to their critique partners or outside editors before sending them to the literary agent or editor. This extra polish and set of eyes gives them a better chance at success.

After you fire off your gem of an idea, it goes into black hole. You hear: nothing or it earns a form rejection letter or form email rejection letter. The experience brings despair or determination to find the right place. I hope you are determined because finding the right fit is a key part of the publishing process.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were rejected 140 times for Chicken Soup for the Soup, one of the most prolific series of books in the English language. Determination and persistence are qualities for every writer.

Why don’t editors and agents communicate? Can’t they send a simple email that they received it? Unfortunately this practice is not built into our publishing community. If you are a good communicator, your use of this skill is another way that you can use this simple way to be a "different" type of writer.

My authors at Morgan James Publishing consistently tell me they are surprised with my speed of communication. Sometimes they will write me after they have tried others (with no response) because they know I will help them.

I’ve learned a number of tips for communication and I want to detail some of them in this article.

Email is the best tool to use.  If you are following up a submission, a brief email asking if it was received is the preferred approach. 

Last week I got multi-paragraph email from a writer I will see at conference this week. It was too much information and while I read it, it would have been better in a few sentences and made a better impression. Here are some other key tips:

1. Text is OK—but use sparingly.

2. Phone is the worst way to approach an editor or agent and something I recommend you rarely use if at all. 

At Morgan James Publishing, we acknowledge every submission with a physical letter in the U.S. mail—and each year we receive over 5,000 submissions for only 180 to 200 books which are published. Communication with authors is built into the fiber of Morgan James. Many writers neglect to send their mailing address with their submission yet it is a critical part of our process of getting a submission started. Fairly often I have to email a writer and ask for their mailing address.

Some of my publishing professional colleagues have boundaries on their emails. For example, they only answer emails between their working hours in their office Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm. If you have emailed me, you know I don’t have such a boundary and will often answer emails early or late or on the weekends. It is all part of my commitment as a writer and editor to be a communicator. 

As a writer what steps do you need to do to increase and improve your communication skills? Let me know in the comments below.


Good communication is a simple way every writer can stand out. Get some tips and insights here from this prolific editor and writer. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s newest book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success.  Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Why I’m Still Blogging (and You Should too)

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

“As an acquisitions editor, you should not be blogging,” one of my long-term writer friends told me in 2008. I worked inside a well-known publisher and she believed a blog was a complete waste of my time.  I was an early adapter to the blogging trend.  I ignored her advice and I’m still blogging for many different reasons. Isn’t blogging out of step? Many writers are still blogging regularly including my long-term friend, Jerry B. Jenkins, who has been on the New York Times list 21 times. We talk about blogging some in this Master Class interview (follow the link). In this article I will help you understand why you should be blogging too.

Pick Your Audience and Focus for Every Entry

Before you post your first blog article, you need to determine your audience or readers. Just like no book is for everyone, no blog is for every reader. You can’t be all things to all readers and the focus of your blog will be critical to drawing returning readers. For example, my blog is called The Writing Life because each entry (now over 1,600 of them) are focused on various aspects of my life in publishing. I tell personal stories, point out resources and things that I’m learning. It is not just books but magazine and other aspects of the publishing business. My focus is broad enough to allow a great deal of variety. It never grows old to me (so I abandon my blog—which many people do) and I have an endless supply of material. These aspects are foundational and critical when you start blogging. Also determine how frequently you can post. If you post once a month, that pace is too infrequent for drawing readers. If you post daily, the pace may be too consuming—and you will possibly give up. I decided to blog once a week and I post on the same day every week.  Throughout each week, I have numerous ideas and I keep track of these ideas (develop your own system to capture them) and they become articles.

Some people organize a team of contributors on a topic and rotate article. Others (like me) post my own blog articles. 

Multiple Reasons to Blog 

From my view, there are multiple reasons to regularly blog:

Consistency. Blogging is an easy way to build a consistent writing habit. You can also mentor and help many others with your blog entries.

Platform and influence. Literary agents and publishers are looking for writers (despite their form rejection letters). Your blog is part of your platform, a way to show your writing skills and influence others.

A place to store your various ideas. Articles for my blog are made quickly and random topics. A number of years ago, I took those random entries and organized them into a book. Within publishing we call this process a Blook. My Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams originally started as blog entries.

A place to repurpose my ideas. When I need a blog article for someone else, I often turn to my blog with a wealth of material. In a short amount of time I can repurpose and rewrite a blog entry for these needs.

A way to make money. It’s not my first reason to blog but I make money from my blog. Through blogging, I’ve found authors that publish through Morgan James. I’ve made affiliate income from my blog and much more. I’ve even got a risk-free eBook called The 31 Day Guide to Blogging for Bucks (follow the link) for more insights on this topic.

Practical Lessons for Your Blog

Here are several practical lessons I’ve learned for your blog

--Get a header or look to your blog which people will recognize when they go to it. It doesn’t have to be complicated but should be distinctly your look. You can use a template or get help from someone at but do invest this energy into the appearance.

--Add a search tool into your blog. I picked up mine from google but look for a simple HTML addition that you can add to help your readers. For The Writing Life, my search tool is in the right hand column (scroll down to find it). I use this search tool often when I’m looking for something among my many entries.

--Always include a royalty-free image with each blog entry. You can’t use just any image you find but should get it from a royalty-free source (check this link for some resources). The image gives others an easy way to pass on your articles and give you additional readers.

--Add a subscription tool to your blog. I use Feedblitz and have about 500 people who receive any update to my blog through their email. Use this link to subscribe to my blog.

--Add a ClickToTweet for every entry. There are other tools but I use ClickToTweet and from monitoring my social media, I know a number of people use this tool. Follow this link to learn how to install it.  Make it easy for people to share your articles.

A key part of the writing life is a word I don’t really like but actively do: discipline or the discipline of consistently writing. A blog is an important part of this process for me.


Are blogs still relevant? This prolific writer and editor tells why he is stillblogging (and you should too). Get the details here. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s newest book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Fun Author Stories and Quotes to Brighten your Day

Have faith. Better days are ahead.
During this grit-your-teeth-and-stay-home mandate, I thought it would be fun to share a few stories from my Blog Post file for just such an occasion as COVID-19. I hope these stories and sayings brighten your day as they have mine.

Try finding an agent the Clive Cussler-Way
Author and shipwreck-explorer Clive Cussler, who recently passed away, used the $80 million of his publishing earnings to start a real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), the organization his fictional character, Dirk Pitt, spearheaded in the 22 books Cussler wrote with Pitt as his hero. “The square-jawed Pitt is forever saving the world—and beautiful women—from the schemes of evildoers, typically by retrieving lost artifacts from shipwrecks.” In real life, Cussler’s organization located some 60 shipwrecks, including “a lost Confederate ironclad and a steamship belonging to Cornelius Vanderbilt.”

What a great idea! Think up a fictional pastime for your character and then start one in real life! I'll try it!

If you’re looking for an agent, here’s an idea for you. When Cussler couldn’t interest anyone in his manuscripts, he created a bogus literary agency, and on its fake stationery that he concocted, he became an “industry veteran” about to retire, and offered his services to other agents. That’s how he found his longtime agent.

I think I’ll try that, too. Then I can retire from self-publishing!

Cussler went on to write many other works including children’s stories and nonfiction books. When asked if he would ever quit, he said in 2015, “H&^% no . . .They may find me behind the computer, just bones and cobwebs.”

That reminds me of the terrific National Geographic show Genius I watched about Albert Einstein months back,, which at the end depicted Einstein sitting up in bed, pen in hand working on a formula, only to have the pen slip out of his hand when, to the world’s great loss, met his Maker. I’ve never forgotten that scene, or the whole show for that matter, though I might wind up falling out of my chair with my fingers still attached to my keyboard.

To Pseudonym or Not to Pseudonym
Stephen King couldn’t fool Steve Brown, this astute bookstore clerk, writer, and fanzine publisher, when Brown read Richard Bachman’s novels. Brown had a chance to talk on the phone to the author himself when King called him to discuss what to do about his famous pseudonym.

I especially enjoyed this article because I had had the privilege of writing a biosketch of Stephen King for the library journal, Biography Today. In the early 70's, King, who had learned the basics of writing as a staff writer and editor for his high school newspaper and earned a B.S. in English at the University of Maine, had written many novels that were repeatedly rejected. While famously living in a trailer with his wife, Tabitha Spruce King, also a successful and acclaimed author, and teaching high school English, King wasn’t selling anything. He began Carrie, the story of an unpopular high-school girl who possesses a special power, “But after four pages, I thought it stank and threw it in the rubbish,” King said. “I came home later and found Tabby had taken them out and left a note. ‘Please keep going—it’s good.’ Since she’s really stingy with her praise, I did.”

In 1977, King sought to establish an additional outlet for his numerous book ideas. Under the name Richard Bachman, King wrote four books: Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork, and The Running Man. In 1985, King called the Olsson’s Bookstore in Washington, D.C. and told Steve Brown, “This is Stephen King. Okay, you know I’m Bachman, I know I’m Bachman, what are we going to do about it? Let’s talk.” King's reason? The Brachman titles had been wallowing in relative obscurity. Brown wrote a letter to King’s agent telling him as much, and the Bachman name soon perished, King wrote, owing to “cancer of the pseudonym.”

Take heart. If you’re writing under a pseudonym, you might have better luck than Stephen King.

Inspirational Quotes from Famous Authors
To further brighten your day, I close with a few of my favorite quotes by famous authors about writing:

Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.
– Mark Twain

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
– Ernest Hemingway

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.
– Somerset Maugham

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.
– Herman Melville

Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
– Henry David Thoreau

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.
– C. J. Cherryh

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.
– Edgar Rice Burroughs

Obituary of Clive Cussler, 1931-2020, The Week, March 13, 2020.
Biography Today, Vol. 1, 1995.
Photo: by Linda Wilson
Watch for Secret in the Stars
Coming Soon!

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook. Website coming soon.

Where is Publishing Headed

With Amazon removing buy buttons from the Big Six publishers, where does the author go to have their manuscript published?

Amazon has also removed numerous reviews because of the hint of purchased reviews, which authors have admitted to so they could rank higher and sell more books.

With thousands of books written per year, and Amazon flexing its muscle, are authors suspected to publish according to whatever terms Amazon dictates, or find company to create the book and let the author sell and market their book themselves?

Traditional publishers currently ask authors about followers and request a marketing plan. Authors have two options:
  1. Hire a publicist to market their book
  2. Learn how to publicize and market their book on their own
As authors, forced into marketing mode, when are they going to find time to write their next book? Will there be fewer books written? Will there be fewer people wanting to write or even have a desire to be creative?

There are new indie publishers springing up almost daily. What do these indie publishers offer the author? Are they willing to help the author publicize, promote, and market books for authors, doubtful at best?

What this boils down to is the fact that authors are out in the cold even more than they were before. 

More than ever, authors had better learn about contracts, publicity, promotion, social media, scheduling book tours, book signings, media kits, designing a marketing plan, where to sell their books, or save for hiring a professional to do it for them.

Hiring professionals for publicity and promotion can be very expensive. Acquiring an agent is difficult and expensive; an agent is not the end all that authors believe it is.

Robert Medak
Freelance Writer/Blogger/Editor/Proofreader/Reviewer/Marketer

To Agent or Not to Agent? by Kathy Stemke

To agent or not to agent that is the question. Writers can certainly get their feet wet by publishing without an agent. However, to get to many of the bigger publishing houses you still need an agent. Although I have successfully published over a hundred articles, activities with Gryphon House Publishing, and three children’s books, for my first novel I’m on the hunt for an agent. I’d like to share some of things I’ve found in my research so far.

Dishonest agents prey on writers by charging fees, promoting their own paid services, engaging in kickback schemes, and misrepresenting their knowledge and expertise. These agents don’t earn their income by selling manuscripts to publishers, but by extracting money from their clients.

Some examples of dishonest agenting practice, drawn from Writer Beware’s files:

  • Requiring a reading fee with a submission.

  • Requiring a “marketing” or “submission” or other fee on contract signing.

  • Requiring writers to buy a critique or manuscript assessment.

  • Referrals to an editing service owned by the agency, without disclosing the connection.

  • Requiring that clients use the agent’s own paid editing services. Running a contest that’s a scheme for funneling writers into a paid editing service or vanity publisher.

  • Pressuring clients to buy “adjunct” services–website design, catalog space, book cover mockups. Etc.

·         Placing clients with fee-charging publishers.

There are no licensing requirements or competency standards for literary agents. Anyone who feels like it can set themselves up as an agent, whether or not they’re qualified to do so. The result is a large number of amateur, incompetent, and marginal agents.

If an agent is established, s/he should have a verifiable track record of commercial book sales, and be willing to disclose it.

A robust history of selling books to commercial (advance-paying) publishers is the single best indication of an agent’s effectiveness and expertise. You want an agent who is selling regularly to a variety of commercial publishers (a reasonable minimum standard is the AAR’s’ requirement for new members–at least 10 sales within the past 18 months), and who has experience selling books in your subject or genre.

For book agents, commissions should not be more than 10-15% for domestic sales and 20-30% for co-agented or foreign sales.

Be wary of an agent who claims to specialize in new writers.

Be wary of an agent who is looking for poets.

Be wary of an agent who claims to want to sell your book idea to Hollywood.

Be wary of an agent who advertises.

Be wary of an agent who solicits you.

Be wary of an agent who provides extravagant praise or inflated promises, and of her opposite, an agent who paints a dismal picture of your chances of success.

There are a number of helpful, vetted, up-to-date agent directories online, such as,, and AuthorAdvance.

Soooo, what do you think? Should you find an agent?
Agents on twitter:
jwchilton Jamie Weiss Chilton
Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency, shameless caffeine addict, farmer for Marbles, my gray and white rescue bunny.
jenrofe Jen Rofe
Children's lit agent with Andrea Brown who dreams about being a bakery-owning cowgirl. Nevermind that I don't bake much or have a horse.
stevenmalk Steven Malk
Literary agent with Writers House musing on publishing, music, and sports--not necessarily in that order.
McVeighAgency The McVeigh Agency(Mark McVeigh)
A boutique literary agency representing authors, illustrators, graphic novelists and photographers.
DonMaass Donald Maass
President of Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York, author of Writing the Breakout Novel, The Fire in Fiction and other craft books for fiction writers.
SlushPileHell SlushPile Hell
Literary agent. Supervillain.
KOrtizzle Kathleen Ortiz
Associate Agent & Foreign Rights Manager; Books + Chai + Tech. = Life
joemts Joe Monti
Children's & YA, F&SF, Literary Agent & Hero Myth Cycle believer.
JoSVolpe Joanna Volpe
NYC lit agent and lover of pizza.
WolfsonLiterary Michelle Wolfson
I'm a literary agent. Check out my site and if you think we're a fit, let me know. Otherwise just support my authors and buy their books!
KnightAgency The Knight Agency
kate_mckean Kate McKean
Literary Agent, Image (c) William G. Wadman
DeidreKnight DeidreKnight
Literary Agent and New York Times bestselling author of romance/women's fiction who loves to travel to far away places, mentally and geographically.
Kid_Lit Mary Kole
Kidlit enthusiast and associate agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
TracyMarchini TracyMarchini
Editorial Consultant, former Literary Agent Assistant, freelance copywriter.
sztownsend81 Suzie Townsend
book lover, former HS teacher, literary agent, sci-fi/fantasy nerd, and owner of an unused $6000 wedding dress. love my life.
michellelit Michelle Andelman
Dark Lady of Letters
UpstartCrowLit Upstart Crow
We're a brusquely friendly literary agency.
ChrisRichman Chris Richman
Kid's book agent, music snob, Philadelphia sports fanatic.
MichaelBourret Michael Bourret
Literary Agent, bran muffin enthusiast and nerdy cat person
NathanBransford Nathan Bransford
ColleenLindsay Colleen Lindsay
Publishing browncoat. Cat herder. Queer human. Professional nerd. TARDIS fan. Athlete's foot survivor. Part of Penguin Group (USA) Business Development team.
BookEndsJessica Jessica Faust
literary agent, blogger, business owner, book lover and foodie
BookEndsKim Kim Lionetti
Literary Agent representing women's fiction, romance, mystery, true crime, pop culture and pop science.
Ginger_Clark Ginger Clark
I am a literary agent. I work at Curtis Brown. I respond only to queries I'm interested in. This twitter account will be boring.
hroot holly root
literary agent, theater wife, cat person, iphone addict.
BostonBookGirl Lauren E. MacLeod
A literary agent @strothmanagency with an emphasis in YA and MG fiction and nonfiction. Opinions are my own.
literaticat jennifer laughran
literary agent at andrea brown lit, children's bookseller, reader, raconteur, eccentric multi-millionaire and patron of the arts... and some of those are lies
JillCorcoran Jill Corcoran
Literary Agent with Herman Agency representing primarily MG and YA authors.
RachelleGardner Rachelle Gardner
Literary agent, firefighter's wife, mom of two awesome girls, Starbucks freak.
ElanaRoth Elana Roth
Brooklynite, children's book agent, Squarespace support specialist, semi-pro Jew, bourbon drinker. I work for lots of people. None of these tweets are theirs.
Author/Educator, Kathy Stemke, has a B.S. from Southern Connecticut State University and Covenant Life Seminary, and graduate coursework from Columbia University. As a freelance writer Kathy has published several articles and is a former contributing editor for The National Writing for Children's Center. she is on the team at DKV Writing for you, a writing services company. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Movement and Rhythm, on her blog.  
Moving Through All Seven Days, her first e-book, is now available on lulu  
Trouble on Earth Day and Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep Were released in May 2011.

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