Spring is in the air! What I’ll be doing on my summer vacation…

urlWhat will you do with your summer vacation? It’s not too early to plan. I swear I saw a sprig of green outside, just the other day (before the temperature dropped back down int0 the 20′s). Spring is officially here this week, folks! Which means it will start getting warm soon. And the days will get longer. And walks about town, or through the woods, or with your dogs, or to the store, might actually be pleasurable. As spring looms in the very near future, I can’t help but think about summer. Because sometimes I have difficulty being in the moment, and also because I like to have a plan. Summer is one of my favorite times of year (in my top 4). Publishing slows down a bit, so I get to take some time off, I read a ton, and I try to nurture myself. Here are two of the things I’m planning for the summer:

I’m going away. To write. That’s right. To write my own writing because I’m a writer. I need to take myself all the way out of my life to do this, because as you might know, I’m also an agent. :-) It’s not like I stop agenting when I focus on my own writing though. It’s just that I allow my own creative urges to move up a little on the hierarchy of what I’m set out to accomplish on a given day. And this summer I’ll be doing that in an exotic locale.

I’m running another Writing Yoga® Retreat with my buddy Stefanie Lipsey. Last year’s retreat was so lovely. We lead a small group of writers for the weekend in exploring a work in progress, getting our butts on the yoga mat, and finding connections between the two. We also had a lot of fun, laughed a lot, shared our work, made new friends, gossiped with some big time editors, and generally got rejuvenated and inspired. You can read a little bit about last year’s retreat here, here and here. If you’re considering attending this year’s retreat (August 14-17) please apply soon. Registration ends on March 31st, and if we don’t get enough participants we will have to cancel. You don’t need to be any particular level of writer, just committed and actively writing. Last year’s retreat included both agented and un-agented, published and unpublished participants. If you need more information, feel free to email questions.

So, what will you be doing this coming summer?

 

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Do You Need a Website Before You’re Published?

imagesThe short answer: no.

The longer answer? Well, do you want to do everything you can to help yourself get published? I mean, it’s not imperative. Nobody’s going to say, “Well, she doesn’t have a website, so forget it.” But I like to think of a website as a virtual business card. It’s an online someplace to send folks who want to know more about you. And when you’re submitting queries to agents, or your agent is submitting your manuscript to editors, if the agent or editor is the tiniest bit interested, 9 times out of 10 you’ll get Googled. It’s nice when that happens for the agent or editor to find a professional website with a bit of info.

I put out a request on Twitter for folks to point me in the direction of websites by unpublished authors, so I could show some good examples. Thank you to everyone who pointed me in the direction of some of those websites. To those of you who sent me to websites of published authors, wtf?! Can’t you follow directions? Sheesh. Unfortunately, none of the websites you guys sent me to exemplified the things that I think are important for an unpublished author’s website to include (although there were some good blogs). Because I’m picky, because I’m a control freak, because I have a fantastic intern (hi Tara!), because I want what I want, because I’ve had the flu for the past week, because I can, I just had Tara (of fantastic-ness), make one for me. Her task was to not spend more than about 2 hours on it, and these are the things that I told her should be included:

  • a home page with a picture and short bio

  • a “my work” page with a short description of the author’s work in progress and descriptions of other manuscripts

  • a “favorite books” page with 5-10 fave books 

  • a contact page with how to get in touch

Here’s a link to the page.

You’ll notice it’s not a blog. I don’t think every author needs to blog. Only people who like to blog should blog. There’s nothing worse than checking someone out online, going to their blog, and seeing they haven’t posted anything since a long, rambly, rant on July 11, 2012, when they were bitching and moaning about how hard it is to be a writer and they’d rather just go to the beach. Or the bloggers who don’t really want to blog and have nothing really to say, so they reach, and end up telling you dumb stuff about their lives that nobody really cares about, or start posting pictures of their pugs or their kids or whatever (not that there’s anything wrong with pugs). ;-)

Tara said she spent 2, 2 1/2 hours on it, tops. She said it was “fun” to do. And look at it! It’s professional, easy to read (no teeny tiny fonts that my old eyes can’t see), upbeat (nice color choices), and it made me smile in a couple of places. It didn’t cost her anything besides taking the time to do it. She used a cheery template and didn’t need any “special knowledge” about website building or code or whatever. Is it perfect? Nah. There are a couple of things I’d change about it, if it were mine. But basically, it does the job.

So, unpublished authors, do you have a website? Why or why not? And what about pugs? Do you have a pug?

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Inside Scoop: Dish from a Literary Agent Intern… and the winner is!

8025427_1First, I’d like to thank everyone who entered the logline contest last week! After careful consideration, the winner of this contest—and winner of a copy of Veronica Roth’s Divergent—is Rae! Here’s her captivating logline:

“How to lose a guy—and destroy his kingdom—in five days: commit treason, incite an uproar, and reject the king’s marriage proposal at the tip of a sword. Madness, opulence, and intrigue collide when a bipolar heroine returns home to seek revenge in a medieval version of GONE GIRL.”

I chose Rae’s logline because of its effectiveness—doesn’t it just make you want to read the whole novel right this second? As I discussed in my first post, a logline should hook the reader and make them want to read more, and her logline does exactly that. She uses vivid language and focuses on the most exciting parts of the story. And comparing this story to an action-packed, bestselling novel certainly doesn’t hurt. Her logline also follows the important criteria of being only a sentence or two long, and summarizing the main plot points while not giving away the ending.

While we had some great submissions, not all of them were true loglines. Remember, you want your loglines to be enticing and concise. No giving away the ending or attending to unessential details. I can certainly sympathize with those of you who had a hard time narrowing your stories down to only the most important aspects, but sometimes you just have to hack away at all those extra details in order to get to the root of your story. Keep working at it, and you’ll eventually come up with your very own beautifully crafted logline.

Thanks again for your participation, and congratulations to Rae!

0Tara Slagle is Linda Epstein‘s current intern. Tara is working toward her M.S. in Publishing at Pace University. After completing her degree she plans to work in the publishing world as either an acquisitions editor or literary agent, focusing on YA and (the emerging) New Adult titles. 

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