Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Business Ghostwriter’s Info on A Chance to Shine (test for JetPack))

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

This is a test for Jetpack.

As a business ghostwrirer, I know how important it is to get your material seen elsewhere.A Chance to Si15)Summary: Need Woman’s Transformational “Aha” Moments for National Women’s Magazine

Email: sharonestroff@gmail.com

Title: Journalist Major Women’s Magazine

Specific Geographic Region: N

Region:

Deadline: 09:10am EASTERN – 21 October

Query:

An aha moments is when something happens – no matter how minor – and
changes the way we look at life. It could be an illness or a close call.
It might be a certain place you visit or person you meet. It might be
looking at the the same old thing in a brand new way. If you are a woman
who has experienced an Aha moment and made a change in your life,
relationship, career, spiritual being as a result, I might be interested in
telling your story for an article in a national women’s magazine. Please
send me a nutshell account of your experience and a way I can contact you
in the future.

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 (http://budurl.com/9567). “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.

Vote for Your Favorite Cover for Rick Warren’s New Book

Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Vote on Rick Warren's next book cover.

Vote on Rick Warren's next book cover.

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life,  which has sold 30 million copies, has done something unusual for the cover of his next book, The Hope You Need (From the Lord’s Prayer). He is holding a design competition at 99designs.com where hundreds of designers are competing for $5000 and the chance to have their artwork seen by millions of people.

Trust me, this will be a huge coup for whomever wins.

It’s also an educational opportunity for authors. How often do you see a ton of designs for one project?

For me, from just the first page, there was one cover that stood out from the rest. (It may not be on the first page by the time you look.) This cover was a clear winner.

But one person’s opinion is a very small sample size.

So here’s what I’d like: I don’t think you can actually vote at 99designs.com.

Instead, vote on this blog– and I will announce the winner both here and to my email list.

Go to http://budurl.com/l87r and look at the cover designs.

Then make a comment on my blog as to your favorite design– ideally both the number and a little about the design itself and why you like it best.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Oh, and one last thing: I read about this on Yahoo Finance. I’m writing about it, as I’m sure others are. This was a masterful stroke on Warren’s part to get early publicity for his book. If you are clever, virtually everything about your book can help you get the word out.

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7 TV Shows Authors are Guaranteed to Get On

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

What do Elvira, The Food Network’s Bobby Flay, and comedian Tom Green all have in common?

They all started out on public access television.

PBS affiliate KTCA even picked up a program called Mental Engineering that started at SPNN, the public access channel of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

With more than 700 stations throughout the world, public access television is the easiest way for any author to get on the air virtually anywhere. (For a list of U.S. stations, go here:  http://mappingaccess.org/)

And if you create just one video, it will get multiple plays.

My local community television station, CTV of Santa Cruz, (www.CommunityTV.org),will air a half hour or one hour show a minimum of ten times in the first month. If you create something short, they will air it even more often.

And they have three different channels: one for government related programs, one for educational material, and one for general material. So any work that can deemed educational in nature, which would include anything in the self-help or how-to categories, and probably even children’s books, will air on two stations.

The kicker is, they have to air anything of a non-commercial nature that any resident of Santa Cruz County brings to them. All you have to do is fill out a form and make sure your video meets their technical requirements.

And here’s the secret sauce: I can bring them ANY video—by anyone. So you could live in Zimbabwe, send me a video, and if I bring it to CTV, they will air it.

And if you bring my video to your station, at least in the U.S, they will put my show on your channel. So if you can get enough friends, relatives, clients and/or subscribers to bring your video to a community television station, you could literally create a national show.

You could easily create seven shows—or get one show to air in seven cities.

Gerard Butler could have easily gotten a literary agent when he went from public access TV to a regular broadcast show in The Ugly Truth.

Gerard Butler could have easily gotten a literary agent when he went from public access TV to a regular broadcast show in The Ugly Truth.

There’s another reason this is important. Video is already the future of the internet. According to Business Week, as far back as last November there were more video views than searches: 12.7 billion viewings as opposed to 12.3 billion searches.

So you should be making videos anyway. Why not use the same videos to air on your local TV station?

Plus, your chance of getting a video on the front page of Google is 45 times greater than the odds of getting your text page on the first page of a search.

For this strategy to be fully effective, you need to have a reason for people to come to your Web site after they see your show. You could give away a special report, or fr/ee chapters of your book—or if you are a children’s book author, you could give away some coloring book pages with images from your book.

(By the way, this is a killer strategy for children’s book authors. Do a show reading your book, and get it to air everywhere. Or team up with two other children’s book authors for a show, and use everybody’s connections to get the show on the air in as many locations as you possibly can!)

Once you know a show will air, call up the bookstores in the area and make sure they carry your book.

You could even promote a bookstore appearance this way—then tape your appearance at the bookstore and put that on television. Some of these shows air for years—which could mean continuous sales for your book anywhere your show is on.

And if you dream of getting your own TV show, community access could be a good beginning. If you make the leap to a major cable or broadcast show, you wouldn’t be the first.

As a publicist once said to me, “Things lead to things.”

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Marketing Lessons from a Santa Cruz Street Urchin

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

I’m working tonight– though it’s Saturday night. The internet never closes.  I took a dinner break at Sitar, the local Indian buffet, and I was carrying my leftovers in a box to bring to the refrigerator at Nextspace, where I work.

A young, skinny black-haired girl in  her late teens got off the bench she was sitting with some guy to approach me. I didn’t hear her the first time, but I assumed she was asking for money.

“What?” I said. We fifty-year olds tend to be a little  hard of hearing on a crowded street with a lot of background noise.

“Sir, do you have any leftover food you could give us?”

I quickly handed her the small box of Sag Paneer, which is creamed spinach with curd cheese, that I had intended to be part of my Monday lunch. It was as easy as could be.

That young waif knew a little something about marketing.

First off, she had a unique selling proposition. Everyone else who was begging on the street was asking for money. She just asked for food.

Secondly, she could see I was her target market. I was clearly qualified to give her what she wanted. In fact, I had been prepped by all the people who had signs proclaiming that they wanted money because they were hungry.

And finally, she had overcome my biggest objection in advance. I don’t give money to beggars on the street (save for three homeless guys that I have become friends with) because I’ve been told that most use the money for a fix by a credible source. Renate, a white haired German woman who owns the hot dog kiosk on Pacific Avenue told me that over the years, the people she believed were honestly using the money they collected turned out to be junkies who wanted to score.

But my teenage waif marketer asked me for food, not money, so I didn’t have to worry that she was going to take my donation and use it for crystal meth or something.

Thus, I learned three marketing lessons from her.

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Sweet and Sour Literary Agents (and Rumi)

Friday, August 28th, 2009

This is a tale of two pairs of literary agents. Each pair includes a sweet one and a sour one.

Sounds like a fairy tale? It kind of is– with both a happy ending and a moral.

The first tale involves  literary agent Carol Susan Roth. I hate to call her the sour one, since we had a very pleasant lunch a while back. But for fairy tale purposes, she was.

Literary Agent Carol Susan Roth sold "The Infertility Cure" at auction

Literary Agent Carol Susan Roth sold "The Infertility Cure" at auction

Randine Lewis, author of The Infertility Cure, had two agents who were interested in her work. The first was ready to send out her book proposal as it was, right away. The second was Carol, who said that Lewis’s book proposal wasn’t ready for prime time yet. Lewis went with the first agent, who sent it out to three publishers, resulting in three rejections.

So Lewis went back to Roth: “ . . .She introduced me to a wonderful ghostwriter who totally revamped my proposal. Carol sent it out and after an auction with six of the major publishers, it was sold to Little, Brown & Co. for a very big advance!”

Pair number two involves a novel.  It has basically the same setup. The “sour” literary agent was interested in  the work based on the author’s query letter. But after she read the manuscript, she said to the author that their work had merit, but  just wasn’t ready yet. This literary agent suggested that the author  improve it, and that she would be happy to provide commentary on subsequent drafts until it was a salable book.

But there was a sweet literary agent who was willing to take the work on as is, right away. The sweet agent submitted the novel to dozens editors at a wide variety of publishing houses—and they all turned the manuscript down. They rejected this novel for the same reason that sour literary agent had declined to take it on in the first place.

So the author decided to go back to the sour literary agent—who agreed to work with her to improve the manuscript—even though it’s next to impossible to get an editor to re-consider a manuscript he’s already rejected.

The sour agent twisted some arms and sold the book. But that’s an unusual outcome. Rejected books are almost never resurrected. And because an agent sent this manuscript out before it was ready, it almost didn’t get published.

So both these tales had happy endings. The moral of the story reminds me of some lines from one of my favoirte Rumi poems, Borrow the Beloved’s Eyes. The translation, as you  might expect, is from Coleman Barks:

“Worry about the others, who give you

delicious comforts that keep you from prayer.

Friends are enemies sometimes,

and enemies Friends.”

So when you have a choice between a sweet literary agent who wants to represent you right away, and a sour one who wants  you to wait and improve your work, it’s usually wiser to choose the sour literary agent.

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What Literary Agents Want to See If You’re Not Famous, Part IV

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Literary agents always have a story of a book they recently sold where the author wasn’t famous– but had a story that was so interesting and well-written that they had to represent it.  Typically, it’s because the person who writes the material has an experience that takes you into a whole new world. Representing these books is clearly a labor of love for an agent, because they are captivated by the story and the way it’s told. And when literary agents love a book, they can usually find an editor who will feel the same way.

Literary Agent Andy Ross

Literary Agent Andy Ross

It really helps if you’re writing about something unusual. Andy Ross (www.AndyRossAgency.com) says that publishers are pretty tired of personal memoirs about everyday life and dysfunctional families. He says they call them “me-moirs.”

But when he was pitched a book proposal by a young man who a month after his twenty-first birthday, moved to Ujae (population: 450), a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands located 2000 miles from the closest continent to teach English, Andy knew he had something worth pitching. It helped that the author,Peter Rudiak-Gould,  is laugh-out-loud hilarious pages. It also helped that, unfortunately, Ujae may be one of global warming’s first casualties, so there was a current events factor.

But most important of all, the story is  engaging and extremely well-written. Every one of the testimonials on Amazon from eight other published authors mentions that it’s funny or moving.

The result? Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island will be coming out on Union Square Press at the beginning of November.

Another twentysomething, Jesse Saperstein, approached Deborah Levine Herman, of the Jeff Herman Literary

Literary Agent Deborah Herman

Literary Agent Deborah Herman

Agency after he was turned down by lots of other agents. Deborah says she loved the project. ” . . . He has Asperger Syndrome [a form of autism]and he walked the Appalachian Trail to raise money for Juvenile AIDS and he also has written a book that was his, it came from his inner voice and it was just a very unique voice.”

She didn’t accept Saperstein right away:  “I made this guy rewrite his book over two years. And because he just was very grateful and I think people need to be grateful every day for everything, he had a sense that what he was receiving was going to help him reach his goal. And so he was able to make whatever changes he was told to make.”

Herman was eventually satisfied with her young client’s writing, and was ready to represent him. She found an editor, Marian Lizzi, at Perigee Books who “got” his book,  a heartfelt and  humorous collection of essays revealing Saperstein’s unique perspective on growing up different, managing his quirks, his Appalachian adventure and even venturing into the world of online dating called Atypical: Life with Apsperger’s in 23 1/3 Chapters. It’s due out in April of 2010.

Saperstein was undoubtedly helped by the massive success of The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, which is narrated by a lead character who is autistic, and to a lesser degree (because they’re not current), Donna William’s memoirs Nobody, Nowhere and Somebody, Somewhere. When you write a book proposal, it helps to be able to compare your books to recent bestsellers.  That tells publishers, and ultimately bookstores, that there is a verifiable market for your book.

I doubt that Marian Lizzi, no matter how much she liked Saperstein’s book, could have gotten this book through her editorial board if Haddon’s book hadn’t been such a big hit. I imagine the sales and marketing people would have had a fit! “How could we possibly know if this book is going to sell since there’s nothing else like it.”

If you want to know how the editorial board at publishers work, check out my Inside the Editorial Boardroom interview with with David Nelson, a former VP of Sales who sat on these boards at both Penguin and Harcourt. You’ll get the inside scoop on  what goes on once an editor likes your book, including how publishers decide how much to pay authors for their books. It’s an extra bonus with my Agent University program, a six CD set I’m giving away for just the cost of shipping and handling.

And if you want to get published without being famous, do something unusual, then write about it superbly– and preferably with a great deal of humor, and you really can land a literary agent.

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What Literary Agents Want to See If You’re Not Famous, Part III

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

I had a lunch date with literary agent Carol Susan Roth a few years ago, and I mentioned an idea I had for a book.  It was a book on helping the world, but it had a funny title. I had planned to build a mailing list with a viral ebook, and then eventually going for a big publisher.

Carol said something that astounded me: “If you want, I can sell that book now.” My jaw dropped.

“But I don’t have a platform.” That wasn’t actually true. I had my AuthorSecrets ezine with 40,000 readers, but still, it wasn’t a list I’d built of people who are set on saving the world.

She told me it didn’t matter. “With a title that funny, you can sell it. 10 Speed Press loves that kind of thing.”

Wow!

I’ve since decided to change the title to one that will be more effective for what I want to accomplish with the book. Plus, I wasn’t sure I could write a book as funny as the title.

But that story came to mind when I saw that copywriter Andrew Gall and illustrator Vince Soliven had sold their book to Adams Media. It’s called Everything’s Better with a Gorilla. It uses fun factoids and illustrations to show that any boring activity becomes effortlessly enjoyable when you add a gorilla to the recipe. Two examples: “Having a Gorilla as Your Wingman” and “Going clothes shopping with a Gorilla.”

If you’re funny, you can sell a book without being famous.

The gorilla  book was sold by LaunchBooks Literary Agency.  David Fugate was the literary agent.

Contessa with Carol Susan Roth, literary agent

Contessa with Carol Susan Roth, literary agent

What Literary Agents Want to See When You’re Not Famous, Part II

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Another way to get literary agents excited is to have a book on a topic that fills a hole in the market.  That doesn’t mean presenting a book proposal on something no one’s ever seen before. You don’t really want to write the first book on a topic no one’s ever heard of. You want to find a hole in an existing market.

One way to do that is to create a whole new category for yourself and your book. For example, what do you get when you combine sex & dating with working out?

Billy Sunday Mars knows.  He bills himself as a “romantic fitness expert.”

Mars just got a publishing deal with The Experiment for a new book, FIT FOR LOVE.  He calls his book “a kind of prequel to the Kama Sutra on how best to train and strengthen the body for intensely pleasurable love-making.”

See how he combines two proven markets?

Hey, we all know some people go to the gym to improve their love life. (If this weren’t a blog for my business, I would have said that in a much crasser way!)

Also worthy of note: Check out how he compared his book to one of the bestselling books of all time. It’s a prequel  to the Kama Sutra.

Imagine how talk show hosts will introduce this guy: “Our next guest wrote a prequel to the Kama Sutra. He’s a romantic fitness expert. Please welcome Billy Sunday Mars.”

Literary agents and publishers actually think about things like that.

So find a hole in the market, compare your book to a bestseller, and show how it’s different. You’ll greatly enhance  your chance of getting a literary agent.