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 November, 2006


The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book, by Patricia L Fry (Ojai, CA: Matilija Press, 2006)

The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your BookThis book promises much and delivers even more.

As a small business publisher and former agent, I was surprised to see a book that covers such a large territory for beginning writers. Not only is there guidance on writing the book, there is also a surprisingly complete treatment of problems authors encounter when try to get their books printed, promoted, and sold.  (visit http://www.reserve books.com)

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Advanced Techniques:  Active Voice (Exercise)


by Sandy Tritt  www.InspirationForWriters.com

Exercises - Active Voice

Try your hand at making these sentences more active. See below for ideas.

1. Sandy started to sit up.

2. Wilma was leisurely looking out the window when she started noticing the big bird.

3. There were fifteen new members at the prose workshop.

4. Joan was very good at reading her story.

5. It is my intention to thoroughly teach how very bad passive voice really is.

6. I could see that my constantly repetitive lessons were starting to get annoying.

 And the challenge is:

                Ray Gambel started to thinly slice potatoes, and he was constantly watching the clock. It was 3:45. There was a phone on the counter and he would look at it, as though that would really make it ring. The letter he’d gotten from his father was very precise: he would call on Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.

            Ray quickly wiped his hands on his jeans. He reached into the pocket of his new plaid flannel shirt and there was the envelope. He took it out of his shirt pocket and looked at it. While he was looking at it, he noticed there wasn’t a return address. But the postmark was there and it was clearly visible: “El Paso, Texas, March 10, 1969.”



Active voice is what puts us in the middle of the action and allows us to feel. Passive voice is what gives us the feeling that someone is telling us a story that happened once upon a time.

Ray could suddenly feel the room widely circling around him before he started to wake up. He was feeling completely horrible. He hated feeling that way. Slowly rolling to his stomach and silently swinging one leg off the bed, he could use the floor as an anchor. The floor was solid and it would help to stop the dizziness. There was a good chance he would be very sick.

Exciting, huh? Okay, let’s examine why this leaves us breathless with boredom:
• Unnecessary words. Any word that doesn’t add to your story detracts from it. Examine your prose for words like these: started to, began to, proceeded to, could, would, there was, there are, there is, there were, seemed to, tried to.
• Inactive verbs. Watch for passive verbs, such as was, is, were, are. Replace them with active verbs, the most active and descriptive words you can think of.
• -ing words. Verbs ending with “ing” are by nature more passive than those ending with “ed.”
• Adverbs. Those -ly words that precede a verb weaken it, not strengthen it. If your verb isn’t strong enough to make the statement you want it to make, find a stronger verb.
• Intensifiers. Very, really, totally, completely, truly and so on. Is completely empty any more empty?

Before we look at our example above, let’s examine each of these concepts individually and see how they suck the power right out of our prose. Each of the following sentence pairs gives a poorly written sentence, followed by one that improves it:
• It is the governor’s plan to visit tomorrow. The governor plans to visit tomorrow.
• John proceeded to dump sand on the castle. John dumped sand on the castle.
• There were eight tiny reindeer leading Santa’s sleigh. Eight tiny reindeer led Santa’s sleigh.
• Jack could hear laughter. Jack heard laughter.
• Erin was sleeping. Erin slept.
• Mike was very tired. Mike was exhausted. (Better yet: Exhaustion dripped through Mike’s bones like slow pouring molasses. Okay, okay, so I get carried away. Sorry.)
• She quickly and purposefully walked to Jarod and sharply hit his arm. She strode to Jarod and punched his arm.

Now, before we apply these concepts to our example paragraph above, give it a try yourself. But be advised, more than one answer is possible, and I took it a step further and omitted complete sentences that added no value and redesigned others for a more effective flow.
Ready? This is what I came up with:

The room circled around Ray. He rolled to his stomach and swung one leg off the bed, using the floor as an anchor. Even before he opened his eyes, he knew he would be sick.

Half as many words, twice the power. Learning to change ineffective passive prose into active voice is one of the most important things you can do to increase the quality of your fiction.

(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved, except for those listed here. November be reproduced for educational purposes (such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt at Sandy@InspirationForWriters.com for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.

   Keep writing!

Sandy Tritt


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Publishing New Writers,

November, 2006 (no. 711)


Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

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Book Proposals Aren’t Just For How-To Books Anymore


II. What Are the Parts of the Book Proposal

By Patricia L. Fry

What Are the Parts of a Book Proposal?
The flip answer is, “Whatever the publisher requests.” Not every publisher wants the same thing when it comes to a book proposal. I cannot stress enough the importance of studying each publisher’s Submission Guidelines. You’ll learn what kind of manuscripts that publisher is looking for and how he wants your project presented. Find Submission Guidelines at the publisher’s Web site or request a copy by email or mail.

A Nonfiction Book Proposal should include:

Cover letter
Title page
Table of contents
Synopsis or overview
Marketing section (Who is your target audience?)
Promotional ideas (Include your platform.)
Market Analysis or comparison of competitive works.
About the author (What makes you the best person to write this book?)
Chapter outline
Sample chapters
Samples of illustrations, photographs, etc.

A Fiction Book Proposal should include

Cover letter
Synopsis or overview
Promotional plan
About the author

One hopeful author said to me recently, “I’m not going to bother with a book proposal. I’m going to send the publisher a pitch kit.” Huh? And there is a difference between a book proposal and a pitch kit? Maybe it is the term book proposal that turns off so many authors. Shall we start calling it a pitch kit?

How Important is a Book Proposal, Really???

Even in today’s competitive publishing climate and even with experts and professionals hammering away about the importance of the book proposal, some authors still refuse to take the book proposal seriously. Many hopeful authors just want to find a publisher through some miraculous shortcut even if they have to pay someone to publish their books. They care little, in the beginning, about their target audience or the market for their book. Many of them believe that if they write it, readers will come. Eventually, they learn that this is not a very smart way to approach publishing.
Some authors will reluctantly agree to write an abbreviated version of a book proposal and they’ll ask me, "What is the most important part of a book proposal?" They want to know, "Should I send the publisher a sample chapter or a synopsis? How about my table of contents?"
These questions started me wondering: Do publishers consider one aspect of the book proposal more essential than others? And I decided to launch a survey. About a dozen publishers of various types and sizes responded to my question: "What is the most important part of a book proposal?" Here are the results of my informal survey.
Target Audience
Roughly one-quarter of the publishers said they want to know, "Who is the target audience and where will you find them?" One publisher said, "I need to know, what is the market for this book? Who will buy it and how can these people be reached?" Another one advised, "Get down to reality and think, who will buy your book?" Yet, another publisher said, "Who is going to buy this book, and why from this author?"

Author’s Platform
Several publishers responded that the author’s platform was most important. Here are their comments: "I want to know, how is the author qualified to be invited on radio and TV shows to discuss his or her book?" Another one stated, "The author’s understanding about the future life of the book is paramount for acceptance of the proposal." And I was told, "I want to see a marketing plan that demonstrates viability." Yet, another publisher stated, "We need to know if an author is marketable, especially as we publish how-to books in business and real estate."

Is the Proposal Well-Written?
Two publishers said that they want to see well-written proposals. "It must have as much voice as the actual manuscript," states one publisher. He explains, "Too often proposals are sloppily done. There are grammar and usage mistakes." Another publisher pointed out that, "A concept can be tweaked, but a great idea in the hands of an incompetent or mediocre writer won’t fly."

What’s the Competition?
A few of the publishers surveyed want to know, first, how this book is different. One said, "I want to see a well-structured, short, solid book proposal that consists of how is the proposed work different than anything else?"

The Cover Letter
Surprisingly, one publisher said that the cover letter is the most important part of a book proposal. She explains, "I can often tell if the book is unique and compelling, if the author has a solid marketing platform, what the book is about, who the book is for and how it stands out from the competition from a simple one-page cover letter. I often accept or reject proposals based on the information I can gather from the cover letter."

The Sample Chapter
And one lone publisher said that the sample chapter is the most important part of a book proposal as far as he’s concerned.

Isn’t it odd that not one publisher even mentioned the Synopsis?

Well, what did we learn from this little survey? For me, it just drives home the point I keep trying to make through my consultations, my workshops and my writing, that all parts of a book proposal are equally essential and that every hopeful author needs to write one.

Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer and editorial consultant. She is the author of 24 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. www.matilijapress.com. Read her informative blog at www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog







Bookhitch.com- a Successful Tool for the Book Industry

by Emma Ward

In today’s society the book industry is starting to resemble somewhat of a social hierarchy. Meaning that there are certain levels authors strive for before they are considered to be at the top of the food chain. Herein lies the quandary; how should authors reach the top and what can they do to get there?

There are thousands of authors feeling frustrated, ignored and at their whit’s end when it comes to marketing their books. It is becoming difficult to get the “word out” in an industry where 78% of titles come from small/self publishers and thousands of books have to get sold to become a “successful” author. As there is only a six-week turnaround for books in bookstores, which then are usually sent back to the publisher/author for refunds, the Internet has become one alternative solution to these frustrations.

We have already seen the rising trend in e-books being sold via the WWW and even movie trailers being designed for book releases (seen on both the Internet and television). Authors have to work hard to showcase their work, and work more on marketing their books versus writing them. Millions of manuscripts are written each year, and less than that actually end up in print. Many authors, agents and publishers share the view that writing the book may be easiest part of the book selling process once the book has been bound. After this, marketing the book becomes the challenge. This is why there has been a tremendous move towards creating author websites to showcase work, advertise books and interact with the reader. It is an inexpensive way to market not only books, but also the author. The question is how do we then market the site with thousands of them out there? How do we then market, not only the books, but the author websites too? The solution is bookhitch.com.

Although there are many sites dedicated to searching on specific topics, cultures, or within specific countries. bookhitch.com has been developed to help us delve into the information matrix within the book industry. It is a “mini me” site of sorts that is comparable to many larger search engines but of course on a smaller, book specific, scale. There are over 1.5 million books in print, most of which are not accessible in traditional bookstores and only about 32% of the U.S. population has entered a bookstore. These astonishing figures indicate that there should be a way for individuals to access these books all at once with the simple click of a search button. Like other larger search engines, bookhitch allows readers to navigate through the vast amount of books, and information about books that is available on numerous sites. There are thousands of websites run by authors and publishers that are not accessed by the reader. This is not because of lack of interest on the part of bookish individuals, but because they are tough to find.

bookhitch is comparable to other search engines, not just because you can search for a book, but it also provides links to other websites. This feature is seen within all major search engines, but not on websites focusing in on the book industry (not until now anyway). Individuals search for information about a book (they can, of course, search by genre too), get provided with a list of results and a basic description of each book (and in some cases a picture of the book cover). If a reader decides they like the book they can click on the link next to it to find out more information, and buy it. They are taken to an authors/publishers/stores website, whichever link is provided by the book registering user. bookhitch.com is a truly unique site that has been a long time coming for the book industry. The site is helping readers to plot a course through and find the numerous books available to them, expanding their reading horizons whilst giving authors and publishers an opportunity to list their books, and increase awareness of their sites.

The website has had a successful reaction from many authors and publishers after only being live since May 2006. bookhitch is helping individuals reach the next level by offering them the opportunity to list an unlimited amount of books, for free. The website is unique because next to each description of the book an author can place a link to his/her own website (or publisher etc) to buy the book. Therefore readers can buy the book directly from the author, cutting out the amount of people handling the book. The site, like many authors sites, is also utilizing different mediums to connect further with their target audience of authors, publishers and readers. One such feature is their community book project designed to help writers gain recognition for their work and talent whilst giving money to educational organizations. In this case anyone can write the next chapter of a book (voted in for inclusion), the book is then published with the authors name next to the chapter and 100% of profits go to non-profits. Readers get to buy a good book, authors can showcase their work, and money is given to deserving foundations.

Authors can use various marketing techniques and publicity options to reach the top. bookhitch is simply offering all authors, publishers and writers a place to showcase their hard work whilst giving readers a chance to find all books, not just a limited few.