[Having said that, I can’t resist adding that my friend Anne bristled at the format Larsen recommends. Writing a proposal is partly a matter of personal style. There is room for give and take—read a few books and fashion your approach according to what rings true for you.]
For insights into the personal styles of agents, New York agent Katherine Sands’ Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye strikes a chord.
For a look at book promotion from a publisher’s perspective, check out John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. The book contains sections for both authors and publishers. The seven hundred pages can overwhelm, so give yourself time to take it in—you may want to skim or focus on one area at a time.
I highly recommend anything by Fern Reiss, self-publishing and publicity guru:
The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days
The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days
The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days
Fern says there are more coming. She has plans for:
The Publishing Game: Syndicate in 30 Days
The Publishing Game: Ebooks in 30 Days
I first heard about Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and Get it Published by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato at a writers’ conference. Two agents mentioned this book and I put it on my list. Then I read it….and I agree.
Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson is sure to inspire you to bold action.
Fabulous Five: Lisa Tener’s Top Pics for Writers
The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White is as timeless and lucid a classic as you’ll find anywhere.
William Zinser’s On Writing Well is another classic you can return to many times and still find it refreshing and instructional.
Ernest Hemingway on Writing—learn from a master! Not just for fiction writers either. Hemingway sheds light on working habits, what to write about and qualities of a good writer.
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner
Lerner describes some of the typical personalities a writer displays and how best to deal with these tendencies. She includes advice on working with an agent, handling rejection and, of course, what editors want. She also offers sober reflections on book promotion and publicity.
On Writing by Stephen King. King shares the captivating story of his life experiences and their influence on his writing, then teaches the reader through witty examples of good and bad writing, assignments and healthy advice. Especially useful for fiction writers.
Note: More to come here…stay tuned for five more!
Create-a-saurus: Lisa Tener recommends these creativity boosters and inspiring books for artists, writers and creatives
Okay, you’ve probably read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t list this classic. Many of the exercises can catapult you into extraordinary circumstances. I found myself developing a character, Medea Liebowitz—psychic materialistic bimbo with a thick Queens accent, and took an intro comedy class just to explore this new personality in my life. What a trip when I actually performed her at the Hong Kong in Cambridge, MA and people laughed. A lot.
The one drawback that some of my coaching clients have run into with The Artist’s Way is getting stuck focusing on what’s blocking them, rather than focusing on a system to move beyond. Sometimes those morning pages can wind up recreating a traumatizing pattern rather than healing it. If they work for you—great. If not, enjoy the many other gifts of this gem of a book.
I don’t know about you, but the moment I laid eyes on the rebellious and fanciful cover of A Creative Companion: How to Free Your Creative Spirit by Sark, I had to hold it in my hands. At first glance, I thought “fluff”—not much there if you do a word count. Not fluff at all, though. Sark truly delivers with inspiring and laugh-out-loud stories of her own life, mostly her childhood. Reading Sark, you can’t help but feel that here is a kindred spirit encouraging you to roll down a grassy hill of dandelions in your best white dress. Who could resist?
I’d like to recommend Organizing for the Creative Person by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping. It looks to me like a great book. As soon as I get organized enough to read it, I’ll let you know. And if you read it first, let me know if I should keep it on my list!
Lisa Tener is a writing coach who teaches students five steps for creative flow and success which she terms, “Magic for Your Muse.” She is co-author of Good and Mad: Transform Anger Using Mind, Body, Soul and Humor (along with Jane Middelton-Moz and Peaco Todd) and founder of the South County Writer’s Seminar.
Lisa has appeared on ABC World News with Peter Jennings, PBS-TV Rhode Island and WCVB-Boston’s Chronicle and HealthBeat. She has been quoted in Glamour, Family Circle, the Boston Globe and more. She is currently working on a series of books for artists and writers to help them complete creative projects successfully.
Copyright 2004 by Lisa Tener; This article may be reprinted without permission only if you retain it in its entirety with the author bio and this copyright notice. If you would like to reprint a portion of this article, please e-mail me for permission at [email protected]