Agents and snail mail

Friday, June 27, 2008
So I've been in touch with a few agents. One of them requested my stuff, so I emailed it to her. She emailed me back to say she liked the beginning and she'd let me know the rest. Fast, cheap, effective.

The other guy wants it snail mailed. I hate that. It's expensive. Not only in paper, but postage. And time. My home printer is only good for about 400 pages. That's one book. Meaning I have to email my book to a copy center (my CD thingy no longer opens thanks to son #2), load up my kids, drive there, unload my kids. Help the counter lady find the document while trying to keep my kids from using a packet of stickers. We finally get the right document printing when wham, paper jam. Now I'm trying to fish the paper out of the printer and figure out which pages I've lost so I can reprint them.

I look over to see my children arguing over whether or not the TV in the kids room is really broken.
It is.
At this point, I want to say, "Will someone please take care of their children!" Instead, I go tell my children to be quiet.
For this joyous and educational outing, I pay around 10 bucks.
But we aren't done yet, folks.
Now we get to load up the kids, go to the post office, unload the kids. Stand in line . Restack all the boxes the two year old pulls down because he wants to make a fort out of them. Then we pay for the postage (5 bucks), load the kids back in the car, drive home, unload the kids and fall onto the couch.
Five minutes later, my husband walks through the door and asks why I haven't vacuumed yet.
Can I make a passionate plea to agents and editors everywhere? Email. For the love of all things holy and right. Email.

Doug Johnston

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Tips from Doug:
  • always carry business cards
  • call and thank people (even if they give you a bad review--any publicity is good publicity)
  • the best publicity is free publicity
  • never send a book w/o media kit
  • always follow up
  • If you get a review, send a thank you letter
  • every published author should have a website

Advertising outlets:

  • newspaper
  • magazines
  • radio
  • TV
  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • Youtube
  • word of mouth
  • advertisements
  • friends, family, and people you know


  • Determine if the paper is big enough/geared toward your audience for you to spend time on.
  • Find editor that deals with the issues in your book (themes, etc).
  • Do you have a contact at the paper? Go over their staff pages.
  • Find out how big the paper is. Sometimes the same article will run in 8 papers because they're all co owned.
  • will show you who owns it
  • less than 20% of newspapers have a book reviewer.
  • 95% never review a book unless someone give them the review (the newspaper reviewers usually don't even read it). Translation: You write your own glowing review and they print it.

Signing etiquette

  • never chew gum
  • dress professionally
  • be prepared
  • make friends with your audience and they will buy your book. Maybe not today, but they will buy it.
  • never sign for other coauthor
  • always talk to the person your signing the book for--not the next person in line or your friend
  • smile
  • tell them about the book
  • ask them if they want it personalized
  • let them watch you sign it
  • be on time
  • have plenty of books
  • prepare your 20 second pitch
  • get their emails and compile an email list
  • bring business cards
  • follow through

When you sign a contract, ask who will be helping you market and what you can do to help them.

Janet Jensen--new information added.

Third instalment:
Media Kits--send with every review copy, keep up to date. Send media release page to local papers, university alum, libraries, and organizations that might be interested (historical societies, social, etc.)
In email--put mini media release in body (don't attach).
Send with a copy of your book to media outlets. ie--newspapers, radio stations, etc.

  • Media Release on publisher letterhead
  • Information about book--image, ISBN, price, etc
  • Awards/honors
  • Blurbs from published reviews
  • Author Bio, contact info
  • Published Articles/interviews/sample Q&A (interview yourself).
  • List your availability as a speaker, with topic of expertise (ie League of Utah Writers, BYU Education Week, youth groups, PTA Literacy Night, book clubs, etc). List contact info and fee if applicable (travel $)
  • CD with video preview, audio files, etc.
  • Business card, flier, t-shirt, pins, bookmark, postcard, signed bookplate, keychain, magnet, etc. Be creative!
  1. Get Listed! Find databases where your books should be listed. Add tags to your listing (see other side.)
  2. Signings: Publicize beforehand in paper, etc. Set up displays themed to match your work--use multimedia, giveaways. Make your poster taller than your table so people can see. Come early, have extra books in car, greet staff and managers, write personal thank yous.
  3. Enter Contests--they get your books distributed to schools, libraries, etc. And the publicity for winning is great. See articles at Carolyn Howard-Johnsons's site for specs.
  4. Reviews: The more the better. Look up books similar to yours , see who has reviewed the, request reviews for your books. Swap books with other authors, post reviews on blogs, exchange links.
  5. Blogs: hold contests. Caveat: be professional on blogs and webpages. Link your blog to Plan blog tours. Gather email lists through blogging, send email newsletters to interested readers. Learn to do podcasts.
  6. Books clubs are always looking for speakers and love real authors. Read from your own work. Always allow time for Q&A. Bring freebies, have drawings for free book.
  7. Libraries: See that copies of your book are placed in as many libraries as possible.
  8. TV, radio--use internet for contact info., follow contact instructions. Prepare Q&A for interviewer, practice in front of video camera. Do your homework re the show, interviewer, format.
  9. Brainstorm with other writers! Keep your publisher updated!

League of Utah Writers:

--sign up on their speakers bureau, list topics.

Critique groups are invaluable. Join one or form one.

Other organizations: historical societies, murder-mystery writers, children's writers, romance writers, etc.

Magazines: The Writer, Writer's Digest, Poets & Writers, Publishers Marketplace, ByLine--check your library.

Offer to speak to organizations: PTA Literacy Nights, Reading Councils, Civic Groups, school groups.

Get a wikipedia page.

Amazon: Check out their most prolific reviewers. Find one that likes books similar to yours. Request a review. If they agree, send them a book. Create detailed tags. Both will create more hits.
email Janet for a copy of her media kit:
The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard Jonson

Abel Koagh

Okay, I missed most of Abel's comments because I had a pitch session. I felt bad because it sounded so darn good. Here's the five minutes I heard:
4 Reasons Authors need a website:
  1. Marketing, branding, and promotional tool.
  2. Low cost
  3. Spreads your voice across the globe
  4. Lets you share ideas and upcoming events


We got a Wii!

Seriously, I hate video games. My brothers always got nintendo games as a family present for Christmas. Used to drive me crazy because I never liked to play them and it was a big part of our Christmas.
So when my husband wanted a Wii, I wasn't too thrilled. But he rarely buys anything for himself, and he works so hard. Plus I thought my boys would love it. I was right about that, but I was wrong when I thought I wouldn't like it. It's so much fun. And a really good workout to boot. My arms are jelly after only 2 baseball games (Derek and I tied with no runs, in case you wanted to know ;) )

Cedar Fort Agrees to Publish The Priestess Prophecy

Friday, June 20, 2008
So with all the changes going on at Cedar Fort, I contacted them to see what would become of my MS. Kammi Rencher came on the phone and said not to worry. I would be working with their new editor, Jennifer Fielding. I wasn't quiet sure what she meant, as I hadn't been accepted yet. So my next question was what they thought of it, if they thought they might want to take it, or pass.
She then asked me if I'd received her email the day before. Apparently, she'd emailed me, telling me that they loved the Priestess Prophecy and wanted to publish it. Of course, my spam guard had to delete that. If I hadn't called her, who know how long it might have been before I found out.
Kammi Rencher said my MS was outstanding! A high compliment, coming from an editor. I've been telling everyone I know. Two and a half years of struggle: rewrites, critique groups, conferences, rejections, near acceptances (worse than flat out no's in my opinion), edits, networking . . . I could go on forever. But I finally made it. And I think The Priestess Prophecy is good enough for all of it.
Today, I'm all smiles.

Herald Journal Article

Friday, June 13, 2008
Utah writers unite

Amber Smith, President, League of Utah Writers, reads through a sample of her writing as Marion Jensen, front, follows along during the group's monthly meeting at the Logan City Library in Logan, Utah, Wednesday, April 23, 2008. (Alan Murray/Herald Journal)

By Devin Felix
Monday, April 28, 2008 2:57 AM CDT
Putting your writing into the hands of other writers and asking them to criticize it is a harrowing experience, says Cache Valley author Marion Jensen.“It’s like putting your 3-year-old up there and they say, ‘His nose is way too big. He’s just homely.’ And your first reaction is to say, ‘You, me, in the parking lot. Now,’” he said.But if you can fight back the urge to beat up your critics, having others analyze your writing is one of the best ways to make it better, Jensen said.For that reason, he is a member of the Cache Valley chapter of the League of Utah Writers, a group that meets monthly to read, critique and celebrate each other’s writing.
The group meets in the archive room of the Logan Public Library. With its shelves of books, chandeliers and mahogany table, the room seems a fitting place to sit and discuss the arrangement of words and the conveyance of ideas.“The League is to support writers in all genres and stages of their writing,” said Amber Smith, the group’s president.They come from different backgrounds and are in different stages of life. They are hospital employees, university professors, stay-at-home-moms. And they are all writers.A few have published works already under their belts.At Wednesday’s meeting, member Janet Kay Jensen spoke with pride of Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys, her new novel about a Mormon man in love with a woman who grew up in a polygamous community. The book is a finalist for several literary awards and has even gotten some coverage in the press in Australia, she said.Marion Jensen has published two books under the pen name Matthew Buckley, Chickens in the Headlights and Bullies in the Headlights. At Wednesday’s meeting he passed out copies of chapter one from his latest, a children’s book called The Super Trio, in which twin boys from a family of super heroes on the cusp of their 10th birthday wait anxiously for their super powers to surface.Group members followed along as Smith read aloud the first chapter of a fantasy novel she began that morning. Then they gave their thoughts, pointing out an ambiguous phrase, complimenting a strong image. Later, group member John Nelson distributes chapter 38 of his book, a thriller set in a world after a pandemic has wiped out much of the globe’s population.They discuss the challenges of balancing writing with work and family. Tamara Copley used to looked forward to becoming a stay-at-home mom so she could have hours of free time to use for writing, she said.Now that she has a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, she spends most of her time “chasing babies,” she said, which makes it tough to find time. But she finds the time because she’s a writer. Now she uses her kids as a test audience for her children’s books.“I’ve heard it so many times, if you want to be a writer, just write,” Copley said.The League of Utah Writers has chapters throughout the state. In addition to meetings of individual chapters the group hosts conventions. These meetings, which are attended by writers, publishers and literary agents, are a great way for writers to try to improve their craft and get noticed, Jensen said.The League also provides opportunities for writers to interact with each other online. If a member has a question, someone on the group’s e-mail list is likely to have the answer.Writing can be a lonely task, Smith said. It’s usually just one person alone at a keyboard. Having the input of other writers is crucial.“We get a sense of reality bouncing our writing off each other,” Jensen said.Ultimately, the group provides a chance for people who share an addiction to share their addiction.

The Priestess Prophecy

Anybody like a taste of the first chapter of The Priestess Prophecy? Well, here it is. Enjoy!

Familiar threads of ice wound up Ara’s spine. She tried to force them down. She may as well have pummeled the wind. They twinned out, spreading across her back. No. Not here. Not now. Time slowed as the ice took her belly, her shoulders. Her brother turned, his face lost its smile. His gaggle of friends, not understanding, watched her with mixtures of concern and confusion. Vines of cold snaked up her throat. “Tenan!” she managed a warning cry before the vision sucked her in.
Cold and hunger gnawed at her. She would have cried, had she the strength. As it was, she whimpered softly—mewing like a sick kitten. Her body would not obey her commands. Whether because of the cold or for some other reason, she could not tell. Before her was an insurmountable white barrier. It served as her prison as well as her fortress. Beyond the barrier, trees—tall and straight as giants—stood as her sentinels. But strangest of all, the barrier moved.
The vision slammed shut, thrusting her back into her world, leaving her fourteen-year old limbs trembling. Slowly, sounds trickled in, as if from far away, “Ara? Ara? Answer me, Ara.”
Her head thrown back, she gasped before slumping in her brother’s familiar arms. His flesh felt like the sun against her winter skin. She swallowed against the sharp remnants of hunger the vision had left. As the cold began to fade, to grow bearable, she blinked and her furry vision managed to focus on his worried face. “Tenan?” she croaked.
“Is she alright?” a voice asked. She flinched as an unfamiliar hand brushed across her arm. “She’s freezing!”
She shook her head, trying to order her scrambled thoughts. She had to get away. Away from them. Before they realized what had happened. What was still happening. Smells suddenly returned to her. Baked earth, smoke, hot wool, Tenan.
His arms tightened around her. “She’s fine. She just needs a moment.” Draping her arm over his shoulder, he scanned the faces of the villagers surrounding them. “Move,” he hissed
Ara forced her wooden legs to stir. He half dragged, half supported her across the empty green of the village square. Underneath the shade of the Hallowed Tree’s vast boughs, he hauled her down beside him. She watched as Tenan’s friends slowly dispersed. Did they understand what had just happened? Her eyes fluttered shut. If word spread that she was Gifted, how long before the Assassins found her?
Unstopping his waterskin, Tenan held it to her lips. She tipped back her head and didn’t care that it gushed over her cheeks and down her shirt. It tasted of her family’s cold well and leather. The familiarity helped.
“Better?” Tenan asked.
She nodded. The reckless rush of her heart had steadied, and the ice that flowed in her veins was thawing. “Another moment, and I’ll be all right.”
Without taking his gaze from the people in the distance, he grunted sourly. “I warned you, Ara.”
She squeezed her eyes shut, hating how different she was. Her golden skin. Her lanky build. Her curious eyes—brown, flecked with green in the iris. But most of all, she hated her Gift. “You won’t Father?”
Tenan scoured his hands over his tender beard, as if to cleanse himself of her corruption. “I never do. But try not to have them anymore.”
The houses topped with split-shingle roofs and vegetable gardens seemed so out of place with the turmoil inside her. Nothing hinted of the danger Ara had just placed herself in. “I’ll try.” But in truth, she tried every day, and the visions hadn’t stopped. The distant villagers never had to worry about a Kanovian Assassin’s blade cleaving soul from body. Their cares rarely went past crops or wares. Tenan handed her the waterskin again. She took it grudgingly.
“There you are!”
She choked. Her father lowered his head like a charging bull. He always did that when he was angry. “I have been looking for you two for over an hour.”
Tenan’s grey eyes shot her a look, one she was all too familiar with. The one that said ‘let me do the talking.’ She was more than happy to comply. “Ara got hot, I found her some shade.”
Her father surveyed the waterskin in her hands and his head came up slightly, a sure sign that his anger had come and gone as quickly as a doe in flight. “Next time, find shade closer to where I told you.” He held Ursha’s reins out for Tenan. The mare was heavily laden with supplies. “You two head out, I’ll be along shortly.” He turned back toward the village.

Cedar Fort Writer's Conference

So I went to a writer's conference in Springville last Sat. I learned so much that I wanted to share it with my fellow authors. So for those of you dying to know: I'm going to break it into installments. Feel free to ask questions.
The first person I'm going to cover is Jeffrey Marsh, acquisition editor for Cedar Fort. Here's my notes (with some of my own thoughts to make it coherent):
  1. Write to an audience:
  • When boiled down, Novels are a great conversation between the writer and the author
  • Don't write above, below, or around your audience--WRITE TO THEM. Remember it's a conversation. You don't want to be snooty or juvenile (unless your writing to Juveniles).

2. Learn the art of storytelling

  • Stories need to have a beginning, middle and end
  • there is an art to storytelling. You could have a great story, but if you can't write well, it will never be taken.
  • character development is vital. Your protagonist needs to grow.

3. Great Book to read on the subject: The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler, Second Edition.

Next week, I'm writing on Janet Jensen's presentation on Media Kits.


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