Q: I belong to a bunch of social media networks, including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+. When is the best time of day to post my content if I want to get noticed?
In the past few weeks, we’ve talked about putting your proposal together:
That covers the minimum you can include in your proposal. But here are some extras that can take your proposal the extra mile. Continue reading
Lay, lie, and the other lie seem designed to cause trouble. Two are homonyms, and the present tense of one is the same as the past tense of another.
Mix-ups usually come when we mistake the intransitive lie—she was lying on the floor—with the transitive lay. If she was laying on the floor, she needs an object—she was laying her yoga mat on the floor. But most of us usually use the simple past tense. She laid her yoga mat on the floor, and then she lay down on it. When asked her age, she lied. Continue reading
The synopsis for a nonfiction book differs from that of a novel because it needs to be broken down into more detail. In nonfiction, even if you’re telling a story, as in a history book, you are building a case using facts that need to be aligned in logical order. The nonfiction synopsis will reflect that.
The main thing your nonfiction synopsis must include is a clear benefit to the readers, demonstrating what they will learn from reading your book. Because if you can’t articulate this, you’re not ready to pitch. Continue reading
Voice, like art, is one of those things that, being hard to define, often falls into the category of “I’ll know it when I see it.” It’s a quality that writers strive for and editors look for, precisely because it’s so hard to accomplish.
There are two kinds of voice; authorial voice, which is what writers bring to their overall body of work, and character voice, which is how each individual character sounds to the reader.
One of the great advantages of Deep POV is that, if your characters are well developed, their voices will pervade the narrative. In Deep POV, the main voices one notices are those of the characters. Continue reading
The synopsis is an important part of your book proposal. The first thing to understand is the difference between the query letter and the synopsis. The query or pitch letter gives just a teaser of the story. The setup, the primary conflict, and a little about yourself. It’s purpose is to entice the editor to ask for the proposal.
The synopsis is part of the proposal, and it details the whole storyline of the novel. A query letter should only be a few paragraphs. The synopsis can be up to a page. Some editors allow even longer.
The synopsis encapsulates the story as succinctly as possible, while informing the editor about the following elements: Continue reading
Q: A word I want to use isn’t listed in the dictionary. Can I use it anyway?
A: Yes, as long as your reader will understand you.
Contrary to popular belief, dictionaries are not prescriptive manuals that tell you what words you may or may not use. They are descriptive tools that tell you what people mean when they use words, and how to spell those words. That’s why you’ll find much-reviled words like irregardless listed, albeit with a note to “use regardless instead.” You’ll also find some words, like OK, can be spelled more than one way. Continue reading
Novelists like to tell stories about people who don’t exist, but they often hesitate to tell their own stories. The key to getting over this shyness is to understand that the author bio does not exist so we can tell everyone how great we are. Its purpose is to show others a little bit about ourselves so they’ll feel they could know and like us. This is true for nonfiction writers, and it’s true whether we’re approaching agents, editors, or readers. Continue reading
The way writers tag dialog is often evidence of how experienced they are. New writers frequently make dialog tags more complicated than they need to me. The classic example is the flagrant use of “said bookisms,” those awkward constructions reminiscent of Tom Swift.
“I love Old Faithful,” she gushed.
Such constructions are usually misguided attempts to avoid repeated use of “said.” The worst I’ve ever seen in a published book:
“Hello,” she greeted.
For the last several weeks, we’ve focused on getting ready for a conference. So you go to a conference, pitch your book, and the editor says, “That sounds like it has potential. Send me a proposal with your first 50 pages.”
And your stomach caves in, because you don’t have a proposal.
Agents and editors often say that many of the people they make this kind of offer to don’t respond. I believe that’s because writers are paralyzed by fear and therefore don’t move.
Hear me: It’s better to send a bad proposal than none. Continue reading