Tag Archives: editors

Top 10 Save-the-ACFW-Journal fundraiser Ideas

Several months ago I shared this list on the ACFW email loop, but never put it on my blog. Sooooo, in light of the announcement from ACFW’s Executive Board about discontinuing the Journal due to cost concerns, I’ve decided to post the list here. Many ACFW members have enjoyed reading the Journal, and I still consider having an article in the premier issue a highpoint in my writing life. But the only way to save the Journal is for money to be raised to keep it in publication. Therefore I humbly submit:

The Top 10 Save-the-ACFW-Journal fundraiser ideas:

# 10:  Request a grant from the Federal Government…they seem to have unlimited amounts of “free” money to give away.

#  9:  Create a “Mug-of-the-Month” Club where ACFW members sell their unwashed coffee mugs to each other, with the proceeds going to the Journal.

# 8:  Sell a CD of the ACFW Executive Board singing their favorite show tunes.

# 7:  A telethon featuring ACFW authors acting out scenes from one of their books, while viewers call in and pay them to stop it.

# 6:  An online auction of the “dancing elephant” from the conference in St. Louis a few years ago.

# 5:  Open a museum of “floating body parts” and charge admission. (However, it shouldn’t cost an arm and an leg….bwahahaha…uh hmmm…I digress)

# 4:  Instead of the traditional pitching sessions that happen at every conference, make each writer pay an entry fee to stand on stage and read their manuscript out loud in front of a panel of agents, editors, and cranky reviewers. Panel members get to scream, “Rejection!” and shoot red paint balls at the writer when they spot a problem in the manuscript. The writer that survives the longest gets a contract and also wins one of the mugs mentioned in #9.

# 3:  Have me, Michael Ehret, and Peter Leavell do a benefit opera. We’ll call ourselves the Track-Change Tenors and dress in red tuxedos, complete with red cowboy hats and red cowboy boots. Undoubtedly Michael will demand that red bow ties be optional.

# 2:  A pay-per-view Mixed Martial Arts octagon challenge between writers and the agents or editors who have rejected them in the past (complete with tights and stage names)

# 1:  As much as this one gives me the dry heaves, I recognize that it may work since the majority of ACFW’s membership is female…How about selling a Men of ACFW Kilt Calendar?

I hope this helps. And I pray that #1 will never be necessary.

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Filed under books, Christian Fiction, editing, Larry W. Timm, Top 10 List, Top Ten list, Writing

“Top 10 Worst ways to start an Elevator Pitch.”

The moment has finally arrived. You and the agent or editor of your dreams are alone in an elevator. Here are the top 10 worst ways to start the dreaded elevator pitch:

10:  By blinking uncontrollably and proclaiming, “I’ve only got a few seconds before my medication wears off. Listen carefully!”

9:  By snickering and saying, “Bad hair day, huh?”

8:  By yawning, then saying, “Eight hours…that’s how long I’ve waited on this elevator just to get the privilege of talking to yoooou.”

7:  By running up the elevator as the door is closing, sticking your face in and with wild-eyed enthusiasm yelling, “heeeeeer’s Johnny!”

6:  By foaming at the mouth.

5:  By removing your shirt and saying, “I’ll prove I was born to be a writer…look at my birthmark. Doesn’t it look like Edgar Allan Poe?”

4:  After throwing up on their shoes, you say, “I feel like we’re bonding. Let’s talk about my story.”

3:  After failing miserably at your first attempt, and just as they are preparing to step out of the elevator, you jump in front of them, punch the button that closes the doors and tearfully wail, “Do over!”

2:  By grabbing their hand and praying, “Dear God–Who called me to be a writer and has promised to pour out scorching wrath upon any person who stands in my way of publication–please help this person to be open to Your gracious will.”

1:  By staring at them and mentioning that an agent tried to test you once, and then adding, “I ate their liver…with some Fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

Happy pitching!

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“Top 10 Bad Ways to Start a Proposal Letter”

One of the jobs of a writer is to craft and send out query and/or proposal letters. There are many wonderful resources available to help a writer do so with professional flair. Below is a list of a few ways NOT to start a query/proposal:

10:  “Have I got a deal for you! And if you’ll lower your commission to below 10%, I’ll let you represent me–at least for my first book.”

9:  “I was talking to my cat, Mr. Wiggles, and he told me I should let you be the first one to see this book.”

8:  “I wrote me this here book, see. It ain’t not like any book what’s been wroted before.”

7:  “I have to use a pen name because I’m being pursued by the FBI. For  a current “author’s photo”, you can see me in just about any post office. If you’re interested, tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree. I’ll be in touch.”

6:  “Hello, dear. I’m writing you because my thirty-five-year-old son–who is unemployed and lives in our basement–has written a book. He’s a decent writer when he’s sober.”

5:  “Hello. My name is Suede Beefcake…” (couldn’t resist 🙂  If you’ve read my posts, you know…) However, as a bonus, let me offer another number 5:  “UFOs are scary. I should know. I wrote this novel when I was held captive on one.”

4:  “Since I’m sure you’re going to want to be my agent, I’ve taken the liberty of signing you up for your choice of either a gift certificate for Kilts-R-Us, or a year’s subscription to the “Laxative Of The Month Club” as a token of my appreciation!

3.  “You seem like a nice person. I’ve been following you for a long time. But since you lock your car doors everyday, I’ve decided to email my book to you instead of leaving a copy on your driver’s seat.”

2.  “I’ve written a book in secret code. If you’re ready to represent me, I’ll send you the secret agent decoder ring.”

1: “I’ve tried everyone else on this list, so now I’m sending this book to you. You’ll probably hate it too.”

Just keep this list handy when you’re ready to send out a query letter or a proposal. Can you suggest any other bad beginnings?

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How To Remain Unpublished

Here are the top ten ways to guarantee that you never get published:

  • 10:  Actually believe that your mother knows more about the publishing industry than the professionals do.
  •  9:  Don’t let yourself get bogged down with learning the craft. You probably know it all anyway.
  •  8:  Become addicted to Facebook & Twitter, and then wonder why you never have time to work on your manuscript.
  •  7:  Embrace paranoia by assuming that every piece of criticism is actually aimed at you and your mother personally.
  •  6:  Chose 4000 cable channels, the top-end smartphone plane, and eating out several times a week as more important that buying writing books and going to conferences.
  •  5:  Even though you’re unpublished and know everything, assume that other unpublished writers don’t know anything about writing becasue…well, they’re unpublished.
  •  4:  Wait for the publishing industry to wise up to your writing prowess, rather than learning what it takes to get published. So why waste time on them?
  •  3:  Send a nasty note to each agent or publisher that rejects your obviously brilliant manuscript. Or go on Facebook and say bad things about them.
  •  2:  When an editor says that you have a severe POV problem, respond by saying that you’ll get right in to see your doctor because he probably “has a cream for that.”

And the number one way to insure that you never get published:

  •  1:  Never finish a manuscript. Just keep polishing the same three chapters…year after year after year.

Any other suggestions?

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What is “Success”?

As I sit here in a hotel room and type this post, there’s a realization tugging at me: I need to be clear on how I define “success”. To apply this to the writer’s conference that I’m currently attending (the American Christian Fiction Writers conference), I’m praying that I stay focused on how blessed I am to be here.

I do have several concrete goals I’d love to achieve while here, but sometimes writers can be “all or nothing” people. We come to conference with a list of goals/dreams, and the temptation is to walk away feeling discouraged because we weren’t able to check them all of our list. The tragedy in that mentality is that we’ve set ourselves up for failure since achieving all of our goals with crisp perfection is impossible. So when (not “if”) the first disappointment comes, the rest of the conference is endured and not enjoyed.

The other mistake is to have a prioritized list of goals, where the goals lower down the list are dependent on the ones at the top of the list. When this happens, we are unable or unwilling to fully embrace the lower goals with a mindset of gratitude. We don’t thank God for them because they’re not “the real” big goals–the ones that really count.

I think Christian writers have the ability–because of the Spirit that’s within us–to be able to see the whole picture. It’s simply a matter of whether or not we use that ability. Such an attitude of gratitude won’t happen accidentally. It must be intentionally nurtured every day.

The fact is:  just being here at the conference is an achievement for which to be thankful. Here are some other signs that the conference is a success:

  • You’re able to reconnect with old friends
  • New friends become a part of your life
  • You realize that we have great food and plenty of it (much of the world would love to trade places with us).
  • You were used by God to encourage another person
  • You listened when God said “no”, even though it wasn’t on your list
  • You learned something that will make you a better person, and a better writer
  • You met writers you admire

These are just a few. Notice that “getting a contract” or “getting an agent” isn’t in the above list. Do I want those things? ABSOLUTELY! But even if they don’t happen while I’m here, this conference has already been a success.

How do you define success as a writer? As a person?

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IT’S HERE!

Okay, as you read this, I’m heading to Dallas for the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. Months and months of hard work have gone into preparation for these next few days. I’ve written a book that I’m going to be pitching to agents and editors…and anyone else I can trap in a corner or on an elevator…err, I mean anyone else who wants to hear about a thrilling suspense novel.

Equal to that anticipation, however, is the excitement of seeing old friends. I’m already looking forward to hugs and handshakes, smiles and laughter, and everything that goes with being face-to-face with people I have learned to care about and admire. I’m going rub shoulders with incredibly talented writers, who’ve never heard of me but I’ve sure heard of them. It’s an honor.

But it isn’t all fun and games. This is also a time to dig in and learn how to become a better writer. If I can’t be teachable, then I’m wasting my time. I don’t plan on wasting my time. I plan on growing, on building new friendships, and on doing more listening and less talking.

It’s a wonderful opportunity. And when I get home on Sunday might, I want the Lord to look back over the way I spent my time and energy, and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

And as thrilled as I am to be going to Dallas, I’m more thrilled to be coming home to my wife and children.

Can you imagine what our gathering in heaven is going to be like? Wow! Talk about a homecoming! Are you ready?

 

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Intimidation

Intimidation:  Writers face it all the time. Whether it’s a blinking cursor on a blank computer screen, a snarky remark in a critique, red ink from an editor, rejections…lions, and tigers, and bears…oh my!

We can be shaken by these types of things. But I’m learning that it’s not the presence of the intimidation that is key, it’s the way I choose to respond to it that matters. For the most part, I can’t do anything about the presence of intimidation. But I can control how it impacts my psyche. Criticism or critiques can be a sharpening stone that turns a dull knife blade into a sharp tool, or–if used improperly–it can nick and ruin the blade. Red ink can scream, “What makes you think you’re a writer? You can’t do this!” or it can say, “Try harder…you CAN do better. I believe in you!”

I’m in the process of getting sample chapters and a pitch ready for the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. And at meetings with agents and editors, I’ll be trying to keep from letting intimidation choke me while I tell them about my book. That’s if I even make it to the hotel at DFW. (I’ve heard that traffic and road construction are a snarled mess. I may spend the entire week circling Dallas trying to find my way into the airport complex where the hotel is located….opps, there goes intimidation again).

As a writer, what things intimidate you? How do you handle them?

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Believe!

I love books. I love reading them and writing them. I love to read books about writing. And I really love it when my wife buys me books as gifts, because she’ll write a note in the cover saying something like, “We believe in you”…or…”We’re your biggest fans”…or…”Don’t give up”…or some such note of encouragement.

My dear wife and kids are my strong support system. They each sign the books, and my wife always adds the Bible reference, Mark 9:23

“And Jesus said to him, ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.'”

Every writer understands that there are those moments where we have to believe that we can do this thing called writing. And that belief keeps us going when many other “voices” challenge our confidence. I think it was agent Terry Burns who said that successful writers are those who simply refuse to quit. I agree.

I’m not suggesting that belief is a substitute for talent or hard work. But belief is needed as you learn and grow, because it’s hard work. And the task of crafting a novel is not for the weak of heart. Belief keeps my eye on the goal of seeing a book get published. Belief allows me to submit my work for criticism or enter contests or look forward to the red ink that shows me how to make a manuscript better.

The fact is that I know I must believe that I CAN DO IT! And I’ve got to be stubborn. I can’t waste time blaming my problems on agents or editors or reviewers. I, and I alone, am responsible for my own self-determination and for my inner drive.

I want to urge you to keep working hard as a writer. If you’re not sold that you’re a writer…who ever will be?

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