The Problem with Memoir

In “Why Your Memoir Won’t Sell,” Jane Friedman offers seven reasons why a memoir won’t move copies. To paraphrase: It’s the first “legit” writing you’ve ever attempted. It’s an act of catharsis (a. k. a. emotional vomit). It’s a glorified diary. It’s a chronological...

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How Long Should My Book Be?

“My memoir is 270,000 words long.” I heard these words during a breakout session I led at a local writers conference. An editor friend of mine, Shayla Eaton with Curiouser Editing, was sitting in on the breakout. We gave each other knowing glances, and because I...

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Is Backstory Necessary?

"So when my students ask me how much backstory they're permitted to include in a story, I say, 'How about none?'" That's Benjamin Percy in Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction, an excellent book on writing fiction. He expands on his backstory bashing: "None is a good start....

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The Art of Author Branding with Mary DeMuth

In preparation for her talk tomorrow, May 25, at 7 p.m. at Deep Vellum Books near downtown Dallas for the monthly meeting of the Dallas Nonfiction Authors Association, I interviewed Mary DeMuth about "The Art of Author Branding."   As an experienced and prolific...

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The New Author’s Conundrum: My Woeful Platform

"Start with the actual and build a bridge to the potential." That’s lit agent Sharon Pelletier during her session, “The 10 Best Secrets for a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal,” at DFWCon 2017. But before we get to what she's talking about, let's discuss the elephant...

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The Tone of Your Book Proposal

"Match the tone of your proposal to the tone of your book." That's lit agent Sharon Pelletier during her session, "The 10 Best Secrets for a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal," at DFWCon 2017. This piece of advice fell under her fourth point, that everything an author...

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The Brutal Truth about Earning Out

"Seventy percent of authors don't earn out." That's publishing guru Jane Friedman during her excellent and information-laden workshop, "How to Get Your Book Traditionally Published" at DFWCon 2017. What does earning out mean? When an author signs a book deal with a...

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The Book Has to be Good

“The self-publishing craze has made people forget that the book has to be good.” That’s literary agent Eric Ruben during the “Bad Marketing Advice” session of DFWCon. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of truth in Eric’s words. For all the benefits of self-publishing—I’m a...

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The (Dreaded) Query Letter, Part 2

"Find a stranger and have them read your query. Ask them what they think your book is about." That's literary agent Abby Saul at the end of "Ask an Agent," the first session I attended at DFWCon 2017. Doesn't she know that asking strangers to read our work is...

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The (Dreaded) Query Letter

"It's easier to write the novel than the query letter." During the first Ask an Agent session of DFWCon, literary agent Barbara Collins Rosenberg offered this line. I wasn't sure many people heard it. If they did, I wonder if they understood its importance. How could...

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Find Your Audience

"If it's published on your blog, that's not published." I believe that's from Christopher Rhodes during the first session I attended at DFWCon 2017. He was speaking to the kinds of writing experience that's worth putting into a book proposal. While your writing chops...

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Writing to Trends

I'm trying something new with my blogging: I'm going to have fun with it. (I know: what a trendsetter.) Instead of seeing this space as a place I have to fill because PLATFORM PLATFORM PLATFORM, I'm going to throw caution far into the wind and write shorter,...

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What Style Guide Should I Use?

Friend and author Darren Sapp recently emailed me with a few choice questions regarding style guides and writing books. Because of his post-graduate degrees, the Turabian style guide is thoroughly lodged in his brain. But because he’s writing and publishing his own...

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What Does an Editor Most Want from an Author?

At the beginning of 2017, I was given the glad opportunity to write a monthly column for The Write Life, one of my favorite writing websites. Every month, I consider a topic from an editor's perspective. I've covered how to find an editor, what you can expect to pay...

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