Monday, May 6, 2019

Planning Ahead for Your Agent Pitch Session



So you've scheduled a time to meet face to face with a literary agent at a Pitch Session.  Now What?

The most important thing to remember about a literary agent is that THEY WANT TO BELIEVE IN YOU AND YOUR MANUSCRIPT.  They are just as hopeful to find the next big success story as you are to become that shining star.  So don't allow yourself to be intimidated by the process.  The best way to stay focused and calm is to remember the agent is on your side.  Keeping this in mind, and being prepared, will help you make the most of your agent pitch session.

First, remember, you're already ahead of the game because you have a direct in.  You're meeting your agent in person.  This gives you a tremendous advantage.  Nearly 90% of all queries come from people who have very little knowledge of the publishing industry and the process involved to get a book to market.  But when an agent meets an author or aspiring author at a writers' conference pitch session, they know that person is dedicated to learning more about the craft of writing, publishing, and promoting a book with professionalism.

Before the conference, take some time to do a little homework. Agents are always impressed when a writer knows something about their agency and the writers they represent. It helps to know where your manuscript falls in the marketplace. For instance, who is the audience? What types of publishers are likely to buy your book?

Educate yourself on books similar to yours that have already been published, then be prepared to share why yours is different. What category does it fall into, who is your target audience, and how will it fit within the market?

Prepare a pitch in which you present your proposed piece in a comfortably condensed version of the full story. Practice that pitch until you can deliver it effortlessly. DO NOT MEMORIZE a script.  You don't want to come off as though you are giving a canned speech.  Be enthusiastic about your manuscript.  If you can't show that you're excited about it, then why should an agent be?  Remember, enthusiasm is contagious!

The point of the pitch session is to get your manuscript read. You’re not there to chat, make a new friend, or share the problems you’re having with your writing.  You're there to convince them that you are a professional and your manuscript is worthy of having a look.

For fiction, break down the pitch into three points: the set-up, the hook, and a final resolution. For nonfiction, explain what the book is about, how and why you are qualified to write on the topic, who will read it, and how you are able to promote it.

Agents are not usually likely to carry your manuscript home with them. And don’t expect them to read your synopsis while you wait. Sell the agent on you as a writer and then the book you’re presenting. It is far more helpful to convince the agent of your vision, talent, and commitment first, and then hopefully about the book itself. Don't worry if they don't show too much interest at the time.  If the agent is interested, they will usually follow up at a later date.

Be prepared with a few questions.  If the agent asks you if you have any questions for them, you're going to want to be prepared to pose questions which show you've done your homework.  A few questions you may wish to ask could include asking about their agenting style, or asking them to share with you a little about the process including the next steps.  This session is as much about you as it is about them. Before you sign with an agent, you'll want to get to know them.  Having a good relationship with a literary agent is important, so make sure you feel comfortable passing the baton to this person as they carry your manuscript through to the next step in the publishing game.

Don't talk yourself out of this.  If you start to get nervous about your pitch session remember, you typically have a year to get a completed manuscript to your agent.  If you're afraid it's not ready yet, that's fine.  The purpose of this session is to see if the story idea fits with them.  They'll want to know your book is marketable. So sell them on the idea.

You've signed up for this session.  This is your time, so use it wisely.  If the session wraps up more quickly than expected you can use any additional time to ask them for tips about your query letter, or about other manuscript ideas you may be considering.  

Many best wishes for an enlightening and highly successful pitch session!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Great American Book Festival Brings Agent Pitch Sessions to Rapid City

 Rapid City, SD
As anyone who has ever dreamed of becoming an author can attest, the world of publishing can be quite intimidating.  First, there’s the task of crafting a manuscript.  Then there’s the oft-told tale of trying to find an agent and publisher.  Then, once the book is ready for production, there’s the chore of promotion.  All in all, the prospect can be as exciting as it is unnerving.  The Great American Book Festival, now in its second year, is bringing the GABfest Writers’ Conference to downtown Rapid City once again.  Free and open to the public, local authors, aspiring authors, and those who are just curious to learn more about the world of publishing are invited to attend a full day of conferences in May. 

The GABfest Writers’ Conference will be held on Friday, May 10th at the Dahl Arts Center, in the John T. Vucurevich Center.  There are a variety of sessions to appeal to those in all stages of their writing career.  There will be an authors’ round table session in which attendees are invited to participate in a Q&A with seasoned authors, all of whom are recognized in their field.  Other sessions include topics on self-publishing, book marketing, writing tips and strategies, and how to find an agent and get published.  There will even be a session by local author, Dorothy Rosby, on writing and revising for humor.   

One exciting new addition to this year’s conference will be the opportunity for authors and aspiring authors to attend live agent pitch sessions.  Pitch sessions allow individuals to meet one-on-one with agents to propose a completed manuscript.  This is a rare opportunity and not to be missed by those seeking representation.  Quressa Robinson of Nelson Literary Agency from New York, and Jennifer Flannery of Flannery Literary in Chicago will offer private sessions throughout the day of the conference on Friday, May 10th.  Because space is limited, these sessions are by reservation only and include a small participation fee. 

 Jennifer Flannery of Flannery Literary
Quressa Robinson of Nelson Literary 

In addition to the writers’ conference, other events include the 2nd Annual GABfest Lit Walk, a literary-themed pub crawl which begins at Firehouse Wine Cellars and ends with live music and literary readings at Hay Camp Brewery the evening of May 10th.  The main event is, of course, the Great American Book Festival which takes place on Saturday, May 11th at downtown Rapid City’s Main Street Square.  Featuring nearly forty authors (local and from around the world), Great American Book Festival events include readings, book signings, performances, kids activities, and food vendors. 


As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the Great American Book Festival is funded in part by the generous support of the following organizations: i2i Technologies, Literary Classics Book Awards & Reviews, Author.Pub, Firehouse Brewing Company, Denny Menholt Rushmore Honda, Denny Menholt Toyota, Firehouse Wine Cellars, Hay Camp Brewery, Who’s Toy House and Wobbly Bobby British Pub.  To learn more visit GABfest.info.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Author.Pub Pitch Perfect: Finding an Agent

Author.Pub Pitch Perfect: Finding an Agent: by Caitlyn Brooke Hello writers! So you’ve finally finished your book! Congratulations! Now it’s on to the terrifying process of tryin...

Finding an Agent

by Caytlyn Brooke

Hello writers!

So you’ve finally finished your book! Congratulations! Now it’s on to the terrifying process of trying to find an agent. Yikes! Where to start?

Before you begin looking for an agent, make sure your manuscript is complete and has had a solid edit. In my experience, I didn’t pay anyone for editing services, but I did make sure all the words were spelled correctly and I used proper grammar. Most agents require a synopsis, plot outline, as well as several sample chapters for a submission so have those prepared as well. I found a fantastic website called querytracker.com when I was first starting to research agents. This website is a wonderful resource that organizes credible agents by genre, so you can be confident that your manuscript and submission will end up in the correct hands. Once you have your submission ready, the website provides you with the agent’s email address and tracks their responses.

So you’ve submitted your manuscript. It’s time for you to chew your fingernails to the quick and check your inbox every two minutes. Some agents respond immediately, while others might not reply back for six months. Don’t be discouraged if you receive an instant, “Sounds great, but it’s just not what I’m looking for right now.” I received hundreds of “nos”. Some were polite, but many others were very blunt. It is incredibly hard to swallow rejection, especially if this is your first time putting your book out there. The most important thing is to keep going. Check that agent off the box and move on to the next one on the list.

During this process, try to make your submission stand out. Agents are reading dozens of queries a day; put your personality into the email while remaining professional. There are many templates online that help detail the wording of the query. Use that for the bones, but tailor it to each individual agent. Research other books that they have represented too. If they rep something similar to yours, mention that in your email because it might pique their interest and show that you’ve done your research.

I myself queried my YA thriller/fantasy Dark Flowers for two years. I would sit down and email three or four agents a day. With each sent email, a new flame of hope blossomed in my chest, only to be smothered immediately. But I never stopped. Then, one afternoon, I sent a submission and the agent I queried said, “This sounds really interesting! Can you please send me more?” My jaw hit the table and I twirled around my dining room. I gathered several more sample chapters, along with more information about my characters and sent it away, dreams of becoming a National Bestseller flashing in my head like a movie.

A few days passed and I continued to query, walking on air every time I saw the little Yes in my tracker statistics. Three weeks passed and still, I heard nothing back. To this day, I have yet to receive an email from the agent. Obviously, he read more and wasn’t interested in offering representation and I was such a small thought in the back of his mind that he forgot to tell me.

After this experience, I decided an agent wasn’t for me, so I turned to Indie Publishing. A friend of mine is a writer and gave me the information on the publishing house she signed with to submit my work. Hesitant, I sent along my submission and I heard back the next day. They were very interested in my novel and offered me a chance to join their team. That was three years ago and I have written and published two multi-award winning novels with my amazing publisher BHC Press.

BHC Press introduced me to my incredible editor, took my ideas to mold the perfect covers, and spent countless hours promoting both me and my novels on numerous social media sites. Overall, I didn’t need an agent to be an author. I didn’t need an agent to be successful. I do feel that querying agents is a very helpful process because it helped me develop my book and get to know my characters better through the in-depth information they required, however, it is not the only way to succeed. I wish you great luck with your writing career!



Caytlyn Brooke is a multi-award winning author who loves to explore the darker side of fantasy. She lives in the Southern Tier of New York with her husband Daniel, her son Jack, and her daughter Joanna. Her cat Ana is always lounging beside her in the sun and is only slightly overweight. Caytlyn loves polka dots and cannot wait to skydive. You can find out more about Caytlyn and her books at her publisher’s website www.bhcpress.com

Her novels are also available at:


Thursday, January 17, 2019

10 Tips to Put Pizzazz in Your Pitch--Getting Radio Hosts So Excited They Demand You




By Jackie Lapin, Founder of Conscious Media Relations

Getting one radio station to promote your book may just be good luck. But getting dozens or even hundreds of radio shows to book you means that you must have a compelling pitch letter and subject matter that are irresistible.

Hence prospective radio show guests need to know the “10 Tips to Put Pizzazz in Your Pitch--Getting Radio Hosts So Excited They Demand You!”

Before someone tackles self-booking on radio, they should have some basic knowledge of what a show host or producer is looking for and how to write a letter that excites the booker. We’ve perfected this art for our clients and are willing to share the inside scoop on making yourself appealing to the radio show.

So here are some guidelines that will certainly help if you are proposing yourself for radio shows:

  1. Make it a Memorable Pitch. It is imperative to get the attention of the host or producer immediately. The power of the lead paragraph cannot be underestimated. Especially in an email world, you have less than 30 seconds to grab their attention. So a concise first line must shock, excite, intrigue or create a great reason to read on. 
      Some of the ways that you can make it interesting are posing a question; making a bold statement; creating an unexpected juxtaposition; stating a problem that you are the person to solve; making a revelatory declaration; be topical and keying the interview to something newsworthy or an upcoming holiday; stating something only you can say; or tweaking and teasing the host.
  
  1. Essentials To Make It Compelling. There are some key elements that you can provide to make yourself irresistible to a host.  First you must establish that there is a problem that engages the audience and for which you have the solution. Second, you must advise the host how your interview will benefit the listeners. Third, you have to establish what you can say that they’ve never heard before. Even if they’ve heard similar topics, your voice must be distinct. Succinctly tell your own powerful story of growth and transformation, so that you position yourself as an expert who can lead the listener in a similar transformation.
Tell the host how you can illuminate, motivate, inspire and make the listener feel something. Lastly, dare to be different—but not TOO different so it is off putting, especially to mainstream media.

  1. Take Advantage of Holiday Themed Pitches.  Look for holiday tie-ins, but still maintain your focus on the benefits to the listener. Work far in advance since many shows book their holiday segments as much as a month early.
  1. Mold the Message to their Specific Audience. Depending on genre, topic and type of demographics different shows are looking for guests that fit a specific profile. Seldom can one letter work for all. You will need to tweak the message for each media segment, while not diluting the appeal. Know the host and the show you are soliciting and tailor the pitch letter to the host, subject and the audience. 
  1. Making Sure It Has All the Right Elements. In structuring a compelling pitch letter that makes them say “Yes,” you must have certain key information. These elements should be included in the order noted :
    1. An attention-grabbing lead
    2. Subject introduction/reason for interview
    3. Your credentials (keep these brief and pertinent)
    4. Benefits to the audience. Specifically state or spell out what will be learned by the listener
    5. Brief review quote from an endorser or reviewer, an objective party. In some cases you may want to state where you have been booked before. (Not on a competitive show, however.)
    6. Offer a copy of the book or product, and ask the host to advise if he/she would like one sent
    7. Provide contact information to call for interview
    8. Restate in one line why you’d be a great guest and the benefits.
    9. Close and provide signature
    10. Keep it to one page
  1. Create a Great Interview Packet. A radio interview packet is different from a general media kit. It has certain elements directed specifically to make it easy on the host to prepare for the interview. Your Interview Packet should include a release on your product or book, your biography, talking points or bullet-point summary of the content you want to cover, a brief two-paragraph introduction of you and your product that you want the host to read to the audience when introducing you, a list of things you want to promote (book, website, coaching program, upcoming teleseminar for example), a list of suggested questions that you are offering the host in the event he/she chooses to use them and a JPG photo of yourself in case the interview is promoted on the show’s website.

  1. Test Your Pitch. Before sending it everywhere, test it on a few shows. See whether it’s effective. Tweak it a bit, or try a different approach altogether until you find one that resonates with the hosts and producers.

  1. Perfect the Follow Up Call. Now that you’ve sent the email, fax or letter, it’s time to make the follow up call. Try not to blow it here! After all, if you are dull and verbose on the query call, why should they book you for a full interview? So get to the point, don’t rattle on, and keep it to a 30-second sound bite. Don’t over introduce yourself. They don’t need all of your credentials, just why you are the proper person to present this subject. For example, keep it to a description like, “I am the bestselling author of….” Sound exciting; but not excited. Be professional; but not monotone. Practice your pitch in advance on others to make sure you have it just right and can get it out without tripping over yourself. Leave your number twice—once at the start and once at the end of the call.

  1. Don’t Overlook Internet Radio. You can take advantage of Internet Radio in a way you can’t with mainstream. Internet radio show hosts may not have as big an audience, but they have a more targeted audience and will let you aggressively and enthusiastically sell your product or service. You get more plugs over a longer extended amount of time. Internet radio hosts tend to be better educated and more focused on the subject matter. They often will post the interview as a podcast where it will get more listeners afterward, and can be provided to you for your website. Many times you can arrange other business ventures with them to market your products. Some will post your book or product on their site so that listeners can immediately click through to your website or to Amazon.com. Most importantly, Internet radio hosts are accustomed to letting you drive listeners to your website for newsletter signups, free ebooks and other incentives to get people on your opt–in list.

  1. Hire a Pro. So once you realize the amount of work it takes to create this kind of appeal and then research the thousands of radio shows that are potential portals for your message, you may find it easier to retain an agency that has a special  Radio Media Tour, an exclusive turn-key agency package that strategically positions the spokesman for the marketplace and then connects with radio shows across the nation to arrange interview bookings.


Jackie Lapin’s Conscious Media Relations creates Radio Media Tours especially for authors, speakers and coaches by offering them to an exclusive list of more than 3000+ radio hosts who seek interviews with leaders in personal development, health, spirituality, prosperity and conscious living—anything that transforms humanity or the planet. For more information go to www.ConsciousMediaRelations.com or call 818 707-1473.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Are you an Author?

Author is defined by Merriam-Webster for Kids as: a person who creates a written work. I like to share that definition with students because it is encouraging.  If you put the words on paper you are an author.  You are a wordsmith, but you must also be brave and thick-skinned. If you want to be a published author, putting words on paper is just the first step. And there are things you can do to increase your chance of success.
Understanding the business of publishing is one key to success.  It is a business that involves many people, all of whom are hoping to make a living. I did not find success as an author until I began to study the business. The knowledge gained helped me target submissions and decreased the sting of rejection! For example, understanding how many submissions a publisher receives vs how many books they publish a year is eye-opening, as is a look at resources like Publishers Weekly.  Any given week, a majority of their top 25 picture book bestsellers were written decades ago.
Tenacity, according to my invaluable Flip Dictionary, is a synonym for patience and persistence.  Two of the words I wanted to use, but there’s no P in AUTHOR. However, maybe tenacity is really the right word. And writing is about finding the right word. Tenacity involves patience, persistence, and determination.  To be a published author you cannot give up or be discouraged.  Despite the overnight success stories, most authors will be rejected MANY times (I have been hundreds of times) and they will have waited months for this lovely rejection news!
Hone your craft. An author is never done learning.  In the age of the internet, resources abound. There are blogs, online workshops, and online critique groups.  Join groups like the Author’s Guild or Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and you’ll find abundant information and links to MORE information. A critique group, or at least readers other than family and friends, is a must.  Like the game of telephone, what you see in your head does not always make it to the paper and into your reader’s mind.
Organize your time. Most authors have other jobs and obligations.  When I have time to devote to my writing I have to decide how to utilize my time – do I work on a new story, revise an old one, research places to send a story, catch up on industry news, read reviews of books, read books in the genre I write, do a writing workshop, read a book about the craft of writing, market the books I have published, etc.! AND, don’t forget what may be the most important:  quiet thinking time, letting the ideas come and grow in your mind!
Read, read, read! If you want to be a published author you need to read. Reading books in the genre you write will help you understand what goes into a book that makes it from manuscript to library shelf. Reading any genre exposes you to words, language and the art of storytelling. And reading does one more thing-it supports other authors, which is what you are or hope to be!

About Holly Niner
Holly Niner’s latest books, No More Noisy Nights and The Day I Ran Away, were released from Flashlight Press in 2017.  She has had numerous stories published in children’s magazines, and her previous picture books were award winners. Mr. Worry: A Story about OCD, received the 2005 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Award, and I Can’t Stop: A Story about Tourette Syndrome, was the winner of the 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award and a 2005 Bank Street College of Education Best Book. Holly lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Find her at hollyniner.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Past Mistakes of a New Author Trying to Get Noticed



When I started to write my first ever book, I admit I didn’t have a clue. Yes, I knew I had a good story in my head, and I had written much of it down on paper and had painted a lot of the illustrations.  Next was to let friends and family read it. Big mistake, of course, they all say it’s great, loved it, or it’s coming on well, as they don’t want to upset you! Proud as I was, I set off to look for an editor, I asked around a bit and soon came across someone that knew one nearby, so I printed my manuscript (manuscript was a new word for me at that time) and had it spiral bound with my draft cover and all images inside, I paid my near $1,000 and gave it to the editor I also sent a word file of the book, and I waited.

The manuscript was returned by e-mail from the Editor with something else new to me called Track Changes, it seemed to have ripped apart much of my book, and put it in the side column and removed almost all of the commas. Puzzled we arranged a meeting and were told, “These days readers don’t like commas, as it slows the reading, and readers these days are more intelligent, so I have removed most of them for you.” My poor manuscript was in now tatters. Rewrite one began.

That was a hard lesson learned with editors, they are worth their weight in gold, but you have to make sure you get the right one. The one I had used was trained in editing technical manuals! But I didn’t totally lose everything, it had been a valuable lesson, and I then knew how to use Track Changes and now couldn’t work without it.  I soon found a suitable company to edit and format my book professionally and was quite disappointed when it came back after the first round of editing with another half of my book shoved over to the side column.  So rewrite two took place. Following more edits, and months of work rewriting I now knew how writing books worked properly and had something that really was worth reading.  

Then I self-published. I remember thinking at the time, now all I have to do was put it on Amazon, pay for someone to design and build a website, and within a year they would be selling like hot-cakes. Duh! Wrong.  I didn’t know that there are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, and if you are self-published you are on the bottom of the pile, as your ISBN book number can identify this to publishers. 

As I soon found out after sending out dozens of books to major publishers, there was never a single reply. I wondered, “Is my book that bad!” This simply seemed a waste of books and postage. I did manage to get to talk to one major company and they told me they get thousands of unsolicited submissions a week, and hundreds of books delivered a day.  So they simply dispose of them. That’s when it dawned on me that it was going to be a long hard road of reviews, competitions, free giveaways, bigger better websites, blogs, tweets, book clubs, paying for advertising, press releases, and more.

I suppose it works like a filter, only allowing the cream to float to the top. But none of this social media or computer stuff was really me. I’m the artistic one who writes and draws from all that rubbish floating around in his head.  But luckily I had a wife who was so much more of an academic than me, and by this time I had almost finished my second book, and my stupid head was already imagining the third.

We are not gamblers as we have both worked hard all our lives and have earned all we have. But now was the time to be brave, so we were. My wife left her job and started in earnest promoting my books; she built websites and learned how to make video trailers, blogs, Tweets etc. We entered competitions and sent for reviews and generally networked (another first for me). As a team, we gained strength and recognition in the literary world.  Mind you, it doesn’t come cheap, but if you want your books out there you have to be brave.

Seven years of hard work later and it has worked for us. We have some great reviews, have won International Book Awards and been interviewed by radio and newspapers. We are currently in negotiations with a recognized publisher, and a fourth book is on the way.  Yes, it’s a very long hard road, but keep going and don’t give up on yourself. When you win that first award, as we did with Literary Classics Book Awards, it really gives you that boost of energy to forge ahead. Sometimes all you need is for your book to be in the right place at the right time, and it all becomes worthwhile.

International award-winning author, Stephan von Clinkerhoffen, is a Peter Pan character. That’s why his sci-fi fantasy series “The Hidden city of Chelldrah-ham” suits younger readers and the “young at heart”.  Clinkerhoffen’s writing, conceived from his love of mechanics, nature, and art is tempered by humanity and fun.  An Engineering background allows him to develop new ideas, learning from success and failure. He enjoys tinkering with classic cars and motorbikes, and even built his own kit car.  Through his art, Clinkerhoffen embraces the challenge of painting intricately detailed fantasy lands which he depicts in his novels.  Clinkerhoffen spent several years volunteering with the New Zealand Red Cross after Christchurch’s earthquakes. Back in England, after 14 years living in New Zealand, he feels lucky to call the Cotswold countryside his home again.

See links below to find out more about Stephan von Clinkerhoffen and “The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham” series.