Archive for October, 2009

From Tiny Blog to Book Deal to Oprah

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Here’s a true story to help you understand how to get noticed by hundreds of thousands of people and eventually have the media begging for interviews with you.

If you want to be in this position *before* you publish your book, follow the lead of Christopher Greenslate and his partner, Kerri Leonard, who teach English and social justice in a southern California high school.

Teachers Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard got a book deal after they ate on just a dollar a day.

Teachers Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard got a book deal after they ate on just a dollar a day.

One day, while they were discussing their extremely high grocery bill, they thought about people in third world countries who lived on just a dollar a day. Then they asked themselves a question that would literally change their lives: What would it be like to eat on a budget like that?

They decided to conduct an experiment to find out. Greenslate and Leonard would subsist on a one dollar a day diet.


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Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Interview mit dem IGEL

You need anecdotes from lots of OTHER people if you want to impress literary agents with with your book.

The biggest problem I notice with many of the unpublished self-help books I look over is too many examples
and stories about the author, and not enough about other people. But if you want literary agents to believe that the problem you’re writing about—and the solution you’re offering—can affect a wide range of people, then you need to fill your writing with lots of anecdotes from OTHER people.

So where do you find other people with stories that illustrate the points you make in your book?

Here are seven e-zines or Web sites that let you post your request for interviews for free.

1) Profnet– Enter as a journalist, and your request will go to thousands of people looking for publicity, and therefore happy to share their tales with you. Just say you are a
freelancer and working on an article that will go to publications like the main ones in your subject area.

2)—Peter Shankman has created a list of more than 100,000 people who want to be interviewed. To put your query on his list, (click here for the rest of this post.)

What Adam Sandler and Sandra Bullock Can Do For Your Book

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
If you want a literary agent, mine the humor in your life story, like Carrie Fisher does in "Wishful Drinking."

If you want a literary agent, mine the humor in your life story, like Carrie Fisher does in "Wishful Drinking."

In my interviews with publishing professionals, one thing has come across loud and clear: You can make literary agents and editors take a chance on you if you’re funny.

So even if you’re writing a serious account about your life, you have to mine the humor in it. There’s always something funny.

Carrie Fisher’s new book, Wishful Drinking, is about recollecting the memories she lost through electroshock therapy, which she went through voluntarily to beat depression.

Nonetheless, she had me laughing so loudly in just the first chapter, they almost kicked me out of Borders.

When one of my clients read me her pitch for her screenplay and her novel, it came across,it came across as too sanctimonious.

Though her book is about a very difficult personal challenge, some of the relationships in it reminded me of Driving Miss Daisy. Plus there were elements to her story that reminded me of Three Men and a Baby.

So I asked her to look at her pitch again. This time, though, I told her to imagine the people  in her life story as being played by Dwayne  “The Rock” Johnson, Brendan Fraser, and Bette Midler.

She immediately understood how her pitch could be more light-hearted.

Just because something’s serious doesn’t mean there isn’t comedy in it.

I was once in an acting class where a guy was doing a monologue from a play called The Strongest Man in the World. He read every line like the toughest guy you can find.

The teacher asked him to recite the monologue again, only this time, to say the line as though he was the queeniest gay guy in San Francisco.

He did it, and it was brilliant, because he found all the humor and  sarcasm that he had missed the first time.  After that reading, he took what he discovered and blended  into his original interpretation.

So whatever you’re writing, particularly if it’s serious, sit back and imagine that the people in it are played in it are played by whoever makes you laugh. For me, that’s Adam Sandler, Jack Black, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston.

I guarantee you’ll see your work in a whole new light.

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Literary Agent Joelle Delbourgo on How Publishers Decide What to Pay Authors

Thursday, October 1st, 2009
Literary Agent Joelle Delbourgo

Literary Agent Joelle Delbourgo

Joelle Delbourgo worked in the executive suites of major publishers before she started Joelle Delbourgo Associates, her own literary agency. Her last in-house job was with HarperCollins.

I’m not sure the skills that make you a good editor-in-chief are the same as those that make you a great literary agent, but unlike most, Delbourgo has managed the transition successfully. Her agency has grown to three people and just celebrated its tenth anniversary.

The authors she represents are extremely lucky to have her. She is incredibly articulate and passionate—not just about the books she represents, but about the publishing industry in general.

Joelle is interested in non-fiction offering groundbreaking new ideas, and research based books that shed new perspectives on issues.

If you want to impress her, here’s what it takes: “I’m really looking for originality, I’m looking for things that are distinctive, I’m looking for people who really created a platform over a long period of time or just absolutely beautiful writing that grabs you from the first page.”

If you’re an expert and/or leader in psychology, business, health, medicine, women’s issues, philosophy, science, or history, she’d be a good agent to approach.

She’s also seeking literary fiction and commercial fiction including women’s fiction, non-category thrillers, and suspense and mysteries.

Joelle is someone, like former Oprah producer Karen Melamed, who is influenced by the visual ( “When I look at a query letter,” she says, “the way that it looks physically on the page actually influences me to read it or not.”

Delbourgo also let me in on a secret about how book publishers decide how much to pay authors. If you want to find out what it is, click here.