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!

Want to Get Published? A Publisher Needs to See an Author Who Can Write and Promote

Note: This is the last post in a series of four posts: 3 Things a Publisher Must See.

3 things

Let’s say your proposal has convinced an editor that your project has a wildly unique premise. You’ve even demonstrated a viable audience with a felt need.

There’s just one more thing…

You.

The questions a publisher is asking about you, very possibly in this order:

  • Does she have a platform?
  • Can she write?

A publisher needs both.

And this is the difficult bind of many editors—who love great writing, and want to publish great writing—today. It’s not to say that editors don’t ever stick out their necks for someone nobody’s ever heard of who can write really well. They do sometimes.

I’m saying that a publisher’s decision is always a complex one, and the more you can convince them that you have a platform to influence others, the more consideration your proposal will receive.

If you can write compelling sentences that make people laugh and cry, and string those together into a fabulous manuscript, and if your platform is so big that Oprah, Donald Trump and Diane Sawyer want to be your bestie, congratulations.

If one or both of these is not the case, then…

  1. Improve Your Writing
  • Read great books
  • Write every single day, and then write some more
  • Join a manuscript critique group, locally or online
  • Attend a writer’s conference (See one you like from 2015? Google it!)
  1. Build Your Platform
  • Pitch articles to the publications your target reader is reading
  • Develop an audience for your blog by writing consistently and meeting readers’ needs
  • Pursue speaking opportunities—at church, MOPs groups, etc.—in the community
  • Be a great friend on social media by celebrating others’ work

And…be patient.

Very few writers have fairytale stories of wild success with little effort. (Honestly, that was my plan when I started writing. It didn’t work out that way.) Most writers invest time and energy to improve their writing and build an audience.

Cheering you on,

Margot

 

 

WordServe News: March 2016

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary this month!

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

Jacket JPGBruce Main re-released Why Jesus Crossed the Road with FaithHappenings Publishers. Tracing the life of Jesus, Main challenges readers to become “road-crossing Christians”—people who see border-crossing as a spiritual discipline essential for authentic transformation, both in their own lives and in the lives of those they meet along the way.

simple moneyTim Maurer published Simple Money with Baker Books. This no-nonsense guide to personal finance distills complex financial concepts into understandable, doable actions to help readers simplify their money decisions, budget major expenses, craft a workable retirement plan, reduce and eliminate debt, and more.


51XRemJ98JL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Margot Starbuck and David King released Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports with Herald Press. Starbuck and King offer good news for Christian parents stressed out and stretched thin by the demands of competitive youth sports, with practical advice on how to set good boundaries and help kids gain healthy identities as beloved children of God, both on and off the field.

584492Robert L. Wise released Bible Lands with Barbour Books. This beautifully illustrated guide to the history, culture, geography, and key sites of the Bible transports readers to the land of Abraham and Sarah up through the founding of Israel, the coming of Jesus, and the journeys of Paul. Wise helps readers use geography to gain a better understanding of the places and events that form the greatest story ever told.

51bAjzombTL._SX436_BO1,204,203,200_Joe Wheeler released My Favorite Prayer Stories with Pacific Press. This third book in Dr. Wheeler’s Favorite Stories Collection affirms that prayers are not meant merely to supply our wants–although God does grant a surprisingly large number of such prayers– but, rather, they are meant to deepen our friendship and companionship with our Maker.

New Contracts

Jared Patrick Boyd signed with InterVarsity Press for the publication of his book, tentatively titled “Spiritual Formation of Children,” offering parents practical tools for engaging with their child in practices designed to nurture the experience of God in prayer.

New Clients

P. K. Hallinan, Bob Hedenstrom, and Christopher deVinck signed with WordServe this month.

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What We’re Celebrating!

Julie Cantrell’s The Feathered Bone was named a 2016 Winter Okra pick, an honor given by SIBA for “Great Southern Books, Fresh Off the Vine.”

Deb Coty’s Too Blessed to Be Stressed Cookbook received the 2016 SIBA Pat Conroy Cookbook Prize!

Want to Get Published? A Publisher Needs to See a Viable Audience

Note: This is the third post in a series of four posts: 3 Things a Publisher Must See.

3 things

Let’s say you do find yourself on an elevator face to face with an acquisitions editor from your dream publisher. She’s heard your pitch, is interested and asks you who will buy your book.

Do you know the very worst answer you can give her?

“Everyone.”

While you think it might be what she wants to hear, it isn’t. It really isn’t.

Jonathan Merritt, a savvy friend of Margot’s, explains, “If you aim to write a book for everyone, you’ll write a book for no one. But if you write a book for someone, then you’ve written a book for everyone.” Your book will be most effective if, as you write, you are imagining one person—Reading Rita or Literary Lou—and write to the heart and mind, questions and concerns, of that one person.

Know your audience. Editors want to see that you know who is reading your book and are writing to them. So you need to be able to describe your audience demographic: How old are they? Male or female? Education? Married Parents? Church attenders? Listen to Christian Radio? Etc.

Most often, people don’t buy books they think they should read. ($16 to learn that the best way to lose weight is exercising more and eating less? No thanks.) Books that sell are ones that meet a reader’s felt need. ($16 to learn that the best way to lose weight is by eating pizza every hour on the hour. LOL. Just kidding. But not really. #bestseller.)

In your proposal, you demonstrate that there is an audience for your book by letting a publisher know that it is meeting a real need for readers.

There are all kinds of creative ways to communicate readers’ felt needs to a publisher:

  • Description, “In the last month, five of my friends have had this problem…”
  • Statistics show that….
  • The top-selling books of 2015 were…
  • Etc.

In the writing, of course, your book must actually meet the readers’ felt needs. There needs to be a benefit to the reader who reads your book. (This is what makes readers rave to their friends about your book over coffee and on GoodReads!)

Here’s how: On every page, be asking, “What is the reader feeling? What is the reader thinking? How can I serve the reader with this story, page, chapter?”

To convince a publisher that there’s an audience for your book, you must communicate clearly that it offers value by meeting a need readers really have.

Exercise: Draft a character sketch of your book’s target reader, Reading Rita or Literary Lou. What keeps this reader up at night? What does this reader care about? What concerns does this reader have? Tape this list to your computer screen so that you remember to write every page with Rita or Lou in mind.

Cheering you on,

Margot

 

Want to Get Published? A Publisher Needs to See a Compelling Project

Note: This is the second post in a series of 4 posts: 3 Things a Publisher Must See.

3 thingsYou’re heard of the fabled “elevator pitch”? You’re in an elevator and are suddenly given the opportunity to pitch your idea to someone who could make it a reality. You have a few sentences to communicate clearly the nature of your project.

Pressure’s on.

And this really is a Goldilocks and the 3 Bears situation:

  1. If you say too little—either the number of words or the impact of those words—you lose.
  2. If you say too much—either the number of words or the impact of those words—you lose.
  3. The way you present your project needs to be “just right”

You could say….

  • “I’m writing a book.” (yawn, check phone) Four words is probably not enough.
  • Or you might spit out, “I’m writing a book on marriage” (There’s no impact, nothing memorable, nothing distinctive.)
  • Or you might go with, “I’m writing an in-depth treatise on the common misperceptions about the mating rituals of married white American evangelical females between the ages of twenty-eight and twenty-nine occurring in suburbs within twelve miles of six major U.S. cities after nine pm…” (Just wrong on so many levels.)

Nothing about any of those makes a publisher want to know more.

  • But what about: “The Singular Secret To a Vibrant Marriage”?

Now the editor is curious to know more. What is it?!

A book proposal is really just an expanded elevator pitch. You need to communicate very clearly and efficiently what your book is about so that publisher will want to know more. Don’t make them work hard to figure it out.

Exercise: Right now, give the two-sentence pitch for the book that’s in your heart. Out loud. To the walls. Write it down. Then, when there’s a human within range, give them the pitch. Then ask them:

  1. Do you feel like you know what the book is about? Could you communicate it to someone else?
  2. Is it unique? Are there other books like it?
  3. Based just on the hook/pitch, does it engage you to want to know more? Do you want to buy and read it? Why or why not?

With this feedback, work further to articulate what is unique and compelling about your book.

Cheering you on,

Margot

 

Want to Get Published? 3 Things a Publisher Must See

Note: This is the first post in a series of 4 posts: 3 Things a Publisher Must See.

3 things

You have a book in your heart that you’d love to see published. It may even be a great book. A publisher and her editing board need to see three things to say the “yes” you’re hoping for. They need to see: a unique project, a viable market and the right author.

1. A Publisher Needs to See a Unique Project

Although what you’re writing may seem fresh to you, know that publishers have already received countless pitches for “My Cancer Journey,” “My Eating Disorder Journey,” “My Spiritual Memoir.” Does this mean you scrap your project? No. But it does mean that you need to demonstrate how yours is unique. For example, these might catch a publisher’s attention:

  • Why Cancer Was The Best Thing To Happen to Me This Year
  • How My Eating Disorder Was Cured When I Won “The Biggest Loser”
  • I Was a Satanist High Priest and Now I Love Jesus

Make an editor curious enough to open your proposal!

One baby step toward publication: Read other books in your genre and identify what, if anything, makes yours unique.

2. A Publisher Needs to See a Viable Market

The publisher also needs to see that there is a market for this book. Who are the readers who will buy your book? What is the felt-need they have that will cause them to purchase your book, read it and rave about it to their friends? Research the market so that you can demonstrate that there are book-buying readers who need your book.

One baby step toward publication: Develop a one- or two-sentence “elevator pitch” that succinctly communicates the substance of your book, who will read it and what distinguishes it from similar books.

3. A Publisher Needs to See an Author Who Can Write and Promote This Book

A publisher is looking for authors who can write and who can also get that writing before an audience.

You’ve probably heard that author platform—your ability to reach readers—is the most important thing to a publisher. (And it’s pretty important.) But hear this: every publisher wants to publish great writing.

Chapters and pages and paragraphs and sentences and phrases need to engage readers. Your goal is to get a publisher (aka “reader”) to read the first sentence of your proposal and want to read the next one and the next one. You may think it’s an editor’s job to give your proposal a thorough reading, but it’s not. Her job is to find quality books to publish. When she is perusing your proposal, she can check out—and check facebook—at any point in the process. Develop your craft so that you can write prose that a reader does not want to put down.

And there’s also that platform business…

Who has platform? Oprah. Rick Warren. Francis Chan.

Intimidated? You don’t need to be. You can be building your platform right now by:

  • pitching and writing articles for publications
  • developing an audience for your blog
  • building your speaking resume by speaking places for free: MOPs groups, churches, etc.

The key is finding what works for you and sticking with it.

One baby step toward becoming a great writer: Sign up for a local writing class, sometimes available at city colleges, or attend a writer’s conference in your area.

One baby step toward building platform: Set a goal to publish one article or story, with a reputable national publication that appeals to the eventual audience for your book, in the next three months.

Cheering you on,

Margot

 

 

WordServe News: May 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

Mary Davis released Winning Olivia’s Heart with Heartsong Presents, the third book in9780373487837_p0_v2_s260x420 her series with Heartsong.

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Robert Morris, with agency client Marcus Brotherton released Truly Free with Thomas 9780718011109_p0_v3_s260x420Nelson publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joe L. Wheeler released My Favorite Miracle Stories with Pacific Press.download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New WordServe Clients

Jared Boyd and Karon Phillips signed with Wordserve Literary!

What We’re Celebrating!!

Cheri Fuller was interviewed on the Focus on the Family Radio Broadcast. Listen here. 

Lauren Scruggs and Lisa Velthouse’s book Your Beautiful Heart came in at #1 on the NYT Bestseller list for Fashion, Manners, Customs. See the full list here!

Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers (The Writing Sisters) are a finalist in the 2015 Selah Awards for The Shepherd’s Song in Women’s Contemporary Fiction.

Margot Starbuck is a finalist in the 2015 Selah Awards for Not Who I Imagined in Nonfiction Christian Living.

Shellie Tomlinson is a finalist in the 2015 Selah Awards for Heart Wide Open in general nonfiction!