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How to Query a Book Publicist

When I first started offering publicity services for authors (many years ago), the winter months were often a slow time for me workwise. Now, with so many authors self-publishing, I receive more queries in the fall and winter than at any other time of year.

To help authors get the best response with their queries, I’ve listed some general tips on the best way to approach a publicist.  ...




Do a little self-analysis first.

Before you decide to contact a publicist, take a few moments to consider whether your book and your own personal platform are ready for the kind of promotional work that a publicist will do for you.

Has your book been professionally edited? Has the cover been professionally designed? Do you have a website and social media sites? Have you thought about who your readers are and where you can best reach them? What kind of platform do you have? If you don’t have a platform, are you in the process of creating one?

Know what you’re looking for in the way of promotion and w…

Michael Neff Loses it At Algonkian Novel Workshop

Yes, that's him. Michael Neff. And where is he? In the AEI Films and Books office in LA? Yes, that's it. He was holding a workshop there, attempting to talk a few genre writers into analyzing screenplays before rewriting their novels. So why does he look crazed? He's rejecting a bad manuscript, or maybe a bad film pitch. That's what he's doing. A pitch too far, and now, he's lost it. He tried to be patient, but it didn't work. The writer was a narcissist, a flipping ego maniac, thus escorting Neff to the brink, to the point where he actually resembled the Cage man himself.

Look at him! What is he saying?

"I'm sorry, Alva, it's just too late. Too late to add a plot line with a cliffhanger. It's all TOO LATE!!!"

To which the now terrified writer replies: "I'm sorry, Mr. Neff, I'll search passionately for a plot, and premise first, yes ... a premise that will sell, and--"

"TOO LATE!  TOOOOOO LATE!"



Fool's Gold, . . . or Not

By CeCe Baker

Questions, questions, questions! What happens when a writer decides to pen what could possibly be his or her break-through novel?  Are previously-written works taken seriously?  What will be the impetus to write another one? Barbara Kingsolver said, “There is no perfect time to write. There’s only now.” Steve Martini said, “If the writer has a masterpiece within, he had better save it on paper. Otherwise, none of us will ever miss it.”

What single act or thing is it that begins our process as writers? My best ideas come to me when I’m near water. And while it can be something so subtle as a relaxing soak in a hot tub or as exotic as sitting behind a waterfall watching the sheen of its water dissolve as it hits the rocks below, still there’s something about moving water that gets my creative juices going.  Knowing what does it for me, I can’t help but wonder what it is for Barbara Kingsolver or Steve Martini. The one quote that steers me most though is by E. L. Doctorow, “…

Are MFA Programs Worth it? Some Unvarnished Thoughts on MFA Programs and the “Literary-Industrial Complex”

Reprinted with permission from The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer's Block by Hillary Rettig
A poll of writers regarding whether or not a writer should attend an MFA Program The question is often asked: are MFA programs worth it? Are they worth the tremendous outlay of dollars and time? Perhaps some more than others (see our note below) ... The following is what popular writer Hillary Rettig has to say on the issue. Meanwhile, the debate rages on. Need we say more? Yes, we need to say much more.
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MFA programs promise training and mentoring that will improve your writing, but often don’t deliver. Tim Tomlinson, in the introduction to The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, writes, “Many people find it hard to believe that I passed through two years of an MFA program, four separate workshops, and received not so much as a comma back on a manuscript. But it’s true, and my case was not exceptional.”

I can believ…

Must a Reader "Like" Your Characters?

by Robert Bausch

NO! You NEVER have to worry whether or not the reader "likes" your main character--or any of your characters for that matter. You only have to worry that the reader "knows" enough about your character to have an emotional investment in what happens to her. Readers who put down books because they don't like the characters are not very good readers, so you don't want them anyway. I've heard editors at major publishers say they do not want a particular book because the character is not "likable," so the philistines are on the march and it's clear the woods are burning. But it's a rigorously stupid idea that we should "like" the characters we read about. If that were actually true, we could instantly eliminate fully half of the world's great literature and forget about it, starting with Richard The III, and coming forward to Portnoy and "Rabbit" Angstrom. 

I worked really hard to make the main charact…