About keelyboeving

I'm an Associate Agent at WordServe Literary. I also do freelance editing and ghostwriting for a variety of clients. You can find me at www.keelyboeving.com.

WordServe News July 2017

Exciting things have been happening this month at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ recently released books along with a recap of WordServe client news.

New Releases

Jared Boyd released Imaginative Prayer with InterVarsity Press. When we lead our children through guided times of imaginative prayer, they can experience a connection with God that transcends mere Bible knowledge or doctrinal content. This book provides six units of weekly guided imaginative prayer on themes such as God’s love, loving others, forgiveness, God as king, and the mission of God; providing a yearlong experience of spiritual formation for children ages 5-13.

Jim Burns and Doug Fields published The First Few Years of Marriage: 8 Ways to Strengthen Your “I Do” with David C Cook. In this follow-up to Getting Ready for Marriage, Burns and  Fields offer a practical guide designed to help newlyweds build a strong foundation for a marriage that will last a lifetime. Along with explaining the traits of a healthy marriage, it helps couples rekindle romance, fight fair, and deal with stress, the challenges of the first baby, and much more.

Patricia Lee released An Anchor on Her Heart with Mountain Brook Ink. McKenna Nichols, a young wife abandoned by her husband in favor of his work, is left alone to raise their autistic child. She promised to love him until death parted them. But when circumstances drive a wedge into their marriage and Dane chooses to escape what life has dealt them, how long can she be strong?

Craig Selness released Living with Pain without Becoming One with Worthy Publishing. With his own chronic pain ailing him, pastor Craig Selness writes about pain using a Biblical perspective on living well. The good news of the gospel is that we can continue to do good — to be kind and gracious and loving and hopeful — despite physical struggle. This book will encourage anyone who hurts or loves someone who does.

New Contracts 

Dianne Christner signed with Barbour to publish The Marmalade Belle, part of the Southern Belle Brides collection, for publication in 2018.

Christian George signed with B&H Publishing to publish The Lost Poems of C.H. Spurgeon in 2019. Taken from some of Spurgeon’s earliest writings, which were lost to history for nearly 160 years, these poems are now revealed to the public for the first time.

Fred Sievert signed with BroadStreet to publish Grace in any Crisis, featuring inspiring, real-life stories of how people have sought, and found, God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, often resulting in miraculous relief from their pain and suffering and a driving passion to return that grace in Christian service to others.

New Clients

Sharon MacArthur and Nicole Phillips joined WordServe Literary this month. Welcome!

What We’re Celebrating

Martha Bolton received a Golden Scroll Merit Award for Fiction for The Home Game (FaithHappenings Publishers). The award was announced at the annual Golden Scroll Banquet, sponsored by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and held at the Hilton Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 27, 2017.

Margot Starbuck also received an AWSA Golden Scroll Merit Award for He Knows Your Name. Her book with David King, Overplayed, received a Silver Scroll Merit Award. And He Knows Your Name was honored again by the National Indie Book Awards as an Excellence Award Finalist. Congrats, Margot!

Perfect Pitch

Last month, I spent a day at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park. It was a beautiful setting, and I got to hear a wide range of pitches from new and accomplished authors. Some of them really impressed me, leaving me eager to hear more. Some of them… weren’t quite as successful.

What accounts for the difference between a good pitch and a bad pitch? Well, some of it simply depends on the project, but I found that I was willing to listen to a pitch for just about any kind of book if it was done well. The difference between pitches really came down to a few things: preparation; knowledge; engagement with the agent; enthusiasm for your project; and avoiding a few simple mistakes. Let me elaborate.

1. Preparation

When you’ve only got 15 minutes to pitch your book to an agent and convince them they need to know more, preparation is king. You have to know what you want to say, how you’re going to say it, and have all the necessary materials at hand. Now, I’m not saying you won’t forget some of it or flub a few things because you’re nervous—everyone is!—but preparing beforehand what you want to say and how will really help ensure that your pitch is smooth, organized, and leaves the agent with a clear idea of the project.

This doesn’t mean that you have to memorize a script, but write down a few bullet points. Do you want to lead with the book’s hook? Do you want to establish your credentials? The conversation may take a different path once you and the agent start chatting, but having some points in the back of your mind that you know you want to cover will help you to steer the conversation if it flags.

I’d also recommend having a one-sheet to hand to the agent at the beginning of the pitch. This includes information such as the book’s one-line hook, a brief synopsis, word count,  intended audience, and a brief biography of your writing credentials. Having a full proposal is great, but by starting with a one-sheet you can give the agent a quick overview of the project without losing too much time. I’d rather hear you talk about the project and then review the proposal on my own time than spend the whole 15 minutes wading through a 50-page proposal.

2. Knowledge

It may seem obvious, but you’ve got to know what you’re talking about. You need to know your project back to front. If it’s fiction, be able to explain the plot in a few sentences. Have a ready answer for the important themes and what you want the reader to take away. And be able to demonstrate knowledge about the world of the book—if it’s a medical thriller, have you researched the medical topics involved, interviewed a nurse, done background reading? If it’s a non-fiction book, be able to demonstrate your expertise on the topic. Point to the research you’ve done, experts you’ve consulted with. Be prepared for the kinds of questions a novice might ask about the topic. And don’t be afraid to show your smarts—that’s what we want to see.

3. Engagement with the Agent

You need to be able to set yourself apart from the tens or even hundreds of other pitches, and one way of doing that is by making a connection with the agent. Know who you’re pitching to before you approach them. Explain why you wanted to pitch to them—“I know you’re interested in historical fiction” or “I see that your agency represents So-and-So, and I’m writing in the same field.” By demonstrating that you’ve put in the time to prepare for this meeting and that you respect the agent’s time, you’ll make a great impression and start things off on the right note. That personal connection may make them more likely to remember your project among the many others they heard, and increases the chance that they’ll see you as someone they’d like to work with.

4. Enthusiasm for Your Project

I’m not saying go over the top here—you can be too enthusiastic about your work—but it’s important to show that you care deeply about your book. Agents want to see commitment: someone who believes in what they’re doing and who is willing to work really hard to get their message out there. Emphasize why you’re so passionate about this project, and explain to the agent what you’re willing to do in order to see it in print. Enthusiasm is infectious. If an agent can see how dedicated you are to a topic—that you eat, breathe, and sleep it—they’ll realize that you’re an author worth getting behind. We want high-energy, motivated, excited people who won’t let the difficulties of the publishing industry dissuade them from seeing their project all the way through.

5. Mistakes to Avoid

I’d rather focus on dos than don’ts, but there are a few tips that I’d recommend avoiding when you’re pitching your work.

  • Don’t give an overly lengthy, extremely descriptive synopsis of your novel that includes every event that occurs in every chapter. You’ve got 15 minutes; at the most, five of those should be spent talking about the plot.
  • Don’t begin by asking the agent what they want to hear about. Take control of the meeting, deliver your opening line, and be active in steering the conversation.
  • Don’t show up without materials. You’ve got to have at least a one-sheet to hand over, if not a full proposal.
  • Don’t take it personally if the agent expresses that they’re not interested. You are not your work, and each agent is looking for something different. It’s a better use of both of your time if agents are upfront about projects that simply aren’t a fit for them.
  • Don’t forget to thank the agent for their consideration, leave your business card, and if they’ve asked you to, follow up with them afterwards. The onus may be on you to get in touch; make sure you do so within the week if they express interest!

There are a lot of things that go into a good pitch, but perhaps the most important is this: don’t be afraid. Agents are excited to hear about new projects, and they want you to succeed as much as you do. We wouldn’t be in this industry if we didn’t love authors and books, and we really are on your side. Our greatest hope is that these pitches turn into lasting client relationships, exciting new projects, and great book deals. So keep ‘em coming!

WordServe News May 2017

Exciting things have been happening this month at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ recently released books along with a recap of WordServe client news.

New Releases

Jan Drexler released Naomi’s Hope with Revell. The third book in the Journey to Pleasant Prairie series, it follows Naomi Schrock in an 1846 Amish community in Indiana as she finds herself caught between the plans she had made for her future and the tantalizing thought that a man named Cap Stoltzfus might be part of a life she never dared hope for.

Christopher and Michael Ross released Building Faith Block by Block [An Unofficial Minecraft Guide] with Harvest House. This series of 60 devotionals for kids combines Minecraft tips and tricks with Scripture and discussion of real life struggles to help kids overcome life’s biggest challenges and build their faith, block by block.

Laurie Polich Short released When Changing Nothing Changes Everything with IVP. Laurie shows how the way you see can have an impact on how you live. If you put on the right lenses, you can reframe whatever comes your way and embrace both the good and the bad, recognizing that every detail of your life is fully in God’s sovereign hands. Changing your perspective can transform your life.

New Contracts 

U.S. Congressman Trey Gowdy and U.S. Senator Tim Scott signed with Tyndale for their book Indivisible, a story of authenticity and commitment in a city and political culture that rarely embrace either one, in which the authors model a path of racial reconciliation through honest conversations and genuine friendship.

Sarah Varland signed a two-book deal with Love Inspired for her Moose Haven Series.

Ron Archer signed a two-book deal with Tyndale: a memoir about his ascent from a troubled childhood in inner-city Cleveland to his conversion to Christ; and You Can Be Friends with Anyone, focusing on techniques and strategies to help people build a strong network of friends in both their professional and personal lives.

New Clients

Connally Gilliam and Brooke Sailer signed with WordServe this month. Welcome!

What We’re Celebrating

Deb and Ron DeArmond won the Selah Award in Christian Living for Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight! Woo-hoo!

We also had several other authors nominated as finalists for The Selah Award. Margot Starbuck was nominated for Overplayed; Pamela Cable was nominated for The Santum, and Carey and Dena Dyer were nominated for Love at First Fight. Congratulations to all!

Jan Drexler’s book Mattie’s Pledge was nominated as a finalist for the HOLT Medallion Awards. Congrats!

Linda Znachko’s He Knows Your Name is a Finalist in the 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards. Congratulations!

WordServe News: April 2017

Exciting things have been happening this month at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ recently released books along with a recap of WordServe client news.

New Releases

Steve & Misty Arterburn, with Becky Johnson, released The Mediterranean Love Plan this month. Unveiling the “7 Secrets of Passion” from some of the most romantic countries in the world, it answers age-old questions about how to keep your marriage interesting, fun, and romantic–burning with passion that stands the test of time.

Carole Engle Avriett published Under the Cover of Light with Tyndale. In 1965, Col. Thomas “Jerry” Curtis’s helicopter was shot down over North Vietnam. He was immediately captured and spent 7½ years confined in a filthy 5′ x 7′ cell at the notorious Hanoi prison camp. Now, Jerry shares the full story of his 2,703 days in captivity and what he learned about faith, hope, and the indomitable power of the human spirit.

David & Claudia Arp and Peter & Heather Larson released He’s Almost a Teenager with Bethany House. Based on tried-and-true parenting wisdom, this book shares fun, thoughtful questions and talking points that lead to meaningful, natural conversations with your son as he approaches those difficult teen years.

Sue Detweiler published Women Who Move Mountains with Bethany House. Prayer was never meant to be a recitation of requests, but rather a drawing close to the heart of God. When you learn to exchange the obstacles of life for the promises of God, you will pray with passion and confidence rather than fear or insecurity. From this place of surrender and intimacy, you will discover what it means to become a powerful, effective woman of prayer.

Lynne Hartke published Under a Desert Sky with Revell. Tracing Lynne’s experience with cancer–her own and the diagnoses of both of her parents–this lyrical work considers how even life’s most desolate experiences can bring beautiful surprises.We are never alone in our fear, and we are never forgotten by a loving, pursuing God.

Marjorie Jackson published Devoted: A Girl’s 31-Day Guide to Good Living with a Great God with Shiloh Run Press. Featuring hand-lettered art pages for coloring, this devotional teaches us how to let our love and dedication to Jesus penetrate every area of our lives–so that we can be young women of God who are completely, joyfully, beautifully different.

New Contracts 

Mary Davis signed a 3-book deal with Love Inspired for a series of romances to be published in 2018.

Jan Drexler signed a 3-book deal with Revell for a new series, Storms on Weaver’s Creek, a historical romance series set against the Civil War and the Amish church’s commitment to non-resistance.

Leslie Leyland Fields signed with Kregel for the publication of Happy Over Forty, an anthology of 40 incredible women writing from their own lives, that provides a biblical, inspiring and unforgettable guide to all that God can do in and through women over 40, making the second half of our lives the most fruitful and abundant half.

Sandy Silverthorne signed with Revell for the publication of two new joke books for kids, which will include illustrations by the author.

New Clients

Paul Basden, Jim Johnson, Chris Langlois, Ross Owen, and Linda MacKillop joined WordServe this month. Welcome!

What We’re Celebrating

Tina and Dave Samples‘ book Messed Up Men of the Bible was named as a finalist for the 2017 Christian Books Awards in the Bible Study Category! Winners will be announced May 2.

Get Your Work Seen: Tips on Successfully Placing Articles

by Bonnie Kristian

As a writer whose current gigs include weekend editor at The Week and contributing writer at Rare, I was recently asked for tips on how to successfully place articles with publications when you are in the early stages of your writing career. Let me preface this by saying this process will no doubt be different for you depending on your background, professional connections, target publications, and more, but here are some general ideas:

+ As you start writing, think about where you’d like to publish. Pay attention to how those outlets work. What is their tone? How do they structure their headlines? Are they publishing freelance contributors or mostly staff writers? How long are their pieces? Do they have people regularly covering the topics of your own expertise? (Speaking of, don’t try to be an expert on everything. Narrow it down.) What is their turnaround time on time-sensitive stories (i.e. if Trump says something Monday at 10 a.m., are all their op-eds on it published by that afternoon, or will they still be commenting on it through the end of the week?), and will your schedule permit you to match it?

+ Once you’ve done that, make a list of the publications that you like but also that would be a good fit for your writing style and schedule. Find the submission guidelines for those outlets and start sending pitches tailored to their shtick. Nothing will make an editor dismiss you faster than submitting an idea that is obviously a bad fit for their brand. You don’t need to write the full article to send a pitch; just a paragraph with a headline will do. Once you get your foot in the door, this process will become easier, both in terms of returning to editors you know and in pitching to new editors who will be happy to see your publication credits from other credible outlets.

+ Your blog can be useful for developing your own writing style and ideas, but it’s not strictly necessary for your goals as they’re described here. (Personal platform is hugely important for nonfiction book publishing, but many journalists/commentators don’t bother to maintain anything beyond a basic bio page because they do not need to do so.) Magazine and website editors typically do not want to read your blog. You may want to get a couple good posts up which you can link to in your very early pitch emails so editors can get a taste of your writing style if they prefer, but usually they won’t bother. They are much more likely to respond based on the quality of your pitch, because they are under no obligation to publish/pay for the completed piece if it turns out to be crappy.

+ Finally, on the subject of money: Political commentators (as well as those in other arenas) are a dime a dozen. I have been immensely fortunate in working with editors at Rare and The Week alike who are conscientious about paying in a timely and fair manner. That is far from universal. Many major publications will happily take your stuff for free and say your “payment” is the exposure they offer. (Pro-tip: You cannot pay bills with exposure.) At the very beginning, you might have to give your content away to build up your credentials, but be very careful. It is difficult to transform a non-paying relationship into a paying one. My best suggestion is to aim for permalancing gigs, where you are not an employee proper but have an agreement to contribute a given number of pieces per week or month and are paid for them on a set schedule.

This first appeared on Bonnie’s blog, www.bonniekrisitan.com.

Bonnie Kristian recently joined WordServe Literary as a client. A writer who lives in the Twin Cities, she is weekend editor at The Week, fellow at Defense Priorities, and contributing writer at Rare. Her writing has also appeared in Time Magazine, Relevant Magazine, The American Conservative, and more. To find out more, visit www.bonniekristian.com.

How to Write a Book in 3 Months

The following post comes from WordServe author Cassandra Soars. 

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The first book I wrote (Love Like Fire: The Story of Heidi Baker) was a ten-year process, from the day I started my research to the day it was published in April 2016. But I’ve recently discovered that writing a book doesn’t have to take that long. When a filmmaker hired me to write a book for him, I discovered some helpful tips for writing a book in draft-form in three months.

  1. Write what you know. If your project involves a lot of research, do your research first, then put it away. There will always be more to learn, and you will never feel like an expert. At some point, you need to put away the research and write from what you have learned and what you do know. Writing what you know is always easier than writing what you don’t know.
  1. Don’t try to write and edit at the same time. I have one friend who constantly studies plot and form while she’s writing, and needless to say, her process takes much longer and is much more complicated since she’s always analyzing and second-guessing her first draft. I’ve found that writing and editing are two completely different processes that use different parts of the brain, and it’s best to keep them separate. If you try to edit while you’re writing that first draft, your process will take much longer.
  1. Don’t be afraid of a bad first draft. A first draft is not going to be your best work. It probably won’t even be good. Don’t worry. Give yourself the freedom and permission to get the story down on the page, no matter how bad you think it is. After you have an entire first draft, then you can start editing. This is where you can make it shine.
  1. Give yourself deadlines. If you want to write a book in three months, give yourself a daily word count. For a longer book of around 90,000 words, set yourself a daily goal of writing 1500 words a day, 5 days a week. This will give you 30,000 words a month, and within 3 months, you’ll have written your book. For a shorter book of 60,000 words, your daily deadline is a word count of 1,000 words a day, 5 days a week.
  1. Be consistent. You don’t need to wait until inspiration strikes. If you make it a routine to sit down at your desk daily, even it’s only for an hour, you will find that there is always something that you will feel like writing about. Go with that—and give yourself permission to not follow your writing outline. Write about what you can connect with emotionally that day. Your emotion is transferred through your writing; if you feel it, so will your reader.

The best writing advice I ever got was from a college writing professor who told me that he writes a book by writing one chapter at a time. He showed me his file folders, individually marked by chapters. When he finishes writing one chapter, he puts it away in a file folder, and then starts the next chapter. Take it a chapter at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking about the entire book at once.

cassandrasoars-201x300Cassandra Soars has published various national magazine articles on a wide range of topics, including life in Mozambique, Africa, where she lived for five years. She has a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She also earned a master’s degree in international development from the University of London’s prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies. Cassandra and her husband Steve recently founded a social media site for couples called iheartus.com.

Pitching an agent? Read these query letter tips…

student-849825_960_720In my work at WordServe, I read a lot of query letters and book proposals (sometimes more than 100 in a week!) that come into our agency. And in my work as a freelance editor, I often help clients develop their proposals and queries before they submit them. After reading hundreds of pitches across every conceivable genre and topic, I’ve come to notice a few significant Do’s and Don’ts that can make or break whether an agent is going to read any further. If you’re newer to the world of publishing and hoping to get your book noticed, perhaps a few of these will be helpful to you the next time you’re putting together your pitch to an agent or editor.

When sending a query to a literary agency…

  1. Don’t claim that your book is going to be a huge bestseller. The fact of the matter is that only a teeny, tiny percentage of books end up at the top of the New York Times bestsellers list—and much of it depends on things outside of an author’s control. If you claim that you’ve written the next Harry Potter, the agent reading your pitch is probably going to assume that you don’t understand the publishing industry very well; have unrealistic expectations; and/or haven’t done your homework. A better way to emphasize your book’s potential is to try something a little less grand that focuses instead on who is realistically going to buy your book: “I’ve written a book about women in the workplace that will resonate with young working mothers across the country.”
  2. Do your homework on the agents and agency you’re submitting to. If you can find out the name of a specific agent at the firm who represents books in your genre, send the proposal to their attention. Mention why you’ve chosen them. Perhaps comment on another author they’ve represented whose work has similarities to your own. If you can’t submit the proposal to a specific agent, send it to the general agency, but make sure you’ve read up on what kinds of books the agency represents. WordServe represents primarily faith-based books; when I get submissions for romance books with risqué content or nonfiction books that argue against our values, I delete without reading any further.
  3. Don’t claim that your book will make a great feature film. Even fewer books end up as movies than end up on the bestseller list (see #1, above) – and agents who see this in your pitch will know your expectations are overblown and be far less likely to work with you.
  4. Do write your pitch in polished prose that reflects your writing style. You’ve got 30 seconds to get an agent’s attention, so represent your writing well. If your book is humorous, inject some levity in your query. If it’s a thriller, create tension with your first line. If it’s literary fiction, elegant sentences that mirror the book’s style are a must. In every circumstance, ensure that there are absolutely no typos; this is your first impression, and it needs to be 100 percent perfect. Seriously: a few typos in a pitch letter is enough to get an immediate rejection.
  5. Do highlight why you are the right person to write this book; but don’t claim that nothing like this has ever been done before. Chances are, it has—and the agent has already seen it. Instead, focus on what sets your project apart, what new angle or new research or new understanding you bring to a topic—and why you’re the best person to tell readers about it. Focusing on your prior experience, personal connection to the topic, research you’ve conducted, or a dedicated audience you’ve built up are all great ways to convince an agent that you’re worth taking a chance on—and that doesn’t require the claim that no one else has ever thought of anything like this. It just requires you to show me why you’re the best person for the job.
  6. Do read the requirements for submission for every agency you send to. Different agencies have different submission requirements, and it’s essential that you provide them with exactly what they want—or your query will likely be deleted without even being read. If an agent doesn’t want attachments, make sure you include everything in the body of the email. Do they want to see five pages of sample material or fifty—or none at all? Do you need to include a full proposal, or just send a query and wait for a response? Following the specific instructions for each agency, while tedious, will result in a much better response rate, as agents will see that you’ve done your research, are taking this process seriously, and have respect for an agent’s time and wishes.
  7. Last, but not least, do show courtesy and respect to the agents you’re submitting to. Thank them for their time (they really are busy), and don’t pester them if you don’t hear back immediately. While it’s appropriate to follow up with an agent if you don’t hear from them within the time frame they list on their website, do not write to them before this window has elapsed. If they say that they aren’t able to respond to every query, accept that you simply may not hear back. With so many queries coming in, agents aren’t always able to give a personal response to each project they see. It’s unfortunate, but a reality of the industry. And finally, if you do receive a rejection, don’t pester an agent to explain themselves or try to argue for reconsideration. Graciously accept the response, and move on. There are many good agents out there, and you want to find one who connects with your work and is excited to partner with you.

Pitching agents is a difficult process—trust me, I get it! But by spending time polishing your query and making sure to send it to just the right places, you’ll increase your chance of finding the perfect person to represent your work. Above all, don’t be discouraged! It takes time, and often lots of rejections, before you find the right agent—but it does happen. For the most part, agents are in this business because we love books as much as you do; and we’re always hoping that the next query letter we open is going to be the perfect one for us.