Personal editing. Professional results.
December 23, 2022
Query letters flow off four Cs

You might have a reason to write a query letter, because you’d like a book contract instead of publishing yourself. To assemble a query, look to the four Cs. Those are the basic parts of a query: Connect, Context, Compel, Credentials. Connection is the place where you make it clear to an agent or editor […]

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December 23, 2022
Create rich, hard stuff first: synopsis-outline

The richest writing for a book is rarely published, but everyone needs it. The synopsis, or a very detailed outline, is the hardest stuff to create, too. A synopsis tells the essentials of a story so you can see themes and arcs. Without one, you’re writing to discover your book’s story. That’s fun. It also […]

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December 23, 2022
Calculate the value of submissions

Contests can pay off, even if you don’t win. Each February, the deadline shows up for the Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Contest. It can be a difficult contest to win: it expects authors to present their books in just 2,750 words. That includes a synopsis. The goodness of your full book has to be […]

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December 23, 2022
Get a mix of hope and instruction

The life of an author always points toward publishing. You’re making a book, which is what makes you more than a writer. Publishing always looks to the future, even when the book’s subject is historical. We estimate how much we will sell, plan for when the book is ready, take a measure of the calendar, […]

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December 23, 2022
Create a tight, powerful blurb

While you’re trying to get your revision cleaner, a half-hour’s work on your book blurb can help you focus. This can be easier when you’re explaining the book to a friend or ally in an email. I told a new colleague that my novel Sins of Liberty posed this premise. What does the secret wife […]

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December 23, 2022
Turning fact into fiction

Authors used to argue about whether creative nonfiction could even exist. If you were creative, then how could you call it nonfiction. The facts steer the story, they’d argue. An award-winning screenwriter says there’s more than the facts to consider while storytelling. The truth is more important than the facts. Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed […]

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December 23, 2022
How to revise from reader notes

Whenever you finish a draft, you’ve owe yourself the right to ask for outside eyes on the writing. Your beta readers or your evaluation editor is likely to get you an evaluation memo, or a page of notes. When the notes cover 80,000 words of a book, from several reviewers, then revising can feel overwhelming. […]

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September 26, 2022
Let's talk about your book's pricing

It's time to have a genteel discussion about pricing, especially as established by small presses. Too few of them seem to recognize that buying a book is a price-sensitive transaction. I would not want to be the author trying to sell my book on my limited platform for 30 percent more than a bestseller's novel. […]

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August 31, 2022
The Future That Was Viral Times

 A dream delayed is better than a dream denied. It's a natural element of being human to look into the future, a skill that the community of HP 3000 computer owners polished over the first decade of the 21st century. Across the same period, working as an editor of a monthly newsletter, I did polishing […]

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August 27, 2022
What to expect when you query

"Is the book a strong commercial prospect for success?" That’s the question an agent or publisher asks. A debut author at a Big Five house — that’s a rare thing. The coveted slots often go to writers who have something of a profile already in writing, but the exceptions can prove that rule. Yes, you'll […]

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