Marketing and Branding Your Name

Note: I did not go to every class at the Storymakers conference. Obviously. But I did attend several and was very pleased that much of the information given out was exactly what publishers hope new writers will incorporate into their writing and submission process.

I'm not going to give deep details on the content of these classes because that wouldn't be fair to the presenters, nor to those who paid to attend. However, over the next few days, I'll mention a few of the classes and outline some of the more vital hints and tips (IMHO, of course).

New authors often expect that publishers will do all the marketing for them. Let me burst that little fantasy bubble right now. Your publisher markets to the bookstores. They market through the product itself, via book cover and liner notes. Some of them may provide posters and bookmarks. If you're very lucky, they may help you set up a website and a signing tour. But for the most part, you need to be prepared to market to the consumer.

Candace Salima talked about the types of branding and marketing of your name and face that most successful writers do, particularly the online things you can do at very little or no cost.
  • A professional looking website that pulls people in and keeps them there.
  • A blog that you update weekly.
  • Social networking—such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • Book videos (these cost a little moolah).
  • Publish articles on topics of interest to you, with a byline that mentions your book.
  • Join forums in your areas of interest.
Candace talked about each of these areas, in depth, plus gave a plethora of other ideas. If I had her class on video, I'd send it to all my authors and prospective authors.

You don't have to do every single one of these things. You don't want to spend so much time networking and marketing that you have no time left to write. But you do need to do some of them (website and/or blog is the most important). Find a balance that works for you.


Conference Photos

NONE of my photos of the conference turned out. I couldn't believe it. They were blurry and yellow and featured way too many backs of heads. Oh well, I'm a word person, not a picture person I guess.

The "official" photos of the conference will show up here (soon, I hope).

If you were at the conference and you posted about it (with or without photos) on your blog or website, feel free to leave a link in the comments section of this post.


Writing Tip Tuesday: Attend a Writers Conference

One of the best ways to sharpen your writing skills—after writing and reading, of course—is to attend a good writers conference.

A good conference will send you away with lots of new ideas and remind you of things you know but have forgotten. The information you glean at a conference is worth its weight in gold. (Including the repeated advice to avoid clich├ęs.) The creative energy at a conference can help spark new story ideas, get you unstuck if you're blocked, and inspire you to keep going.

Another great reason to attend a good writers conference is the networking with authors and industry specialists. Talking to like-minded people, sharing stories about your writing journey, meeting people willing to help and support you—invaluable!

Of course, as with any good thing, you can overdo it. Don't go to so many conferences that you don't have time left to write. Look around in your area and see what's available, then pick a good one or two to attend.

How do you know which conferences are good? Ask your writer friends who've attended conferences to recommend some. Or just go—knowing that it's a gamble—then keep going to the ones that you like.

As a writer, I like to attend between two and four conferences or workshops a year. This keeps me going when I get stuck and disheartened. As a publisher, I would often attend as many as eight to ten conferences a year. I've been to some good ones and some pretty bad ones.

I have no official connection with LDStorymakers—I'm not a member—but I'd like to say that from both a writer's and a publisher's standpoint, they have the best conferences I've ever attended. The atmosphere is one of support and encouragement and the classes are wonderful. If you ever get a chance to attend one, do it.

Readers, what are some other regular conferences and workshops that you attend that you feel are worth the time and the cost?


Attention: Storymakers Conference & Whitney Gala Attendees

If you attended the Whitney Gala and/or the LDStorymakers Conference this past weekend, I'd love for you to send me your photos and share some of what you learned. Don't plagiarize the content of the conference classes, but do tell us what you liked best and how it helped you.

I'll post your photos and comments to the blog this week and link back to your blog or website (so include the link you want me to use in your email).

And the Winners Are. . .

Best Romance

Best Mystery/Suspense

Best Youth Fiction

Best Speculative

Best Historical

Best General Fiction

Best Novel by a New Author

Best Novel of the Year

Congratulations to all the Whitney winners!

(standing ovation, here!)

And thank you to the Whitney Academy and all those who helped in any way with the Gala and making these awards possible.

[And thank you to those who point out when I make a social blunder.)


Taking a Mini-Vacation

I'm off to the LDStorymakers Writing Conference and the Whitney Gala. (I'll be the one in the bright fuschia hat with the peacock feathers).

I'll take good notes and post some highlights here next week.

Also, the Whitney people will be doing live blogging of the gala. Click HERE to register for a reminder and to watch the event live. Live blogging will begin at 6:30pm, Mountain Time, on April 25th, 2009.


But I Tried to Find You, Honest, I Did!

In a comment on this post:

I am writing an extensive commentary on the book of Matthew. On the topic of plagiarism, many of the comments I would like to use are listed in several sources verbatim with no citation on any of them. How does one go about citing in this situation?

If you're quoting scriptures, the only citation you need to make is which version you're using. That is usually done on the copyright page and sometimes mentioned in the introduction or foreword.

If you're quoting someone else's commentary, do your very best to find the original source. Sometimes you can Google the quote and it'll pop up. Unfortunately, some quotes are attributed to a variety of people and it's difficult to find the original.

If you can't find a source, you cite it as "Source Unknown" within the text. Then on the copyright page, make a note that explains you've done your best to track and cite sources correctly, but if a reader knows the source of a quote listed as unknown, to please contact you. Then double-check their source information to make sure it's correct and add the new source in the next printing.

It also helps to keep a log of all the different ways/times you've tried to find the source and the results. That way, if someone sues you later, you can prove you did due diligence.


Writing Tip Tuesday: Writer's Notebook (pt 2)

Last week, I suggested you keep a writer's notebook as a way of tracking those brilliant flashes of writing ideas. I promised to talk about more uses for a writer's notebook this week. I should have followed my own advice because last week, I had several really good ideas for this post. Now, as I'm sitting here ready to write about them, I can't remember what they were. I'm having to force myself to recall and/or regenerate this list. If I'd jotted them down in my notebook when I first thought of them, I'd be good to go right now.

Therefore, I wish to reiterate (which is such a redundant word when "iterate" would do just as well) that the number one purpose of your writer's notebook is to remind you of your wonderful ideas.

Other ways to use your writer's notebook include:
  • Practice writing. Be adventurous. Try things that are new to you—a different genre, POV or writing style than you usually choose. Remember, in your notebook, your writing doesn't need to be perfect. It's free-flowing. It's spontaneous. It's purposefully not good. If you get hung up on good writing, your notebook will not be the resource it could be.
  • Write every day. This is critical. It is a way of training your mind to write on demand. Over time, you'll learn how to get yourself in the writing mood.
  • Writing pages. Some people do "morning pages" as suggested by Julia Cameron, who recommends three longhand pages when you first wake up, on whatever comes to your mind. If you're not a morning person, do evening pages, or lunchtime pages, or whatever works for you. Daily freestyle writing is a good idea for everyone.
  • Prime the pump. Use your notebook to start your writing session. Whenever you sit down to do your regular writing, spend 5 to 15 minutes notebook writing first. This gets the creativity flowing and can help prevent writers block.
  • Create lists. To-do lists are great. It doesn't necessarily need to be writing to-dos, although that certainly works. It can be a list of anything— Christmas ideas, new recipes to try, or your personal bucket list. If you don't like to-dos, then make lists of favorites or do one of those annoying online memes. The simple process of listing moves your brain into creation mode.
  • Character sketches. I mentioned people-watching last week and describing people that you see in your notebook. You can take this a step further and create full-blown character sketches. These can be characters for your work in progress, or someone you might use in the future. Make up a secret life for someone at the mall or your alter-ego. Write a complete and detailed character bio.
  • Dialogue. Write snippets of dialogue. You don't have to limit yourself to transcribing overheard conversations. You can rewrite a conversation you had last week—writing what you wish you had said.
  • Play "what if" to create some basic plot outlines. Get creative with your current plot. Start with where you're at in the story, then throw in some outrageous "what if." You may not use it now, but it could become a springboard for future plots and ideas.
  • Writing prompts. Use idea prompts, story-starters or competition themes to generate ideas. There are a zillion books out there with writing prompts in them. Writer's Digest has them online and in their magazine. If you're cheap (like me), Google Gadgets has several daily writing promps that can spark your imagination. I have some of these on my personal iGoogle page. I rarely use them exactly as they are, but sometimes they've helped me get started.
  • Read your notebook. Don't just write in it, go back and review it on a weekly or monthly basis. Pull out those ideas that you find are especially good. Create an index page for them, or copy them into a second notebook or a computer file.

Keep your old notebooks in a safe place. When you find yourself with a bad case of writer's block, go back and review your notebooks that are years old. You may find an old nugget has turned into a mother lode of new ideas.

Readers, if you keep a writer's notebook, feel free to share with us how and when you use it.


Backing Up: A Cautionary Tale

I should have known better. I have many, many writer friends who've lost precious files due to inadequate back-up. I thought I was better than that. I thought I was taking precautions. I backed up all my writing files (I thought) to copied files and stored them in a different place on my hard drive. I also put them on a jump drive. I thought that was good enough. It was not.

My hard drive crashed. Many files were unrecoverable. Although most of them were on my jump drive, I'd gotten busy and lazy and hadn't put my newest WIP (nearly 40,000 words) on the jump drive. I also had an "idea" file, where I put basic plot lines for future books, that hadn't been updated to my jump drive in about a month.

I learned the hard way that a good back-up system is worth its weight in gold. Fortunately, most of them don't cost that much.

A good back-up system needs to be:
  • daily
  • automatic, invisible and easy
  • off-site

There are several systems out there that fit this profile. (I ended up choosing Carbonite but this is not a commercial for them).

I just thought I'd share this with you and hope you'll pass it along to your readers so they'll avoid my truly sorrowful fate.



I Laughed. I Couldn't Help Myself.

This blog is hilariously funny. In THIS POST, he turns his wit on an LDS publisher.

I'd think it was funny, even if I was on the butt end of this joke.


Happy (Belated) Anniversary to Me!

As I realized while writing yesterday's post, I just missed my third anniversary as LDS Publisher. I started writing this blog on April 7, 2006. (Yes, there are a couple of older posts, but they were backdated for indexing purposes.)

So as my Happy Anniversary present to you, I'm going to do the "100 Things About Me" meme.

Ha-ha. No, I'm not. (I should have started this blog on April 1st.)

But what I will do is answer questions about myself on Fridays, interspersed with various Stupid Questions, jokes and rants—because as everyone knows, all publishers take a three-day weekend and we never, ever do serious work on Fridays. (That was sarcasm, just in case you didn't get it.)

So, first—and most frequent—question: Who are you?

. . .

Did you even for half a trillimeter of a second believe that I was going to answer that one?

Try again. Post your questions in the comments or email them to me.


Writing for Fun and Not-for-Profit

Dear LDS Publisher, Your request for book reviewers started a huge debate in my writers group. I mentioned it in our last meeting because I thought it was a fun idea and a way to maybe get some exposure because I'm not yet published. But when I told them I'd be writing for free, one of the group members got really mad. She said we should never, ever, ever write for free. That writing for free is not only demeaning to ourselves, but also dilutes the earning capacity for writers everywhere. Another member then said that this might be a good way to earn writing creds. Then everyone else jumped in with opinions and suddenly we were all involved in a heated argument. How do you respond to that?

First off, everyone in your group needs take a deep breath and calm down.


Writing online book reviews is not a way to get legitimate publishing credits. Unless you're applying for a job as a professional book reviewer, you wouldn't mention this in a query. It would be a useless fact, akin to mentioning that you do underwater basket weaving as a hobby. Even if you are going into the reviewing profession (and I use the term "profession" loosely), it's not much to brag about since anyone can publish anything online. So forget the creds angle.

As to writing for free, yes, as a general idea I discourage it. If your writing is good, you deserve to be compensated. Look for paying markets.

However, IMHO, there are conditions under which you can (and should) write for free. (Notice that none of the ones listed below say, "Write for free because you're a new or inexperienced writer.")

  1. Do it for fun. Sometimes you come across a publishing opportunity that just looks fun, but they don't pay. If it floats your boat and you want to do it for love, not money, then go ahead. This could include many online magazines, contests, and articles or short stories that wouldn't sell in traditional markets (for example, an article on choosing the best dye for your underwater basket weaving designs).

  2. Do it to support a cause or an organization you believe in. Many writers do freebies for various charitable organizations—with or without a byline. You might choose to write for a church newsletter, your child's s school, or a political cause. This is not demeaning your writing—it's you, being a good citizen and a charitable person.

  3. Do it to help or inform others. This is what you do out of the goodness of your heart. For example, do you think I've gotten paid for the past three years of writing this blog?* Not one red cent, until I started running ads a few months ago (and I only did that because I'm in semi-retirement and I've become accustomed to some of the luxuries in life, like food and shelter). I do this blog for the warm fuzzies it gives me every time I read your comments. Many writers offer free mentoring in subjects they're familiar with, just for the sake of being a good and generous person.

  4. Do it to build your career. This type of free writing includes your personal blog, your website, guest blogging to generate interest and visits to your website, articles in professional journals and other places that highlight your career as a writer. This is part of a marketing plan, a conscious decision on your part, and should include references to your website, blog, book, or whatever it is you're promoting. This is not an attempt to see your name in print, no matter what, or to polish up your skills until you're "good enough" for a paying job.

Doing free book reviews for me would fall under the first three categories: it would be fun, you would be supporting a cause you believe in (namely, LDS fiction) (and me), and you would be helping to inform others.

*I just passed the three year anniversary for this blog on April 7th. I intended to make a huge deal of it, but I forgot. Maybe I'll do something tomorrow.


What is Plagiarism? (aka Quit Stealing My Stuff!)

Plagiarism: the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work. (Dictionary.com Unabridged. Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.)

Notice how I gave credit to the definition above? Notice that I provided a source AND a link? Notice how even dictionary.com provided their source?

This is what you do when you copy stuff from any source and use it for your own purposes, whether from a printed book or posted on the Internet.

When you copy the wording from one blog (example: MINE) and post it straight on another blog (example: YOURS), and you give no source, that is called plagiarism. It's illegal, unethical, and extremely bad manners.

Folks, I have StatCounter (see bottom right sidebar). About once a month, I check out who my visitors are and where they're coming from. When I see a new referring blog, I go visit it. All too often (once is too often, and it's happened way more than once), I find blogs by writers, on the subject of writing, that have lifted my posts and put them on their blogs—verbatim! Without credit back to me. (Shame on you!)

And when I say verbatim, I don't mean that they saw that I talked about POV on Monday and they did their own post on POV on Tuesday, pretty much making the same points I did but putting it into their own words (although that's irritating to me and just kind of lazy on their part). No, I literally mean "verbatim"—as in, "in exactly the same words; word for word."* (Notice how I did this quote differently, but still gave credit to the original source?)

As a writer, you should know better and do better. If you don't know better, inform yourself. And quite stealing my stuff!

P.S. As a publisher, yes, I researched authors who submitted to me and read their blogs and websites. If I discovered that they used someone else's words on their sites without credit, they were rejected outright and were added to my "never publish this person's work" list.



Writing Tip Tuesday: Keep a Writer's Notebook

Ideas come at odd times and you need to be prepared. Carry a notebook with you everywhere you go. This can be a pocket-sized notepad, a cheap steno pad that fits in your purse, or one of those pretty decorated things that cost way too much money but make you look really cool when you're writing in it.

What the notebook looks like doesn't matter. That it exists and is within easy reach is critical.

Let's say your waiting for your turn in the dentist chair and you overhear a clever conversation between a mother and child. Get out your notebook and jot it down.

Or maybe you're at the park, and overwhelmed by the Spring-ness of the day. Write an in-depth description of what you're seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting.

Or let's say you're struggling with a character and while mall-watching (you do go hang at the mall just to watch the people go by, right?), you see the perfect embodiment of a secondary, but critical, character. Whip out that notebook and write down the details—from the greasy long black hair and pierced left nostril to the holey Keds® sneakers on his feet.

If you don't keep a writer's notebook, start one today and practice using it. I'll be posting more uses for this notebook next Tuesday.


Do I Find a Publisher First? Or an Agent?

I've finished my first novel, run it through a critique group, polished it up—done all the things you suggest we do before we submit. I think it's ready to go.

I want to try the national market. Where do I start submitting? Do I submit to publishers or to agents? If I go through an agent, what is the standard cut I should expect to pay them and will I have to cough up any money before the book sells?

Whether to submit to an agent or to a publisher depends upon your book (ie: which publishing companies are a good fit for you) and the publisher. Some publishers take unagented submissions. Others do not.

Lots of writers successfully sell their first book without an agent to represent them. They research publishers, find those that take unagented submissions, and go for it. Some of them get great contracts and healthy advances. Once they've sold that first book, it's a lot easier to get an agent to represent future books.

If you start with an agent, rather than a publisher, the process is basically the same. Research agents, find those that are accepting new clients, and go for it. The advantages of having an agent is that a good one will help you polish up your story to make it more sellable. They also have connections to publishers—they know who is looking for what type of book, who is good to work with, and agents can usually get better contracts and healthier advances because they (hopefully) know a few more things about the business end of selling books that newbie authors don't.

Most agents charge 15% commission on U.S. sales. Some of them require you to pay office expenses (copying, postage, etc.) before the sale, others deduct them from royalties (on top of the 15%). If they charge reading fees or an hourly rate, look somewhere else.


Tweaks and Treatises

As you may have noticed (those of you who use a reader would not), I've been tweaking the blogs since going to this new format. The biggest tweak made is to advertising. Changes include:
  • Lower price for ads (now only $25 for 30 days)
  • Ads appear on all six networked blogs
  • All the square ads are lumped together

Considering that the combined monthly stats for the blogs are 5,733 page loads, that's .004¢ per eyeball flashes. For detailed advertising info, click HERE.

Another tweak I'm making is to the LDS Fiction comment contest. I want more comments and opinions on the books, so we're changing things up a bit. Changes include:

  • Four prizes display in the sidebar; sponsors still get a full month of exposure
  • Sponsor info posts will display on the Contests site

For detailed contest information, click HERE (but give me 24 hours because I'm still making those changes.).


The LDS Fiction Review site needs a few more reviewers. This is a labor of love for now, no payment. Reviewers post under pen names to give them the freedom to write honest reviews. If you're interested:

  • Go to the site and read the reviews currently posted to get an idea of what is expected.
  • Select a genre to specialize in—this should be a genre that you enjoy and read frequently. Reviewers should be BIG readers, ravenous readers.
  • Paste your review within the body of an e-mail to me. Do not send an attachment.
  • Reviewers will be selected based on writing quality, style, conciseness, preciseness and unique voice.
  • I'll be selecting several reviewers per genre.
  • Reviewers are expected to review a minimum of one book a month.

Happy Easter!


Books On Writing

There are a lot of books and gadgets out there on writing or that supposedly help you write better. Are there any that you would recommend? I am particularly looking for books that help me be more creative.

I have a whole shelf (or 10) of books on writing. A few of my favorites (in no particular order) are:

I also have a new writing book on order that hasn't arrived yet, but it looks great — Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. She has some great free downloadable worksheets HERE.

So readers, is this something you'd be interested in on a somewhat regular basis? A quick review of writing books and other writing related stuff?

Also, what about online writing courses I've received the occasional e-mail asking if I teach writing classes. I've always responded that I was too busy for that. But now that I'm in semi-retirement, it may be something I could consider. They wouldn't be free. I have to support my chocolate habit somehow. But I'd try to keep the prices reasonable.

In your comments, let me know if you're interested in a) writing book/product reviews, and b) online writing courses. If you are interested in online courses, let me know what specifically you'd be interested in.


Ad Space Available in Whitney Gala Program

This is a bonus post, a message from the Whitney Gala people.

We have limited space available in our professionally designed, full-color keepsake program. Publishers and others may place congratulatory messages for a modest contribution to a very good cause. Submit camera-ready material or ask that our graphic designer incorporate your logo, pictures, and copy (for no extra charge).

The following sizes are available, first come, first served:
Full page: 8.5 x 5.5 $150
Half page: 4 x 2.5 $75
Quarter page: 2 x 1.25 $50

You can pay through PayPal -- or send us a check.

We're also offering one table for eight at the gala. For $500 you will get eight seats (and therefore eight dinners), a table on the front row near the podium, a half-page ad in the program, listing as a Gold Level sponsor on the Whitney website, and verbal recognition during the gala.

If you're at all interested, or have any questions, send me an email at admin@whitneyawards.com

Rob Wells
President, Whitney Awards

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing. . .

My publisher just pushed back my release date by six months. This has also happened to some friends of mine (different publisher). I also have a friend who kept getting their date pushed back, then finally, the publisher dropped them completely. I'm worried. What's going on?

If you'd asked me this question a year or two ago, I'd have said that most likely your book was pushed back because the publisher picked up another book with a more timely topic or a book they thought would sell a little better. And that could still be the reason for your change of release date.

These days, however, it could also very well be that they just don't have enough money to publish according to their original schedule. Publishers all over are delaying releases and trimming their publishing budgets. It's just part of this wonderful economic boom we're experiencing.

Unfortunately, the only thing you can do about it is to come up with some killer promotional ideas, present them to your publisher, and hope it will impress them so much that they'll bump someone else's book back and put yours in their slot.

[Sitting, Waiting, Wishing. . . by Jack Johnson (Love this song!)]


Writing Tip Tuesday: The 'So What?' Factor

When you're writing, you need to consider the "so what" factor—that is, whatever it is that makes the reader care about your story.

Let's say you have a story about a woman in her 30s who is divorced and looking for a new romance. So what? I know a dozen women in my own neighborhood who fit that description. Why should I care about what's happening to the woman in your book?

Is it her personality? Is she funny? Quirky? Always getting into trouble?

Is it the way she finds romance? Is there a mystery involved? Suspense? Danger? Or does she continually reject the guy next door who is perfect for her?

There has to be an investing reason for the reader—and it's usually the characterization, the plot or both. The more reasons a reader has to invest in your novel, the more they're going to like it.

Take some time to evaluate your novel and your audience. Look at your plot and ask yourself, "So what?" Then look at your character and ask, "Who cares?" When you can answer those two quesionts, you're on the right track.


Quoting General Authorities

If you quote a living general authority, where do you request permission? Does the church own the copyright or does the individual speaker?

Also, you do need to submit separate requests to the church for each quoted item or for each project?

At one point, I think I had a link to the Church's copyright information but I've googled all morning and can't find it now. I did find THIS, which talks about using music.

The Church is subject to the copyright laws of the U.S. You can find the copyright law HERE. Specifically, you need to know what constitutes FAIR USE. Since copyright law is written in legal-speak, it's sometimes very difficult to interpret. That's why you can find several books that help interpret it. I have a much used copy of THIS ONE.

When quoting General Authorities, copyright ownership depends on your source. Sometimes it's the Church who owns the copyright and sometimes it's the General Authority. But either way, you start at the same place, which is The Church Copyrights and Permissions Office.* Contact them and ask for specifics on how to request permissions.

*50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150; 801-240-2190


Stupid Questions for a Stupid Day

I'm tired and in a bad mood. (I know, you simply can't imagine that because I'm always so pleasant and helpful here, and I never rant or express negative emotions.)

And it SNOWED. OMH!*

I just cannot write a serious and helpful post today. We're going for Stupid Question Day instead. These are actual questions I've received as LDSP. They have been edited for space and the identifying details have been changed.

I would love to be published under the LDS Publisher imprint. I've attached my 297,143 word [exact number from e-mail] epic fantasy about two Mormon missionaries who are abducted by aliens and end up converting an entire planet.

You're kidding me, right? No! Because:

  1. The LDS Publisher imprint requires a $2,000 reading fee and you didn't send your credit card information in the e-mail.

  2. It's way too long. You must first shorten it to an even 297,000 words.

  3. Your attachment had a virus in it. I hate you and your little dog, too!

This is an advice blog, not a publishing company. There is no LDS Publisher imprint. You actually need to cut it down to around 100,000 words for a first novel. And don't ever send attachments to publishers unless they ask for them.

[from same letter as above] If you choose not to publish it, could you please print it out and give me margin notes so that I'll know how to change it?

Seriously? The answer is not just No, it's Heck No!

  1. There's not enough toner in the world to print that thing, and

  2. [laughing hysterically] I'm not going to read it. I'm not even going to open the file.

LDSP, I've noticed that the same people keep showing up as sponsors of your blogs. Jennie Hansen gets in there a lot. Zarahemla also gets all their books on as sponsors. As does Annette Lyon (who sponsored the LDS Fiction blog last month and I noticed she's now a sponsor of the LDS Publisher blog this month.) My book has never been chosen as a sponsor. It seems like there's some favoritism going on. Is that fair?

As Miss Snark would say as she sets her hair on fire, "Somebody shoot him with a clue gun."

Sponsorship is done on a volunteer basis here. You e-mail me and tell me you're willing to be a sponsor. I take everyone in the order that they contact me. If your book has never been chosen as a sponsor, it means that YOU'VE NEVER VOLUNTEERED TO SPONSOR!

Dear LDS Publisher,
I understand that you aren't actively publishing anymore but I know you have a lot of friends in the publishing industry. Would you read through my attached query and make any necessary changes. Then would you please forward it with your recommendation to whichever LDS publisher you think would be a good fit for my novel?

I'd be happy to. Please send your credit card information in a reply to this e-mail.

No, wait. Forget that. Some readers might think I'm serious.

I am not an agent! There are no LDS agents because we can't make any money doing that job, and I'm not a nice enough person to just do you a favor like that out of the goodness of my heart.

*That's Oh, my heck! for you non-native Utahns.

**Poking fun with permission of writers of these e-mails.


Two Easy Tricks to Get You Published

Are there any simple tricks that I can do with my finished manuscript that will help a publisher be a little more impressed with my work?

Yes, there is are two very easy tricks that you can do that will impress the heck out of a publisher:
  • Follow their submission guidelines.
  • Run your spell check and grammar check and correct everything.

Those two tricks alone will get you far. You have no idea how many of the manuscripts I received didn't do these two very simple and very easy things.


April 2009 Prize Sponsors

Last month's prize winners announced HERE.

Please take a moment to learn more about our wonderfully generous sponsors.

Tower of Strength by Annette Lyon

It was 1877 when Tabitha Hall Chadwick left Manti as a young bride. Now, nearly seven years later, she returns as a widow with her young son to make a new beginning. Tabitha's strained relationship with her mother–in–law adds more difficulty to her life as a single working mother. Yet with a stroke of courage, Tabitha makes two purchases that become her passions: the local newspaper and a traumatized horse.

As she struggles to meet the challenges of her new roles, Tabitha welcomes the friendship of Samuel, a recently widowed British immigrant. Working together to train the abused horse, the two discover a second chance at love. But when Samuel is critically injured during the construction of the Manti Temple, Tabitha faces the pain of old wounds and the risk of new ones.

Weaving themes of loss and renewal, this poignant tale explores a vital choice each of us must make: to seek safety in isolation or to embrace the painful yet beautiful complexities of life and love.

Annette Lyon was given the 2007 Best of State medal for fiction in Utah and was a 2007 Whitney Award finalist for her fifth book, Spires of Stone. She's been writing for most of her life, beginning with stories about mice in second grade. While she's found success in magazine and business writing, her true passion is fiction. In 1995, she graduated cum laude from BYU with a BA in English. Annette enjoys reading, knitting, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order.

The Reckoning by Tanya Parker Mills

The Reckoning, by Tanya Parker Mills, tells the story of a journey home gone terribly wrong, but even when all the light has gone, forgiveness and redemption can heal the past and show a way to the future. Through gritty, gut wrenching prose Mills’s heroic and courageous storytelling exposes the horrors of dictatorship and the mindless cruelty that flows from political repression. It also sends a message of hope, inspiration, and faith in the human heart.

Mills’s The Reckoning masterfully weaves the real horrors of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with the rich threads of a compelling fictional narrative as raw and real as anything taken from today’s political headlines. Told with tenacious honesty and unflinching realism, in a style sure to disturb and entertain, The Reckoning shows how we can transcend the past, no matter how painful or murky it may have been, and that the future is out there, full and bright, if we are willing to embrace it.

Tanya Parker Mills: Beginning from her birth on an American Air Force base in Tripoli, Libya, Tanya's childhood was spent mostly abroad in such countries as Greece, Turkey, Iraq, and Lebanon. Indeed, she and her family lived through two revolutions involving Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party.

Tanya has worked as an Assistant Editor for Trade Publications at Sunset Magazine in California. Tanya met her husband, Michael, in Los Angeles and, after they married, she quit her job to begin raising a family and finally write a novel that would draw on her exotic background.

After two children, a move to Washington State, and twenty years of imagining, plotting, researching, and typing away, she has completed The Reckoning and is now halfway through a second novel, Laps.

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