WordServe News: February 2013

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

The biggest news is our own Sarah Freese gave birth to a baby boy, Mason. They say writing a book is like giving birth, but I think the comparison breaks down a bit…if you’re the one actually giving birth! Congrats, Sarah! Now…back to work.

New Releases

WhatASonCheri Fuller released What a Son Needs From His Mom (Bethany House)

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wishingonwillowsKatie Ganshert released Wishing on Willows (WaterBrook)

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husbandlistenRick Johnson released How to Talk So Your Husband Will Listen (Revell)

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Jordyn Redwood released Poison, book #2 in her “Bloodline Trilogy” (Kregel)

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permissiongrantedMargot Starbuck released Permission Granted (Baker)

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forsakendreamsMaryLu Tyndall released Forsaken Dreams, the first book in her new “Escape to Paradise” trilogy (Barbour)

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MarianoRiveraMike Yorkey and Jesse Florea released Playing with Purpose: Mariano Rivera, the future Hall of Famer from the New York Yankees (Barbour)

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New WordServe Clients

During the Super Bowl, a storyline grew about Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49er’s starting quarterback. He had been adopted and his faith and family were being talked about, including his birth mother. His birth mother, Heidi Russo, had contacted our agency a few days before and quickly signed in. Margot Starbuck is writing her memoir You’ll Do Great Things, and Alice is circulating it to publishers.

New Contracts

Marcus Brotherton signed with Tyndale to collaborate with a Seattle-area pastor on a book called The Presence.

Tim LaHaye and Timothy Parker signed with Thomas Nelson to write Revelation: Clear and Simple, a chapter-by-chapter explanation of the last book of the Bible.

Margot Starbuck and Jeremy Jones signed with Focus on the Family to publish devotionals called Kingdom Women and Kingdom Men (respectively), using content from Tony Evan’s books of the same name.

Mike Yorkey and Marcus Brotherton signed on with Barbour to do Playing with Purpose: Nascar about Christian race car drivers.

What We’re Celebrating!!

A Higher Call by Adam Makos was able to stay on the New York Times hard cover bestseller list all through the month of February. It rose as high as #6 on the print list. The WWII story also made the NPR hard cover nonfiction list for 4 weeks, Publisher’s Weekly list, as well as USA Today.

Helen Shores Lee and her sister Barbara Shores, authors of The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill (Zondervan), appeared on “The 700 Club“.

Carol Barnier flew to Colorado Springs to tape an episode for Focus on the Family for her book Engaging Today’s Prodigal (Moody). One episode turned into two! It should air in March.

Jordyn Redwood got a starred review (her second!) in Library Journal for her new novel, Poison. That’s a pretty rare event, so it’s big news when it happens.

Carolyn McKinstry was on “The Today Show” to talk about Black History and her book, While the World Watched (Tyndale), the story of her losing her 4 girlfriends in 1963 to the 16th Avenue Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.

What can we help you celebrate?

WordServe News: December 2012

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

As the year comes to a close, we’re so very grateful that WordServe Authors released 83 books in 2012, and signed 80 book contracts for nearly 119 books to release off in the future.

IntotheFreeJulie Cantrell had the agency’s first New York Times Bestseller in many years with her book Into the Free. It also garnered a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. A rarity.

We had several books climb over the 100,000 copy mark:

* The Secret Holocaust Diaries of Nonna Bannister, written by Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin (Tyndale)

* The Devil in Pew Seven by Rebecca Alonzo, with James Pence (Tyndale)

* My Flight to Heaven by Dale Black (Bethany)

* Edge of Apocalypse by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall (Zondervan)

* Linspired (adult and YA book together) by Mike Yorkey (Zondervan)

And we’ve had several authors show up on national shows:

* Rebecca Alonzo on Dr. Phil (twice)

* Lauren Scruggs appeared on several shows in November at the launch of her book, Still Lolo.

These WordServe authors signed their FIRST BOOK CONTRACT in 2012:

* Anita Agers-Brooks (Leafwood)
* Leigh Ann Bryant (Authentic)
* Deb DeArmond (Leafwood)
* Rebecca DiMarino (Revell)
* Jan Drexler (Love Inspired)
* Michael Hidalgo (IVP)
* Heather James (Kregel)
* Amanda Jenkins (Tyndale)
* Caesar Kalinowski (Zondervan)
* Heather Larson, with David and Claudia Arp (Bethany)
* Tracie Miles (Leafwood)
* Jerry and Caroly Parr (Tyndale)
* Christina Powell (IVP)
* Rachel Randolph, with Becky Johnson (Zondervan)
* Tina Samples (Kregel)
* Lauren Scruggs (Tyndale)
* Amy Sorrels (David C. Cook)
* Mandy Stewarad (David C. Cook)
* Janalyn Voigt (Harbourlight)
* Jeremy & Jennifer Williams (Thomas Nelson)
* Tricia Williford (WaterBrook)

These WordServe authors had their FIRST BOOKS published through a traditional publishing house:

* Julie Cantrell, Into the Free (David C. Cook)
* Arnie Cole, Unstuck (Bethany)
* Katie Ganshert, Wildflowers from Winter (WaterBrook)
* Adam Makos, A Higher Call (Berkley Caliber)
* Jay Pathak/Dave Runyon, The Art of Neighboring (Baker)
* Zeke Pipher, Man on the Run (Howard)
* Lauren Scrubbs, Still Lolo (Tyndale)
* Helen Shores and Barbara Shores Lee, The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill (Zondervan)
* Jordyn Redwood, Proof (Kregel)

So all in all, we had lots to celebrate!

New January Releases

WhatJesusSteve Addison, What Jesus Started.

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UnholyHungerHeather James, Unholy Hunger, her debut novel!

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RadicalDr. Rita Hancock, Radical Well Being

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AHigherCallAdam Makos, A Higher Call

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JustWhatDoctorRick Marschall, Just What the Doctor Disordered

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TheRiverGilbert Morris, The River Palace

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DilemmaOlivia Newport, The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

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GreatStoriesJoe Wheeler, Great Stories Remembered #1, audio (eChristian)

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StinkyJoe Wheeler, Stinky: The Skunk Who Wouldn’t Leave (Pacific Press)

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New WordServe Clients

Several new clients have joined the WordServe stable with Alice Crider as their point person, but we’ll report more on that next month.

New Contracts

Christina Powell signed with Intervarsity Press (IVP) for her first book. The book is tentatively titled Question your Doubts. It explores the many roots of doubt experienced by both believers and nonbelievers, providing a corresponding response of faith from the rare perspective of a Harvard-trained research scientist who is also an ordained minister. (SF)

What can we help you celebrate?

WordServe News: June 2012

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

Will Davis, Enough, Revell (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Katie Ganshert, Wildflowers From Winter, WaterBrook Press (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Ken Gire, Relentless Pursuit, Bethany House Publishers (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Lisa Jordan, Lakeside Family, Love Inspired (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Maureen Lang, Bees in the Butterfly Garden, Tyndale House Publishers (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Kathi Lipp, Praying God’s Word for Your Husband, Revell (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Gilbert Morris, The River Rose, B&H Publishing Group (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Jordyn Redwood, Proof, Kregel Publishers (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Beth Vogt, Wish You Were Here, Howard Publishers (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Karen Witemeyer, Short-Straw Bride, Bethany House Publishers (Agent: Rachelle Gardner)

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Mike Yorkey, Tim Tebow, Barbour Publishers (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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Mike Yorkey, Linspired (Kids Edition, too), Barbour Publishers (Agent: Greg Johnson)

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New WordServe Clients

Caesar Kalinowski is one of the thought leaders in the missional church movement and a trainer and founder of the Soma Communities in the Tacoma, Wash, area. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Gillian Marchenko is a small town girl from Michigan who has spent the majority of her married life in big cities: first Kiev, Ukraine and now Chicago, Illinois where she lives with her husband, Sergei, and their four daughters. Gillian writes and speaks about parenthood, stumbling faith, adoption, and special needs. Gillian has written a memoir about the birth of her third daughter, Polly, and her diagnosis of Down syndrome in the former Soviet Union. Her writing has appeared in MomSense Magazine, EFCA TODAY, Four Cornered Universe, CHICAGO PARENT, Story Bleed, and CHICAGO SPECIAL PARENT. Check out Gillian’s website at www.gillianmarchenko.com. (Agent: Sarah Joy Freese)

Laurie Polich-Short, veteran youth speaker and author, is making the leap to adult non-fiction for women. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

New Contracts

Marcus Brotherton signed with Zondervan Publishing House to collaborate and write DiscipleShift with pastors and authors Jim Putman and Bob Harrington. The book will be the lead book for the April 2013 Exponential Conference. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Julie Cantrell has signed with David C. Cook for two more untitled novels. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Jan Drexler, a debut author, has signed a contract with Harlequin’s Love Inspired line of Christian fiction for her Amish book Love Bears All Things. With her Anabaptist upbringing and ancestral ties to the Amish church, Jan brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions, doctrine, and theology to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish immigrants to Pennsylvania, fleeing intense religious persecution in Europe in the 17th century, and then continued west, arriving in northern Indiana in the mid-1800’s. Their experiences are the basis for her stories. Jan holds a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis from Kalamazoo College in Michigan. She lives with her husband and two of her four children in the Black Hills of South Dakota. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Pamela Binnings Ewen, an award-winning fiction author, signed a contract with B&H Publishing Group for the second edition of her non-fiction apologetics book titled Faith on Trial: Would the Testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Stand Up in Court? The first edition of Faith on Trial was published in 1999 and was listed on many best-seller lists and even used as a textbook at Yale University in a course on Law and Religion. Pamela practiced law for twenty-five years in Houston before retiring in 2004 to write full time. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Denver Pastor Michael Hidalgo signed with IVP for two books. The first is called Unlost, a book about stopping our search for God and standing still long enough for Him to find us. The second book is untitled. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Amanda Jenkins recently signed a contract with Tyndale House Publishers for her memoir tentatively titled Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist. Before life as a homemaker and mother of four, Amanda worked in sales and marketing for a number of Christian retailers, as well as in visual communications and advertising. She spent ten years in L.A. alongside her film-making husband Dallas Jenkins, son of bestselling author Jerry Jenkins. Amanda attended Northwestern Bible College and graduated with a degree in Biblical Studies and Communications. She has taught Bible studies for women of all ages for the past fourteen years and is passionate about communicating truth in a culturally relevant and humorous way. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Our own Becky Johnson and her daughter, Rachel Randolph, have signed a two-book contract with Zondervan Publishing House. The first book will mirror the title of their food blog, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.  It’s a book of vignettes about mother-daughter life up to and after the birth of Rachel’s first child.  The second book is tentatively titled Getting Momma Fit, Getting Daughter Relaxed. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Jerry and Carolyn Parr signed with Tyndale House Publishers to write their memoir. Jerry was a Secret Service Agent for 25 years. Jerry was the agent who pushed Ronald Reagan into the limo after he was shot by John Hinckley and then made the decision to immediately go the hospital, a decision that saved the President’s life. After retiring, he went to seminary, and he and his wife spent more than 15 years serving the poor and homeless of Washington D.C. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Debut author Amy Sorrells signed a two-book contract with David C. Cook. Her first novel is tentatively titled Canary Song and was the winner of the recent Women of Faith writing contest under the title of Comfort and Salvation. As well as an author, Amy is currently a registered nurse for Indiana University Health North Hospital in Carmel, Indiana. Her professional writing has been featured in numerous national journals. She lives with her husband, three boys, and three golden retrievers in central Indiana.  (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Mike Yorkey and Jesse Florea have signed with Barbour Publishers to do a shorter book on New York Yankees future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Mike Yorkey signed with Barbour Publishers to write a “Playing with Purpose” book on a broad range of NFL stars. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Mike Yorkey signed with Harper Collins Publishers as the collaborator for the Eric LeGrand story that will be published this fall. Eric was the Rutgers University football player who suffered a spinal cord injury and yet has inspired millions with his courage. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

What We’re Celebrating!!

Jordyn Redwood received a starred review from Library Journal for her debut medical thriller Proof. Their Verdict: Strong writing, terrific plot twists, and a great premise make this debut medical thriller a must-read. Recommend it to fans of Richard L. Mabry and Robin Cook.

Dave Runyon was featured in the June 2012 issue of Christianity Today. It highlights Dave’s work in the Arvada, Colo., area pulling churches together to be better neighbors. His book, written with Arvada pastor Jay Pathak, The Art of Neighboring, will be releasing in August. (www.artofneighboring.com)

Karen Witemeyer’s book Short-Straw Bride was #14 on the CBA Fiction list for July (May sales).

What can we help you celebrate?

Tension or Frustration?

There was this book I read recently that made me all kinds of frustrated. My inner growl came out. I found myself skimming through the last third of the story, rolling my eyes, muttering things like, “Come on, already!”

Which got me thinking.

As writers, we talk a lot about the importance of tension. Heck, Donald Maass says we better have it on every single page. So the question begs to be asked.

What’s the difference between tension and frustration?

Is there one?

When I think of frustrating books, two titles come to mind. Both are best-sellers.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

New Moon (the second book in the Twilight series)

These books frustrated me for the same reason. Which involved the disappearance of a beloved character for a much-too-big chunk of the story.

Yet they are incredibly popular novels and much-loved by readers. Including me. So is frustration a mute point? Should we go for it?

I don’t know….

Frustration has to be one of the most annoying emotions. And I’m not sure annoyance is something we should ever aspire to do to our readers.

Tension. Good.

Frustration. Not so good.

The first brings readers to the edge of their seats. The second makes them want to light the book on fire.

So how do we embrace the first and avoid the second?
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Avoid drawing things out for an eternity.
Yes, we want to prolong tension. But not to the point of frustration. Sometimes, best practice involves giving the reader what they want, then hooking them with something else.
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Keep popular characters in the story.
Don’t make a beloved character disappear for too long. Unless absolutely necessary. But even then, you risk the wrath of your reader.
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Sprinkle in moments of gratification.
Sure, maybe you can’t have your hero and heroine get together until the end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw in some chemistry-laden tender moments between the two. There needs to be a positive correlation between frustrating moments and gratifying ones. The more frustrating a novel may be, the more gratifying moments we better include.
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Make the ending uber satisfying.
And I do mean uber. Like ultra uber. Especially, especially, especially if our stories lend themselves to frustration. The more frustrating a novel, the more satisfying the ending better be. Because even if we frustrate our readers, they will forgive us anything in the world if we satisfy the heck out of them at the end. Just like I forgave Stephanie Meyer the minute Bella hurled through the crowded square of Volterra and catapulted herself into Edward’s stone-cold arms.
s
The book I brought up in the beginning? The ending wasn’t as satisfying as it needed to be to soothe my frustrated nerves. So it left a bad taste in my mouth. Despite the good writing and character development.
s
When I think of a team of writers who have figured out this whole tension/frustration dichotomy, my mind automatically jumps to Vampire Diaries. They are experts in magnifying the tension without causing frustration. Which is why I love the show so very much. I even wrote a post about it: Tips from Television.
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Let’s Talk: What do you say about frustration? Is it okay to frustrate readers? Is there a book that frustrated the heck out of you, but you still love it to pieces?

*Photo by Ellie Goff

Love the Reader

The publishing business can be an overwhelming one. We hear so much advice from so many different sources. And to make things even more overwhelming, that advice often conflicts.

So what’s an author to do?

When we have a million voices shouting at us from a million different directions, who do we listen to? What do we listen to?

I won’t pretend to have it figured out. But this past weekend, I attended a workshop at the ACFW conference that helped quiet the noise and simplify the chaos. Ami McConnell, an editor for Thomas Nelson, shared a piece of advice that left me feeling lighter.

The piece of advice was this:

Love your reader.

So very simple. Yet so very profound.

In an industry where the could-do’s on an author’s list multiplies with ridiculous speed, this is the one thing I think we can all agree upon. The one thing that would benefit us all. Developing a genuine love for our readers and letting that love be the foundation upon which we build our careers.

So the question is this: How do we love our readers? There are all kinds of ways, but for today’s post, I just want to share three.

We love our readers when we take the time to know them.

You can’t love who you don’t know. As writers, it’s important to figure out who our readers are or will be. It’s important to be available to them. To listen to them. To respond to them. And when we take the time to know them, to see them as real people with real problems, hopes, and fears, something about the way we write and the way we interact on social media shifts. This journey and our stories become less about us and more about them.

We love our readers when we respect them.

This includes respecting their time. And reading a book takes time. We want to craft stories that make the time our readers spend on our words worthwhile. So are we constantly learning and improving and striving to create stories that will leave our readers entertained? Changed? Edified?

We love our readers when we share a piece of ourselves.

The best writing comes from a place of vulnerability. And being vulnerable means exploring and revealing parts of ourselves that aren’t pretty, parts of ourselves that might be painful. But when we do that, when we risk vulnerability, we’re reaching for a greater purpose. Our words are no longer about book sales and the market, they’re about touching something deep inside our readers. They’re about speaking truth, offering hope, and leaving people inspired.

Do you feel overwhelmed as you travel this journey? What overwhelms you the most? What are other ways we can love our reader?

A Word Miser’s Experience with Line Edits

I have two confessions.

I hold tightly to my words.

And of all the things that lay ahead as a contracted author, line-edits made me the most nervous.

Here’s my truth. I’m in love with words. I love stringing them together in creative and clever ways to paint pictures for the reader. I don’t like deleting them. And I’m super protective of my voice.

So the idea of line-editing scared me.

I admitted all this to my incredibly talented line-editor, Lissa Johnson, and she said it’s a common malady for writers, especially beginners. Which makes sense if you think about parenting. We tend to be much more uptight with our first born, don’t we?

So how did line-edits go? Did I have to get rid of words I wanted to keep? Does the writing still sound like me? Was it as painful as I feared? Is the story better?

Good. Yes. Yes. Yes (but not in the way I expected). Very much.

Allow me to elaborate….

I deleted words I wanted to keep.
This is a reality for line-editing. I had to delete some of my more creative descriptions. One of the things I loved about Lissa was that she didn’t just tell me to delete them. She explained why they weren’t working.

Descriptions shouldn’t pull the reader from the story. Not even for the sake of admiring the prose. We can get away with it on occasion, but the more often we do it, the more we risk creating a choppy read for our audience. And choppy’s never good.

I’m learning that subtle and simple is usually best. A hard lesson for a writer who tends to go purple.

My voice is still my voice.
Lissa suggested changes, and even made changes, but she did so in my voice. She stayed true to who I am on the page and put to rest my biggest fear: That by the time this story makes it to the shelf, it will no longer sound like me.

Line-editing is painful.
Yes, it is. But not for the reasons I expected.

Deleting a beloved description wasn’t the painful part.

Having to scrutinize a novel I didn’t want to scrutinize was.

I had to look at so many of my words and make sure they meant what I wanted them to say. I had to look at so many of my details and make sure they were accurate and well-researched.

And I had to do it all while wanting to chuck the story out the window. At this point, I’ve edited this thing more times than I can count.

Combing through it so meticulously yet again made me cross-eyed. My lovely editor, Shannon Marchese, assured me that my strong feelings of dislike toward my story were very normal.

The pain is worth it.
Saying goodbye to some of my words was hard. But after stepping back, I discovered that Lissa was usually right. The changes improved the story. And although I might be permanently cross-eyed, it’s now much cleaner. Much smoother. Much better.

I’m learning something I always suspected. Editors are amazing. At least the good ones are.

And when it comes to editing, we’re wise to ignore those feelings of defensiveness, embrace some humility, and trust that they know what they’re doing.

Chances are, they’ve been doing it a lot longer than we have.

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What scares you most about getting a book ready for publication? What excites you the most?

Preparing for an Interview

Writers pursuing publication should learn how to speak well.

I know what some of you are thinking.

Hey lady, I’m a writer. Not a speaker. 

Here’s the thing. If you are pursuing publication and your goal is to be a successful author, chances are, at some point, you’ll need to use your voice. And I mean your actual voice, not your writing one.

Radio interviews. Workshop presentations. Speaking to your platform. Pitching to editors and agents. I’m sure the list doesn’t end there.

My debut novel will release in May, 2012 with Waterbrook Multnomah (a division of Random House) and although it’s still ten months away, the marketing department is already discussing ways to promote my book.

Recently, I did an audio recording, or an interview conducted over the phone which will be shared with sales reps and retailers. It also might be used for promotional purposes later down the road.

The questions were deep. And I was nervous. I’d never done anything like this before and usually, when I get nervous, my voice gets shaky. And the shakier my voice gets, the more nervous I get. It turns into this whole vicious cycle.

But you know what?

It ended up being a really cool experience.

Here are some tips that helped me prepare, relax, and have fun:

  • Find out what you have to talk about and let the topic soak. I had to answer some pretty deep questions. Questions I didn’t know how to answer at first. Letting them percolate for a while helped when it came time to brainstorm.
  • Type your answers in a bullet point format instead of paragraph format. I wanted to sound conversational, not like I was reading. But the idea of answering from memory terrified me. I needed something to help me stay focused and avoid rabbit trails. So for each answer, I had a short list of bullets to reference.
  • Practice. This is key. Practice alone. But even more important, practice with an actual person. My husband was kind enough to ask me the questions, listen and offer feedback.
  • Time yourself. Attention spans only last for so long. The more concise we can be, the better.
  • The day of the interview, don’t obsess about it. Practice one more time. Then do something to distract yourself. For me, playing some good old-fashioned spider solitaire helped keep the nerves at bay.
  • When the time comes, take a deep breath, smile, and do your best! 
You can use these same tips for almost any speaking engagement. I know I went through a similar process when I prepared to pitch to Rachelle, my agent, and Shannon, my editor, at the 2009 ACFW conference.
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How do you feel about this kind of stuff? Do you enjoy speaking, doing interviews, pitching to agents and editors? Have you ever had to do it? If so, how did you prepare?