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.

13 “Tells” of a Novice Writer

In the poker-playing world, professional card sharks have a term for a novice player who inadvertently gives away the cards he’s holding through some sort of gesture or tick of which he is unaware. The pros call it a “tell.”

pokerIn the publishing world, professional editors and agents look for the “tells” of a novice writer whenever they scan a manuscript. With practice, we can almost always pick out the amateur from the pro from reading just a page or two. Here’s a list of 13 Common “Tells” of an Amateur Writer that may give you an inside advantage at the publishing table.

  1. Too many clichés. If you find yourself using a common cliché–try changing it up for humor or effect. Instead of saying, “He marches to a different drum,” you might say, “She rhumbas to a different drum-ba.” You want to avoid cliches but they can also be springboards to creative alternatives.
  1. Too much telling, not enough showing. Use scene-setting, dialogue, metaphors and gestures to show your reader an emotion. Instead of, “She felt deep sorrow,” try instead, “She sat down, sighed heavily, staring out the window at nothing at all.  A slow trickle of tears turned to a river as her dam of resolve gave way to reality.”
  1. Too much preaching/didactic tone. Go through any non-fiction manuscript and take out words like “must” and “should” and any other words that feel like a finger-wagging nursery teacher who is scolding the reader.
  1. Sentences don’t vary in length and style.
  1. Manuscript is is too text dense.  Just looking at the page exhausts the eye because there are too many sentences crammed into one long paragraph, followed by another just as long.
  1. Page looks boring. There are not enough “reader treats” to keep today’s reader alert.   Especially in our current hyper-speed world, you want to make liberal use of shorter paragraphs and anything that breaks up and adds interest to the page.  Pull quotes, dialogue, lists, bullet points and stand-alone sentences here and there are some ways to keep the reader engaged.
  1. Dialogue is stiff and unnatural. The writer has not learned the art of professionally written dialogue. One sign of a pro is that they know to use a gesture to indicate the next speaker rather than over-using “he said” or “she said.” For example, rather than writing, “Joy said, ‘I love that crazy squirrel,’” a pro might write, “Joy laughed as she leaned toward the screen door. ‘I love that crazy squirrel.’”
  1. Main character is too unlikable or too perfect. Readers want to root for the protagonist so be careful not to make him appear either beyond redemption or too saintly. Make them flawed, human, and lovable.
  1. Too “Christianeze.” Christians are often blind to the phrases they’ve grown up using in church. Try sharing old religious phrases in fresh ways.  Instead of, “I’ve been redeemed,”  you might say, “I knew that God had taken the mess of my life and given me, in exchange, His love.”
  1. No transitions or weak transitions. This may be the #1 “tell” of a novice. You know what you are saying and where you are going, but your reader needs a very clear bridge from your former thought to the next or they will be confused and frustrated.
  1. Old-fashioned style. We see this in some classically trained, older writers who have not stayed current on how to grab the attention of today’s internet-savvy, fast-paced reader. Read popular blogs and note the style of writing that is reaching today’s generation of readers.
  1. Doesn’t use the art of “hooking the reader.” You don’t have long to grab the reader’s attention, so you want your first two sentences to be irresistibly compelling.
  1. Doesn’t end well. Pay attention to writers who end chapters or articles especially well. There is an art to tying up a chapter or a book. In fiction and non-fiction books alike, write a sentence at the end of the chapter that propels the reader forward, making it hard for them to put your book down. I often refer to the first paragraph when summarizing an article. (See example below where I will refer back to the “poker analogy” that started this post.)

By avoiding these common novice “tells” you will soon come across as a seasoned pro, and your chances in the game of publishing will improve considerably.

What other “tells” have you noticed that indicate an inexperienced writer?

WordServe News: February 2015

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

Arnie Cole and Michael Ross released Overcoming the Hurt in partnership with 9781630583712_p0_v1_s260x420goTandem.

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Mary Davis released a new title with Heartsong Presents, Romancing the Schoolteacher. 9780373487721_p0_v2_s260x420

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Cheri Fuller released Replacing Worry for Wonder with goTandem. 9781630583705_p0_v2_s260x420

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Rick Johnson saw the release of Romancing Your Better Halfwith Revell Publishers. 9780800722340_p0_v2_s260x420

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kariss Lynch released her sophomore novel with Realms, Shadowed. 9781629980065_p0_v2_s260x420

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Tara McClary Reeves and Amanda Jenkins released their second children’s book with 9781433681202_p0_v1_s260x420B&H Kids, The Pirate and the Firefly. 

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Michael Ross released his latest book for teens, Dating, Relating, Waiting with 9781630583699_p0_v1_s260x420goTandem.

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Lauren Scruggs with Lisa Velthouse released her second book,Your Beautiful Heart 9781414376714_p0_v2_s260x420with Tyndale Momentum publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Amy K. Sorrells released her sophomore novel with David C. Cook, Then Sings My Soul. 9781434705457_p0_v2_s260x420

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Jennifer Strickland released her latest book for girls with Harvest House 9780736956345_p0_v2_s260x420Publishers, Pretty from the Inside out

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Mike Yorkey released Everyday Finances for the Everyday Family with goTandem. 9781630583682_p0_v1_s260x420

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New WordServe Clients

Marjorie Eastman signed with Greg Johnson.

New Contracts

Tim Maurer signed a contract with Baker Books for Simple Money. Greg Johnson, agent of record.

Joe Wheeler has signed with Pacific Press for a three book deal, in a collection of favorite stories. Greg Johnson, agent of record.

What We’re Celebrating!!

Co-authors, Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph received a great stared review in FIRST magazine for their latest book Nourished!

WordServe News: August 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.

New Releases

First HiredAnita Agers-Brooks has her debut book coming out, First Hired, Last Fired: How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market (Leafwood).

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MountainsJulie Cantrell released the sequel to Into the Free, called When Mountains Move (David C. Cook).

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GreatDatesPeter and Heather Larson and Dave and Claudia Arp release 10 Great Dates: Connecting Faith, Love and Marriage (Bethany House Publishers)

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VanishingCalvin Miller’s last book, The Vanishing Evangelical: Saving the Church from its Own Success by Restoring What Really Matters (Baker Books).

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InventionOlivia Newport, The Invention of Sarah Cummings (Revell)

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SecretServiceJerry and Carolyn Parr, In the Secret Service (Tyndale House Publishers)

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stillloloLauren Scruggs (with Marcus Brotherton) has her book Still Lolo coming out in trade paper (Tyndale)

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GentleGiantHelen Shores Lee and Barbara Shores (with Denise George) have their memoir of their Civil Rights champion father, The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill come out in trade paper (Zondervan Publishing Houses)

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beautifulliesJennifer Strickland is releasing Beautiful Lies, book and separate Study Guide (Harvest House Publishers)

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TenaciousJeremy and Jennifer Williams released their moving memoir, Tenacious: How God Used a Terminal Diagnosis to Turn a Family and a Football Team into Champions (Thomas Nelson)

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FootballMike Yorkey has another book coming out in the Playing with Purpose series, this time on the lives of NFL football players (Barbour Publishers)

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New Contracts

Daniel Allan signed with IVP for a book called Deeper, a call for young men to look for ways to grow their roots as they transition from youth to adulthood.

Wintley Phipps signed with Tyndale for a book titled Living the Great Life (co-written by James Lund), in which he shares the secrets to living a fulfilled life by developing eight vital characteristics.

Jan Drexler with Love Inspired for her second novel. Congrats, Jan!

What We’re Celebrating!!

Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph had a NICE article in the recent issue of Guideposts Magazine surrounding the release of their mother/daughter cookbook We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, as well as a 4-part article in the huge website/blog postings, Beliefnet.

What can we help you celebrate?

WordServe News: July 3013

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

IfShoeFitsSandra Bricker, If the Shoe Fits (Moody Publishers)

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WoundedWomenDena Dyer and Tina Samples, Wounded Women of the Bible (Kregel)

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WeLaughBecky Johnson and Rachel Randolph, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook (Zondervan)

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AManMakingRick Johnson, A Man in the Making (Revell)

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PrayingGod'sWordKathi Lipp, Praying God’s Word for Your Life (Revell)

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InPlainViewOlivia Newport, In Plain View (Barbour Publishers)

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LanguageRachel Phifer, The Language of Sparrows (David C. Cook)

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New Contracts

Rick Lawrence signed with Kregel Publishers for a book called Skin in the Game, an inspirational and biblical guide to pursuing the Kingdom.

Caesar Kalinowski signed with Zondervan Publishers for Big is Small, Fast is Slow…and Multiplication Wins the Day, a book for pastors and leaders on rethinking and implementing a church planting approach bent on slow growth and high investment in people.

What We’re Celebrating!!

Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph got a very nice review in Publisher’s Weekly for the new book, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.

“Johnson, author of a number of books, on subjects ranging from family humor to brain science, and Randolph, her grown daughter, team up in this quirky memoir with recipes. Johnson, diagnosed with Inattentive ADD, is scatterbrained, sloppy, and disorganized, while Randolph likes her ducks in a row. “Organization was my form of teenage rebellion,” writes Randolph, while her mom admits that during those years, the smoke alarm often served as the dinner bell. Johnson is a self-proclaimed bacon and butter lover; Randolph is vegan. The authors toss anecdotes back and forth throughout the folksy chapters, sharing stories of a loving family in which “hospitality is a way of life.” Between slices of life, the mom-daughter duo offers an eclectic array of recipes (main entrees, sides, appetizers, soups, desserts, etc.) ranging from spicy puttanesca sauce to cashew queso and roasted corn bean salsa (Randolph lives in Texas, while Johnson resides in Colorado). Recognizing that many contemporary families, like theirs, include members with varying dietary preferences and needs, the authors provide instructions on how to alter recipes to please and appease vegetarians, vegans, and the gluten-free. Amusing, endearing, and spiced with a close mother-daughter bond, the authors interweave their humor and cooking advice with sincere gratitude for the blessings of breaking bread with family and friends.” –Publisher’s Weekly

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?

Profits from Back-of-the-Room Sales

Let’s be honest, most work-horse writers cannot make a living by advances alone. However, if you combine writing with speaking and profitable back-of-the-room sales, look out! Writing, speaking and book/product sales is a true triple whammy, each avenue supporting the other. Each leg of this career stool brought in roughly one-third of my income.  Here are some ideas for a money-making book table.

Bundle or Bag ‘Em

Bundle items into gift bags. For example, I would put my humor books for moms in clear gift bags with a pretty sheet of tissue paper and call it “Laughter Rx for Moms.” I created another bag I called “Smiles for the Stressed-Out Soul” that included my books on slowing down and thriving. People want to give their friends some tangible love, so selling your books in gift bag form makes them instantly ready to share.

Something for the Kids

I wrote four books for young kids (Gabe & Critters)  and five “first chapter” books for ages 7-11 (Camp Wanna Banana). Moms and grandmas love to buy something for children. I found darling finger puppets, cute plastic “bookworms,” and small plush spider monkeys that tied in with the books’ themes. The eye appeal of colorful items surrounding the books proved irresistible. It took time to find items that were lightweight, small, fun, sturdy, and profitable. But when I did, books flew off the children’s section of my table.

Offer a Bargain

In what I now view as a great business opportunity, two of my books went out of print. I negotiated to buy a literal truckload of them for 72 cents each. I bought 10,000 books and filled up an empty guest room, wondering what in the world I had done. However, I sold every book by offering them “2 for $5.00” to retreat attendees. A profit for me, and a great deal for them. The event planner put a coupon in the retreat bags for this “special bargain,” ensuring a rush to the book table.

High Profit Items

I quickly discovered that women wanted to take my “retreat talks” home or share  with a friend. So I had audio CDs made of my talks and called them “Girlfriend Getaway.” I sold four talks for $15.00. My investment in the CDs (including case) was only $3.00 each. Many speakers create their own workbooks or study guides to go with their books and make a nice profit.

Mention in Your Talk

I am turned off by speakers who hawk their books like an infomercial. I’ve found it much more natural to say, “In my book, Worms in My Tea, I told a story about a time when …”, then simply tell the story.  People would always show up at the table asking for the book that contained the story I told.

The More Books, Higher Profit

The greater the variety of books you have on your table, the higher the profit; however, you don’t have to author all the books you sell. If you refer to books by other authors in your speeches, negotiate with a publisher to buy them in bulk at a good discount and sell them on your table. Or sell other product-tie-ins. If you wrote a cookbook, you might sell adorable aprons. If you teach writing classes, you might offer pens and blank journals that have fun literary themes.

Information Sheet for Event Planner

In a packet of information that I would mail ahead or email to the event planner, I included a Book Description Sheet. It had the picture and title of each book with a one or two sentence description below it. This would help volunteers get quickly familiar with the products. Always ask for at least two volunteers to help with the book table, giving them free books as a thank you. After you speak, women will want to chat and have you sign books, so having others take care of the money exchange is essential.

Bookmarks

Create a cute bookmark to be tucked into the books you sell on your table with information leading to your website, other books, etc.

Signs & Set Ups

I typically only put about ten copies of each book on the book table at a time, re-filling it from a box under the table as they sold. Make clear concise signs to prop up on your table that clearly show the price of your books. Go for visual clarity rather than cuteness. And be sure to take credit cards; it greatly increases sales.

I hope these tips prove helpful to you and increase your profits as you speak and write. Feel free to ask me any questions.

What advice do you have for other authors to help sell their books?

 

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