Ten Things you can control when getting published

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Wishing you the best for the coming year 2015 and hope all your dreams come true.

Last Clichès:

Duty Bound—To be firmly obligated. This phrase is from bounden duty, which dates from the 1500s and was actually redundant, since from the 1400s bound also meant “under obligations.” It appears in the Communion Service of the Book of Common Prayer (1559). It also appears 3 centuries later in The Manchester Strike by Harriet Martineau (1833). Sometime, this term was changed grammatically to the present usage “duty bound.”

On a shoestring (budget)—On a strict budget or with very limited means. Not sure where this came from. One writer suggests it comes from one’s resources being limited to shoelaces. There’s a legend from Exeter, England, that prisoners confined in debtor’s prison would lower a shoe from the window to collect money so they could get out of prison, a tale appealing to tourists but far-fetched. Another explanation is the physical nature of  shoelace, meaning it is a very slender cord or string, which became a metaphor for slender resources stretched to their utmost. It probably originated in America in the late 19th century. A 1904 issue of Cosmopolitan stated, “He speculated on a shoestring—an exceedingly small margin.”

One on One—A direct encounter between two people. This phrase was transferred to general use from several sports. Basketball—it signifies an informal game with just two players and means the standard form of defense, in which one player guards one opponent. Football—it means a player covering (or being covered by) a single opponent. In about 1960 it began to be used for nonathletic encounters.

Hope you found them all.

So, I’m sure you are with bated breath for the rest of my wisdom from Chuck Sambuchino’s workshop I attended on Nov. 22nd.

He closed the workshop with giving us ten things you can control for getting published. Of course, the worst part of writing is that so much is out of your control. But he made my day when he said: “you need to focus on what you CAN control”:

1. Always write the best you can. Don’t be impatient.

2. Understand the difference between traditional and self-publishing.

3. Create a writer platform.

4. Keep moving forward—face your rejections, setbacks, frustration and even the passive/aggressive family members

5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Keep writing more books, articles, etc.

6. Write for love and/or money.

7. Don’t believe everything you hear. Check facts in different places.

8. Don’t fall into Chapter 1 pitfalls: A) nothing happens and story starts to slow; on page one you should shoot for attention grabbing, problem of story, conflict and trouble. B) Don’t have too much Telling; Show!

9. Steal from yourself – write from value and don’t let any of your writing go to waste. Maximize the value by taking something from your novel and perhaps make it into a short story or expand the short story into something longer. Recycle your work and reuse in other venues.

10. The biggest secret to getting published???? —- PUT DOWN THE REMOTE CONTROL! Make no ifs, ands, or buts with your writing. Make more time for your writing journey.

Hope you’ve checked out Chuck Sambuchino’s website and blog www.chucksambuchino.com, www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog

Until next time,

Keep Writing,


New to my blog: Check out these past posts:

Editing Phase

Useful sites

Format your book for self-publishing


Creating your Writer Platform

A platform is not a list of your credentials, but is the ability to self-market yourself.

First, last clichés:

Still Wet Behind the Ears – Inexperienced or immature. The term refers to the fact that the last place to dry on a newborn colt or calf is the indentation behind its ears. The observation is surely older, the term dates from the early 20th century. J. F. Straker used it in his novel A Coil of Rope (1962).

Short and Sweet – Satisfyingly brief. Richard Taverner quoted this term as an English proverb back in 1539. It’s been repeated ever since, sometimes with some additions. See James Kelly, Scottish Proverbs, 1721; or F. K. Purdon, The Folk of Furry Farm, 1914.

Cliff-hanger – A situation whose outcome is in extremely suspenseful doubt until the last moment. Term comes from serialized adventure films popular in the U.S. in the 1920s and 1930s. At the end of each installment, the hero or heroine is left in a very dangerous situation, sometimes literally dangling from a cliff. This was to entice the audience to return for the next installment in order to see what happened. By the 1940s the term was being transferred to other suspenseful states of affairs; i.e. elections.

Dull as Dishwater – Boring, flat. This expression was used in 18th century as dull as ditchwater, alluding to the muddy color of the water in roadside gullies. See Dickens’ Fanny Cleaver (Olive Twist). This version survived on both sides of the Atlantic well into the 20th century.  Either through similar analogy or careless pronunciation, it became dishwater—the water in which dishes had been washed and became dingy and grayish.

So, how many did you find?

Well, I’m duty bound to relate what I learned in my Tucson Nov. 22nd workshop for you all. The next session was about platform and social media.

A platform is your visibility, your influence and your networking reach. The way you speak to your readers and when you speak, who listens?

There are several elements of a platform and if you’re on a shoestring budget, most of them are free. 1. Create a website and/or blog of impressive size – you want to grow your blog as big and make it successful; 2. Create an e-newsletter/mailing list of impressive size; 3. Article/column writing for media (larger outlets and with writer’s specialty); 4. Guest contributions to successful websites, blogs, and periodicals; 5. A track record of strong past book sales; 6. Individuals of influence you know – networking personal contacts; 7. Public speaking appearances – the bigger the better; 8. An impressive social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, etc.; 9. Membership in organizations that support the successes of their own; 10. Recurring media appearances and interviews – print/radio/TV/online.  You don’t have to do all of these, and you don’t want to be one on one with a reader, but pick a couple to start building on.

What you want to and must provide to your readers is value. Important Principles of a Platform: To quote Chuck Sambuchino, “It is in giving that we receive.” Try to be a guest blogger on other’s posts, so you don’t go it alone. A platform is what you are able to do right now. Above all, learn by example, and feel free to study other writer’s blog, etc. and mimic them. Use what they use. What does that mean? Well, at the end of my post, I will ask you if you want more information and give you links to other posts. I learned that in the workshop—it’s what Chuck Sambuchino does and he said feel free to steal it from him, so I did. Make yourself easy to contact, spread your reach. Start small and start early. Outline a plan, but be adaptable and make changes along the way. Be open and likeable and networked, make connections. Quantify your platform. Leverage—when you have something people want, use that opportunity. Market by not marketing. Always have the end goal in mind-the connection. Always market something; if not, market yourself.

Until text time,

Keep Writing,


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Links to useful sites




Query letters for an Agent

For me, the query letter is much harder to write than the book.

First, last clichés:

Not to mince words – To speak plainly, avoiding giving offense. This expression, also used as not to mince matters, dates from
Shakespeare’s time (see Othello and Antony and Cleopatra) and in effect transfers the cutting into small pieces of some object, like meat, to moderating or softening one’s language.

Get into Hot Water – Get into embarrassing situations, or get in trouble. Probably the allusion here is to water hot enough to burn one. Lord Malmesbury used it in a lette in 1765. However the term appeared in print more than two centuries earlier. In 16th and 17th centuries it was put as “to cost hot water.” Possibly already a clichè by the time it appeared in Richard H. Dan’s Two Years Before the Mast (1840).

Shoot yourself in the Foot – To hurt one’s own cause by mistake. This phrase calls up the image of someone holding a firearm pointed down and accidentally discharging it. Although the effect is similar, it must be distinguished from injuring oneself intentionally in order to avoid military service (or to be sent home from the front).

So, how many did you find?

Can you submit to more than one agent at a time? Yes. First you comprise of a list of all of the appropriate agents you could send your query to. Then submit to them no more than 8 to 10 agents at a time. Why? What if your query letter is not an eye catcher? If you’re rejected the first set, you have a way to revise your query and try again.

What is a query letter? It’s a written one page pitch to catch an agent’s eye to want to read your manuscript. You don’t want to still be wet behind the ears regarding a query, so go to www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog and read the query’s Chuck Sambuchino as for references.

A one page query letter has three parts: 1.) The introduction paragraph. You want to make this short and sweet. The first sentence should have details about your work; i.e. genre, word count, title. The second sentence is your connection line which is why you chose the particular agent. For example: I saw you speak at the xyz workshop and I think you would like my manuscript because… 2.) The pitch itself. Talk about your story in a brief, descriptive way (3 – 10 sentences), which will include the tone of your work and conflict. However, do not reveal the ending. This paragraph is similar to a DVD back or book jacket flap. Don’t use questions in a query letter. Remember, generalities sink a query, specifics light it up. You want to paint pictures and illicit emotion in an agent’s mind. More about pitches below. 3.) Your biography paragraph or if you have nothing to say, just close out the letter. Your biography would include writing associations you belong to, ever paid to write, short stories you’ve written and received payment for, your platform (how you would market the book), if you have a platform. A non-fiction query can go over one page if your biography forces it to do so with a list of your credentials.

A verbal pitch to an agent is your logline. A one sentence summary of your work.

There are seven parts of a Fiction Query Pitch in a letter:

1. – Introduce the main character(s); 2. Let us know something unique about them and what they desire; 3. Show us the inciting incident; 4. Tell the basic plot of the book – the major conflict; 5. How does the plot get complicated (must get worse before better); 6. Have an unclear wrap-up – leave them with a cliff-hanger and don’t tell use the ending of the work. Do not use anywhere in your query rhetorical questions. And do not end with a question for sure. 7. Throughout make sure the stakes are included – What can go wrong? You can have the stakes in the beginning, middle, or end of your pitch section of your letter.

You don’t want to just write this happened then this happened because this would be dull as dishwater. You want your query letter to let the agent know an example of your writing and to want to read your work. So study other queries and write and re-write and have it critiqued.

More about the Nov. 22nd workshop in the next blog. Until then,

Keep Writing,


Want more information on queries? Click below:

More about Queries

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What do you need to know about agents?

First, last clichés:

My lips are sealed – will keep secret. The idea of keeping one’s mouth tightly shut is much older and sealing up someone else’s lips dates from the late 1700s. However, this phrase became current in the early 20th century. It was well used by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin when asked about the rumored abdication of King Edward VIII, who married a divorced American, Wallis Simpson.

All cats are grey after dark – Without sufficient knowledge one cannot distinguish between alternatives. This appeared in numerous proverb collections, beginning with John Heywood’s of 1546. A still older version, dating back some 2,000 years and stated by the Roman writers Ovid and Plutarch as well as by later writers, had it that all women are the same in the dark, a view now disputed by all but the most hardened misogynists.

A mine of information – A good source of data. Sometimes used ironically. The word mine has been used figuratively to mean an abundant supply since the 16th century.

So, how many did you find?

Well, I’m still imparting information I learned at the Nov. 22nd Tucson, AZ workshop I attended with speaker Chuck Sambuchino. I hope you’ve checked out his websites, especially the www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog.  Not to mince words, but this is a great site to subscribe to if you’re seeking an agent or just want good information concerning them, and more.

Is your book finished? If so, then you might want to get an agent, but only if it has been edited and totally finished. (More about editing later.) To find an agent, subscribe to Chuck Samuchino’s blog; get the book, Guide to Literary Agents(Writer’s Digest Books), or other books on the subject; consult websites such as querytracker.com, twitter and follow different agents, publishersmarketplace.com. I’m sure there are many more. And of course, you might find them at workshops and conferences you attend.

Don’t get into hot water by contacting the wrong agent. Use the above list to locate them then read how they want to be contacted, and don’t deviate. Make sure the particular agent wants the type of book you are writing. Only submit what the agent requests.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot my contacting the agent too early (when your book is not finished) or by contacting incorrectly. Find out more in my next blog.

Until then,

Keep Writing,


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agent’s day