Category Archives: The Successful Author

The Successful Author

Tips on Finding an Agent to Represent You

Tips on finding and agent

Finding an agent is easy. Just do an online search for “literary agents.” However, getting an agent to agree to represent you is hard, very hard.

Unlike hiring an accountant or attorney to represent us where we can vet them and pick the best one to meet our needs, agents vet their clients so they can pick the best ones.

Remember that agents only earn money if they sell one of their clients’ books. So unless a client is a polished writer, there’s a good chance the agent will spend a lot of time working for the client and have nothing to show for it. Therefore, they have a strong incentive to only take on clients whose work they think they can sell.

How to Impress Agents

This means we need to sell ourselves to agents. Here’s what’s required:

  • Hone your skill as a writer.
  • Set up a professional online presence. They will check for one and will expect to find it.
  • If you’re on social media, make sure it’s professional and conveys you in a positive manner. Do everything you can to remove negative comments and unflattering photos. But remember that once something’s online, it never really goes away.
  • Learn how to pitch your book, write a one-page summary, submit a query, and produce a proposal.
  • Learn about agents you’d like to have represent you. Follow their blogs and make respectful, thoughtful comments.
  • Ask other writers, who you trust, to give you an honest answer if your work is ready for agents.

Know that writing ability is only part of the equation.

What Agents Look For

Agents will also want you to have a platform so that you can help sell books. When I was looking for an agent, one agent declined to represent me, not because of my writing, but because they thought my platform was too small.

Be Patient When Finding an Agent

A final item is to be patient. Finding an agent to represent you takes time, usually several months and often years. As you wait, keep working to improve as a writer and building your platform.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

How to Protect Blog Content

Legally protect your blog content

A lot of writers wonder if it’s necessary or wise to protect blog content that they post online. What if it is material for other writing projects? Should it be freely accessible online?

First, I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. A great resource is Helen Sedwick’s book Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook. This is an excellent tool that every writer should buy, study, and implement.

Given that, here is what I suggest to protect blog content.

To start, place a copyright notice on your blog. This will help keep honest people honest, and it lets readers know you’re serious about your work. But beyond that, it accomplishes little else.

If you’re concerned with people copying your work, that is stealing it, there is always a chance it could happen. Though the risk is small, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it—short of not blogging—so the best thing is to not worry about it, and post what you want to post.

If the posts will be part of a future book—something many people have done—you might want to hold back some content, but I have heard of bloggers who blogged their entire nonfiction book and didn’t feel it hurt sales. You can also post excerpts from your indie published book.

However, if the posts are from your traditionally published book, check with your publisher. They may not want you to post anything from your book, and depending on your contract with them, it may not even be legal.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

The Benefits of Using ISBNs: Don’t Publish Your Book Without One

A publishing best-practice includes using ISBNs in your books

Many successful indie authors do not use ISBNs (for their e-books), and they see no reason why they should. The number Amazon provides works just fine from a practical standpoint.

Having said that, an ISBN gives your book added credibility and has more universal recognition than an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) when searching for a book by number. So I opt for an ISBN.

Buying ISBNs

However, buying an ISBN costs money. In the United States, buy ISBNs from Bowker. Currently, the standard price for one ISBN is $125, ten costs $295, and one hundred costs $575.

Note that you will need one ISBN for each format your book is in: Hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audio, so that’s four ISBNs. Given the costs, I see why many indie-published authors skip them.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

How to Setup Your Website and Blog

How to setup your website and blog

The Technical Aspect of Setting Up Your Website and Blog

I’m a big fan of WordPress and so are a lot of other people. Thirty percent of the top million websites worldwide rely on WordPress for their website and blog. I recommend you join them and use WordPress to setup your website.

There Are Two Options of WordPress

WordPress.com is simpler and cheaper (approaching free) to setup and use, but it doesn’t have as many features or flexibility.

WordPress.org is a far more powerful website platform, but it’s also more involved to use and setup your website. In addition, there are costs for this option: buying a domain name and paying for hosting.

Regardless, I recommend that you use one of these two WordPress options to setup your website and blog.

WordPress Resources

I have a blog series about getting started with WordPress. I think these posts will get you started quite nicely.

And when it comes time to write for your blog, here’s another series of posts to consider in producing content for your blog.

Happy blogging.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

How to Discover What to Blog About

Discover what to blog about

To start your own blog, there are two aspects: the technical aspect and the content aspect, what is, what to blog about. Let’s look at the content part of blogging first:

Find Your Blog Focus

If you write whatever you feel like writing (as I did when I started), you will never find an audience. Pick one topic as your blog’s focus. Then go to the next step.

Brainstorm Ideas

With your blog topic or focus determined, brainstorm for ideas. Don’t stop until you hit at least twenty ideas you can blog about. You may not use them all, but at least you know you have plenty of ideas to write about. If you can’t come up with twenty, then you won’t likely be able to sustain your blog, so search for another topic.

Pre-Write Five Blog Posts

Before you even set up your blog, write your first five posts. Some people launch their blog with several posts already there.

Set a Blogging Schedule

You should plan to blog at least once a week. How long did it take to write each of your posts? Do you have that much time every week to devote to it?

If you still want to blog, you can move forward with the technical aspects of setting up a blog. More on that in future posts.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Submit Your Post and Article to Blogs

To submit your post to blogs, the first thing to do is see if your target blog runs guest posts. Many do not. They may state this on their site, or you may need to search their archives to find out.

Next, as with print, familiarize yourself with the blog. Look at the content they post, the length of the posts, and the writing tone. Try to match those characteristics.

They may post their submission guidelines, or you may need to email them and ask how to go about submitting a post. Follow their expectations exactly.

Then before you submit your post proofread it carefully. Then email it to them.

I wish you the best when you submit your posts and articles to blogs and websites.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Tips for Periodical Submission Success

Periodical Submission Success

To submit content to print publications, the first thing is to familiarize yourself with the target publication. Look at the type of content they print, how long each item runs, the style they use, and their tone. To make your periodical submission a success, your goal is to match those characteristics as closely as you can.

Periodical Submission Guidelines

Publications that accept unsolicited submissions will have their submission guidelines posted on their website. Read those and follow their expectations precisely.

If they don’t have their submission guidelines posted, it’s likely they don’t accept unsolicited submissions. Though you could email (or even call) them to find out, you’re more likely to irritate them. Never email them with a submission question until you’ve thoroughly scoured their website looking for an answer.

Before You Submit Your Article

If they accept submissions, then before you submit your content, proofread it carefully, and have someone with writing experience review it too.

Then send your periodical submission without further delay in the manner they specify.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

More on Blogging Your Book

Blogging your book.

Is blogging your book a good idea? If you blog your book, why will people buy it? Logic suggests they wouldn’t, but the reality is that most people will.

Let me share what I’ve learned from other writers. I’ve yet to talk to anyone who felt their blog posts hurt their book sales. Even when their entire book is available on their blog, they still think their posts help sales, not hurt it.

My conclusion is that it comes down to convenience. It’s easier to read a book than to page through a series of posts on a website. Also, the purpose of blogs is for short, intermittent reading, while books have the opposite goal. Therefore, blogging your book is okay.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Blogging Your Book for Fiction and Nonfiction Writers

 blogging your book

Many people wonder if you can blog your book. This is a common question and answers differ. Here are my blogging tips for blogging your book.

Fiction Writers

For fiction writers, you can blog about your book’s content: setting, characters, and supporting background, but you can’t dole out your book in blog-sized chunks. Of course, there have been exceptions, but they’re rare.

Nonfiction Writers

This is not the case with nonfiction, where you can compile a series of posts into a book or incrementally post sections of a book in a blog.

Even if you’ve blogged the entire book and it’s available for free, authors have still had success in selling the same information in book form.

Summary about Blogging Your Book

So for nonfiction writers, blogging your book is okay. But this isn’t the case for fiction authors.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Writing a Book Versus Blogging

Book Versus Blogging

If you want to write a book and blog, what should you do? It’s a book versus blogging debate. Too many writers starting out try to do both and end up doing neither one well. Or they try to write a book before they’re ready.

Then they end up with something not suitable for publication, waste a lot of time, and cause much frustration. That’s assuming they finish the book, but more likely is that they’ll give up before they finish—because they’re not yet ready to write a book.

Unless you’ve done a lot of writing—say about one million words and invested about 10,000 hours honing your skill—I recommend you start with blogging or writing short articles, essays, or flash fiction.

Blogging and short pieces offer several advantages:

  • Blog posts are short and easy to write.
  • Blogging is a great way to hone our writing skills and find our voice.
  • Feedback is quick.
  • Errors are easy to fix.
  • Bloggers develop a habit of writing regularly, even when they don’t feel like it.
  • Blogging according to a schedule—which is what all bloggers should do—helps prepare us to meet deadlines.
  • Blogging prepares us to write longer pieces, up to the length of a book.

There are many other benefits associated with blogging, but these are some of the key ones, which is why I recommend that you start with blogging or writing other short pieces. Save the book for later.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.