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Contents Seth Godin Interviewed by Jennifer Wilkov A Book Is a Magical Thing! Page 4 (Cover: Brian Bloom Photography) Aurora Seth
”Ask Jennifer” Literary Agents Page 10 Milana Leshinsky, Copy That Sells Page 12
Michael Bungay Stanier Explore the Edges Page 20 Ellen Violette How to Pick the MOST Profitable Topic for Your e-Book! Page 25
Marci Shimoff Interviewed by Christine Kloser Transformational Author Spotlight Page 26
Aurora Winter Writing to Change Lives Page 34 Louise
Andrea Feinberg Birthing My First Book Page 42 Michael Neill Stand Up for Your Voice Page 44
Dr. Sherry Buffington Busting Through Writer’s Block Page 50
Sharon Good Getting Published Page 56 Michael
Kim Ades Interviewed by Viki Winterton The Powerful Joy of Journaling Page 64 Chellie Campbell Interviewed by Louise Crooks The Wealthy Spirit Page 70
Editor’s Tip Page 77
Expert to Expert Seth Godin Interviewed by Jennifer Wilkov A Book Is a Magical Thing!
Photo by John Abbott
Seth Godin writes the most popular marketing blog in the world, just reaching its 3,000th post. Seth is the author of the best-selling marketing books of the last decade is also the founder of www.squidoo.com, a fast-growing recommendation Web site. Jennifer S. Wilkov is a best-selling author, a sought-after consultant for writers, and the Literary Agent MatchmakerTM. Jennifer is also the founder of Your Book Is Your Hook.
JSW: Seth, it’s really a prolific career that you have, so let’s get right to it. How did you originally get into the book business? SG: Even though my story might sound interesting, it’s one of those stories that doesn’t help you very much. I started as a book packager twenty-five years ago. Book packagers dream up ideas for books and then sell them to publishers. I did one hundred and twenty books, about a book a month, for ten years. There were several best sellers. It’s a difficult way to make a living today, and I stopped doing it about ten or fifteen years ago. It’s not a practical way for you to launch your idea. Rather than thinking about how you can do what I did, the interesting thing to consider is how a book and the process of writing and disseminating a book can give you a platform to spread your ideas. The good news is that now it is easier than ever. JSW: How do you use your book as your hook? SG: A book is a magical thing. Movies are even more magical, but movies cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to make. A book is usually a work of a single individual, and someone who reads the book is putting trust in the author and letting the author directly into their head. This is a place where the author can tell a story, where they can paint a picture, and that’s a privilege. If you can earn that privilege without having to spend a lot of money, that’s a magnificent way to earn trust. My first best seller, Permission Marketing, was written so that my first Internet company would have an easier way to tell its story and get new sponsors. If a sponsor could read that book and understand what we were doing—without it being a sales pitch—then it was going to be very straightforward for that person to decide to come along and actually do business with us.
“I am passionate about sharing my ideas. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning—not making a living, but making a difference.”
The opportunity here is not to see the book as the thing you do to make money because it’s almost impossible to make money writing a book; a book is a very low cost way for you to spread an idea. When that idea spreads —when people are engaged with you —then there are countless other ways that you can gain profit. JSW: You’re also the most successful blogger in the world. How did you actually get into blogging and how did you eventually turn some of your blogs into books? SG: The great news is that there is no gatekeeper. The thing that draws some people—and I know many of them—into saying, “I’m a want-to-be author,” is that they can blame the New York publishers for their failure. They say, “I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do. I’m reading Writer’s Digest, I’m writing the proposals the way that I’m supposed to, I’m pitching agents; it’s their fault no one will publish my book.” What the Internet is doing is calling your bluff. If you want to have a blog, have a blog. You can get the best blog software in the world for twenty dollars a month, or you can get free blogging software, and no one can tell you that you have to stop. If you want to publish a book on Lulu, publish a book on Lulu. It’s free. If someone buys it then you make money and Lulu makes money. The point is that we’re calling your bluff. We’re saying to the lizard brain—the part of your head that wants you to fit in—“Go! Do it if you want to do it, but stop whining about the fact that somehow someone is keeping you from breaking into the inner circle.” My blog exists for me because I am passionate about sharing my ideas. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning—not making a living, but making a difference.
Ask Jennifer Topic: Literary Agents
Book Writing, Marketing & Publishing Q & A with Jennifer S. Wilkov from Your Book Is Your Hook! Q: Can I approach agents for representation if all I have is a book idea? A: If your book is a nonfiction “how-to” book or a nonfiction memoir, then yes you can. You will need to write an industry standard query and book proposal. You will have to include two sample chapters with your submission as well as an outline of the chapters for the book. If your book is fiction, you should not submit until the manuscript has been completed. Q: How do I approach an agent for representation? A: You can either submit your project for consideration via e-mail or regular mail according to the submission guidelines for each agent. You can also attend a writers’ conference where you will have the opportunity to pitch ideas and talk directly with agents. Q: If I meet an agent at a social function, should I pitch to them? A: Most agents frown upon being approached at a wedding, funeral, graduation, summer barbeque, holiday party, or other social event. If they are at a professional event as an agent like a writers’ conference, be sure to pitch the agents during your agent session. Do not chase them into the bathroom, attempt to hand your manuscript to them under the stall, or corner them in the buffet line, restaurant, or hallways. If they ask you what your book is about, be prepared to share a quick hook for your book and wait to see if they express an interest and ask you for more information about it. Q: Do I need a literary agent to get my book published? A: Today, you have more options than ever to publish your book. You can opt to submit your work for consideration to literary agents. You can submit to some publishers directly. You can approach a self-publishing house where you will pay for publication. You may also choose to electronically publish your book. No matter how you publish, expect to market and build a platform for your book by yourself. Q: How do I submit to an agent? Is it the same process for each one? A: Submission guidelines differ from agent to agent so you’re going to need to do your research. Agents often prefer to receive a query letter first accompanied by a number of pages or chapters for a fiction book; they’ll expect a book proposal for a nonfiction book. Don’t assume that how you submitted to one agent will work for another. Personalize your communications with each agent and get to know more about them and what they represent before you submit your project for consideration. Always include your contact information with your submission. Q: How long will an agent spend evaluating my query? A: Between three seconds and thirty days, on average. Many agents read their queries submitted on their phones between meetings. Many have a “no response means no” policy, so you may not hear anything from them in response to your query. If they are behind in reading queries, which are secondary to serving their existing clients, it may take them up to four weeks to respond, if at all. Check their submission guidelines for their rejection notification policy. Q: Can I approach an agent who has rejected me with another book idea or manuscript? A: Approach agents with your very best work. Choose the highest and best project you have to
submit. Don’t expect agents to give you input on your book idea or detailed critiques when you submit your project. Agents do not provide feedback about your submission in their rejections. They don’t usually respond positively to your immediate resubmission of the same project or a new submission for another project. If you submit another project right away, they wonder why you didn’t submit that one the first time. Q: What if I self-published my book and now I want an agent? A: If your book has not sold five thousand to ten thousand copies, do not submit your project for consideration to an agent. In most cases, it will be automatically rejected. Once you self-publish or e-publish your book, you must prove to an agent that the project is selling well and that there is an audience for it before they will consider it. Q: Will agents want to know more about me when they receive my submission? A: If your book is nonfiction, you must have an existing platform for your book, including a strong social media presence, active blog, Web site and Internet following. Agents will look for this in your book proposal and also via an Internet search. Q: How do I get to know more about agents? A: Go to their Web sites. Read their blogs. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Join groups on LinkedIn and read their posts. Do not send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn or e-mail them with questions unless they indicate it on their blog or Web site. If one of their blog articles sparks a question for you, post a comment below the article post on their blog. Attend writers’ conferences and events where they may be speaking. Q: What if I don’t have time to find an agent, write my book, run my coaching practice, and speak? A: Consultants like me offer services to support you with your agent search so you can outsource some of the work required to prepare your submissions. Look out for ones that don’t demonstrate their ability to specifically and successfully connect you with viable, vetted agents. There are a few of us who do this who are acknowledged by agents and other professionals in the industry. Do your homework and ask lots of questions prior to paying any fees for assistance.
Please submit your questions for the next topic, Self-Publishing vs. Working With an Agent, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Write Away Write Now Q&A” in your subject line. I look forward to answering your questions! Jennifer
Jennifer S. Wilkov: Media personality, host, and producer of the #1 radio talk show Your Book Is Your Hook! on WomensRadio. Jennifer is a best-selling, award-winning author who has been published five times, an award-winning freelance writer, the Literary Agent Matchmaker™, and a respected book business consultant in her business by the same name, Your Book Is Your Hook! Jennifer has been called the quintessential writer and teacher for the 21st century. She supports first-time and seasoned authors in their book writing, marketing, and publishing endeavors through coaching and training in her Your Book Is Your Hook! consulting practice. She focuses on supporting writers with the essentials to become a best seller: a great project, a strong platform, and a well-polished pitch, presentation, and hook for their book. www.YourBookIsYourHook.com and www.LiteraryAgentMatchmaker.com
Transformational Author Spotlight Marci Shimoff Interviewed by Christine Kloser Marci Shimoff
is a number one New York Times bestselling author and a world-renowned transformational teacher. As an expert on happiness, success, and unconditional love, Marci has inspired millions of people around the globe by sharing her breakthrough methods for personal fulfillment and professional success. Marci’s newest book, Love for No Reason, 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love, offers a revolutionary program for living in a state of deep and lasting love. Her other books include the runaway best seller, Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out, and six titles in a phenomenally successful, Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul series. Her books have sold more than fifteen million copies worldwide in thirty-three languages. Marci is one of the best-selling female, nonfiction authors of all time.
Three-time award-winning author and “Transformation Catalyst" Christine Kloser specializes in training authors and entrepreneurs to write, publish, and market their transformational books so they can make a positive difference with their message. She is the creator of the Transformational Author Experience, and ChristineKloserUniversity.com where she teachers her signature Get Your Book Done® program. Christine has impacted tens of thousands of conscious entrepreneurs and aspiring authors around the world through her writing, speaking, live events, communities and coaching.
CK: Marci, would you share about your own personal transformational journey? You’ve gone through a lot of change. Everyone experiences that time before they became an author, and then something happens. Usually something changes on the inside first, and then things begin happening on the outside. Would you share your journey from where you were to where you are—how you became an author? How did your own transformational experience take place? MS: Well, I am the most unlikely author. Becoming an author was a complete surprise to me. I think that the universe had plans that I wasn’t in on, but it worked out well. It started when I was thirteen years old and I saw my first inspirational speaker—a man named Zig Zigler. Zig is a legend in the speaking world. He’s in his eighties now and still speaking. But that was 1971, and he was one of the first speakers out there. At that speech, I knew that speaking and inspiring people was what I was supposed to do with my life. I remember going home and telling my parents; they weren’t very happy about it because in those days, no one knew what a professional speaker was. They wanted me to be a dental hygienist because my dad was a dentist. CK: It’s a good thing you didn’t listen! MS: My mom teased me. She said, “Honey, you sure talk enough. You might as well get paid for it!” I was fortunate because at that young age I knew that my mission was to inspire and transform people’s lives. So I proceeded to do what I could to become a speaker. I got an MBA in training and development and I started my career by leading corporate training classes. I wanted to teach self-esteem programs, so I thought, Who is the best expert in self-esteem I can learn from? At that time—in the late 80s—Jack Canfield was specializing in teaching self-esteem. This was well before the Chicken Soup for the Soul books were even conceived of. I attended a training with him. It was fantastic, and he became my mentor. Four years later, in 1993, he wrote the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book. I actually don’t share this with many people, but when Jack told me he was writing a book called Chicken Soup for the Soul, my first response was that the content was fabulous but the title was a disaster. I thought, Who is ever going to read a book called Chicken Soup for the Soul? Boy was I wrong! I’m glad I kept my mouth shut and I didn’t tell him. I think many people know the story that Jack and his coauthor, Mark Victor Hanson, went to 144 publishers to get the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book published and 143 of them turned them down. Then one small, nearly bankrupt publisher said, “Okay, we’ll take a risk,” and it became a phenomenal success. But not overnight—it took a year of concentrated marketing by Jack until the word spread and it became a best seller. The following year, I was still speaking about self-esteem and teaching corporate trainings. My business was doing okay, but I wasn’t reaching the masses that I wanted to reach—the people I felt it was my mission to reach. I was frustrated. A dear friend, Janet Atwood (who wrote The Passion Test) took me aside one day and said, “Marci, you are just hitting your head against the wall. You’re burned out and this is crazy. You’ve got to come away with me to a retreat to get some rest, go inside, and see what’s next.” So she urged me to go with her on a sevenday, silent meditation retreat. Up until then, I hadn’t been silent for more than two hours in my life, and the idea of going on a seven-day, silent meditation retreat sounded insane to me. But I thought, What the heck, I’ll do it. And off we went. On the fourth day, in the middle of a meditation, a light bulb went on in my head and I saw the words, Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul. None of the specialty Chicken Soup for the Soul books had been conceived of at that point.
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